Simpson makes plans for 150th

The Sesquicentennial Celebration planning committee is already hard at work getting ready for Simpson College’s 150th birthday party this fall.Ardene Downing, president of the Simpson Guild; Professor Jennifer Nostrala, head of the division of visual and performing arts; and Owen Duncan, emeritus history professor, co-chair the committee. Many others from Simpson are also participating in the preparation committee, including staff, faculty, students and alumni.

The main celebration will be a picnic held in the quad between Hillman Hall and Smith Chapel from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2010. Classes will run on a similar schedule to that of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

According to Nostrala, the committee is planning on around 1,000 guests for the event, in comparison to the Campus Day picnic which usually hosts about 600 people.

“We want it to be a huge party that everyone can participate in,” Nostrala said.

The Sonny Humbucker Band will also be performing as part of the celebration that day. The band includes lead guitarist David Wolf, assistant professor of English; rhythm guitarist Mark Juffernbruch, assistant professor of accounting; bassist Mark Green, professor of management; drummer and vocalist David Kochel, co-founder of Red Wave Communications, and singer Thom Wright, 1988 Simpson alum. Two other members of the Simpson faculty will also be playing in the horn line of the group: John Benoit, associate professor of music, on trombone and David Camwell, assistant professor of music, on saxophone.

Their repertoire includes music from the 1960s through today and is not limited to one genre.

“We love to get people dancing and moving,” Green said. “Playing music is all about creating a sense of community, and anytime you can do that it’s a lot of fun,”

The Sonny Humbucker Band has performed for many other events, such as the National Balloon Classic in Indianola and the Des Moines Arts Festival.

Green added that for this performance the band would- “pull out all the stops.”

The Carver Symposium and McBride Lecture, taking place on Sept. 30, 2010, will also be a part of the yearlong celebration and focus on Simpson’s past and help take a look into the future.

“The symposium will be a day-long series of speakers and panel discussions on the life and work of George Washington Carver, Simpson’s most famous alumnus,” Brian Steffen, professor and chair of the department of communication and media studies and director of the Simpson Forum program, said.

The McBride Lecture will take place later in the evening with speaker Mark Edmundson, university professor at the University of Virginia. Edmundson is expected to speak on the importance of a liberal arts education for the 21st century.

Other events being planned include many Simpson Forum events on the college’s history, burying a time capsule, dedicating a new seal on campus and the planting of 15 new maple trees.

“We wanted to do something that would be a good memorial to the past,” Nostrala said. “The trees will also grow, helping to represent Simpson’s future.”

Student participation and planning is also welcomed by the committee. “After all,” Nostrala said, “Simpson is not just about the buildings, it’s the people that make it what it is.”