As the class of 2010 quickly approaches graduation, the process of choosing a commencement speaker has come to a conclusion. This year, Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court Marsha Ternus will speak to Simpson College on behalf of the graduating class.
Simpson’s prior commencement speakers include Tom Vilsack and Cheryl Thomas. Both speakers had high responses from the crowd, and Simpson hopes to retain those same feelings this year.
Senior class president Bailey Harris was satisfied with the choice of speaker.
“While I wish we’d been more involved in the process, I am pleased with the decision,” Harris said. “As a political science major with interest in pursuing the field of law, it’s refreshing and inspiring to see a strong female figure who has very much succeeded in the field. I look forward to hearing what she has to say.”
Junior Macy Koch is also pleased with the choice of speaker. Koch believes that the Ternus will be able to portray a positive message to the graduating class.
For the class president, the decision making process began between April and May 2009. From there, a select group of students from SGA met with Steve Griffith, vice president and dean for academic affairs, and a few other faculty and staff members. Together, the group compiled a list of possible speakers for the next commencement.
After brainstorming, the group turned the list into President John Byrd. The list was numbered in order of preference, with the most wanted speaker at the top. Byrd worked his way from the top of the list to determine which speaker the school can both host and afford, along with having coordinating schedules.
In the past, leaders have been chosen out of Iowa, usually around the Des Moines area or have been associated with the state of Iowa or to Simpson in some way.
“I trust President Byrd and his choice and I think that we wouldn’t bring a speaker that wasn’t qualified for the honorary degree that we present to them,” Koch said.
The process of choosing a commencement speaker is beginning to move faster with time, according to Koch. She says plans for next year’s speaker have already begun. She has met with Griffith twice this year discussing which students will be part of the selection process for the 2011 commencement speaker.
“Ultimately, it’s the choice of President Byrd since he does the calling, but students have been able to sit in on the process of compiling a list of potential speakers,” Koch said.
The 2010 graduation ceremony begins Sat. May 22 at 8:45 a.m. in Smith Chapel.