After 15 years as the face of Indianola, Jerry Kelley says that even though his time as mayor will come to an end in January, his role at Simpson College will not be affected.
When President John Byrd signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment last fall, Kelley was appointed the executive assistant to the president in charge of implementing much of the commitment on campus.
Kelley said his title and position will remain the same even after his term as Indianola Mayor is over.
“I did not take on this position because I’m the mayor, but because this is what I do,” Kelley said.
Byrd also said he doesn’t expect any change in Kelley’s position on campus.
“His two positions are not connected,” Byrd said. “Nothing will change when he is no longer mayor.”
Senior Paige Shelton, president of the Environmental Awareness Club, has worked with Kelley on various projects regarding sustainability. She said she has appreciated the work Kelley has done since he joined the Simpson staff.
“Mr. Kelley is a key link between the Simpson community and the community of Indianola,” Shelton said.
Given the connections and experiences Kelley has had in the community, he is able to bring a group of students and faculty together and implement more sustainable practices at Simpson.
“I’ve been very pleased with the work accomplished in the sustainability committee,” Kelley said. “The group works together very well.”
Kelley said his position as executive assistant is often simply encouraging faculty and students to make the sustainable changes they are already thinking about making.
“Most people just want someone to say, ‘That’s a really good idea,'” Kelley said. “A little reassurance is all they need to get a project started.”
The sustainability committee has already made a number of improvements on campus in its first year. Low-flow toilets, more efficient light bulbs and the purchase of an electric car were some of its first projects.
The committee is currently looking at the possibility of installing hand dryers in place of paper towel dispensers, which would save an estimated 1.2 million paper towels on campus a year.
Kelley says lack of interest is certainly not the problem at Simpson.
“Lots of people are looking to make eco-friendly changes,” Kelley said. “The campus simply needed someone who could bring it all together to create a more sustainable Simpson.”