New faculty bring new experience

by Allison UllmannStaff Writer

There will be a number of new faces in the faculty next year in a variety of departments. Those joining the faculty include Tracy Lucht, Communications Studies; Heidi Feller, Mathematics; Clinton Meyer, Biology; Mike Eckerty, Instrumental Music; Kate Lerseth, Education; and Emily Skow, Psychology.

Lucht, who recently finished her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, will be joining the Communications Department. Brian Steffen, professor of Communications Studies and chair of the department, said Lucht has a lot of experience in the media world to draw from.

“First of all, she has a wide range of experience,” Steffen said. “This is her first full-time teaching experience but she has a lot of professional experience. She’s worked for USA Today, the Washington Post and the Des Moines Register. Her second job was at the Storm Lake Tribune, so she made her way through Iowa journalism to the big stage at the Washington Post.”

Steffen said Lucht comes out of print background but has worked for both the USA Today and Washington Post’s web sites and her expertise will allow the Communications Department to explore more multi-media opportunities.

“Adding Tracy to the faculty is going to give us the ability to finally fully embrace this multi-media model of journalism education, which really puts us out front of virtually all small colleges in Iowa with what we’re going to be doing,” Steffen said.

Senior Ali Jepsen is excited about the addition of Lucht to the department and said she is someone students should get excited about.

“She has a lot of experience with the hands-on elements of media, and is interested in creating new classes for the communications curriculum,” Jepsen said. “The combination of her experience in the field as well as her academic background is going to be a real asset to students.”

Jepsen was one of the students who was able to meet Lucht in her on-campus interview.

“When I met her, she was very excited about Simpson and eager to meet the students’ needs in whatever way she could,” Jepsen said. “I was impressed by her classroom style and emphasis on writing and other skills that students will need when they go on to careers in media.”

Feller, who will be joining the Mathematics department, is a graduate of Coe College. She double-majored in math and physics while at Coe, and went on to get her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska.

Professor of Mathematics Rick Spellerberg said one of the things that attracted Simpson to her, in terms of her application, was that she had done a serious amount of undergraduate research in physics at Coe College and had a number of undergraduate publications.

Spellerberg also said that Feller had a chance to interact with a number of students that and that it was clear that students would come first with her.

“She had a chance to react to a number of our majors during the interview and it was clear that she is going to one of these people that has an open door policy and will be proactive in telling students when they need to be coming in and getting help,” Spellerberg said. “She has a lot of energy and passion for what she’s going to be doing and we’re excited about having her join our program.”

Meyer will be a welcome addition to the Biology Department.

According to Ryan Rehmeier, assistant professor of biology, his interests in research include restoration ecology and anything to do with insects. Rehmeier said this fall, Meyer will be teaching an entomology course as well as an aquatic ecology course.

According to Rehmeier, Meyer is also interested in teaching field courses and research methods, conservation biology and ecosystems ecology.

Rehmeier said one of the reasons that Meyer stood out as opposed to other candidates was his interest in teaching courses not already offered in the environmental science major.

“He offered classes that would accent what we already teach here in environmental science,” Rehmeier said. “It was mainly trying to find someone who complemented what we already do here. We wanted someone that would bring new courses that would still be very beneficial to our students and to this program and that’s one of the things that made him stand out.”

Rehmeier said students seemed to really like him and he felt Meyer would be a good addition to the department.

“The students saw him being a great fit for Simpson and they could tell that he was interested in their success,” Rehmeier said. “He’s going to fit in really well here and we feel very positively about him as our new addition. My goal is to have the environmental science major get stronger and stronger each year and so I think that this definitely a step in the right direction.”

Another new addition is Eckerty in the Music Department.

Freshman Allison Meyer said that she is excited about the addition of Eckerty.

“I believe that Michael Eckerty will be a great addition to the Simpson Band program because he has a motivation to boost the band program, partnered with a charismatic attitude,” Meyer said. “He will raise the expectations of the band and our level of musicianship while still maintaining the fun atmosphere expected by the band students.

Meyer also added many of the students who were able to meet Eckerty thought him to be a valuable addition to the Simpson community.

“All of the students I spoke to about the band candidates seemed to agree and felt that [Eckerty] was the most qualified and the most enjoyable,” Meyer said. “He made band very enjoyable, and I cannot wait to see how the band program will grow under his watch.”