New faculty bring experience, perspective to classroom

by Emily SchettlerStaff Writer

Simpson students may see some new faces at the head of their classrooms this fall. Seventeen full-time faculty members have been hired for the year.

Eight professors were given tenure-track positions. Three of those professors were already working at Simpson in part-time teaching and administrative positions. The nine other faculty members were hired as visiting professors and instructors. Each has a one year contract.

There are several reasons for hiring visiting faculty members. Three professors in the chemistry and physics, and biology and environmental science departments have gone on sabbatical this year. Two professors have been hired to temporarily replace them.

Truc Nguyen, visiting associate professor of chemistry is filling in for Professor of Chemistry Ron Warnet, while Samantha Larimer, visiting assistant professor of biology, covers courses for Jackie Brittingham, associate professor of biology and Professor of Biology Pat Singer, who are each on leave for one semester.

For both Nguyen and Larimer, this is their first full-time teaching position.

“I taught courses in graduate school, but now I get to design my own courses.” Larimer said. “I feel like a student again. I have a lot of ideas.”

There were three professors who left late last year, leaving the school little time to complete tenure- track searches.

“A tenure-track search is a national search,” Steve Griffith, vice president and dean of academic affairs said. “When you have a late resignation you have to find someone to fill that spot for the upcoming year pretty quickly. Instead of doing a full tenure-track search you bring in someone close.”

Visiting professors in English, education and communication studies were hired to fill positions of teachers who left last year.

Jane Moeller and Pat Kelley have both joined the education department as visiting instructors. Assistant Professor John Holden and Instructor Stephanie Sic bring experimental psychology, cognitive learning and development experience to the psychology department respectively.

In the department of communication studies, Marty Feeney has temporarily joined the staff. Feeney, who previously taught at Central College in Pella for 21 years, came to Simpson for a change of pace.

“I was looking for a new opportunity,” he said. “Simpson has been an easy place to fit in.”

Visiting Instructor Daryl Sasser has been hired in the history department to help teach the western civilization courses, which have always been popular for the western tradition cornerstone. Sasser has taught at Simpson before. He was an adjunct for four years in the late ’90s.

Assistant Professor Frank Curti was hired in the chemistry and physics department as part of the administration’s plan to add 10 new teaching positions over the next 5 years. Curti brings experience in surface science and nanotechnology to the field. He is looking forward to adding new classes and research projects to the department.

“One reason I liked Simpson was that I could tell this place was moving forward,” Curti said. “We are currently discussing new courses and incorporating outreach.”

Bill Schellhorn, assistant professor of mathematics, has taught as an adjunct at Simpson for two years. This year Schellhorn is taking a full-time role after the retirement of Professor Bruce Sloan. Two additional professors, Raelene Best, assistant professor of music and Ann Woldt, assistant professor of theater were also given full-time positions after teaching at Simpson part time for several years.

Four additional professors have been hired in tenure-track positions. Marci Carrasquillo has been hired as a successor to Professor of English Todd Lieber, who is planning to retire in 2009. Instructor Rebecca Livingstone is taking over for Professor Owen Duncan who retired from the history department last year.

Assistant Professor Rachel Bandy joins the criminal justice department with a focus on sociology. She had previously spent time working with police departments in Colo., Utah and Minn. working with abuse victims. After Bandy received her Ph.D., she knew where she wanted to teach.

“I came across Simpson’s Web site even before there was a position open,” Bandy said. “I was impressed with its progressive mission and dedication to education.”

Assistant Professor Julie Summers is new to the full-time staff, though not to the school. Summers has previously taught in the Simpson Department of Adult Learning. She joins the communication studies department with a focus on corporate communications.

Griffith said that the number of new faculty members this year is higher than usual. One of the goals of the administration is to reduce the course load of each professor. They plan on doing this by increasing the number of tenure- track positions and using a few adjunct professors.

However, Griffith did say that continually hiring professors for only one year is not the way that administrators want to go.

“There are a lot of institutions today that have gone away from the tenure-track positions and hired a lot more adjuncts,” Griffith said. “Simpson is very clear that we don’t want to become a place like that. Tenure-track faculty members can bring so much more to a campus with advising, office hours for students and involvement in the campus.”