Communications faculty member leaving Simpson after May Term

by Emili JohnsonStaff Writer

Erin Reser, assistant professor of communications, will be leaving at the end of the year for Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont.

The news of her departure came as a shock to students and faculty, but Reser has expressed that she’s leaving only for career purposes.

“I really want to emphasize it’s not because I am disgruntled,” Reser said. “I am not angry.”

Reser feels that the small liberal arts college in Montana with approximately 1,000 students will be a better match for her department because there is a heavy emphasis on speaking and human communication.

“It seemed like a really good opportunity for me to show and make contributions there in a consistent way,” Reser said.

Junior Sheena Smitley was sad to hear Reser was leaving at the end of the year. She thinks she’s a great professor who challenges students and has a lot of passion for what she does.

“It proves to be difficult and frustrating at times,” Smitley said. “But you are able to take a lot away from her classes in the end.”

Smitley, who is an English major with a minor in journalism/mass communication, took public speaking with Reser a year ago. She also mentioned that while Reser may have challenged her to the fullest extent, she did get her money’s worth.

“I worked hard, was challenged and am a better (public) speaker as a result,” Smitley said.

The decision to leave was hard, and Reser said there are many things she will miss about Simpson, including students, faculty and the food at Pfeiffer Dining Hall.

“I think about leaving my really good friends here, most of them are colleagues,” Reser said. “And I think about leaving students and advisees; that’s hard.”

Reser also mention that within the last four years she feels the Simpson community has very much become part of her family. But, she still feels that with all she has learned here at Simpson, she is making the right decision in leaving and will never forget her four years at Simpson.

“I am going to value my Simpson experience for what it was, and not as a stepping stone, because that’s not what I see it as.” Reser said. “It’s been a really valuable experience within itself.”

Brian Steffen, professor of communication studies and chair of the department, is among many faculty members sad to see Reser go and knows she will be missed by many.

“Not only was she a committed teacher, a committed advisor, a committed mentor for students, she is an excellent scholar,” Steffen said. “She writes, she’s published, and she is very passionate about her work. We want to communicate these kinds of things to our students in terms of the importance of passion and commitment. Erin lives that every day.”

Reser’s advisees will be split between Steffen and Chad Roberts, instructor of ommunications studies.

Steffen is also anticipating the arrival of Julie Somers, who will be teaching corporate communications classes beginning in the fall. The Communications Department will be hiring a temporary one-year professor to fill in for Reser.

“What we have decided to do is recruit locally for a one-year replacement, and that individual can choose to be a candidate for the permanent position.” Steffen said.

Reser is not scheduled to teach a class during May Term, but she does plan on sticking around after finals to say goodbye to students and also for commencement.

While she is known for joking around and being sarcastic with students, she thinks the lasting impression she would like to leave on students is that she truly does care about them, and she hopes they look back and realize this.

“Although that (caring) manifested itself in different ways through pushing them (students) intellectually and academically or having high writing standards, I hope that’s what they remember,” Reser said.

Reser still has some reservations about leaving, but she feels that she is doing what is best for her, and she feels like she is leaving Simpson a better place.

“I’ve learned a lot, and I have become a better faculty member being here,” Reser said. “I feel privileged that Simpson has taken this opportunity to teach me how to do a lot of different things.”