Farewell to a familiar face


by Matt Bower

Secretary Becky Beaman can recall her first day on the job working for Bruce Haddox, vice president and dean for academic affairs.

“I had just started so I was all dressed up and my girls had gotten me some perfume, so I spritzed some on,” Beaman said. “When Bruce walked in, he said, ‘What’s that smell?’ and I told him it was just my perfume. He said, ‘Oh, I thought I smelled soup.’ The inference being I doused myself in chicken noodle.”

The above anecdote is just one of many examples of the hilarious moments that always seem to happen whenever Haddox is around.

“We have the same sense of humor, so that makes it fun to come to work,” Beaman said.

Beaman met Haddox in 1994, the same year he became academic dean, and has been working for him ever since.

“He’s very knowledgeable about everything so I’ve learned a lot from him,” Beaman said. “He’s the most enjoyable boss I’ve worked for, we have a great rapport. I have a great respect for him and he for me.”

Beaman said Haddox is even-keeled and takes things in stride.

“He’s not a technology wizard, so I take things from him in the short hand the old- fashioned way,” Beaman said. “He doesn’t expect perfection and is very easy to get along with.”

Haddox came to Simpson in the fall of 1969 fresh out of Duke University, where he attended graduate school.

“Simpson was looking for somebody in contemporary studies in both religion and philosophy,” Haddox said. “The dean of Simpson called me and said they saw I had degrees in both philosophy and religion. So I came out and interviewed and met everyone, and they offered me the job.”

Haddox began as an assistant professor, teaching philosophy and religion classes such as Ethics and Philosophy of Religion.

“I enjoy students and the classroom and trying to get students interacting with one another and books,” Haddox said. “I was happy to come because Simpson was a lot like Stetson where I graduated college from in Florida.”

Haddox liked Simpson, but he wasn’t planning on staying here for long.

“I was thinking I might stay for two or three years and then go back to the south, but I’ve enjoyed it here and found a home,” Haddox said.

In his time here at Simpson, Haddox has served as a faculty member for 25 years and has been serving as the academic dean for 12 years.

One of the classes Haddox has continued to teach, even while fulfilling his duties as the academic dean, has been the Family and Modern Society Senior Colloquium.

“I think the main thing is for senior colloquium, you have class for three hours; it’s like a May Term class and it’s important to keep the interest level up with something like that,” senior Andrew Mitchell said.

Mitchell was one of many seniors who took Haddox’s senior colloquium class and he was impressed with how Haddox handled the course.

“I thought he did a good job of incorporating the readings, videos and discussions to keep the interest level up and not make it cumbersome,” Mitchell said. “He asked really good, probing questions to get educational responses that required thought.”

Mitchell said the best part of the course was the theme.

“The theme of family and the way it’s changed in the past 50 or 60 years and the way we see ourselves and where we’ll be in the future,” Mitchell said.

After 37 years with Simpson, Haddox has decided it’s time to move on and will be retiring at the end of the year, however, he will be teaching the senior colloquium class again next spring.

“The thing I’ll miss most is being on the inside of life at the college, but it’s the right time to move on,” Haddox said.

Haddox said there are many memorable moments from his time here that he’ll carry with him.

“I remember my daughter being born in October of ’71,” Haddox said. “I got home early in the morning and a student from one of my classes came over to help celebrate with me. [That] showed my personal life was important to people.”

Another memorable moment for Haddox was when one of his classes had a made a sign for him.

“It wasn’t anything they were required to do; they did it on their own because they wanted to,” Haddox said. “[It] showed we were engaged in more than just classes here – we were building relationships.”

The close-knit, friendly atmosphere is something Haddox has always felt on the Simpson campus.

“It’s a place where people can explore. I’ve always felt that from the first time I walked on campus,” Haddox said. “The kind of culture Simpson has is a close, personal place. It’s genuine and welcoming – our real strength.”

Haddox is a good fit for Simpson because he portrays these same traits of friendliness and openness in his character.

“He could sit in his office for eight hours a day, but he makes it a point to get out and meet and interact with people,” Beaman said. “That’s the kind of person he is.”

Beaman said Haddox makes an effort to meet everyone, from students and faculty to the staff.

“Once in awhile, he’ll sit down in the chair and just visit with me and I look forward to that,” Beaman said. “With his philosophy background, it’s very interesting. I appreciate it because he’s a people person and treats me as more than just his secretary, and a lot of administrators don’t do that.”

Whether he was molding young minds in the classroom or making the big decisions influencing the college, such as who gets hired and who gets tenured, Haddox has enjoyed both sides of his career here.

“I miss the interaction with students most,” Haddox said. “You get a chance to influence the college as dean, but I enjoy meeting people too.”

Haddox said he’s always enjoyed going to graduation as a faculty member to see students and the growth they’ve gone through.

“I still enjoy it now, but [my] biggest regret is not knowing the students,” Haddox said.

Beaman said her most memorable moments with Haddox are when something funny happens, and there are a lot of those.

“I’ll miss everything about him,” Beaman said. “He’s so interwoven into Simpson life; it’ll seem strange without him.”

As far as what Haddox is doing next, he said he plans on resting up and getting in some better physical shape by taking up tennis again.

“I’ve always liked to play tennis and I’ve gotten away from that,” Haddox said.

Haddox also plans on keeping active in other ways.

“I enjoy being involved in [the] life of the church,” Haddox said. “I’ve been teaching Sunday school for 35 years and will continue to do so. I’ll also spend time with my grandson. He doesn’t know how to fish yet, so I’ll probably take him fishing.”

Although retirement is almost upon him, Haddox said he hasn’t really had time to think about it.

“It’s been incredibly busy with accreditation, the new dean search and inauguration, [but] it’ll probably dawn on me soon,” Haddox said.

Haddox said Simpson has always been important to him and he plans on continuing to support the red and gold.

“Simpson College has always been important to me and always will be,” Haddox said. “I will always be out there at the football games, getting particular pleasure whenever we beat Central.”

Even though Haddox has numerous memories from Simpson, he prefers to call them something else.

“It’s not really memories of the college, but memories of your life because your life is poured into this,” Haddox said. “Walking away from Simpson is like walking away from your life, and you can’t do that.”