Griffith named academic dean

by Jasmynne Sloan

President John Byrd announced Tuesday that Simpson has chosen Steven Griffith as the college’s next academic dean.

Griffith was the second of four candidates to visit Simpson. He was on campus Feb. 1-2 to meet students, faculty and staff.

Junior Brooke Dey met Griffith and said he was enthusiastic and interested in hearing what students had to say.

“Actually, he was my preference for the new dean,” Dey said. “An academic dean doesn’t have to work with students a lot, but he really wanted to hear what we thought and get our opinions on things. His ideas really coincide with what Simpson is all about.”

Griffith is a professor of theatre at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., where he began teaching in 1979. Prior to that he was an instructor at Agnes Scott College in Georgia.

Griffith was also the associate dean of Gustavus Adolphus from 1997-2000.

Though Griffith hasn’t been an academic dean before, Student Body President Dan Carver, who was the student representative to the search committee is still confident in Griffith’s abilities.

“He’s been in education for awhile and held several positions of leadership,” Carver said. “We wouldn’t have hired him if he couldn’t do his job.”

As part of the interview process, all of Simpson’s division chairs met the candidates. Fred Jones, professor of sociology and criminal justice, got to meet Griffith because he’s the education and social science division chair. According to Jones, Griffith will bring new ideas to the position.

“He’s an innovative man,” Jones said. “He has a lot of good ideas to enhance the academic programs at Simpson and really move the college forward. He can help take us to the next level as an institution.”

In a press release from Simpson’s Public Relations Department, Griffith said he’s looking forward to working here.

“I’m excited about joining Simpson College,” Griffith said. “My experience has been at high quality, small colleges and at its core, I think that’s what Simpson is all about. I’m looking forward to working with President Byrd and the entire Simpson community.”

Dey said Griffith will be a good addition to Simpson’s staff.

“He’d obviously done his research on Simpson and he came prepared, which shows dedication,” she said. “He actually reminded me of President Byrd because their positive attitudes are similar. I know they’ll work well together.”

Jones saw connections between Byrd and Griffith as well.

“[Griffith] is progressive,” Jones said. “He’ll be behind the interesting and creative programs President Byrd is working on, and he expressed interest in the areas of diversity and international study.”

Griffith is currently obtaining his doctorate in higher education policy and administration from the University of Minnesota. He earned his master’s in theatre design from the there as well, and his bachelor’s in theater from Gustavus Adolphus.

According to Jones, Griffith’s experience at Gustavus Adolphus makes him ideal for Simpson’s community.

“He comes from an excellent school,” Jones said. “I think overall he’ll be very conscious about how he can best serve our student body and this college.”