Columnist bids farewell to favorite people

by Mark Pleiss

It’s always a sad occasion when the last paper arrives, so you may notice my mug shot sucking back a few tears. Nevertheless, the lack of weekly written discernment will have its delights.

But before we say goodbye, I’ve decided it best to find people and memories that brought me, well, memories … and, more importantly, opinions.

This year was marked by people in very extraordinary situations. I want to look back at the people of Simpson College that made an impact this year. We’ll call it Simpson’s People 2004-2005.

President R. Kevin LaGree

I woke in a cold pool of sweat the morning before it happened. Somehow I knew something bad was going to happen. And then I returned to campus and it was true; the president had resigned. When I discovered it, I tried to think of all the memories. Then I realized, he was the president, and I was a student. I probably could have talked to him if I wanted, but I never really did. I don’t think others really did either.

And despite the Ken Birkenholtz situation, his retirement was strangely unemotional for most of the student body, the emotions being saved for the Clark-Kent-secret-sized and completely irrational presidential search that followed. Nonetheless, I did appreciate everything LaGree did for the newspaper by respecting it and never attempting to censor it. He was also a soccer fan, which are hard to come by and appreciated by us futbol folk.

The Ghosts of Diversity

Over the past few weeks the paper has gone in-depth on school diversity. Like most institutions its size, Simpson has few minority instructors and students, as well as few female teachers and coaches. With the astounding number of female students at Simpson, this will continue to be a serious issue. Many of the problems and possible solutions have been examined by The Simp, so hopefully in the end we’re all left with the idea that these people are necessary for a truly diverse education. We salute you, those of our sacred minority.

Soccer Coach Aziz Haffar

A lot of people loved Aziz, and I was one of them. I can easily say I wouldn’t be here, and you wouldn’t be reading this, if it wasn’t for him. He personified the image of what Simpson wants to be known as. He is a very emotional man and truly would go out of his way for any of his players. This is evident when talking to some of the people that played for him, especially Kenny Chapman, who sent the heavy-hearted Letter to the Editor last week. But, in the end, the program was clearly slipping and some of his actions didn’t help. I do think the Letter to the Editor had a valid point.

Someone who has been such a large part of the community with such a good record for 10 years shouldn’t be silenced and dismissed as it seems he was. But in the end, it’s over, and all we’re left with is speculation. Luckily, an excellent replacement was found, and everyone in the program, including myself, is looking forward to a bright future.

Assistant Professor Nick Proctor

Undoubtedly one of the most-quoted in the paper and most-loved by freshmen girls, Proctor is one who has embedded himself in the Simpson community. Truthfully, I’ve never even had the man in class, but there have been too many stories about him for Proctor to evade Simpson’s People 2005. At commencement he’ll be one of three professors up for the Distinguished Teacher Award. He and those like him add substantially to our institution. I also want to recognize the likes of Rick Spellerberg, professor of mathematics, retiring Eugenia Koss, professor of Spanish, and Erin Reser, assistant professor of speech and rhetoric – all of whom are names recommended to me in a small Mark-conducted survey by my peers and professors. They’re all noted here for their exceptional work in their field.


With the last of my people comes the last of this column. Whether you’ll see my smug mug shot again next year, I’m still discerning. A particularly disturbing load of classes first semester and an exciting spring semester in Nicaragua may hamper my Simpsonian writing during my junior year. Still, I hope you’ll pick up the paper and read the super-hot Perspectives section every week.

This summer, I’ll be returning to my Omaha abode to take money out of parking meters for the City of Omaha. I look forward to making the three chests of pirates’ gold necessary to pay for my Simpson education for my junior year. And with any luck, I’ll finally start the process of forgetting everything I’ve learned this semester.

Farewell for the summer. Be careful of the sun.