Search for Simpson’s new president well under way

by Shara Tibken

It will be a challenge to find the most suitable person to guideSimpson College, so the process to find a replacement for PresidentR. Kevin LaGree has started already.

“A lot of things are already underway because it’s importantthat we get into this process as early as possible to get the bestpeople interested in this position,” said Marilyn Mueller,professor of management and member of the presidential searchcommittee.

The committee

Steve Weeber, chairman of the Simpson College board of trustees,is also the chairman of the search committee.

Four other trustees were appointed to the committee. They areRichard Willis, Leon Langlitz, James Oplt and Allison Fleming.

The Simpson faculty will be represented by Professor of MusicMaria DiPalma, Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice FredJones” and Mueller.

Only two students, senior Eric Elben and junior Kara DeNoon,were selected to represent the student body on the searchcommittee.

“Students will have actual input during this process, [and they]are welcome to contact Kara and me with comments and concernsthroughout the presidential search,” Elben said.

The process

The search committee has four main steps in its search.

“The process sounds complicated, but it’s actually quitestraightforward,” Weeber said.

First the committee will get input from the Simpson community.Second, it will define what the college needs from a president.Third, the committee will interview candidates and finally, it willmake a final decision and interview the final candidate again.

Currently the search committee is focusing on the first step inthat process: collecting input.

Dr. Barbara E. Taylor, the consultant hired by the college, metwith members of the Simpson community Sept. 8-9. She works for theAcademic Search Consultation Service from Washington, D.C.

Taylor spent time with students, alumni, faculty members andtrustees of the college. Taylor also held an open forum for anyonefrom the college or community to attend. At this forum, she furtherdiscussed what people expect from a new president.


Some members of the Simpson community voiced their opinionsabout what a new president should be like.

“I think it’s really important for a president to be involved inthe college and students,” sophomore Lucy Wilson said. “The newpresident [should] sincerely have an interest for SimpsonCollege.”

The most common qualities people expect from the future Simpsonpresident are a strong academic background, good people skills,vision for Simpson College, passion for the job and goodcommunication skills.

“I would like to see a president with a sense of what it takesto lead a liberal arts college in the Midwest,” Elben said.”Obvious qualities include a warm, strong personality andfine-tuned leadership experience to connect with faculty, students,and alumni, etc. A president should be able to run the institutionwith a positive, strong vision for the future of SimpsonCollege.”

One quality that was emphasized several times was the need for astrong fund-raiser.

College presidents are vital to the process of bringing moneyinto the school, so whomever Simpson hires will be required to putin considerable effort to raise funds so tuition costs don’t keepincreasing.

Bruce Haddox, vice president and dean for academic affairs,already has many ideas about what Simpson should be looking for ina new president.

“I think that we need a strong academic leader, someone who’sexperienced in the kind of college we are,” Haddox said.

Taylor said that she plans to be in close contact with theSimpson community.

“This is not a foolproof business … The odds are in favor ofus finding the right person this time,” Taylor said. “I can tellyou on my part and on the part of the search committee, there is atotal commitment to making sure that we find exactly the person youneed.”