Simpson expanding: new campus in Ankeny

by Sharon Albright

Simpson College is branching out to better accommodate adult students by offering classes at a third campus in Ankeny, starting this summer.

The college has considered the idea of opening another campus for the past six years, according to Walter Pearson, director of the Division of Adult Learning and associate academic dean. The decision to locate in Ankeny was made based on careful consideration of population trends.

“The Ankeny area is growing very rapidly,” Pearson said. “As the area grows and continue to grow, we want to have good education options available for people who live near Ankeny, Johnston, Polk City and other northeast communities.”

Major developers around Des Moines have suggested good reason for Ankeny’s expansion, according to Pearson.

“Right now, Highway 5 (the bypass on the southern side of Des Moines) ends where it intersects I-80. The State Department of Transportation has already gained the right of way to take this up to make a northern bypass, which will probably happen within the next 10 years,” Pearson said.

The result of a new bypass would mean increased development all around the Saylorville Lake area. Pearson said that Simpson already serves a significant number of students from this area, and anticipates that it will attract even people with this new facility.

“Currently, 20 percent of our students in DAL come from a 10-mile radius around Ankeny,” Pearson said. “So, to serve those students better and to also be well-positioned for future growth, the feeling was that we needed a center in Ankeny.”

The opening a third center is not expected to take away from the success of the DAL programs already operating in Indianola and West Des Moines, said Pearson.

“We have been completely full at the West Des Moines campus for about two years now,” Pearson said. “As transportation difficulties become more apparent on the western side of the metro area, growth is going to start slowing down in that direction.”

The Ankeny center at 2501 SE Tone’s Drive will be the smallest center of the three. It will contain four main classrooms, a conference room and offices for a center director, academic advisor and a secretary.

“This is a relatively visible location that is conveniently located right off of the interstate (I-35),” Pearson said.

For now, the plans are to offer courses in three main areas of study: Accounting, marketing and management. Current full-time faculty, adjuncts and lecturers will be teaching these courses, Pearson said.

Pearson said that the Ankeny center will likely offer more courses, as the needs of its students are better defined.

“Our responsibility is to offer innovative teaching and learning processes for students of all ages,” Pearson said. “The specific way that DAL accomplishes this mission is to reach out and learn what needs our students have and to address them. We would anticipate continuing to listen very carefully to what people are saying, and to put any programs there that would meet those needs.”

In order to serve students in the Ankeny area, Simpson continues to build upon its close relationship with Des Moines Area Community College.

“We want to make sure that this center is conducted in a fashion that is basically adding to the educational resources already available in this area,” Pearson said. “We are trying to make sure that their programs are aware of our offerings, as well as coordinating our schedules with them so that we are not broadly duplicating what they offer.” Pearson said.

In the case that the Ankeny campus needs to expand, Pearson said that DMACC could potentially provide Simpson with available classrooms for night classes. This comes as no surprise, according to Pearson, who said that Simpson and DMACC have continuously worked together on educational programs. Also, one of the community college’s senior vice presidents, Doug Shull, serves on Simpson’s board of trustees.