Kara May’s departure highlights disconnect between students, administration

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Kara May, assistant director for the Center of Academic Resources, is no longer an employee at Simpson College, President Jay Simmons confirmed Wednesday to The Simpsonian in a brief email.

The announcement comes after rumors swirled late Tuesday that May had been fired, though officials are unable to confirm details surrounding May’s dismissal.

“Members of the Center staff are working to ensure that all services to students continue,” Simmons said.

The Simpsonian profiled May in March about her return to Simpson after graduating in 1990.

Andrew Harris, who graduated this spring, said May’s departure is a blow to Simpson.

“She kept it real,” Harris said. “She was not the best student to start her academic career, and she would tell that to a lot of students. Students who were struggling found her as an outlet. She kept a lot of students level-headed an ear to always vent to.

“She’s an important part of the Simpson experience and culture.”

The fraternity Alpha Tau Omega gave May a bouquet of flowers and plaques to show their appreciation for someone who has changed lives on campus.

“I am in utter shock and disbelief,” Allyson Zarr, who also graduated this spring, posted on her Facebook page. “Kara May was not only my boss and friend, but also a mother figure to me during my college years! I honestly don’t know how I would’ve survived without our weekly talks, especially senior year when I was freaking out about life.”

“She was never too busy to help someone and was always doing so with a smile on her face,” senior Jon Burgardt said. “She has kept a lot of people from failing simply by putting the time in to help them learn and understand the material.”

May’s dismissal and Simpson’s handling of the situation is causing a disconnect between administration and students.

“I do not think the matter was addressed in the proper manner,” Burgardt said. “The students have not been officially notified by the school in any way, and it seems like the whole thing is trying to be swept under the rug.”

Students like Burgardt want an explanation as to why May left.

“It wouldn’t solve the problem,” he said, “but (it would) ease the tension building up between students and the school.”

Kent Eaton, interim senior vice president and academic dean, said he cannot comment on circumstances of May’s dismissal due to legal and human resources issues. Anyone with inquiries, though, is asked to contact him at [email protected].

Jim Hayes, associate dean and director of student retention and success, sent out an email to the student body Wednesday afternoon informing students of services available:

– Students visiting The Center space on the first floor of Dunn Library should stop at the check-in desk in the middle of our space. Jodi Eubank or a student employee will direct them to the appropriate staff member or help them schedule appointments using the online scheduling system (https://simpson.mywconline.com/).

– The Center includes office space and staff for Research Assistance (Liz Grimsbo, Mary Peterson, and Steve Duffy), Student Accessibility Services (Pat Kelley), Simpson Writing Across the Curriculum (Beth Beggs), and Academic Coaching, Advising, and Retention (Jim Hayes).

– Subject-area Tutors, Writing Consultants, and Writing Fellows are located throughout our various seating spaces. Stop at the check-in desk for assistance locating these services.

– Subject-area Tutor schedules are posted on the white board on the back wall of the center and on our website.

– Writing Consultants provide writing assistance for all students. Schedule a Writing Consultation using the online scheduling system:https://simpson.mywconline.com/. Be sure to select the “Writing Consultant” schedule.

– Writing Fellows provide writing assistance for first-year students enrolled in an SC course. Schedule a meeting with your Writing Fellow using the online scheduling system: https://simpson.mywconline.com/. Be sure to select the “Writing Fellow” schedule.

– Student athletes should sign-in and sign-out for Study Table hours accessing the online scheduling. Be sure to select the “Study Tables” schedule, and use only the laptop located at the center’s check-in desk. Other computers will not have the same IP address and cannot prove that you met the Study Table obligation.

– If you have been receiving services that are not identified above, please contact Jim Hayes ([email protected] or 515-961-1281) for information about the continuation of those services.

Check back with thesimpsonian.com for updates to this story.