Interim dean vying for permanent position at Simpson College


by Britteny Johnson, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Simpson College is searching for the right fit for senior vice president and academic dean, one of whom is currently the interim for the position.

Kent Eaton, interim senior vice president and academic dean, is one of the two final candidates for the permanent position. Eaton has been serving as the interim since early July 2016.

Eaton’s plans of him and his wife retiring and permanently moving to their home in Kansas to begin a farm have been halted because of the job opportunity. But the family purchased a permanent home, even as he has been moving around for different interim jobs.

“When I retire we will get animals, but currently, it is just pasture land that is leased,” Eaton said. “There is a nice little cabin there, so it is home.”

Eaton has been serving as interim dean at many schools, the last few including being in Kansas, Texas and Orange City, Iowa. When it came time to fill the position, Eaton decided it was time to step out of being the interim and into a more permanent position at Simpson.

“One reason I found Simpson to be an exciting place to work was the wonderful faculty and staff I get to work with. I think that the students that come here are exceptional, in terms of their commitment to, not only studying, but to issues relating to social justice and to being active and engaged citizens,” Eaton said.

Not only did the people make him want to stay, but Eaton has also seen the beginning processes of some changes that he would like to see to the end.

“There are some things in the works, for example some changes that we need to implement, with the continuing education, graduate and online offerings that we started, and we’ve made some good progress. But those are projects that I would like to see through to a completion,” Eaton said.

Eaton said he is most thankful for the conversations that the community has taken part in during his time at Simpson.

“I think the things that I am most thankful for would be the fact that we have had some really good discussions regarding ways to help the college become more multicultural,” Eaton said. “Good discussions on what we need to do to make the college a welcoming place for all people regardless of their differences. That has been a really exciting part of my work.”

Eaton said he sees in Simpson something he doesn’t always see in other institutions.

“I would just say that this is a difficult time for many small liberal arts colleges like Simpson because of the economic pressure that we face and the declining enrollments,” Eaton said. “But I truly believe that the future for Simpson is bright because there is a strong creative component to all that we do, and there is a hopeful entrepreneurial spirit that I don’t always see at other institutions. It’s an exciting time to be at Simpson.”

Both candidates were given an open session to talk with faculty, staff and students. Eaton’s sessions were Feb. 8 with an online survey that followed. Eaton said that majority of attendees were faculty and staff, but he was able to get together with students for a lunch to voice their concerns.

Both Eaton and Wolfgang Natter have had their open sessions, and both surveys have closed. No decision has been made.