Simpson honors professor who has taught for 4 decades

by Emma Schlenker, Social Media Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — In 40 years, John Epperson, professor of political science, has taught hundreds of credit hours, worked with six college presidents, and watched over 300 students graduate from the political science department.

After a late resignation in 1977, Epperson was hired to teach in the Simpson College political science department and moved in two weeks before classes started that August.

That year he taught his first and last 8 a.m. class. He taught using his predecessor’s books and lesson plans. And just like that, he realized Simpson was the place he wanted to be.

“I learned I liked teaching,” Epperson said.

Forty years ago, Simpson College was a different place, Epperson said. Now, Simpson is a stronger institution with higher enrollment, better buildings and a more beautiful campus. But still, some things never change.

“I can walk into a classroom and still feel like I am 27 years old,” Epperson said.

Epperson said he has found Simpson to be a place where faculty can influence the college environment. He said it is a good place to allow ideas to grow. He watched the college grow, his kids grow up on his office floor in Mary Berry Hall and his students become “innovated movers of society.”

Epperson represented faculty on every college committee besides teacher education in the past 40 years. He inspired students to follow their dreams, proven by the comments on a recent Simpson College Political Science Facebook post.

With a picture of Epperson and Simpson College President Jay Simmons holding the 40-year commemorative etching of College Hall, is a quote from Kedron Bardwell, professor of political science, and a call for alumni to share their favorite memories.

“Simpson Poli Sci and John Epperson are synonymous,” the Facebook post read. “The department basically wouldn’t exist without him and his commitment.”


Alumni had similar responses. Many of their favorite memories with Epperson include trips abroad, favorite classes, the first time they saw Simpson College and what class they took in which election year.

Simmons presented Epperson with the commemorative etching of College Hall in celebration of 40 years of service to the college.

“John Epperson represents a lifetime commitment not only to the mission of Simpson College but the education of his students,” Simmons said. “Not only in the classroom, because he has been an ardent advocate of student athletics. He really has immersed his life in Simpson College and its students.”

After receiving his award, he received a standing ovation. “I was really touched by that. It feels like it was worth it,” Epperson said.

Personally, Epperson said he has grown into his role at Simpson.

“Hopefully I am a better person, but you’ll have to ask someone else to know,” he said. “I owe a lot to this place and I hope that I’ve been good for it. I’ve tried to be.”