West Des Moines campus staff member dies suddenly

Editor’s Note: This story also mentions suicide in relation to a recent death of a student and may be triggering for some readers. Resources are listed below.


by Randy Paulson, Editor-In-Chief

INDIANOLA, IA—Simpson College’s director of continuing and graduate programs at the West Des Moines campus, Andrea Biklen, died suddenly over the weekend, according to an email Chaplain Mara Bailey sent out to students, faculty and staff Sunday morning.

“This news is a shock to all of us, and we are deeply saddened by this sudden loss. Andrea was an incredibly gifted advisor with contagious joy who advocated passionately for her students and our college,” Bailey said in the email.

“Please keep her husband, David, and her son, Noah, in your prayers and thoughts of comfort as the days to follow will most certainly be filled with lots of challenge,” the email continued.

Bailey’s email did not include the cause of Biklen’s death, which is unknown to The Simpsonian at this time.

“We will notify campus as soon as we know more about services,” the email said.

Andrea Biklen served as director of Simpson’s continuing and graduate programs in West Des Moines since 2007. Photo from Biklen’s profile page on the college website.

According to her staff profile page on the Simpson College website, Biklen “served as the Director of the Continuing & Graduate Programs West Des Moines Campus since 2007. Prior to that she worked as the academic advisor for the evening program at the Indianola campus and academic advisor for the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Simpson. Andrea has been an adjunct faculty member in the English Department since 1995.”

News of Biklen’s death comes almost a week after the news of freshman Nathan Schroeder’s passing on Sunday, Sept. 23.

Photo of freshman Nathan Schroeder, who died on Sept. 23 in his hometown of West Burlington.

President Jay Simmons emailed students on Sept. 24 notifying them that Schroeder died by apparent suicide. A candlelight vigil was held for Schroeder on Sept. 25 in Smith Chapel.

The Burlington newspaper, The Hawk Eye, published Schroeder’s obituary online Saturday morning.

His visitation will be held from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Prugh-Thielen Funeral Home in Burlington, Iowa. His funeral service will take place afterward at the funeral home, according to The Hawk Eye.

Students, faculty or staff needing additional support in the wake of Biklen and Schroeder’s deaths can contact Bailey, counseling services, the Employee Assistance Program or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Mara Bailey: [email protected]; 515-961-1684
Counseling Services: [email protected]; 515-961-1332
Employee Assistance Program: 515-263-4004, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The Simpsonian will report further information about Biklen and Schroeder as it is made known to us.