Letter to the Editor: Mr. Simmons, Where Are you Hiding?


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by Drew Riebhoff, Special to The Simpsonian

A few thousand other proud Simpson College alumni and I received an email on Oct. 10 from Brenda Wickett, assistant to President Jay Simmons, informing us about the shocking changes happening at Simpson.

While we could argue for days on what departments and faculty “deserve” to be cut, how the financial resources could be better utilized, what areas draw in the most students and so on and so forth, two key things stand out to me:

First, this is the second time in the past year alone the arts programs have been targeted. The college has cut significant staff members from both the theatre and music programs and now is getting rid of the art department as a whole.

Simpson used to pride itself on being a liberal arts institution, where students are exposed to a wide variety of areas. How can that continue if the college continues to reduce the arts available on campus?

But more important is how these decisions are being made and announced.

I am admittedly not well informed on the complete process that occurred in these decisions. But the conversations I’ve had with current faculty and staff have made it seem these decisions were made behind closed doors and in a vacuum with little input from the community.

And then worst of all, in my opinion: When the announcement was made to the alumni, it was “signed” by President Simmons but was sent by his assistant. Shouldn’t something this important be coming from the president himself?

I question Mr. Simmons and his sincerity in these changes and the direction he is taking Simpson, what used to be a school from where I was proud to have graduated.

Why wasn’t this email sent directly from him? Where was the invitation for conversation and feedback? And most importantly, why did he hide behind his secretary when sending the email? Was it so she could receive the angry emails from alumni?

And trust me, I know they’ve happened: People have been using reply-all to respond to the message, so now Brenda has had to read the angry emails and words, instead of the man responsible for them.

So I ask you to stand up and out Mr. Simmons. Talk to us, and take responsibility for your decisions. Don’t make someone else deliver the bad news you’ve created.

Drew Riebhoff is a 2010 graduate of Simpson College who now works as a claims analyst.