Who’s next? Search committee holds open forums about presidential search


Students and faculty discuss what they want in the next Simpson President.

by Gunnar Davis, Editor and Chief

Hubbell Hall hosted two different open forums on Sept. 10 regarding the current search for the next president of Simpson College.

Around 30 to 40 students and faculty members sat in to voice their opinions and concerns in both the morning session and the afternoon session.

The forums were led by three members of Academic Search Inc., the nationally recognized search firm set to help the Presidential Search Committee. The team includes Jay Lemons, Wanda Bigham, and Penny Gibbons. Also there to help lead the forum was board member Terry Handley.

All four gave insight into what the committee is looking for in the next president before asking questions to the audience.

“I’m not looking for somebody who’s looking for a job,” Handley said in his opening speech. “I’m looking for somebody who’s never heard of Simpson College, possibly, and doesn’t know anything about wanting to leave where they are, but we give them such a compelling story that they want to be here.”

“They want to be a part of this campus and they want to be a part of this culture” Handley went on. “Because we know what it is, we know how good it is and we know it can be even better with the right leader.”

Handley mentioned that the search will take some time, because the committee wants to do an efficient job getting the right person.

Lemons spoke about Academic Search Inc. before opening the discussion up to the audience.

“I want to tell you that I believe we bring the values of the academy to the work that we do with a sensibility and a knowledge of how colleges and universities run well,” Lemons said.

After a small speech, Lemons asked the audience what they would like to see the next president to do in the next ten years.

In both forums, many faculty members brought up important points.

Carolyn Dallinger, department chair of sociology and criminal justice, brought up how public relations plays and important role in a president’s job.

Many faculty members pointed out how they want to see the next president do a better job of connecting Simpson College to the Indianola and Des Moines communities.

“I would want the next president to be a player in the community,” professor of management Marilyn Mueller said. “Someone who is looked to, sought out and respected for his or her opinions.”

A few students had the opportunity to share what their opinions were as well. 

“I think as students we want to see someone who is really involved in the community, like what was said before,” junior Jared Campbell said. “Someone that does know our name, someone we see at all the football games or all the plays and musicals and operas. Someone who really cares about this community.”