New Dean, New Goals: Simpson hires Cheryl Jacobsen as the new interim academic dean


by Noah Sacco, Staff Reporter

The search for a new academic dean has concluded. After the resignation of Kent Eaton last year, Simpson hired Cheryl Jacobsen as the interim academic dean for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Although Jacobsen will serve as the academic dean for only a year, the Simpson administration placed a high emphasis on finding the right individual for the job.

“The idea was for Simpson to bring somebody in short term with a fair amount of experience and who knew small colleges, who knew Iowa, and could start quickly,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen was contacted in June about the position and began in August. Yet she has never met the former president or academic dean. However, Student Body President Jailyn Seabrooks believes it could benefit decision-making on campus. 

Seabrooks wishes to state she speaks only on behalf of herself and not the larger student body or SGA. 

“Simpson is in a time of transition right now in many aspects and I think Cheryl brings a fresh perspective that we need,” Seabrooks said. “She cares about students and faculty in a way that is needed to heal some of the division we have all been feeling.”

Prior to her appointment of interim academic dean, Jacobsen has had experience in working at other private colleges in Iowa. She has served as a provost, vice president for academic affairs and has been involved in higher education at multiple institutions.

Many of the colleges Jacobsen has worked at have had problems with enrollment and deferred maintenance. Both are prevalent issues at Simpson. 

“Some of the things that I am doing is to better certain practices that occur at other institutions that haven’t occurred at Simpson yet. If we were going to change or improve something, it can be held during this period of time, in a somewhat more neutral sort of atmosphere,” Jacobsen said.

The academic dean is responsible for moving information from the faculty, or the academic community, to the president. Jacobsen believes these are things she will focus her attention to in order to keep information spreading throughout campus.

“Someone told me just two days ago, that at Simpson, everybody talks about stuff, there’s a lot of conversation, and then a decision gets made.” Jacobsen said. “I want to make sure that communication is a lot clearer, and that decision making and the issues that confront people are more transparent so people understand the conversations these changes stem from.”

Transparency is a key factor in keeping faculty and the student body a part of the campus-wide conversation. Doing this can create better lines of communication and notify people on how, when and why decisions are made before they are carried out.

“I hope that Jacobsen can help our community discern what it is that makes us unique and help us come out of this financial and administrative transition better than before,” Seabrooks said.

Hopefully measures will be taken in order to better inform members of the community on changes going forward in this academic year. Only time will tell.