Staff/Faculty Spotlight: Nicci Whalen


Photo submitted to the Simpsonian

by Morgan Flynn, Staff Reporter

Q: What is your educational background?

A: My undergrad was at Simpson College where I played basketball and studied sports administration and athletic training. I then attended Iowa State and studied exercise physiology. I am a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.


Q: What is your title at Simpson?

A: Professor in Health and Exercise Science


Q: How long have you been at Simpson?

A: I have been teaching at Simpson since 2001 in some capacity. I started out teaching, serving as an assistant athletic trainer and assistant women’s basketball coach. The load and schedule was tough so when my oldest son came along I decided to step away from coaching. Eventually, I went to teaching only and now serve as a department chair and a professor in the Sports Science and Health Education department.


Q: Are you involved with any student organizations/activities on campus?

A:  I am a faculty sponsor for the health and exercise science club on campus and Pi Phi.


Q: What is your favorite class to teach?

A: I have fun with all of them, but I really love teaching exercise physiology in order to apply scientific concepts to exercise and sport. I also really enjoy Personal Health and Wellness because I get students from across campus and we get the opportunity to discuss mental health, mindfulness and nutrition and exercise myths.


Q: What do you love about your job?

A: Definitely the students. My teaching philosophy revolves around trying to get students to really understand concepts and know-how and when to apply them. I try to help them understand and appreciate why this all matters and from there they will hopefully get excited about what they are learning. This is fairly easy to do in our field and I’m blessed to teach in a department full of colleagues that embrace the same beliefs.


Our major prepares students for a variety of careers, which excites me. Students can apply our courses and content to various disciplines that they may not even know exist yet. And even if they don’t enter a career in the health or medical field, I am confident that our courses will help in their own personal health journey.


Q: What is your favorite success story?

A: After teaching for 19 years there are too many to count, but my favorites always include students finding their passion and proving to the world that students from Simpson can run the world with their incredible talents and abilities.


Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?

A: I plan to continue to help build our department at Simpson, making it one of the top programs in the nation.


Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?

A: My family’s life currently revolves around coaching and watching our kids participate in various sports and activities. I also have fun trying different workouts with friends, supporting Simpson sports and appreciating live music on patios once it’s warm.


Q: What is your favorite place to go in the Des Moines/Indianola area?

A: In Indianola, I love eating at Mishmash and Funaro’s and shopping at Adorn on the square. Big Acai in Des Moines is incredible, The Hall has great beer and atmosphere, and Target is always my guilty pleasure.