Simpson welcomes Kelliher as first female president


Photo courtesy of Simpson College’s press release.

by Alyssa Craven, Peyton Busch, Features Editor, Staff reporter

Simpson College announced the institution’s first female president on March 31, Marsha Kelliher. Kelliher will be Simpson’s 24th president and is excited to be a part of the Simpson community. 

Following her interview with the institution, Kelliher said, “I received a follow-up phone call to discuss the offer [in] which I very enthusiastically accepted.”

She knows the significance her role will play on campus and in the college’s history. Kelliher said she feels “I have to be a role model for all of our young women.”

Simpson College made a commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus and Kelliher intends to continue to follow through with this mission. 

“I think every institution should be looking at opportunities to increase diversity,” Kelliher said. “I was very impressed with the diversity and inclusion statement that Simpson does have. I’m looking forward to working with all of my colleagues and our students to find new ways to live out the commitment made in that statement.”

Kelliher was attracted to Simpson College for many reasons, but the students she met during her interview process are what really stood out to her.

“I was impressed with all the students that I met,” she said. “I have been to two liberal arts schools and universities in the past. As much as I enjoy working with my non-traditional and graduate students, I really missed working with traditional undergraduate students.”

Simpson’s mission and values also appealed to Kelliher.

“I am also a Methodist,” she said. “So the values of Simpson College certainly resonate with me and my background and my own personal values.”

One of the first things Kelliher wants to do as president is to get to know Simpson’s students, faculty and staff better.

“When I first get there I want to spend about a month listening and getting to know the community,” Kelliher said. “But my vision would be to build upon the traditions, missions and values that have made Simpson College such a very, very, special place.”

Kelliher also stressed how important it was for Simpson to take advantage of its smaller campus size. With the student-faculty ratio being small, Kelliher stressed how it allows students to get to know their faculty better.

Kelliher also wants Simpson to take advantage of being so close to the Des Moines area during her time.

In these stressful times, she shared some of her personal interests and hobbies that have helped keep her busy during quarantine. 

“I have two small poodles. I like to barbecue and I like to cook. Because of this pandemic, I’m starting to practice [the] piano again. I’m hoping to be as good as I was when I was in sixth grade.”

Kelliher will start her duties as president on June 1. She is hoping to get moved to Indianola before then, but with the virus, things may be delayed.