The Hunt for Simpson College’s Next Vice President and Academic Dean


Simpsonian file photo

by Amelia Schafer , Staff Reporter

The search for Simpson’s next vice president and academic dean has been narrowed down to four candidates. 

All four candidates were interviewed several times on their respective dates by many different groups. 

The candidates were first interviewed by the Dean’s Cabinet, then the division heads, President’s Cabinet, and several campus leaders. Students also took part in the interviewing process. This included student class presidents and Student Body President Elliott Meyer. 

Each candidate was then interviewed in a public forum, open to all members of the Simpson College community. Members of The Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Committee, the Committee on Academic Diversity and Inclusion and the President’s Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion also took part in the forum. 

All interviews were conducted through Zoom.

The first candidate Carmen Wilson was interviewed Friday, May 1.

Wilson is currently the associate of the chancellor at the University of Southern Wisconsin at La Crosse. 

Wilson attended Iowa State with the goal of being a surgeon until she decided to take a psychology class. She realized she loved helping people work through issues. 

In the community forum lead by professor Brian Steffen, Wilson was asked how she’d handle diversity, athletics, and continuing and graduate programs on campus. 

“We need to respect everyone and find what works best for everyone,” Wilson said. 

The second finalist, Timothy Schorr, was interviewed Monday, May 4, in the same style that Wilson was. 

Schorr is currently serving as the assistant vice president for academic affairs at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Schorr had an overall success rate of 100 percent for the class of 2018 as well as a 99 percent retention rate for students who received tutoring. 

Schorr obtained his bachelor of music in piano at Eastern Illinois University and earned his doctorate in musical arts in piano at the University of Cincinnati.  

Third in line was Denise Baird, who was interviewed on May 5.

Baird worked at Franklin College. She started as the chair of the sociology department and then as the academic dean and later the associate provost. 

Baird obtained her bachelor’s in sociology at the University of Akron and her doctorate in sociology at Purdue University. 

In the community forum portion of the interview, one of the questions Baird answered prompted her to describe her plans to help students from larger communities adjust to a small college like Simpson. 

“We have to look at Indianapolis (as Franklin College) as to where we get our diversity,” Baird said. “Students coming from different kinds of neighborhoods different school systems, that’s a culture shock and I think we aren’t always articulating the differences that those students will face and they feel like a fish out of water. It’s assuring that when we bring them we can do what’s necessary to help them acclimate and be successful.”

The fourth candidate, John Woell, was interviewed on May 6. 

Woell is currently serving as the associate vice president of strategic initiatives and academic affairs at Albion College, a college that’s roughly the same size as Simpson.

Woell obtained his bachelor’s in humanities and theology at Valparaiso University and his masters in philosophy and doctorate in religion at Claremont Graduate University. 

Woell has taught honors courses in religion and theology and has written about both subjects in his book, “Pragmatism and Philosophy of Religion.”

Following each interview, the Simpson community was given 24 hours to respond to a survey on the candidate interviewed that day. 

Story was updated 5/7/2020 at 2:07 p.m.