After Griffith’s departure, Simpson moves forward


by Erin Johnson, Staff Reporter

President Jay Simmons sent out an email to all students and faculty three weeks ago about Academic Dean Steve Griffith’s retirement.

Griffith’s work on Simpson College started 10 years ago after he left his previous position as a professor in the theater department at Gustavus Adolphus College, where he was previously an undergraduate.

Simpson College and Gustavus Adolphus College are both small, liberal arts colleges, making the decision to work at Simpson easy.

Simpson was also close to his family home in Minnesota. Although he worked at Gustavus for 27 years, he felt that Simpson was a great opportunity, especially when he took on more responsibilities and seeked further education on leadership and higher education.

“I remember thinking, ‘Well, I can either sit in the background and be a faculty member, or I could put up or shut up.’ You know, I could try it on my own,” Griffith said.

He achieved a lot at Simpson, such as the gender education revisions a few years ago. He also made it possible for faculty and students to take on fewer courses, so students that previously took on five courses now only take on four. Griffith also revised the faculty handbook and all the promotion and tenure procedures.

His decision to retire from his position wasn’t made in the spur of the moment, but something he thought about for a long time. His wife got a job as a manager for a large church in Pennsylvania, and he said that it was the right thing to do, as she followed him when he was hired at Simpson.

In the interview, he mentioned that he would like to volunteer at church and at a living history museum, as living history is something that interests him. Working part-time as a consultant or higher education part-time was something that also appealed to him.

“I doubt that I will not work,” Griffith said. “I can’t imagine not working but I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing.”

Griffith said he enjoyed his time at Simpson.

“I think there are really good people here and the takeaway is that they need the resources and they need the time,” he said. ” I’m happy that we were able to work on that issue and accomplish everything we wanted to. We’ve accomplished a lot.”

Simmons plans to discuss how administration officials will move forward with Griffith’s retirement, but he mentioned a few routes in an interview. The meeting will be with all the division heads: Patti Woodward-Young, Patricia Calkins, Jackie Brittingham, Jim Palmieri and Ron Albrecht.

With Griffith done with all his responsibilities on May 31, college officials want someone to take on his responsibilities at least on an interim basis. If that isn’t possible, another option would be to have a faculty member on campus take the job for a year while they search in the fall and develop a candidate pool for the permanent success for Griffith.

It is possible they could begin this search this spring, but Simmons said that would be difficult to achieve.

When hiring Griffith, they searched for academic experience and someone who comes from an institution similar to Simpson College, which is something they would also look for in a future candidate.

“Dean Griffith is a great academic officer, and I’ve enjoyed working with him,” Simmons said. “I hate to see him go. He is very solid, in terms of leadership and academic programs, but he’s also been doing this job for 10 years.”