Opinion: Board of Trustees member shares decision-making process

by Sunnie Richer, Board of Trustees/Special to the Simpsonian

Dear Students:

On behalf of the Simpson College Board of Trustees, I want to express how much we value you and your commitment to Simpson. Since most of you don’t regularly interact with members of the board, I’m sending this letter as means to communicate some of the problems the board faces.  

Many of the most important decisions the trustees make each year have to do with how to manage the cost of higher education, including setting the comprehensive fee for attending Simpson. Many factors go into this decision and I want to share some of those with you so you have a better understanding of our process. 

  • We are very sensitive to the cost of higher education. We hear from administrators, faculty and students about their concerns, priorities and dreams for the future and we take all that input very seriously. We also pay attention to the trends in higher education.
  • Simpson’s strength lies in its small class sizes, personal attention by faculty and staff and extensive activities outside of the classroom.  The Simpson graduate is well rounded and ready to work and to lead.  As trustees, we are convinced that your Simpson experience is worth the money.
  • We are committed to finding ways to recruit and retain quality faculty and staff which means working diligently to offer competitive salaries and yearly pay increases that make a difference. This also comes from your tuition dollars.
  • We work hard to keep the cost of attending Simpson in line with our direct, private competitors. We currently have a comprehensive fee that is lower than many of our Iowa peer institutions including Wartburg, Luther, Central, Coe and Cornell.
  • The increase in the comprehensive fee has averaged less than 4% per year for the last four years and we have held the line on the cost of room and board during those years.  The increase in tuition and fees goes directly to enhance your student experience. Some of those things aren’t very exciting, like paying the utility bills, increased maintenance for our buildings, additional bandwidth to support digital devices and increasing healthcare costs for employees, but are critical to delivering you a quality education.
  • As many of us on the board are business people, we are able to use our experiences to bring new ideas that often challenge the status quo of the world of higher education. Sometimes these ideas make sense and sometimes they don’t translate well, but we are constantly calling on everyone’s collective creativity and resources to make the best decisions possible.

Our primary interest is you and your education and we will continue to do our very best to provide a high quality Simpson experience affordable to you and students to come. Thank you again for choosing Simpson College.

Best regards,

Sunnie Richer