Simpson officially welcomes Dr. Heidi Levine as vice president for student development

by Alex Kirkpatrick, reporter

With more than 30 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Heidi Levine is officially welcomed to the Simpson College community as Vice President for Student Development and Strategic Planning, succeeding Jim Thorius who retired last spring.

The Welcome Reception was held at College Hall in the Matthew Simpson Room on February 5. Attendees included President Jay Simmons and his wife, Jenne, Steve Griffith, Senior Vice President and Academic Dean, Bob Lane, Vice President for College Advancement, Cole Zimmerman, Director of Recruitment and Becky Hastie, Academic Assistant.

Currently at Cornell College, Levine will assume her new position starting June 2015, while Jim Hayes, the interim vice president for the 2014-2015 academic year, will step down.

“One thing I’m looking forward to is getting to know members of this community. When I interviewed back in November, one of the things that struck me was how committed people are to Simpson,” Levine said.

Under her belt, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, a Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Temple University.

Levine’s previous positions include: Acting Director of Counseling and Director of Orientation at Philadelphia University, Director of Counseling Services and Associate and Interim Director for Counseling and Student Development at Cabrini College, Director of Student Health and Counseling at State University of New York and her current position Dean of Students at Cornell.

“I’m hoping to bring my leadership style of helping form collaborative relationships and working together to achieve a common goal,” she said.

“I’m very excited about President [Jay] Simmons and his vision and his goals … to help strengthen and position Simpson as we move into the next 10 to 15 years,” Levine said.

President Simmons lauded Levine for her previous studies in counseling and psychology, which he said are important areas in a Student Development officer.

“In addition to that, she has a background in strategic planning and assessment, which will be critical to us as we evaluate our progress… and develop benchmarks for measuring the effectiveness of our Student Development programs,” Simmons said.

Amid faculty cuts at the beginning of this year, Simmons addressed Levine’s new position noting that she has experienced these similar circumstances before.

“She knows how to take a program that has been through [job] reductions and ensure that everyone in the department is working together to achieve the critical missions and program objectives for that department. She knows how to reconfigure an area so that it is functioning as efficiently and effectively as it can,” Simmons said.

Referring to student engagement and their involvement in Student Development, Levine said the most gratifying reward is when students take full charge of their lives.

“Part of my role is to be a conduit for that student perspective to be at the table on how to move Simpson forward in the coming years,” Levine said.

Levine stresses that students’ voices are critical in the life of the institution, seeing as the two are contingent upon each other.

But her love for higher education is self-described as “circuitous” and “accidental.” Her training as a psychologist was fit with the desire to work with adolescents. Over the course of attaining her Master’s degree, she started to think about working in higher education. While she enjoyed counseling and health services, she was drawn to broader spectrums.

“I found what I was pulled more and more toward were questions about how to shape that student experience, so we can make it as rich, engaging and meaningful for students as possible,” Levine said.

“When a small college is doing its work is when people have love for the institution,” Levine said.