Opinion: President Simmons addresses the future

Dear Editor:

Colleges all over the Midwest, including Simpson, have had to respond to a challenging economic and demographic environment in recent years.  The economic downturn which began in 2008 hit colleges and universities and the families they serve particularly hard.  In the Midwest, Iowa and contiguous states experienced a considerable drop in the number of 18-year-olds graduating from high school.  In the past, Iowa high schools graduated more than 40,000 students each year; the equivalent number today is 31,000-32,000 per year.  The effect of this change is that Iowa’s private colleges and universities are recruiting from a considerably smaller pool of available students.

Despite this challenge, Simpson has continued to strengthen.  Not only has Simpson recruited well in Iowa, we have seen our enrollment from students outside the region increase significantly.  Several years ago only 6-8% of Simpson students came from outside Iowa.  This fall, 23% of the incoming class came from outside Iowa.  This change reflects a great benefit to all students enrolled at the College as they have increasing opportunities to interact with persons from other parts of the United States. 

Along with this increase in the percentage of students coming from outside the state has been an overall increase in the academic preparation of our students.  ACT scores on average have increased regularly in recent years, so Simpson is not only recruiting a more diverse group of students, but also a more academically well prepared group of individuals as well.  It is no surprise that the learning outcomes of Simpson students have improved during that time as evidenced by the variety and number of internships offered to them along with the graduate placements Simpson students are routinely achieving.  Moreover, Simpson students have seen these gains while enrolling at what Great Value Colleges calls one of the best educational values in the Midwest. 

These trends suggest that Simpson’s success in recent years will continue well into the future.  Indeed, as I survey the landscape of higher education, Simpson’s future strikes me as a particularly bright one.  Simpson enjoys one of the strongest financial and academic positions in the region, thereby ensuring that we will not only see our way through this period, but will be in a position to enjoy a very successful future.  Indeed, I would not trade our position at Simpson with any other college or university in the region.

Thank you for being at Simpson.  It is a privilege to be here with you.


Jay Simmons


Simpson College