Arizona ideas spark debate

by Peter Kaspari

Several months after it was announced that Simpson was looking into the possibility of creating a campus in Arizona, the investigation and process is continuing with an actual decision still far in the future.

President John Byrd said the Board of Trustees recently decided to continue looking into Arizona as a potential out-of-state campus.

“A number of trustees have volunteered to be a part of the process, and we’ll continue to also involve a number of faculty and administrators in that process as well,” Byrd said. “Our stance right now is neutral; we simply don’t have enough information to decide whether it’s a viable option for us or not.”

The process began when the city of Peoria, Ariz. approached Simpson about the possibility of creating a campus in their town. Since then, Byrd said many visits to Peoria have been made which have entailed visiting potential sites, talking with residents about opportunities for support, and the opportunity itself.

Byrd added that there is much that still needs to be looked at.

“In this next stage, we’re going to be collecting information about how much demand there would be in Arizona for programs offered by a not-for-profit liberal arts college,” Byrd said. “We’re also looking at financial support. Right now, we spend all the resources we generate to support our campuses here in Iowa, so we don’t have funds sitting around to initiate a new program in Arizona, and we need to assure ourselves that there would be resources available to us from Arizona to help support our programs.”

Byrd also said the continuing investigation will be asking about the academic program itself, and what would be offered as well as what kinds of partnerships can be formed with the city of Peoria and Arizona itself.

John Epperson, professor of political science and head of the division of policy studies, is against the plan to build in Arizona because he believes the effort could be better spent in Iowa.

“We ought to devote all of our resources and energy to programs here,” Epperson said. “All of the programs we have here work but can be improved. Arizona would be a distraction.”

Freshman Rachel McCullough said that if the plan were to be approved, she would like to take advantage of it.

“It’d be awesome to spend some time in Arizona just because it is Simpson,” McCullough said. “It might be cool to spend a year down there.”

As for when it would be decided to create a campus in Arizona, Byrd said it’s far too early to make that decision.

“I wouldn’t even want to venture a guess as to when we might have something up and running there if we decide to move ahead,” Byrd said. “It’s just an unknown at this point.”

Byrd said right now it’s important to do all the research to see if this is something Simpson wants to and is able to do.

“While it’s intriguing, it would be a big step for us, and I think that we have to continue studying the possibility very carefully before we come to a conclusion about whether it’s the right move for Simpson,” Byrd said.