Byrd: Arizona Would Have Benefits


by Peter Kaspari

Several members of the Simpson community are looking into an exciting the possibility of a Simpson campus out West in Arizona.

While the idea is still being investigated, the potential campus, located in the city of Peoria, would be the first time in Simpson’s history that a branch campus was located in another state.

“We know what it’s like to have classes offered at locations off of our main campus, but we’ve never, to my knowledge, investigated anything that was so geographically remote from our campus,” President John Byrd said.

Byrd said the city of Peoria came to them with a suggestion.

“We were invited to investigate the opportunity because Peoria has made attracting a four-year institution to its community as top economic development goal,” Byrd said. “We responded to that request and we’ve been studying the feasibility of doing that.”

After making a preliminary visit, Byrd formed a committee over the summer to help in the investigation. Rosemary Link, associate vice president for academic affairs, is chair of the committee.

Link recently visited Peoria with other members of the committee.

“I was skeptical as to whether we could create a Simpson College there, but also encouraged by the invitation from the city of Peoria,” Link said.

After visiting Peoria, Link said she was very impressed with the city and the surrounding area.

“The potential site is close to Lake Pleasant, and it’s close to the future site of a high school that will have athletic facilities which could be shared,” Link said. “There are plans for a hospital and there are some beautiful private residential buildings already in place.”

Now that the committee has visited Peoria, the next step is going to be making reports to a number of groups on campus.

“I’ve already visited with the cabinet and made a report to them,” Link said. “We’re on the agenda for the faculty meeting, and there will be some open sessions later on if the trustees decide to go forward…but right now it’s still early in the design.”

Byrd said that if the plan were to be approved, it would occur over the next few years. But he added that the decision is still far away.

“I have to emphasize that we’re in the very early stages of evaluating whether or not this makes sense for Simpson, so we’re a long way from making a decision about whether to pursue this or not,” Byrd said.

Byrd believes one advantage is that Arizona has very few private liberal arts colleges.

“Imagine a seamless curriculum in several of our majors where students could choose to spend a term in Arizona and continue their studies as if they were in Iowa,” Byrd said. “There could be other possibilities for different companies they could intern with or opportunities for undergraduate research or other kinds of academic-related activities…”

Junior Kelsey Tulon thought the idea of an out-of-state campus seemed intriguing.

“It sounds like they’ve done their market research,” Tulon said. “I think it’ll be a good idea. It would give people a chance to know the different parts of Arizona.”

Link said chairing the study has helped her in numerous ways.

“It’s an energizing project to think about, and I’m learning from the process,” Link said. “I welcome questions at any time.”