Dunn Library Adds New Study Room

by Maggie Grenko

Simpson College honored longtime professor, Joseph W. Walt, by dedicating a study room in Dunn Library to him.

A new study room has been added along the east wall on the first floor of Dunn, making the total number of study rooms up to four.

Walt, who is now a retired history professor, was humbled by the experience.

“It came as a complete surprise,” Walt said. “I really do appreciate it.”

Walt began his legendary career at Simpson in 1954 at Northwestern University pursuing his doctorate degree.

The head of the history department at Simpson during that time approached him and asked if he would be interested in filling a European history position at the college. Walt hesitated to accept the position at Simpson but figured that it would be a “nice place to start” and one day would “join the big league schools.”

Year after year he told himself the same thing; that he would go join the big league schools, and year after year he stayed at Simpson.

“When I first got here, there were no more than 500 students,” Walt said. “But I really did like the relationships that professors were able to build with students.”

Walt built those relationships by becoming actively involved with the study abroad programs at Simpson.

“My biggest passion here was and still is guiding students through not only Simpson but elsewhere; around the world,” Walt said.

Not only is Walt a legendary Professor at Simpson, he is also a recognized author of the close-to-1000-page book Beneath the Whispering Maples: the History of Simpson College.

“Joe Walt was asked to write a college history in 1985 when Simpson College celebrated its 125th year,” Cyd Dyer, Simpson College Librarian and Archivist, said. “The book was written over almost 10 summers and was published in 1995.”

The location of the study room has a huge significance to Walt and the library.

“Dr. Walt wrote most of the text at the back of the first floor where the named study room is now located,” Dyer said.

Walt retired from teaching in 1994 but is still an active member on Simpson’s campus, with his own desk in Mary Berry.

Tab Waggoner, junior, who has a work study in the library thinks that the new study room is a great addition.

“The new study room will have more room for groups to study together and not have to worry about bothering other students,” Waggoner said.

Atop being a grade-A professor, Walt’s other accomplishments include serving in the Navy during World War II, earning his B.A. and M.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, being actively involved as an advisor in Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on and off campus, and leading numerous trips abroad with students and alums.

Copies of Beneath the Whispering Maples: the History of Simpson College can be found at Dunn Library.