Bolen Returns to Teaching Full-time


by Peter Kaspari & Angela Niesz

After serving as the registrar of Simpson College for 12 years, John Bolen, associate academic dean and assistant professor of religion and philosophy, is stepped down from his post and returned to being a full-time professor.

Bolen, who came to Simpson 20 years ago as a professor, said the main reason behind his decision to return to teaching had to do with several professional goals he is working on.

“Frankly as I’m nearing retirement, I wanted to get back into the full swing of teaching again because there are a lot of projects that I have out there that I’m still working on that, as an administrator, a person doesn’t really have time to work on,” Bolen said.

Bolen is teaching World Religions this fall, a logic course and also a course on Japanese culture. In the spring, he will be teaching Introduction to Ethics, Applied Ethics and planning a May term course.

Although Bolen will miss the registrar’s office staff, he is looking forward to a little less stress in his work.

“I think that the work will be less stressful simply because I’ll have a bit more control over what I’m doing and how I organize my time in doing course preps and grading papers,” Bolen said.

Senior Clint Hakeman had Bolen as a professor when he took Introduction to Logic his freshman year and believes his return to teaching will greatly benefit Simpson.

“I have no doubt that the Simpson curriculum will benefit from his abilities and knowledge,” Hakeman said. “Personally, I’m interested in taking another class with him if I have time.”

While Bolen has returned to teaching, Simpson has hired David Wicklund as the interim registrar. Bolen, who has known Wicklund for several years, praised his experience.

“We need to be looking for someone who is truly a professional registrar, somebody who aspires to that position,” Bolen said. “(Wicklund) had a real interest in really becoming professional in his work as registrar, and that’s the kind of person we need to have.”

Wicklund said that he was hired as interim registrar after Steve Griffith, vice president and dean for academic affairs, consulted with a number of other Simpson employees. The transition has not been an easy task.

“This is the fifth curriculum implementation that I’ve participated in during my professional career,” Wicklund said. “In all previous experiences, it’s become clear to those doing the implementation that cleanup is necessary before the new (curriculum) is introduced.”

The biggest challenge, according to Wicklund, is the fact that Simpson’s curriculum has not changed in many years.

“The more difficult part of an implementation is making sure you don’t inadvertently carry forward policies and practices or data entry setups that no longer serve the institution,” Wicklund said. “A lot of things have just accrued over time and are self-contradictory with policies.”

Although it is challenging, Wicklund said the result will be of great benefit to both students and faculty.

“The final result for this office, when these things are all accomplished and the faculty have assigned new designations for courses to function in the new curriculum, (is that) all of the degree audits will help students and their advisers track their progress through the new curriculum toward graduation,” Wicklund said.

Bolen said that working in the registrar’s office has given him a new appreciation for how Simpson’s faculty and staff work together.

“At this point in my life I have such a deep appreciation for the combined effort of the administration and the faculty to make this a special place,” Bolen said.

A search is currently underway to find a full-time registrar, who is expected to begin working on Jan 3, 2011.