John L. Hillman
John Linnaeus Hillman became Simpson’s 12th president after twenty years in the ministry. A former member of the Board of Trustees, Hillman’s tenure as president was the longest yet. His administration enjoyed much success in the 1920s with a growing faculty, expanding student body and a million dollar endowment. Hillman successfully guided the college through the depression amidst faculty cuts, low salaries and budget cuts. During his presidency, the college gained membership in to both the American Association of Universities and the American Association for University Women. Upon his retirement, he was elected president emeritus of the college. The administration building, built in 1920, was renamed for Hillman in 1961.
Earl E. Harper
Earl Enyeart Harper was elected the 13th president of the college upon John Hillman’s retirement. He had previously served as president of Evansville College in Indiana. Harper restructured the curriculum into five divisions, eliminating the seventeen academic departments. A series of five committees comprised of three faculty members and three undergraduates called the Student-Faculty Federation was created during Harper’s reign. Harper resigned unexpectedly to accept the position of director of the School of Fine Arts and director of the Memorial Union at the State University of Iowa.
John O. Gross
John Owen Gross, a graduate of the Boston University School of Theology, was invited by a Board committee to become the 14th president of the college. He accepted and moved to Indianola from Kentucky where he had served as president of Union College. During his time at Simpson, Gross improved student recruitment, reduced the size of the faculty and pushed for remodeling of the library. He also combined the College of Liberal Arts with the Conservatory of Music. Gross resigned to take a position with the Board of Education of the Methodist Church.
Edwin Edgar Voigt was elected Simpson College’s 15th president and directed the college through two post wartimes. Declining enrollment plagued the college during both World War II and the Korean War. Voigt campaigned for better student housing as a means of recruitment. Funding for a women’s dormitory and a men’s dormitory was raised during Voigt’s administration. Voigt resigned to become a bishop in a new Methodist district that included North Dakota and South Dakota.
William E. Kerstetter
William Edward Kerstetter, an academician and ordained minister, was elected 16th president of Simpson College in December 1952. During his administration, enrollment increased, academic quality improved, faculty salaries doubled and the faculty grew. Kerstetter established the Vital Center program aimed to bring focus to students’ studies. He brought to the college renowned national and international speakers and initiated the Oxford Exchange Program. Through Kerstetter’s fundraising efforts, an endowed chair was named, professors received grants, a new library would be constructed and land was purchased, nearly doubling the size of campus. He resigned to become president of DePauw University in Indiana. The college granted Kerstetter an honorary degree.
Hurford E. Stone
Hurford Stone, Simpson Class of 1916, was named acting president for seven months. He had just retired as dean of students at the University of California at Berkeley. This followed a distinguished career in education and the Navy, serving in both the First World War and WWII. Stone reenergized the campus and organized the Indianola Breakfast Club to foster relations between the college and the town.