Steven J. Griffith
Steven J. Griffith began his duties as the vice president and academic dean for Simpson College July of 2006. In 2009, President John Byrd appointed him senior vice president and academic dean.
Griffith, a former professor in the theater department at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating from a public high school, he attended Gustavus Adolphus to study Russian and theater. He later dropped Russian studies, but picked up history and art history courses. “At that point I really knew I wanted to make a life in theater,” he said. He dabbled in acting, but found his niche in design.
After graduating in 1975 with a bachelor of arts degree in theater, Griffith went to the University of Minnesota, earning a masters in fine arts degree in theater design in 1977. During his summers, Griffith participated in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival where he came in contact with many theater designers, but he soon realized he did not want to do theater design as a profession, but to teach theater design to others. He landed a job teaching at Agnes Scott College in Georgia.
After two years of teaching, he left the college to create displays, such as Christmas Santa-land scenes, for malls. He quickly learned he made a mistake.
“‘This is not who I am’ I thought,” said Griffith. “I’m a teacher and enjoy theater.”
After a month at his mall gig, a position opened in the theater department at his alma mater, Gustavus Adolphus, where Griffith then spent more than 25 years. He has been a professor of theater, chair of the theater department, associate dean and in faculty development, among other positions. Griffith realized his strength was in higher education so he went back to school, earning a doctorate in higher education policy and administration from the University of Minnesota in 2006.
Griffith and his wife Danette live in Indianola.
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