A Great Degree of Success: Simpson Celebrates Class of ’14

Four years ago, many of them walked through the red brick gates in front of College Hall, continuing a long Simpson tradition.

On Saturday, May 3, a gorgeous spring day, they walked through the gates again, the opposite way this time, to symbolize the completion of their collegiate journey.

A total of 320 students were eligible to celebrate their personal Simpson success stories during the 147th Commencement Ceremony, held in Cowles Fieldhouse in the Simpson Athletic Complex.

That includes 307 students who were candidates for a Bachelor of Arts degree, eight students who were candidates for a Bachelor of Music degree; four students who were candidates for a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree; and one student who was a candidate for a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

This marked the first class to graduate under the College presidency of Jay Simmons, as well as the last group of students who studied under the Cornerstone curriculum. Simpson students now take coursework under the Engaged Citizenship Curriculum.

“For you graduates, this moment marks the culmination of the years of study and preparation that have gone into your degree,” Simmons said. “The presence of family and friends signifies their support, love and belief in you that have helped to make this moment possible. We are all very proud and excited for those of you who are receiving degrees today.”

Robert L. Lester ’64 of Indianola, a member of the Board of Trustees, served as the honorary grand marshal, while Kenneth Quinn, former U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia and president of the World Food Prize Foundation, delivered the Commencement address.

Steffanie Elkin of Indianola was awarded the Trustees’ Academic Award.

To be eligible, a student must have been a Simpson resident their entire junior and senior year, must have the highest cumulative grade point average and must have accumulated the greatest number of quality points of any member of the graduating class.

It was a day to celebrate faculty success as well.

Dr. Heidi Berger, assistant professor of mathematics, received the Distinguished Junior Faculty Award, selected each year by the Faculty Personnel Committee. She joined Simpson’s faculty in 2008.

“She continues to seek creative methods for engaging students and improving their learning by engaging them in independent research projects, both during the school year and during the summer,” President Simmons said.

Dr. Lora Friedrich, professor of sociology, received the Faculty Award for Exemplary Teaching. She joined Simpson’s faculty in 1996.

“As the leader of multiple trips to Thailand and the architect of the semester in Thailand program, she has educated more than 100 students about a part of the world and ways of living that most of them had never considered,” Simmons said.

“She is an exemplary teacher, a mentor, a colleague and a leader.”

Senior Taylor Van De Krol then presented the Distinguished Teaching Award, selected by the graduating class, to Dr. Jackie Brittingham, professor of biology. She joined Simpson’s faculty in 1999.

“She has served on numerous faculty and college committees and was chair of the biology department for six years,” he said. “She is a member of several professional societies, such as the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, The American Physiological Society, Iowa Physiological Society, American Association of Anatomists, The Iowa Academic of Science and Tri Beta Scientific Research Society, just to name a few.”