Bright Future Awaits Class of 2012

Some will attend graduate school. Some will begin their careers in business or the arts. Some will look for ways to serve others.

But all of the 390 Simpson College students who are candidates for degree this year leave knowing they are fully prepared for whatever comes next.

The Class of 2012 lined up for the 145th spring Commencement ceremony on April 28 under chilly, gray skies that threatened, but didn’t deliver, rain. The event was held in the Cowles Center on campus.

“For you graduates, this moment marks the culmination of the years of study and preparation that have gone into your degree,” Simpson President John Byrd said. “The presence of family and friends signifies their support, love and belief in you that have helped to make this moment possible.”

Byrd then recognized the honorary grand marshal, Ardene Kildal Downing, a member of Simpson’s Class of 1962, which is marking its 50th anniversary.

Suku Radia, the chief executive officer of Bankers Trust, delivered the Commencement address.

But it wasn’t only the Simpson students who were recognized. Three faculty members also received awards for distinguished service.

Dr. Mark Gammon, professor of religion and chair of the Simpson College Religion Department, received the 2012 Distinguished Teaching Award.

The award is presented by both students and faculty members to recognize a teacher’s outstanding abilities.

Of Gammon, the award states, “He has presented and published over 12 papers and articles and received numerous awards for his work. He is committed to undergraduate instruction. He recognizes and embraces the idea that teaching is about much more than what happens in the classroom.

“His excellence in teaching is demonstrated by consistently high evaluations from students. His thoughtfulness and commitment to scholarship and undergraduate instruction are impressive and inspirational.”

Dr. Paul Craven, assistant professor of computer science, was selected for the 2012 Distinguished Junior Faculty award, which is selected by the Faculty Personnel Committee.

Craven, the committee said, “has excelled in engaging students in the classroom and in extracurricular activities that involve creating robotic programs and animated computer games. He is writing and revising an on-line textbook that other colleges have asked to use. He uses students’  questions and what they learn from the text to clarify, revise and rethink the approach he uses in his textbook.”

In addition, “As department chair, he not only has the traditional daytime faculty but several adjuncts who teach in our evening, weekend and graduate program. Holding together what is essentially two departments is a difficult task.”

A new award was presented this year. The 2012 Exemplary Teaching Award recognizes faculty members who exemplify excellence in teaching; civility and concern for students and colleagues; commitment to value centered education; and service to students, the institution and the community. The award is selected by the Faculty Personnel Committee.

Dr. Patricia Calkins, professor of German and chair of Simpson’s Assessment and Program Review Committee, was named the first recipient of the award.

“Her drive and passion for teaching are contagious and she inspires everyone in her department to make each class a life-changing experience for our students,” the committee said. “She works to use authentic materials at all language levels, to give students real-life experiences with the culture and to make each topic come to life for each class member.

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

Fred Hubbell, chairman of Simpson’s Board of Trustees,  presented the Trustees’ Academic Award to  senior Alberto Bejarano, who came to the Iowa campus from El Paso, Texas. He has three majors – English, French and philosophy.

To be eligible for the award, a student must have been a resident at Simpson during at least their entire junior and senior years, 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.

Mark Roberts, president-elect of the Simpson College Alumni Association and a 1989 graduate, announced that the construction team working on the new Kent Campus Center “realizes the adjustments you have made this year as a result of your senior year without a campus center.”

So the construction team is donating a flag pole that will be placed on the east side of the new campus center with a recognition plaque honoring the Class of 2012.