Simpson College is poised for its next generation of success with the announcement that Jay Simmons will become the college’s 23rd president.
Simmons, 50, has been president of Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant the past four years. The Simpson College Board of Trustees enthusiastically approved his appointment during its meeting today.
Simmons will succeed current Simpson President John W. Byrd, who is retiring after eight years as the college’s top officer. The transition will officially occur at the end of May.
Simpson officials said Simmons is the right person to advance the 152-year-old College’s record of achievement in higher education.
“Dr. Simmons will bring to Simpson College exactly the right set of skills necessary to build on the momentum created by John Byrd’s eight years of leadership,” said Fred Hubbell, Chair of the Simpson Board of Trustees.
“Simpson is in an enviable position of strength,” he added. “The addition of its leading edge curriculum, a near record enrollment and several major capital improvement projects provide an excellent platform for Dr. Simmons to put his experience and expertise to work on behalf of the entire campus and the extended Simpson family.”
A native of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Simmons was chosen after a nationwide search. He impressed the Simpson community with his proven leadership capability, broad academic experience, fund-raising success, ability to face challenges, work ethic and open and collaborative management style.
“The search committee went through an extensive selection process,” said Sunnie Richer, a Simpson trustee and chair of the search committee. “I am convinced that Jay Simmons will continue his record of success. He has a track record in all aspects of the President’s role – academics, advancement, enrollment and strategy. Most importantly, Dr. Simmons has the ability to lead and effect positive change.”
Simmons said he is eager to get started.
“Building on the successes that President John Byrd and the Board of Trustees have achieved, Simpson is well positioned to assume an even larger role in American higher education,” Simmons said. “I am flattered and humbled to work with a faculty and staff who have been so critical to this success and who are so obviously dedicated to their students. Jenne’ and I could not be more enthusiastic about starting our work on behalf of Simpson.”
Simmons holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Birmingham-Southern College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He holds Master’s and Doctorate degrees in political science from the University of Alabama. He and his wife, Jenne’, have two children, Samantha, a college senior, and Madison, a high school sophomore.
At Iowa Wesleyan College, Simmons helped restructure enrollment, advancement and the college’s educational programs. He also led the college’s transition from a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to Division III of the NCAA.
In addition, he recently helped the college meet a $3 million annual matching grant challenge, brought in an endowed chair for a position in the business department, reduced the discount rate and increased the ACT average for incoming students.
Before accepting the Iowa Wesleyan College position, Simmons served from 1997 to 2008 as vice president for academic affairs and dean at LaGrange College in Georgia. While there, he updated faculty governance, expanded curriculum and program activities and increased international programs.
Simmons has also served at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, where he was Dean of Liberal Arts, and at his alma mater, Birmingham-Southern College, where he was assistant to the dean and later assistant dean.
Teaching has always remained one of Simmons’ passions, and at most of his positions he has taught political science courses.
A welcome reception on the Simpson College campus is being planned for Dr. Simmons in January when students resume classes.
JoAnna Freeland, Simpson student body president, is looking forward to his arrival.
“I am sure that Jay Simmons will do a great job, and with the support of the Simpson community he will do great things during his time here,” she said. “His energy and experience is exactly what we need to move in a positive direction.”