Welcome from Simpson College President Jay Simmons

Welcome to Simpson College!  As the parent of a new student at Simpson, be assured that all of us are pleased to have you join the Simpson College community.  We look forward to working with you and with your student in the years ahead.

As a newcomer to Simpson myself, I have been impressed in a thousand different ways by the quality and caliber of this College. For example, regardless of your student’s course of study, he or she will begin working with an unusually dedicated and talented faculty.  The programs our faculty have built are designed to ensure that our students receive the highest level of preparation in their chosen course of study.  Simpson graduates are extremely well prepared for the workplace or graduate school by the time they receive their baccalaureate degrees.

The quality of our physical facilities is excellent.  Simpson has a longstanding commitment to maintaining superior academic, athletic, and residential spaces for the benefit of our students.  For example, your student will enjoy a completely renovated fitness center, which should open in time for the spring semester.  Similarly, the Kent Campus Center offers Simpson students one of the most attractive facilities in the region.

Finally, as untold numbers of our alumni will attest, Simpson College possesses an extraordinary sense of community. Your student will enjoy lifelong friendships, not only with fellow classmates, but with faculty and staff who celebrate the success of our students.  The mentoring relationships that develop between students and members of the faculty and staff represent a hallmark of the Simpson experience.

Again, on behalf of the faculty, staff, and students, welcome to Simpson College.  All of us look forward to working with you.

“….Giant Packages” from the Director of the Iowa History Center

Sometimes good things come in giant packages!


We could not figure out why sculptor Seward Johnson’s giant homage to Grant Wood’s American Gothic had only been on display in Iowa once (in Dubuque), so we have brought it here to Simpson College in Indianola.  The God Bless America statue arrived on campus July 26th.  We are thrilled to be exhibiting the 25-foot, 30,000 pound statue of Grant Wood’s American Gothic figures, located across C Street from the Kent Campus Center.


Over the course of the fall semester, our public programming will be devoted to Grant Wood and the famous painting.  Two special events include:

  • Actor Tom Milligan will perform his one-man show, Grant Wood: Prairie Rebel.  Playing Grant Wood, Milligan chats with the audience as if talking to an old friend across the backyard fence.  He tells us about his life and how he changed the art world forever.  This show will be held outside in front of the statue, September 17, 7 p.m.  In case of inclement weather, it will be moved to the Black Box Theater in the Kent Campus Center.
  • Wanda Corn, a nationally acclaimed art historian specializing in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American art will present a lecture entitled “The Three Lives of Grant Wood’s American Gothic,” which will offer a close look at the Grant Wood painting and its strange odyssey from the studio of an unknown Iowan artist 75 years ago to its international celebrity status today.  The program is scheduled for November 5, 7 p.m. at the Kent Campus Center.

We’re also working on several other special events focusing on the celebrated artist and his iconic painting.  Please check our website for updates, and come by campus for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity!

Bill Friedricks Director, Iowa History Center


Iowa History Center Logo

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Beth Beggs Excited About Opportunities for Writing Across the Curriculum

After finishing her PhD dissertation, Beth Beggs vowed, ”I will never write anything again as long as I live.”

It was a short-lived promise, which is good news for Simpson, as Beggs was recently hired as Director of the college’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program

According to Beggs writing across the curriculum emphasizes the importance of students being able to write across numerous disciplines not just focusing on writing within their area of study.

Beggs is excited about expanding the Writing Across the Curriculum Program, saying it’s an important part of Simpson’s mission.

“It’s important because that means Simpson recognizes that writing isn’t just something you’re going to be doing in the class room, it’s something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life,” she said.

Beggs said that most schools have students take an introductory composition course their first year of school.

“The problem with that model is students don’t really have a writing course until they graduate,” Beggs said. “They may write for their capstone or senior project, but their not really instructed to write between freshman year and maybe graduate school for some students.”

Beggs said that with this approach students might be unprepared to adapt to writing situations in the professional world or even graduate work.

“Writing Across the Curriculum means students aren’t just going to do writing for courses, but actually be instructed in how to write across their different courses and across their whole undergraduate careers,” Beggs said.

“It’s a much more thorough writing education,” Beggs said. “It respects writing as a discipline, rather than skills we can pick up easily.”

Once the school year starts Beggs hopes to bring some new and interesting ideas to the program.

“I want to start giving out awards to writers in different disciplines,” Beggs said. “That is unusual, you don’t usually see awards for a good biology report or a good accounting review of journal articles.”

A native of Georgia, Beggs received her bachelors and masters degree in English at the University of Western Georgia and received her PhD this May in rhetoric composition at the University of Georgia.

With finishing up her doctorate and accepting a new job Beggs stays busy. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, but she says to find a good yarn store in Iowa.

Beggs is also an avid reader. Along with knitting one of Beggs’ other pursuits is reading. When she’s not reading something by her favorite authors like Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, or Stephen King, she enjoys reading about how to teach writing.

“It’s been so long since I’ve read for fun,” Beggs said. “Even the stuff I’ve read for fun has been work related.”

It’s that enthusiasm that Beggs hoes to pass on to Simpson Students

“I love reading and watching student writing grow,” she said. “When a student goes ‘Oh yeah I can do that,’ that’s the moment for me.”

An Introduction by Craig Peck


By Craig Peck ’89, Director of Continuing & Graduate Programs, Ankeny Campus


In the March 2013 edition of this newsletter, my colleague, Liz Glodek, identified a trait common amongst our students – “the courage to pursue, persevere, and succeed”.  Never is this courage to pursue more evident than at this time of year.  As several hundred of our returning students begin preparations for another year of study, a new group of incoming students are preparing to resume their educational journeys here at Simpson College, journeys once started but put on hold due to family obligations, work commitments, financial constraints or, in some cases, perhaps all of the above.  Regardless of the reason, the decision to go back to college as an adult is one not made without trepidation.  Fear of failure and questions about balancing the demands of school with the responsibilities of parenthood, a career and one’s social and civic responsibilities abound.

Transitions (2)I happen to know this first hand, as I have the great privilege of teaching a course called Transitions for both new and prospective students.  Transitions is essentially an orientation to Simpson College’s Continuing & Graduate Program but also serves as a reminder to students of the rigors of academic pursuits and the dedication required to succeed as a consumer of higher education.  In the course, students talk about their motivations for coming back to school, as well as their fears and anxieties regarding the decision, and what they see as the major challenges that lie ahead for them.  Their stories are inspiring, and I never cease to be amazed at the obstacles they overcome in order to go back to college and complete their degree as an adult.

With all of my Transitions students in mind, both past and present, and to all of our new incoming students, the staff and faculty of Continuing & Graduate Programs wish for you all of the happiness, success, and fulfillment that education can bring to one’s life.  And for all of you wondering if you have made the right decision, I leave you with a quote from the late and great, Steve Jobs:

“The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything.  It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Have a great year at Simpson College!!

Simpson at the State Fair!

Simpson College made our booth début at the Iowa State Fair!

Our booth consisted of not only information and friendly, helpful employees, but also a slew of goodies including frisbees, tattoos, and the crowd favorite: the No Booth. While it’s impossible to tell just how many fairgoers visited our booth, Simpson PR has given us these stats:

• Approximately 45,000 frisbees were handed out

• Over 200 prospect cards were filled out by sophomores, juniors, and
seniors as well as transfer students and EW&G prospects

3,821 photos were taken at the No Booths and uploaded to
Simpson’s Facebook page.

Simpson’s Facebook page received 289 new “Likes” in the past week.

4,675 people so far have liked, commented or shared photos from the Fair
that were posted on our Facebook page.


Student Spotlight – Rochelle Carrington

Senior Rochelle Carrington recently accepted an accounting position at Sticks and is excited to utilize tools learned from Simpson College in her career!

What prompted you to earn your degree?
I decided to pursue an Accounting degree because I enjoy analytical thinking and have dreams of opening my own accounting firm in the future. I am thankful I am receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree because it has broadened my overall knowledge.

What is your major and why did you select it?
I decided to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting because the skills will be useful all through life. It is a great degree that is highly accepted for most business careers.

How has your experience at Simpson impacted your life?
Simpson has shown how valuable knowledge is in life. It has changed my perspective through the curriculum. Simpson challenged me to relearn how to think. Simpson’s teachers have worked specifically with my own needs and the environment and atmosphere is pleasant and enjoyable.

What has stood out to you as a fundamental part of your Simpson Experience?
Simpson College was easily accessible with the evening and weekend course schedule. If not, I would have needed to go to school during the day to finish my degree. But, what has stood out to me the most? What has stood out to me the most, is how passionate and driven the teachers are for the students. The teachers make sure the students are receiving a very good education.

What do you plan to do once you graduate?
Once I graduate I will study with the Becker Review and test to become a CPA. After I become a CPA, I will gradually take clients through a company I have already started to develop. The overall education at Simpson has shown all the possibilities I have for not only my own future, but also my children’s futures. Not only will I become a CPA; I plan to receive my masters from Drake. I am a single mother of three wonderful children so working from home will benefit my whole household. Within time, I hope to become an accounting teacher.

What is your favorite vacation spot?
I vacation in Branson, Missouri each year. My favorite vacation spot is actually Lake Rathbun. There is a beautiful view of stars at night that is highly relaxing.


Faculty Spotlight – John Schley

How long have you been teaching at Simpson and what do you teach?
I’ve been teaching at Simpson for ten years. I teach the Database series (CIS 255 & 355) in West Des Moines, along with a Capstone and Database Certificate course here and there.

Do you work outside of Simpson?
Yes. I’m currently a Data Modeler at Wellmark, working on a data warehouse project and have worked at Principal Financial Group and Nationwide Insurance, as well.

Where did you graduate?
I graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics and minor in Computer Science from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota.

What makes teaching at Simpson unique?
Although many colleges have extended campuses in Des Moines or nearby suburbs, Simpson offers the most robust computer science curriculum. This attracts a good population of students working to complete courses and/or degrees in Information Technology. Also, Simpson stresses the life experiences of their instructors, building an expectation in the students that they will receive “real world” knowledge, in addition to mastering the concepts.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?
Many of the students in my classes are moving (or looking to move) into Information Technology positions at their work or wanting to expand their abilities in that area. This makes them very motivated to learn the material, which is great. But it also challenges me to deliver the material in a way that enables them to master and apply new techniques quickly. I appreciate how dedicated the students are to completing the workshops, even at the end of a long class (at end of a long day at work).

You’ve recently been awarded the Excellence in Adult Education Award-congratulations!  Would you please tell us a little about the experience?
It sure was a surprise to receive this award! I used the opportunity to speak at the Student Celebration to reflect on what I enjoyed about teaching. I also used it as a chance to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart, database normalization. I encouraged the graduates to “normalize” their lives, meaning to put their lives back in order after likely needing to concentrate their focus and distort their schedule to complete their degree. That is really my experience every May, once the grades are in, so it was an easy topic to describe. My family was able to attend and it was nice being able to share the experience with them and to thank them for their role in this award.

Please tell us about your background and how it influences the way you teach database?
I’ve always been an experiential learner, so I try to teach in that manner. We do a lot of workshops so the students can have a chance to apply the concepts we’ve discussed. I still lecture too much, I’m sure, but I’m trying.  I also like to use humor as a way to help people relax and improve the learning environment. To that end, I start most classes with a review of last week’s material using various game shows (“Jeopardy”, “Match Game”, “Hollywood Squares”, etc…).

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.
My wife, Lora Kracht, and I just celebrated our 20 year anniversary. We have two sons, Caleb (17) and Ezra (15) and one daughter, Austa, who is 12. We live in the Drake neighborhood  and the boys attend Roosevelt High School. Soccer is the family industry. All three kids play and I’ve coached Ezra’s team since he was in the Under-8 division. The kids and I all referee soccer and spend Sunday evenings discussing close calls and obnoxious coaches and parents we’ve seen over the weekend.

What is your favorite vacation spot, favorite book, and/or favorite film?
My favorite film is Ladyhawke, a mid-80’s fantasy pic that featured Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Brodderick before they were famous, along with Rutger Hauer. It has great music, great scenery and a beautiful ending. OK, under the tough data scientist exterior, I’m a romantic at heart. J

People You Should Know – Todd Little

How long have you been working at Simpson?
I’ve been working at Simpson in the Hawley Academic Resource Center since June 1998.

What exactly does your job entail?
Besides overseeing the general operation of the Hawley Academic Resource Center, I work with students with disabilities and coordinate the requested accommodations which might be required in the classroom and assist in the activities associated with international students and specifically work with their travel documents and other non-immigrant regulations. In addition, I also work with students who are on academic probation, meet with students regarding academic progress, and provide guidance to students related to academic advising which complements the role of the faculty advisors. Beyond my duties associated with the Hawley Center, I also serve as an adjunct instructor within the department of Computer Science which allows me the opportunity to teach several courses each academic year.

Where are you from?
I grew up in a small town called Somers which is located west of Fort Dodge in Iowa. For the past 12 years, I’ve been living in Indianola with my family.

What makes working at Simpson unique?
Within my position, I have the opportunity to interact with many full- and part-time students as well as other administrators and faculty members. Each day can bring new opportunities to provide assistance and guidance to students. Every student brings their own unique experiences and situations which brings different encounters each day.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?
Students within the EW&G office provide a different perspective for me. The students are often working full-time, have families, and other responsibilities and commitments which may be different than the traditional, full-time students I work with on the main campus. Often, this requires these students to be more focused within their classes and I often experience students who can be more motivated to complete their studies due to personal and professional aspects.

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.
I have been married for 17 years and have two children (ages 14 and 5) who are enrolled in the Indianola community school district. During my free time, I enjoy my leisure reading, watching my favorite TV shows, and of course, hanging out with the family.

What is your favorite vacation spot, favorite book, and/or favorite film?
My favorite vacation spot would probably be the trip to the island of Kauai (one of the Hawaii islands) with my wife a few years ago, but I’ve also enjoyed my family trips to the Wisconsin Dells and Black Hills over the past couple of summers. In regards to a favorite book and film, I have always been a fan of the Star Wars films and books, so they would be ranked fairly high on my list. However, I have also liked several stories by Stephen King and enjoy the movies, Thirteen Days, Catch Me if You Can, The Green Mile, Unforgiven, and The Shawshank Redemption.

Important Upcoming Dates – Term 1 2013

Fall ’2013, Term 1 Classes Start, Monday, August 26th from 5:30pm to 9:30pm

It’s the start of Fall and Term 1!  If you haven’t registered yet, it isn’t too late to do so now.  Check out our schedules and class options here.

MACJ Information Session, Thursday, September 12th from 6pm to 7pm, West Des Moines Campus

Please join us for an overview of our Masters of Criminal Justice Program. General information will be provided, along with more detailed answers to any questions you may have. If you would like to read more about the program prior to this event, please visit our link to find more information on the program. We hope to see you there.

LEP Information Session, Thursday, November 14th, West Des Moines Campus

The Life Experience Portfolio Program provides a way for students to translate their experiences to college credit through completion of a life experience portfolio. Credits awarded are not a value judgment of the student’s experience. These credits reflect an evaluation of the similarity of those learning experiences to learning that typically occurs through study in a liberal arts college. The Life Experience Portfolio Workshop will help adult students understand the steps to portfolio development. Additional information regarding this option is available at any Evening, Weekend & Graduate Programs office.

Commencement Ceremony, Saturday, December 14th, Cowles, Indianola Campus

We wish to congratulate all EW & G students who will be graduating this December.  Congratulations on your achievements!