Simpson Enactus sponsors Small Business Workshops

The Simpson Enactus student organization is helping to sponsor a series of Small Business Workshops over the next three weeks.

The workshops offer small business owners an opportunity to learn about specific business topics.  The first session, on May 7th, was led by Geri Seiberling, of etc!graphics and helped the business leaders present think about their marketing and brand strategy.

Present at today’s workshop were business owners

Small Business Workshops Group Discussion

Workshop participants have a laugh while discussing their marketing strategies.

from a variety of industries including taxidermy, accountancy, clothing retail, non-profit tourism, auto repair, livestock production, and more.  Over 20 individuals took part in the morning session and more are expected at the evening session.  At the end of the workshop, Individuals took away a packet of information prepared by Geri that will help them develop their marketing strategy. Guidelines for vision statements, customer profiles and more are included in the packets.  Participants also had the opportunity to talk through some of their business problems with their colleagues in the process brainstorming for solutions.

Deb Downey and giveaway recipient

Deb Downey and giveaway recipient, Tiffany Scovel of Scovel Taxidermy

There was also a giveaway for the book, The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth, written by the team at Raygun, the indie T-Shirt shop in the East Village of Des Moines.

There are two more workshops on the 14th and 21st. On the 14th, Deb Downey will lead Price and Profit – You’re Worth It and Mark True of Brand Happens will host the workshop on the 21st exploring social media branding.  Those interested in participating in the upcoming sessions are encouraged to sign up online:


The Enactus team at Simpson has collaborated with a number of organizations in the community in the sponsorship of the workshops including the Warren County Economic Development Corporation and the Indianola Chamber of Commerce.  Deb Downey, a local entrepreneurship and business consultant has taken the lead role in organizing the workshops in addition to her role as presenter on pricing strategy.

JFK Assassination May Term Course

This May, students and Professor Brian Steffen are taking a deeper look at the COMM190 May Term Group Workassassination of John F. Kennedy through an examination of the media of the time and as it continues to be presented in current media.

Students are also developing their critical thinking skills and writing skills in the course.  Professor Steffen asks students to look at the opinions developed by experts at the time and their own opinions from a analytical perspective.  Was the Warren Commission a full exercise in critical thinking or were there some faults?  Were the reactionary theories of the assassination developed through critical thinking?  Students will answer these COMM190 May Term Group Workquestions and more in this three week exploratory course.

In addition to their work in the classroom, students will also travel to Dallas, Texas to take a closer look at the assassination site and other important locations in the investigation.


Follow the conversation on Twitter at #JFK50 COMM190 May Term Group Work

May Term at Simpson follows the traditional Spring Term.  This three week session allows for an intensive investigation into a topic of current interest.  For more information about the Simpson Curriculum and May Term, check out: May Term at Simpson

Rosemary Link, Associate VP for Academic Affairs

A Note from Rosemary Link, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs

Congratulations to all our Continuing & Graduate students who are graduating this spring 2013.  This is a proud moment in time for graduates, their extended families, their employers and their surrounding community.  I always think that I am fortunate to have had so many encouragers in my life, and we see it as a key characteristic of adult learners who return to school – they have family members and colleagues who are saying “you can do it.”  Thank you graduates for taking up the torch and for encouraging others.

More and more employers require the BA degree, only 6% of people worldwide have this accolade and only 25% of Iowans.  This is an achievement to take pride in, and it confirms that you have demonstrated qualities of leadership, courage and engagement with others.

For those of you returning, or for interested family members who would like to try a course, please note the following:


  • As a result of expanded interest, we are adding sections of the “Transitions” course in the fall, still at no charge. This one credit course is an orientation to college and a way to network with students of all ages returning to complete their degrees:  information available at 515 309 3099.
  • Those of you expecting to graduate in the fall, it is not too early to plan: please contact your advisor and hold the date: Saturday, December 14th, 2013.
  • Tuition rates from August 24th 2013 will be: Undergraduate credit $350 (plus $5 technology fee) and Graduate credit $462 (plus $5 technology fee).
  • Try our fully online summer courses:  you still have time to register for over 30 courses that are fully online this summer.  You can take them from anywhere in the world: for more information call 515 309 3099.


The new academic year 2013-14 is going to be an exciting one.  As you may know, we are bidding farewell to President Byrd, who has been a true encourager of adult learners, and we are welcoming our President Elect, Dr Jay Simmons, who will join us in July.  We have invited him to speak with students at our fall Speaker Series on Leadership in West Des Moines – we will confirm the date soon.  Also, Indianola is to have its first YMCA, opening late fall.  Simpson Students will have access and shuttles available.  Some of you reading this have tried our shuttle on Saturday mornings, leaving at 7:15am from Indianola to West Des Moines.  Although we have not had an overwhelming response, those who have tried it are enthusiastic, so we are continuing.  In the 1980s we designed our first public relations slogan, and I am thinking of renewing it:  “You come to class, we pay the gas” – try the shuttle!

With every good wish,


An Introduction by Andrea Biklen

Persistence is a challenge. I don’t mean the persistence of my 5 year old begging for a toy in Target, but the persistence of an adult student toward completing a bachelor’s degree. Adult students persist to graduation at much lower rates than their traditional counterparts. This is not due to a lack of ability, but because the other important variables in their lives (job, family, health, finances) can pull adult students away from the path toward completing a degree.

One of the ways we counter this trend at Simpson is to offer the Life Experience Portfolio for eligible students. Several factors which contribute to greater adult student persistence can be linked to the portfolio process: confidence, connection with classmates, and a connection to Simpson College.

Confidence: The process of documenting prior experiences and learning positively alters how adult students view past successes and failures. Taking the time to look back and reflect on all that has been accomplished can be a transformative experience.

Connection with Classmates: At Simpson College most of the students who complete the portfolio take advantage of our one-credit Writing Workshop. Adult students in this class write about life experiences that are personal in nature. All of the students are focused on the shared goal of earning credits for learning gained from prior experience. These factors combine to allow students to forge connections to each other through this class.

Connection with Simpson: Simpson College places value on the prior experiences and learning that adult students bring with them. In turn, the adult students value the positive impact the portfolio process has on their tuition and time spent toward their Simpson degree.

Your persistence toward completing a Simpson College degree is important. Can the Life Experience Portfolio process help you?

Faculty Spotlight – Erin Smith

Erin Hurley Smith, Adjunct Instructor

How long have you been teaching at Simpson and what do you teach?

I began teaching at Simpson in January. I teach COMM 222 Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communication which primarily focuses on the core principles of strategic public relations. I also facilitate COMM 360 the senior seminar capstone experience which involves real-world client campaigns and helps prepare students for professional work in a marketing agency or within a company or organization.

Do you work outside of Simpson? 

I’ve accepted an offer to serve in a newly created leadership position at ChildServe, a nonprofit organization that partners with families to help children with special health care needs live a great life.

I will provide marketing communications support to other leaders within ChildServe and guide a talented team of young professionals with graphic design, web, social media and public relations experience. Plus, I will continue to have the opportunity to teach in Simpson’s EWG Program.

Where did you graduate?

I grew up in Beaverdale and graduated from Dowling High School in 1989. I earned my bachelors degree in Communications from Boston College in 1993. From there, I moved to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where I earned my masters in science in Broadcast News after gaining field experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. 


What makes teaching at Simpson unique?

Simpson provides a very supportive environment and is truly focused on the success of each student. The small class sizes at Simpson remind me of my graduate class at Northwestern, which had only 13 students. The rich tradition of Simpson and school colors remind me of my Boston College days.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?

I appreciate their intrinsic motivation and commitment to furthering their education despite the challenges of balancing college, work and family. Adult students are eager to see how concepts in class apply in real-world situations and to learn more about marketing communications professions.

Please tell us about your background and how it influences the way you teach communications?

I began my career as a television and radio reporter and anchor in Fargo, North Dakota. In 1992, I had the opportunity to return to my hometown of Des Moines to work for KCCI-TV as a weekend anchor and nightside reporter. After the birth of my first child, I transitioned from in front of the camera to advising business and community leaders on how to effectively work with the media.

After the birth of my second son, I started my own marketing communications consulting firm serving the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Jordan Creek Town Center, special projects such as the Principal Charity Classic, and several nonprofits. 

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.

My husband Chris works for Hertz Farm Management in the real estate division, valuing and selling Iowa farmland. We have five active children ranging in age from 11 to 16 so our weekends are often spent at the ballpark or in the gym or at the track watching the kids in motion and trying to keep up with the laundry so their uniforms are ready for game time.

What is your favorite vacation spot, favorite book, and/or favorite film?

A favorite family vacation spot for the kids is Lake Okoboji, which is home to annual reunions. 

A new favorite getaway for us is the coast of Maine for postcard perfect views, spectacular sunset sails, fresh lazy-style lobster and rich blueberry ice cream.

The last book I read with the kids was “How to survive Middle School,” which is very clever, up next is “Brains on Fire,” a marketing book about how to ignite word of mouth movements.

People You Should Know – Tracie Pavon

How long have you been working at Simpson?   I have worked at Simpson for 21 years and spent 4 years here as an undergraduate student – my workstudy job was in the financial aid office.

What exactly does your job entail?  Wow!  Loaded question….in a nutshell, I help students find the financial resources necessary to ensure access to a Simpson College education, with lots of compliance red tape intertwined.  I hope that means “I help students”!

Where are you from?  I am from Des Moines – born and lived there all my life.

What makes working at Simpson unique?  I believe that Simpson is unique in that we truly help students to become their personal best.  We will take students as far as they are willing to stretch themselves – there are no limits.  We educate individuals, knowing that all students learn differently.

What do you enjoy most about working with adult students?  I enjoy that I have had similar experiences recently, and I believe that I understand what they are doing and where they are in their lives.

Please tell us about your family and how you like to spend your free time.  I have been married to my spouse for 22 years, and we were high school and junior high sweethearts before that.  We have three children ranging from 11 to 19 years of age, who keep us busy with basketball, football, track and dance.  I spend most of my free time with my family – they are my love.  When the kids don’t have activities, you will almost always find me in a garden somewhere!

What is your favorite vacation spot, favorite book, and/or favorite film?  We don’t take many vacations as we are paying for college for the oldest and preparing to do so with a second one soon….and eventually a third.  We do go to a friend’s lake home most summers, and we absolutely LOVE our family time together there.  I don’t read many books, as I have to read so many regulations for my job, and I just don’t enjoy reading for pleasure with so much reading for work involved.  I love any movie that makes me laugh, takes me away for a bit and is just truly entertaining!

Important Upcoming Dates Summer Term

Commencement Ceremony, Saturday, April 27th, Cowles, Indianola Campus

We wish to congratulate all Continuing & Graduate students who took part in our Commencement Ceremony Saturday, April 27th in Cowles Gymnasium.  Congratulations on your achievements!

MAT and T-to-T Information Session, Wednesday, May 8th, West Des Moines Campus

Please join us for an overview of our Masters of Arts in Teaching and Transition-to-Teaching Programs. 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 this link. We hope to see you there.

MACJ Information Session, Thursday, May 23rd, 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.

New Student Orientation, Thursday, May 23rd, West Des Moines Campus

This is an important event for new students. Become acquainted with your fellow classmates, receive your Simpson email account and access to SCHOLAR (Simpson’s online learning tool), and have your photo taken for your student ID. This is an information session where you can feel free to ask any last minute questions as you start your journey towards Success!

Summer Classes Start, May 28th and June 24th, Ankeny, Indianola, and West Des Moines Campuses

Monday, March 11 will be the beginning of Term 4 classes throughout Simpson College.

Affordability Information Session, Wednesday, June 5th, West Des Moines Campus

Please join us for this free event, where guest speaker, Tracie Pavon, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment & Financial Assistance, will be giving information and answering your questions on the best way to finance your education.

LEP Information Session, Thursday, July 25th, West Des Moines Campus

The life experience 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.

Free Transitions Course, August 1st, 8th, and 15th, Ankeny, Indianola, and West Des Moines Campuses

Transitions is a free course for adults who are considering a return to college. This three-night orientation session will introduce you to adult students, faculty and staff, provide answers to all of your questions about earning a part-time degree, and includes a tour of each campus. A detailed agenda with dates, locations and topics to be covered is available here.

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2013 Graduates

On Saturday, April 27th, the Department of Communication & Media Studies celebrated with students as they received their diplomas.  This has been an amazing class of students who have contributed significantly to the department and the student body as a whole.  Their work on the Simpsonian, KSTM radio station, ID Magazine, PRSSA and more has been featured across campus and appreciated by many.

Many of these students have jobs lined up or are currently in final interview/negotiations with employers.  We share in their success stories!

Jesse Stewart: Farm Director at KGLO radio in Mason City.

Kate Chamberlin: Director of Marketing at Reset Marketing

Sheyenne Manning: Communications Specialist at New Track Media

Olu Rotibi: Reporter at WHO-TV sports

Sarah Stout: Sales Analyst at The Schwann Food Company

Tyler Utzka: On-Air reporter at KEYC, a CBS affiliate in Mankato, MN

Alejandro Caballero: Designer at Gannett Publishing Design Studios

Hanna Russmann: Reporter at Spencer Daily Reporter

Grant Rodgers: Reporter at Des Moines Register

Sylvia Koss: Promotions at Clear Channel Communications

Charlie Sandvick: Marketing at William Penn University



Professor Steffen and students Grant Rodgers and Jesse Stewart in hat and gown at Commencement

From L to R: Graduating Senior Grant Rodgers, Professor Brian Steffen and Graduating Senior Jesse Stewart

Student Spotlight – John Gerlitz

Meet John Gerlitz, a Master of Arts in Teaching candidate, who is currently completing his student teaching at Indian Hills Middle School in Clive.

Gerlitz says of his experience at Simpson:

“I decided I wanted to complete a teaching degree during a military deployment to Afghanistan. I began exploring my options and eventually narrowed my choices to a couple of schools including Simpson. In the end the deciding factor for me was Simpson’s friendly staff.

Liz Glodek (my Simpson advisor) worked very hard to prepare me for a quick transition from deployment to school. She even stayed late in the office one day so that she could conduct an online interview with me while I was thousands of miles away. Simpson College has offered me the tools I needed to complete my teaching degree while also demonstrating the faculty’s commitment to the student body.”