Simpson Students Visit FDR Presidential Library

Two Simpson Students will be visiting the FDR Presidential Library and Museum on March 10 in Hyde Park, New York.

Andy Mayes and Amanda Zimmer won a Culver Center sponsored contest that rewarded them with the opportunity to visit the library and get a tour by a resident historian, David Woolner.

Dr. Woolner is an Author, Senior Fellow and Resident Historian at the Roosevelt Institute. He spoke at Simpson as a guest of the Culver Center, March 14, 2012 delivering a lecture entitled “Franklin Roosevelt and the Relevance of the New Deal for the 21st Century.

FDR’s library was the very first presidential library built in 1939-1940 that was donated by the president and his mother. They simply needed more space for the collections of books, papers and memorabilia that accumulated over his time of public service.

The students will be accompanied by The Culver Center’s Executive Director Ray Walton and his wife. They will also be touring the West Point military academy during their stay in New York.


Political Strategist David Axelrod visits The Culver Center

David Axelrod will be coming to Simpson Campus to speak with Culver Fellows and students about civic engagement, political strategy and how he has gotten so many notable candidates to the top.

Axelrod is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2014.

Axelrod gained a passion for politics at a young age, after listening to President John F. Kennedy give a speech in New York. This inspired him to pursue his studies in political science at the University of Chicago.

After graduation, Axelrod began working for the Chicago Tribune and made a name for himself by being the youngest political writer in the history of the newspaper.

He then went on to be a campaign consultant, winning the seat for Congressman Paul Simon in the 1984 U.S. Senate race. Since then Axelrod has helped many campaigns achieve success. His clients include Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.

He has also been noticed for his help in electing African-American politicians to office. His biggest accomplishment to date is his media management strategy that won Barack Obama the presidency in 2008.

Axelrod served on President Obama’s advising team after the 2008 election, and helped him nab a second term in 2012. Axelrod continues to shine in the political world today. The Culver Center is honored to have him.

Former Senator Alan Simpson Presents 2014 Culver Lecture

Story by Ken Fuson

Former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, who has led the bipartisan effort to reduce the federal budget deficit, will deliver the fourth annual Culver Lecture on March 27 at Simpson College.

The prestigious event will begin at 7 p.m. in Hubbell Hall in the Kent Campus Center. The lecture is sponsored by the John C. Culver Public Policy Center, which is located on the Simpson College campus.

The event is free, and the public is invited.

Simpson represented Wyoming in the U.S. Senate from 1979 to 1997, serving as the Republican Majority Whip and Minority Whip. In 2010, he was appointed by President Obama to co-chair Erskine Bowles, the former president of the University of North Carolina.

Simpson has long argued that the budget deficit places an unfair burden on future generations of Americans. The first Bowles-Simpson plan resulted in a deficit reduction estimated to be $2.7 trillion. The pair teamed up again last year to propose another $2.5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years.

Bloomberg Markets magazine named Simpson to its 50 Most Influential list in 2012.

The John C. Culver Public Policy Center sits in the front row of America’s premier state for politics. The Center’s mission includes inspiring young people to pursue careers in service with integrity and moral courage.

The Center is named in honor of John C. Culver, who served Iowa for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Previous Culver Center speakers include the late U.S. Sen. George McGovern, Mark Shields and New York Times correspondent Linda Greenhouse.

Culver Inspiration to Service Award

The John Culver Center for Public Policy at Simpson College will be presenting the Culver Inspiration to Service Award to an outstanding Iowan at the Culver Lecture on March 27th.  The Lecture and the Award will be presented by former Senator Alan Simpson at 7 PM in Hubbell Hall at the Simpson Kent Campus Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The winner of the award will be a person who has inspired others to public service.  It will not be given to an Iowan who is a household name, rather to an “unsung hero.”

The Culver Center would like very much for you to nominate someone you know has inspired public service. The Nomination form is attached.  Please fill it out and return it to Ray Walton at the Culver Center by 5 p.m. Friday, February 28, 2014. Applications can either be mailed to 701 North C Street, Indianola, Iowa 50125, or emailed to

Feel free to share the form with others you think might be interested in nominating a deserving Iowan.

Culver Award Nomination form 2014

Please contact Ray Walton, Executive Director, with any questions.


Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

I took part in the in the design exposition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. This year the festival took place at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. ACTF is split into multiple regions the Midwest is considered region 5 and is one of the biggest attended festivals across the country. The Design Expo like I stated earlier, has all of the designers in Region 5 competing for the best of their categories. There are two types of competition which is Regional and National. I took part in the National Competition. On the day of the Expo each designer meets with a judge and the designer presents their process and final product of their design. The expo wasn’t the only thing that occurred during the festival. Each year the colleges participating in region 5 perform plays and some of those play are invited to festival to be shown to the other schools. Each school had excellent designs and their shows were really good. attached is a photo of the Design Expo during my presentation.

~Tim Williams

Iowa Attorney General Comes to the Culver Center

Tom Miller, Attorney General, is coming to the Culver Center on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 4:30pm.

Miller will be visiting with The Culver Fellows and students about his role as Attorney General as well as public service as a career, followed by a Q&A session. This gathering is informal and all are welcome to join!

Miller has long ties to the Culver family and their legacy. He was a legislative assistant to U.S. Representative John C. Culver after he finished law school and accomplished civic engagement work as a VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) volunteer.

He then went on to teach at the Maryland School of Law and practiced law as a city attorney before he ran for Attorney General in 1974.

Except from 1991-1994 when Miller was in a private practice, he has served Iowa ever since his 1978 election.

Miller has established himself as a credible and knowledgable attorney that works for justice. He has made notable achievements, such as serving as president of the National Association of Attorney Generals (NAAG) and fights to prevent crime in Iowa.

Miller is an accomplished man. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to speak with him!

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Visit

Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey will be at the John C. Culver Center on February 12, 2014 at 4 p.m.

Bill Northey will meet with Culver fellows and Simpson students to talk about current issues in Iowa agriculture and the outlook for the new Iowa legislative session.

Northey has been around agriculture his entire life. He is a fourth generation Iowa farmer from the Spirit Lake area.  He graduated from Iowa State University, farmed with his grandfather after graduation, and is now serving his second term as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

Northey travels around the state throughout the year talking to local farmers and agriculture enthusiasts. He focuses his work as secretary on advancing technology to better care for our environment and striving for a prosperous Iowa agriculture.

Join the Culver Center for a great event and opportunity to meet one of Iowa’s leaders!

A Discussion on the Future Through Service

Simpson College is a small, private non-profit school in the idyllic community of Indianola, Iowa. Just south of Des Moines, it is home to about 1500 undergraduate students on its 85 acre campus. It has a unique and honored place in Iowa and American society – it was at Simpson where groundbreaking scientist George Washington Carver began his studies.

Students at Simpson prepare for their own lives of service at a world-class institution. For example, Newsweek Magazine ranked Simpson in the “Top 25 Service-Minded Colleges.” This semester alone, national leaders like Paul Schmitz of Public Allies have come to Simpson while at the same time, students’ own service opportunities are front and center, most recently at the school’s campus-wide service fair.

The students and faculty take service seriously, and they are making AmeriCorps part of their service ambitions. As part of the school’s service curriculum, Simpson’s Center for Vocation and Integrative Learning and the Senator John C. Culver Policy Center recently hosted a symposium for students and faculty, with a subject very much near to me – the relationship between justice, service and politics. I was proud to represent ServiceNation as one of four panelists responsible for the discussion.

On a personal level, this was fun: in addition to being Iowa’s ServiceNation field organizer, I’m a former AmeriCorps member, an ex-political appointee, and a lawyer. So I felt pretty lucky to get invited and spend some time around the people responsible for shaping the service awareness of literally thousands of young people. My part of the discussion was simple – listen the students, talk about AmeriCorps.

There were roughly 300 students in attendance, and a few dozen faculty. I was joined on the panel by a State Representative, who had previously worked in hospice counseling, a Minister who is a professor there, and the Director of a religious service organization in the area. These people are brilliant. Their excellent credentials are matched by the careers they built for themselves, in service. I felt fortunate to be around them, and also honored to represent the nearly one million people who have served in AmeriCorps these past two decades.

I was welcomed in the best way by the students; when the Vice President of the school asked, “Who here knows about AmeriCorps?,” I bet every hand went up. My jitters went away. The students were involved – they were asking questions at the programmatic level and were operating at a degree much higher than I would have at the same age. They saw themselves as peers to these elected officials and clergy and community leaders; they spoke of their own experiences in service – in some cases even overseas. They came prepared not simply for a nice afternoon, but they were there get into the weeds: they were there to use that day to help find their own path to a life of service.

As an old-timer – one who was in AmeriCorps nearly twenty years ago – I couldn’t be happier with the response at Simpson. But it’s also no surprise, that these students and faculty understand service, they know what they’re getting into, and they are ready to go make their communities a little more fair and a little more just. I am proud of these kids, of where they will take their lives and the lives of the people they serve. I am grateful, that they have made ServiceNation Iowa a part of their process. Thank you to the students and staff of Simpson College for a terrific day.

The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

According to their mission statement The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a conference designed to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs. It “provides opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight; and achieve professionalism”.

One opportunity that the festival offers is entrance into the Design and Technology Expo. Participants create a display to showcase the work they did on a theatrical production during the pervious year. The display hangs all week and the festival goers are free to walk through and observe. All of the participants have a session with a professional theatre practitioner. During this session the student present their work and then receive feedback.

I entered my lighting design from Festival of Short Plays 2013: Thornton Wilder. The lighting research and design for Festival of Short Plays 2013: Thornton Wilder encompassed experimentation with lighting techniques, color theory, textual analysis and how they affect the interpretation and atmosphere for six of Thornton Wilder’s plays. The design then was then transformed from a theoretic artistic concept a fully realized production.

I was responded to by William Kenyon the head of the Design & Technology Program at Penn State and Steve Shelley a freelance lighting designer and author of A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting. They responded positively to my work and gave me advice on how to improve my drafting skills and better document my process. I earned 1st place in the Regional Lighting Design category for region five, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

~Shannon Barondeau

Update from the Joint Mathematics Meetings

The Simpson College mathematics department is well represented at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest mathematics conference in the world.  Students Casey Croson, Michael Frank, Sarah Jermeland, Louis Joslyn, Sara Reed, Ruth Ann Roberts, Katie Westlund and Nick Yaeger along with professors Heidi Berger and Bill Schellhorn arrived in Baltimore late Wednesday night.  On Thursday, Dr. Berger made a presentation about the math modeling workshop for high school students and teachers that was held last summer on the Simpson campus.  The students spent the day attending talks on topics such as graph theory, data science, mathematical biology, and the mathematics of art.  The group ended the day with a walk along the Baltimore inner harbor to a restaurant in Little Italy with a variety of crab entrees.

Friday will be another busy day, as all of the students will be presenting work from their summer research programs at the undergraduate poster session.  Six of the students conducted research at Simpson during the Dr. Albert H. & Greta A. Bryan Summer Research Program in Mathematics; the other two students completed their research at Michigan State University and Valparaiso University.

Dr. Schellhorn will be presenting on Saturday morning about his sabbatical research on data science with applications in sports statistics.  The group will return Saturday night.

(Image from