Early in the process of developing plans for the 150th celebration, the Sesquicentennial committee realized that while it was important to recognize and honor our past, it was essential that we acknowledged our 150-year history by also looking toward the future.
One of our first official acts as a committee was to choose a theme for the year. It is never easy creating a theme for a Sesquicentennial celebration. Themes that try to sum up 150 years of experiences tend to sound, at best, overly clever or, at worst, trite and interchangeable.
In true Simpson fashion, the committee members forged ahead and settled on a theme we felt best celebrated the past and present success of Simpson College while keeping an eye to the future: “Building on Our Traditions.”
If I am being completely honest, I must acknowledge that I had a personal stake in the theme “Building on Our Traditions.” It was important to me because it alluded to the potential for changes to the buildings on campus.
As the committee began the process of planning the Sesquicentennial, we were edging ever closer to completing the fundraising campaign for the renovation of and addition to the Blank Performing Arts Center. As a member of the theatre department, I longed for the day when we could teach our students in classrooms (rather than the lobby) and make the space accessible for those with limited mobility. Oh, I was also imagining a future that included an office with windows.
I am pleased to report that a groundbreaking ceremony was held during Alumni Weekend that launched the building phase of the project. So yes, at Simpson College, throughout our 150th celebration of “Building on Our Traditions,” we will have a physical symbol of growth for the future of Simpson. The building is also a very visible reminder of the determination of many in the Simpson community to make something happen even, or particularly, when the process is difficult.
I am hopeful for the future of Simpson College. We have made it through many turbulent times, but the institution has been able to thrive.
I think this is because there have always been people associated with Simpson – faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, board members, benefactors and students – who have been willing to work hard and do more with less. These people have cared about each other and the college enough to push on toward the next goal.
I don’t think we are terribly flashy at Simpson (and perhaps we could do with some more flash every now and then). What Simpson is, who we are, are people who sincerely care about creating valuable experiences for our students so that they can build on their education as they move into the world.