Simpson College President Marsha Kelliher hosted Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst on Friday, Feb. 4 for an informal discussion on critical needs in higher education. The Senator’s visit was part of her ongoing, statewide tour.
“We had a wide-ranging conversation on a number of important issues related to ensuring we provide Iowans and all of our students equitable and affordable access to the excellence we provide at Simpson College,” Kelliher said. “In particular, I urged the Senator to champion an aggressive increase in Pell Grant funding, which is absolutely essential given our current times and the devastating economic impact COVID continues to have on so many of our families.”
President Kelliher and Sen. Ernst also explored issues surrounding accessibility and affordability for first-generation college students and the vital role liberal arts institutions play in the higher education landscape. They had a chance to recap the highlights of their conversation during a session with local and regional media.
Power of the Liberal Arts, Simpson Momentum and Growing Iowa Student Recruitment
Kelliher emphasized lifetime earnings advantages for liberal arts graduates while touting Simpson’s vital commitment to “educating the whole person for a life of impact and service.” The senator also offered her own personal endorsement of the liberal arts.
“For me, it (a liberal arts education) was valuable,” Ernst, a first-generation college graduate herself, said. “It really gave me that stepping stone into my career and is very helpful now that I’m in the U.S. Senate.”
Sen. Ernst joined Kelliher for a brief campus tour to learn about Simpson’s rapidly advancing strategic momentum, which includes significant renovations this summer to Dunn Library and Carver Science Hall, as well as upgrades to athletics facilities. They also discussed the importance of growing the number of Iowa students “staying home” for college.
“We would love to see more of our students educated within this state,” Ernst said. “And Simpson College is really focusing on that, as well—it's exciting.”
President Kelliher says she hopes to have a continuing dialogue with the senator and other political leaders on both sides of the aisle concerning key higher education issues. “I’m grateful for the time shared with Senator Ernst,” Kelliher said. “These are critical opportunities to advocate for our students and ensure they get all the support they deserve.”
About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,078 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 75 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Bryan Geelan, marketing communication director