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Simpson College Names Marsha Kelliher As President

Kelliher To Lead Simpson College As First Female President


INDIANOLA, Iowa, March 31, 2020 – Simpson College’s (simpson.edu) Board of Trustees today announced the appointment of Marsha Kelliher J.D., as Simpson College’s 24th president. Previously, Kelliher served as President & CEO of Walsh College in Troy, Michigan. Kelliher, a preeminent scholar and creative collaborator, will join the college June 1, 2020.

“President Kelliher is a passionate leader who has continuously demonstrated the ability to effectively lead dynamic institutions,” said Terry Lillis ’77, chair of Simpson College’s Board of Trustees. “With her leadership, Simpson students, faculty, staff and our alumni will continue our great tradition of providing an exceptional learning environment devoted to student success and inclusiveness. Her experience, vision and dedication will ensure Simpson College continues to set the standard for liberal arts education in Iowa and beyond,” said Lillis. 

Kelliher earned a LL.M. in Labor and Employment Law from the University of San Diego and a J.D. from South Texas College of Law. Her bachelor’s degree is from Indiana University. Kelliher began her career at Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, & Co. in 1982. While working full time, she enrolled in law school, attending most of her classes on nights and weekends. She is licensed and has practiced law in both Texas and California. In 2013, Kelliher was admitted into the prestigious National Academy of Arbitrators.

She joined the ranks of academia in 1994 at St. Edward’s University and in 1998 was named the Interim Dean of the university’s MBA program. From 2000-2004 she served as the Dean of the Graduate School of Management and from 2004-2013, she oversaw the university’s graduate and undergraduate business programs. Under her leadership, six new domestic majors and six new domestic graduate programs were launched.

At Susquehanna University, she launched a Women’s Leadership Symposium and oversaw the creation of four new majors. Kelliher supports her profession through committee work, conference presentations and serving on AACSB peer-review teams. 

She is also active in the community, serving on boards and committees for governmental, for-profit and non-profit organizations. In 2019, she was named to Crain’s Detroit List of Notable Women in Education and DBusiness’ Detroit 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders in Education. In addition, she received a Peacemaker Award from the Austin Dispute Resolution Center and was named a Women of Influence by the Austin Business Journal in 2011. In 2004, she was nominated for an Austin Business Journal Profile in Power Award and was a Leadership Texas graduate. In the fall of 2002, she was named the YWCA Woman of the Year in Education.

“Simpson College’s exceptional academic reputation including the accomplishments of faculty and staff and breadth of programs supported by co-curricular learning and student life is impressive,” said Kelliher. “During the interview process and visit to campus, I was inspired by the rich traditions and promising future of Simpson College.”

Bob Lane has served as interim president of Simpson since January 1. Interim president Lane will continue to serve in that role until the new president is in place. 

About Simpson College
Simpson College is located in Indianola, Iowa, near Iowa's capital city of Des Moines. Founded in 1860, Simpson College has approximately 1,300 full-time undergraduate students and approximately 400 part-time students. Simpson also has a campus in West Des Moines serving primarily adult learners. Simpson offers more than 80 majors, minors and programs 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.