Photo by Duane Tinkey
Photo by Duane Tinkey

What are some of your responsibilities since you began on Aug. 26?

I am primarily responsible for the adult and graduate programs. Simpson College has a long tradition of working with 18- to 24-yearolds, and we are building from that strong foundation to expand opportunities for the non-traditional student, who is coming in for flexible programming, including evenings and weekends, and it might be hybrid online or accelerated learning. Together with colleagues, I have a responsibility to grow those programs and also the graduate programs, and I am fortunate that they have been well established over the past 30 years. Often the older learners contribute to the experience of younger learners.

So far, what is your favorite part about the job?

Meeting my colleagues and students. I have been really welcomed. My first team meeting, they brought me an Iowa box, and it had all these things I am supposed to know about, like the types of Iowa corn. They brought me all this wonderful stuff, including Iowa salami, and even an Iowa bottle of wine. I didn't even know you have vineyards here.

Are they teasing you for your English accent?

A little bit, just a little bit. I go back to England now, and they say 'oh you sound so American.' But of course when I'm here people don't necessarily agree with that.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for you?

Apart from speaking Iowan? As someone coming from England, it can be interesting. I was asking somebody if I could have a report in a fortnight; they were definitely laughing about that. More seriously, I think one of the early challenges is preparing for our move to the new building. We already have a branch campus in West Des Moines, and they are in the middle of a build-out. We are hoping to move to new classrooms in January and February, so we are on the countdown right now. Perhaps the biggest challenge is cherishing the values and mission of the college as we grow.

What is your main goal during your time here?

I have a passion for life- long learning. I mean that very seriously. I think people can come back to learning at all phases of their lives. So for the non-traditional learners, my goal is to align the focus of the evening, weekend and graduate programs with the college as a whole, because Simpson College has a marvelous 150-year tradition of working with students 18-24 in a liberal arts residential context. So when we align the graduate programs and the non-traditional learners, we absolutely want to continue that liberal arts, citizenship, service context in all that we do. This means that we are following the traditions of the college, while at the same time widening our reach.

You went to college in England, before coming to America in 1983. What would you say the biggest difference is between England's college system and the United States?

They hardly ever give out A's in the U.K. They are just terribly stringent. I think one of the differences that I welcome here is that students learn with their professors and feel really comfortable in dialogue. In my day in England - so this is a few years ago - we were in awe of our lecturers, and there was a lot of chalk and talk.

Is there an achievement you are most proud of?

It is a source of pride that I have participated in creating access for non-traditional learners. I have participated in and led a variety of courses and programs in accelerated, hybrid (online plus face-to-face) and alternative formats that widen the opportunities for non-traditional learners to work and attend school. And, personally, the publication of my first book in 1998 was like giving birth. It was just a fantastic feeling.

What is your escape from work?

I love biking, so thank goodness for the trails around here.

Is RAGBRAI in your future?

I think I need a couple of years on that one. They go so far, and I was totally impressed by that, because I do rather short rides, about seven or eight miles, and that doesn't count when they are doing hundreds.