Making a difference: CAS Dean Greg Simpson’s legacy at Illinois State
After seven years of dedication and service to Illinois State, College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Greg Simpson retired on June 30. Between last-minute home repairs and packing boxes before their move to Kansas City, Greg and his wife, Mary Margaret Simpson, sat down to discuss their plan for continued involvement with Illinois State.
Although he no longer oversees the 16 departments and schools belonging to CAS, Greg Simpson will ensure students attending Illinois State still receive support in their pursuit of an education.
The two have recently endowed a $25,000 scholarship to help incoming Redbirds afford the cost of a degree. The Greg and Mary Margaret Simpson Endowed Scholarship is renewable for four years, so long as its recipient maintains good standing with the University, and it has become a source of pride for the Simpsons.
“We wanted to give something back to the University that’s done so much for us,” Greg Simpson said. “We thought a scholarship would be a good thing to do.”
With a decrease in high school graduation rates and the amount of government support for state universities dramatically declining, schools rely on enrollment now more than ever. The Greg and Mary Margaret Simpson Endowed Scholarship is a way for the Simpsons to give to the University and its future students.
“You want to make a difference,” Mary Margaret Simpson said. “By doing this, we’re going to continue to have a role in something. We have benefitted so much from being here that we want to do something in return.”
The pair notes their experience at Illinois State has been one to remember. They recounted their ride through the homecoming parade the first year they arrived on campus and recall with joy the cheers they received from onlookers.
“It’s been amazing here,” said Greg Simpson. “People have been just very, very welcoming. It’s the most welcoming place I’ve ever been.”
Moving forward, Greg Simpson plans to use his experiences as dean and department chair to write about leadership in higher education. He hopes to prepare future leaders for the challenges they’ll face in higher education, just as he and Mary Margaret hope to prepare future students to succeed at Illinois State without the challenges of covering the cost.
“When I came here to interview for the job, I realized that this was really a special place,” Greg Simpson said. “I thought that I could really do some good.”
Looking at his track record, it’s easy to say Greg Simpson has done just that.
He has worked with CAS to develop the World Wide Campus Student Opportunity Endowment, which helps students alleviate the expenses of studying abroad. He has sought diligently to implement the University’s Educating Illinois strategic plan, fostering interdisciplinary research and collaboration amongst CAS faculty. In tandem with CAS, Greg Simpson has also worked to create a professional development series ranging in topic from securing grants to time management, with the aim to prepare new faculty for the unique challenges of academic professions.
Everything Greg Simpson has done is in the spirit of maintaining the singular degree of collegiality he perceives in Illinois State.
“I’d say we’re pretty proud,” Simpson said.