Jay Simmons

Jay Simmons

Jay Simmons, president of Simpson College, announced Thursday that he will be stepping down.

Terrance Lillis, chair of the Simpson College Board of Trustees, sent a campus-wide email with the announcement.

“Jay will continue serving in this role until a successor is named and has also agreed to assist the chosen candidate to help ensure a smooth transition,” said Lillis in the email.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Jay for his leadership and service to the college over the last six years,” Lillis said. “He has led several vital initiatives during that time, including efforts to strengthen the college’s financial profile and academic focus, as well as the launch of the Simpson Promise.”

Simmons came to Simpson in 2013. During his time at the college, he has presided over multiple rounds of layoffs, including the elimination of more than 20 faculty positions and the school’s art department.

In a separate email, Simmons called the move “bittersweet” but added that “now is the right time for a new president to bring the campus community together and advance the mission of Simpson College.”

While Simmons said he has loved his time at Simpson, he added that “there have also been hard decisions and difficult changes, and we have walked that path together as well. Today, Simpson is well-positioned for a strong and vibrant future.”

Simpson said he may pursue another opportunity in higher education or corporate leadership, but regardless, he and his wife, Jenne, would “cherish the many opportunities, friendships and memories created during our time here at Simpson College.”

Lillis said in his email that the board is forming a presidential search committee, which will include, according to the college’s bylaws, the board chair, the bishop of the United Methodist Church, four trustees to be chosen by the board chair, two academic members chosen by the faculty, a student advisory committee as appointed by the search committee and other advisory committees.

The committee also will include representatives from the college staff and alumni, he said.

Terry Handley, a member of the board of trustees, will chair the search committee, according to the email and trustee Denise Griffey will serve as secretary.

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