by Katie Knoll
Carol Simon begins next year as Whitworth’s provost and executive vice president.
Simon is coming to Whitworth from Hope College, where she spent 25 years as a professor of philosophy, as well as the associate dean of teaching and learning.
She said she was rooted in Michigan, but doesn’t mind the move to the Northwest.
“I grew up in the Pacific Northwest,” Simon said. “In many ways it’s like coming home.”
Simon grew up near Portland, Ore. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon and her graduate studies at the University of Washington.
Simon, who begins her new position in July, said she will take the summer months to become acquainted with the school and the role.
“I don’t expect to make any major changes at all quickly,” Simon said. “Whitworth has a clear sense of its mission. For the first several months, I’m going to make sure I know what Whitworth is doing, to have enough background to make decisions.”
Simon made her third visit to the Whitworth campus this March. She said she had a positive impression of the school.
“I think it’s a place that cares about excellence in athletics, journalism, academics and other areas, as well as contributing to the broader culture,” Simon said.
Simon was introduced as a candidate by the outside firm Academic Search after she was nominated by one of her peers for the job. A committee of representatives from across campus composed the search committee that selected Simon. In mid-February, she was invited to campus, along with two other candidates.
Senior Macy Olivas was a student representative for the committee. She said part of her job was to assess the wants and needs of the student body.
“[Students want] someone on campus who is visible, who understands the culture of Whitworth, and who gets work done, but gets it done in a very ethical way,” Olivas said.
In addition to faculty forums and interviews, the three finalists each participated in a student forum which allowed students to raise questions and concerns to candidates.
Olivas said Simon’s interest in students’ concerns made her a stand-out.
“She wanted to know how she could help in any way,” Olivas said. “What set Carol apart was her wanting to hear more from students.”
Simon said she was excited by how engaged students were during the forum.
“The community was extraordinarily engaged in the selection process,” Simon said. “The very insightful questions and comments from students made me excited about overseeing the academic program here at Whitworth.”
Simon said in her position as provost, she wants students to feel free to communicate with her.
Olivas said Simon’s scholarship was another factor that impressed both students and faculty alike.
“I was empowered by how much she knows,” Olivas said. “She’s a well-known philosopher. [It is empowering] not only to be well-known in your field, but also to be leading in other realms, and to be leading well.”
Simon, who specializes in ethics, has written several books. Her most recent is “Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity,” which was published last year.
Simon will be taking over for Michael Le Roy as Provost and EVP. Le Roy left Whitworth last year after 16 years at Whitworth, accepting the position of President of Calvin College.
Barbara Sanders has been acting as interim provost since Le Roy’s June 2012 departure. As former associate provost, Sanders worked with Le Roy to learn the details of the position before filling the role while his replacement was found.
Though not part of the hiring committee herself, Sanders said she was impressed when she met Simon during the interview process.
“I think she’s a great hire,” Sanders said. “She’s bright, articulate, thoughtful and a committed Christian scholar.”
Sanders said she believes giving themselves a year for the hiring process was a wise decision.
“In retrospect, it was the right move,” Sanders said. “We had that time to really find the right person.”
Contact Katie Knoll at email@example.com