Simpson to step down as chair

A desire to return to full-time teaching has led Dr. Dale Simpson to announce his resignation as head of the English Department at Missouri Southern.

Simpson’s decision, effective May 31, brings an end to his 13-year tenure as department chair.

“There are a lot of things a department head has to do, part of which is to serve faculty, part of which is to serve students and part of which is to serve the administration and I realized that serving the students and being among my colleagues was more important than continuing to serve the administration,” Simpson told The Chart. “I’m tired of the struggle.”  

Simpson said an internal search was underway for his replacement. AJ Anglin, vice president for academic affairs, said the University would hire an internal candidate to serve as interim department head, and a national search would begin this fall.

Simpson said he has hired 11 full-time faculty since taking over the position in the fall of 1998, replacing Dr. Joseph Lambert.

“You look around here and people who have come in since I’ve been department head are very, very good and I’m proud of that,” Simpson said.

Dr. Cliff Toliver, associate professor of English and philosophy, said he “completely supports” Simpson’s decision.

“I think he’s made an extraordinary contribution to our institution and to our department and his judgment has, I believe, steered a careful course toward representing the interests of the students and protecting the integrity of the academic process,” Toliver said. “His decision seems to be that he was not able to steer the course anymore. It was being steered by someone else so he needed to resign.”

Simpson said he had made plans two years ago to step down from the post and told faculty his 12th year would be his last as department head. With the arrival of a new president and administration, however, Simpson decided to stay on for at least another year.

“With all the kinds of memos you have to write, advocating a particular position, meeting with the administration, being told we can’t do that now or we can’t do that period, it’s kind of tiring,” Simpson said. “I spent a lot of time putting together arguments.

“I’ve got other things I like to do,” he said. “I like to teach and I’d like to get back to that.”

Anglin said he appreciated the work Simpson did in a difficult job.

“It’s one that has a lot of responsibilities and not very much financial reward, so I’m very appreciative of that,” Anglin said.

Simpson said he feels he’s leaving the English department in good shape as far as faculty are concerned, but he anticipated difficulties in making new hires in the future.

“With the shift in this administration to not hiring tenure track it’s going to be very difficult to hire that quality of people in the future,” Simpson said. “As long as the administration is sticking to a certain formula for departments and tenure track faculty versus non-tenure track, we’re above that threshold here and when we do replace it will probably be with non-tenure track people.”

Simpson said there isn’t much incentive to work at Southern on a one-year, non-tenure track contract.

“There’s not much of a future for that kind of thing,” he said.

Simpson said the number of outstanding teacher awards received by his department is proof of the quality of its instructors.

“Obviously I think my department’s the best on campus,” he said. “This will be a challenge for the rest of the departments. I’ve done a tally of the number of outstanding teacher awards and I think we have either eight or nine in this department and over the years I believe we have the most winners.

“The fact we have so many outstanding teaching awards means even the general education students think our faculty are really good, so I’m proud of that.”

Simpson has been at Southern since 1979.