MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (January 25, 2022) — Monmouth College has established a new scholarship to create more opportunities for transfer students.

The William and Joyce Heald Simpson Endowed Scholarship will be awarded annually to a transfer student from an Illinois or Iowa community college. Preference will be given to initiated members of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society and to first-generation college students.

The scholarship was established by 1965 Monmouth graduate William Simpson and his wife, Joyce, of Everett, Washington. The gift is part of the Light This Candle campaign, which aims to raise a minimum of $75 million by December 31.

Simpson said that he and his wife established the scholarship to help more students attend the residential liberal-arts college.

"I've always felt it was unfortunate if people didn't go to college because they lacked the funds," said Simpson, an emeritus trustee of Monmouth who also served as president of John Wood Community College in Quincy, Illinois, for eleven years. "It's not that you can't be happy in your life if you don't go to college, but you might not fulfill your potential."

Simpson said that higher education offers a person a transformative experience to realize their full potential.

"College is one of the final steps in the maturation process," he said. "It teaches independence, teamwork, and how to be dependable and reliable. It prepares you to go to work and to understand your profession, and how to be analytical in that profession and in your life. It helps you be a better participatory citizen, which could be as simple as voting, or it could mean seeking office, or serving the public in some other manner. It makes you a little more open to different arguments and perspectives, and it helps you make our country a little better place to live."

The Simpsons have supported several of the College's initiatives over the years.

"Bill and Joyce believe deeply in higher education, and furthermore, in access for disadvantaged students to achieve a college degree," said Hannah Maher, Monmouth vice president for development and college relations. "With Bill's life work serving and leading community colleges, paired with his own attainment of advanced degrees, he has been a strong leader on our Board of Trustees. Likewise, Joyce devoted herself and her work to education and to teacher instruction, ensuring students' needs in the classroom were met."

Monmouth “on my horizon”

As he neared his 1961 graduation from Peoria (Illinois) High School, Simpson said he knew he wanted to pursue college. Monmouth "was always on my horizon," as his father, Marshall Simpson, was a 1940 graduate. He ultimately chose the residential liberal-arts college, even as many of his friends selected larger state schools.

Starting out as a government major, Simpson said he received only average grades. But as he progressed, he said he was "nurtured" by Monmouth's faculty.

"I kept getting better and better," said Simpson, who competed in cross country and track and coached both sports after leaving Monmouth. "The fit was just outstanding, and my involvement with Sig Ep (the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity) also made a significant impact. Being student body treasurer and being in Blue Key (honor society) — Monmouth opened doors to things I wouldn't have been able to do at a larger school. I might've gotten swallowed up if I'd gone to the University of Illinois. I probably would've been in the Army the next year."

A career at community colleges

After receiving a Master's degree from Illinois State University, Simpson taught government for eleven years at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, adding a Doctorate in education during that time. After his time at Sandburg, he worked at colleges in Iowa, Illinois, and Washington before assuming the presidency at John Wood in 1997. He was the recipient of Monmouth College's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2016.

Simpson's experiences as a community-college professor and administrator have given him plenty of first-hand knowledge of the importance for students of finding the right next school to turn their Associate's degrees into four-year Bachelor's degrees. Attracting such students is also a win for Monmouth, he said.

"Every college has attrition, and to replace that, you need to bring more students in," he said. "Transfer students are a way to assuage that. I hope that transfer students can come to Monmouth and have a similar experience to what I had."

Simpson said it's important for colleges like Monmouth to have plans in place for the future. He said that the scholarship that he and his wife established is one way to do that.

"We're not just trying to get through the next year," said Simpson of his gift, specifically, and of the College's Light This Candle campaign, in general. "We're looking at how we sustain the College.”

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