Phyllis L. Simpson, Ph.D., Dean of Student Services and Director of Counseling for Our Lady of the Lake College was recognized as one of the nation’s “Outstanding First Year Educators” by the Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transitions. Attendees of this group’s national conference honored Dr. Simpson at its annual meeting held in San Diego, California, February 15-18, 2014.
Each year a national panel of distinguished educators review the top 100 applications, selecting ten for recognition. All of these top educators demonstrate the common goal of improving the educational experience of first-year students in colleges and university throughout the United States.
David England, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs stated unequivocally, “It is hard to imagine there being a more worthy recipient! Phyllis Simpson has long served as one of our College’s richest resources as the scores of students she helps each year will readily attest.”
As the nomination stated, “Phyllis Simpson is an educator who believes that true collegiate learning must happen both inside and outside of the classroom walls.” With her strong teaching background and her proficiency as a reading specialist, she helped to re-vamp the academic seminar to adapt program-specific reading strategies and incorporate learning style inventories to improve testing/study strategies. She created a tutor lab and established a First Year Student Experience program which had students meeting with her one-on-one several times during their initial year at OLOL College. Recognizing that first year students at a commuter college would benefit from more connections to the campus, Dr. Simpson began working energetically to make student organizations more active. Additionally, she has led civic engagement efforts on campus and works as Co-Chair for the College’s acclaimed Service-Learning programs. As a result, retention efforts for incoming freshmen are improving steadily.
Students sincerely appreciate her contribution to their education. Biology major Derek Wiltz said "Dr. Simpson has helped me grow in so many ways . . . She is an exceptional leader and teacher, always giving us great support that not only helps academically but encourages us with our career goals." Non-traditional student Melanie Koscick who returned to school at the age of 45 added, "As someone who has been out of school for over twenty years, Dr. Simpson has been my guiding light and my anchor. She has not only assisted me with how to handle college in this day and age, but has helped me to believe that I can accomplish great things."
Dr. Simpson has been involved with various areas of education since 1970, and has taught at every grade level except for kindergarten and first grade. Among her many accomplishments, she has authored teaching manuals for postsecondary reading textbooks as well as a strategy textbook for elementary/junior high teachers. Receiving her B.S. degree from Louisiana State University (LSU), her Masters of Education from Southeastern Louisiana University, and her Ph.D. from LSU in 1998, Dr. Simpson began her teaching career in Washington Parish in the early 70s, taught at Southeastern Louisiana University in the 90s, and then became a member of the staff at OLOL College in 1997.
The Graduation Ceremony will be held in the Baton Rouge River Center Arena on Friday, May 23, 2014 at 3:00 PM. The doors will open at 1:30 PM, unless it rains, in which case the doors will open at 1:00 PM. Graduates should arrive no later than 2:00 PM. The address is 275 South River Road, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802.
The entire ceremony will last approximately 2 hours. If you are making dinner plans, please allow time for Graduates to pick up their diploma and for exiting the garage. If you park on an upper level, it can take as long as 30 minutes or so to make your way down to the exit.
Parking is available in the parking garages for a cash fee of $5, or you may attempt to find parking on the streets. Be early to ensure speedy parking and a timely arrival. A delay could be caused with everyone trying to get into the parking garages, so please plan accordingly.
There are no tickets for this Graduation Ceremony. There is no limit placed on how many guests you may invite.
There will be handicap seating available in the Baton Rouge River Center. There are elevators in the building for your convenience. Student Ambassadors, College staff, and Baton Rouge River Center Employees will be located around the building to assist you in finding your way.
Spencer Studios will be on hand on Graduation Day to take pictures of each Graduate as he or she exits the main stage. You will be allowed to take photos during the Ceremony; however, we ask that you remain seated at all times to ensure visibility for other families.
Although we want you to enjoy the ceremony, please remember that it is an academic ceremony of dignity. There are numerous distinguished guests and dignitaries present, including the members of the Board of Trustees and representatives of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady.
Families are encouraged to stand and recognize their graduate as they receive their diploma. Your enthusiasm and excitement is warranted; however, the use of air horns or other artificial noisemakers is inappropriate.
Our Lady of the Lake College has announced Tina S. Holland, PhD, as the new President effective April 22, 2014.
Holland will join Our Lady of the Lake College from Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Indiana where she serves as the Executive Vice President and Provost.