In the morning, we all walked over to the building on Simpson’s campus that houses the main dining hall. Upstairs in one of the banquet rooms, we met with various members of the college including the president. Each table had a representative from the college and a current/former student. We heard about the academic programs, financial aid, the focus of the college, and study abroad. I liked that general education consists more of concepts that students need to learn and not certain classes that have to take. They have choices in all departments. Their big majors are education, business, pre-professional programs, and criminal justice. After the presentation, we toured campus with a current student. It was a compact campus and in the middle of Indianola, and construction was in progress to make a walking area to connect the whole campus where once a street ran through it. I found the main points of this visit being that there is a lot of new things going on at Simpson-new students center, addition to the gyms/fitness, and a new collaboration with Drake to allow students to take 3 years at Simpson and 3 years at the law school-shaving off a year of college. They house the DM Metro Opera, have a very strong intramural program, many options to study abroad for a semester or for May term, a chapel with a coffee shop, and a cadaver for use in their biology program. They have Greek life, but it is more service oriented. This was a great visit, and I was impressed by the college.
Next stop was Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa. We arrived in time for lunch and were served by students from the culinary program. It was very impressive, and it is obvious they are proud of this award winning program. After we ate, we went on a tour of campus. Highlights were: new dental assistant program with hygienist to be added in the fall, robotics, nursing simulator, and the strong sports teams. We also heard about Job Corps and the aviation mechanics and pilot programs. Students can live in apartments on campus much like suites we have see in other schools. The healthcare programs seemed to be in demand for workers, and it was mentioned that with the radiology and dental assistant program that they had way more jobs that graduates.
Our next stop was the main draw for me to go on the Ride this year. I was really interested in seeing Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield. We were welcomed to campus and spent about 1 1/2 hours in the auditorium watching clips from Jim Carrey’s commencement address and listening to college reps and students talk about the school. It is very focused on transcendental meditation, and it would be a place that a certain type of student would be interested in going to. For one thing, there are many more graduates than undergrads-1200 graduates and 400 undergrads. Students can receive a BA, MA, and PhD. that is accredited and its most popular are media communication, sustainability, and health careers. The school is the on TM college in the U.S., provides a organic vegan diet, and encourages meditation twice a day. They have choir, drama, theater, and intramurals. Fairfield is supportive of the college, and they also have K-12 school on campus. We got to tour one building to see their sustainability program but that was all. I was hoping to see more classrooms as well as the apartments. Since they are focused on doubling their enrollment, it seemed strange they didn’t share more with us.
Pella and Central College was our next stop, and we had another warm welcome. We stayed in dorms on campus with Dutch Letters, chocolates, and other Central college info/memorabilia. We had a picnic at a park by a nearby lake where we enjoyed burgers, salads, and dessert provided by Central Catering. Many Central staff members attended to welcome us. After the picnic, we went back to the dorms to sleep.