Simpson University Welcomes Students for Start of 2017-18 Year

For Immediate Release


Academic Convocation 2017

REDDING, Calif. - Simpson University launched a new tradition when it welcomed students for the start of the 2017-18 year during an annual academic convocation ceremony Sept. 6.

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During the faculty processional at the beginning of the event inside the James M. Grant Student Life Center, professors formed two lines and cheered for new students as they passed through the middle to the front rows. Hundreds of returning students and staff members joined the lengthy applause to welcome nearly 200 freshman and transfer students.

“Today symbolizes a new tradition at Simpson University that reflects our commitment to our core value of community,” Dr. Gayle Copeland, university provost, said. “New students processed through faculty to demonstrate our commitment to you in covenantal community.”

Convocation is a traditional celebration of the start of an academic year. It capped off a weekend of orientation activities for new students and followed the opening day of classes on Sept. 5.

The ceremony included the introduction of 12 new faculty members, some of whom joined the university in January; singing of the university hymn, an original composition by music professor Dan Pinkston; an address by Dr. Stephen Bailey, professor of intercultural studies; and a charge from President Robin Dummer.

Dr. Dummer exhorted students to approach their studies as an assignment from God and their work as an act of worship; to commit to embracing every challenge as an opportunity to grow in mind, faith and character; to embrace the humble posture of learner; not to be afraid to disagree with what they read and hear; and to grant themselves and others grace.

Dr. Bailey, who was selected as undergraduate Professor of the Year last year, spoke about “Living in this strange world as Christians.”

Referencing Jesus’ prayer in John 17, in which Christ prays that his followers not be taken out of the world but protected “from the evil one,” Dr. Bailey emphasized that a Christian’s priority allegiance is to Christ and God’s kingdom, beyond family and nation.

“Citizenship in the kingdom of God calls us to expand our idea of family,” he said. “We are to prioritize everyone we meet as though they are family.”

He talked about the kingdom of God, which exists wherever there are people who live by and recognize the “rule of God,” he said. This “rule,” exemplified by Jesus, often runs counter to what society views as successful living.

“Christians are called to live according to the upside-down, falling-upward politics of Jesus,” Dr. Bailey said, citing Jesus’ example of talking to “strangers,” his words in Luke 14 about inviting the poor and disabled when one hosts a banquet, and in Matthew 25 about feeding and clothing those in need, visiting prisoners, and caring for those who are ill.

“What if you and I tried doing one thing a month purely in line with the politics of Jesus?” he challenged students. “Living according to the ethics of the kingdom is about encountering Jesus in the world … you end up meeting God, just as he promised.”

Dr. Bailey encouraged students to think beyond a career path as they complete their college education. “A job is a good thing, but what you really need is a calling that will give you a life vocation,” he said. “This vocation of upside-down work will challenge the dreams and expectations that parents, community, church and nation have for you. But in the end it is up to you to decide which Kingdom you are going to live in.”


-Transcript of Dr. Stephen Bailey's convocation address


Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


Contact: SU Public Relations
(530) 226-4737