Simpson University Invites Community to ‘On the Same Page’ Reading Program, Special Forums

For Immediate Release


Just MercyREDDING, Calif. - Simpson University invites North State readers to join students, staff and faculty in its second year of On the Same Page, its common reading program. This year will feature three forums with special guests discussing themes related to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

The 2017 book selection, Just Mercy, is a nonfiction exploration of criminal justice in America. Specifically, it looks at the history of the death row system and how it is administered in the South.

Simpson English professor Nicole Kenley said that Just Mercy was selected because it “investigates themes of justice, race, class, activism, and grace, and asks provocative questions about the way these themes apply to our legal system.” This text provides an opportunity to discuss many pressing contemporary issues in a grounded, relevant way.

Just Mercy was recently mentioned as a top nationwide common reading selection in a New York Times article.

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The community is invited to this year’s forums, which will feature the following special guest speakers:

(Oct. 12) Dr. Todd Allen, special assistant to the president and provost for diversity affairs and professor of communication at Messiah College (Penn.). Dr. Allen founded The Common Ground Project, a community-based nonprofit that promotes an understanding of the civil rights movement. A recipient of the Fellowship of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History at Yale University, The New Pittsburgh Courier 50 Men of Excellence, Minority Opinion Magazine Achiever Award, and the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Racial Justice Award, Dr. Allen has led a bus tour, “Returning to the Roots of Civil Rights,” which visits key sites of the movement in the South. Dr. Allen will speak Oct. 12 (Thurs), 6 to 7:30 p.m., in LaBaume-Rudat Hall, room 204.

(Oct. 21) Randy Grounds, a commissioner with the California Board of Parole Hearings. Grounds was appointed to his current role by Gov. Brown in 2016, and has served as chief deputy warden at the Correctional Training Facility at Soledad and California State Prison Solano, in addition to numerous other roles within the state correctional system. Grounds will speak Oct. 21 (Sat), 1 to 2:30 p.m., in LaBaume-Rudat Hall, room 204.

(Nov. 2) A panel discussion with Shasta County Superior Court Judge Stephen Baker; Shasta County Public Defender Jeffrey Gorder; and Yolo County Supervising Probation Officer Zachary Grounds. The panel will be Nov. 2 (Thurs) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in LaBaume-Rudat Hall, room 204.

“On the Same Page aims to further develop the mind, faith and character of Simpson students, faculty, and staff; we welcome any who would like to join the discussion,” Dr. Kenley said. “We are particularly excited to welcome our distinguished guest speakers and hear their expert opinions on the pressing issues raised in Just Mercy.”

In the inaugural year of On the Same Page, participants read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and met for monthly discussions on campus led by university professors who explored the novel’s themes from various academic disciplines.

More than 350 colleges and universities nationwide have similar programs to foster a culture of reading and community conversation, according to the National Association of Scholars’ 2016 report.

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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