Simpson University Welcomes Students for 2018-19 Year

REDDING, Calif.—New Simpson University President Norm Hall gave his first formal charge to students during an academic convocation ceremony Sept. 5 marking the official start of the school year.

“God has called us to a purpose – to rise up,” he said. “Let’s change the world together.”

Dr. Hall, who began his role as the university’s 15th president on June 1, greeted the audience of more than 500 undergraduates, as well as faculty and staff, with warm enthusiasm.


“In the quiet places of my heart, God was calling me to Simpson even before I knew about this place,” he said. “If you are here, I’m convinced he was calling you, too.”

He noted that the number of students has increased this fall and that the student body, faculty and staff “are more diverse than ever,” with 21 new international students and three new international faculty.

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. 4. In the second year of a new Simpson tradition, professors formed two lines and applauded new students as they walked through the lines to their seats.

The ceremony included the introduction of five new faculty members, some of whom joined the university in January; a welcome and invocation from Dr. Pat Blewett, interim provost; singing of the university hymn, composed by music professor Dan Pinkston; an address by Dr. Bill Griffin, campus pastor; and a benediction from Dean of Students Mark Endraske.

DrGriffin_smileReferencing Isaiah 43:18-20, Dr. Griffin spoke on “Look! I’m doing a new thing,” describing the sense of God’s presence and movement he has witnessed on campus this summer.

“Simpson University, God is doing a new thing here,” he said. “It’s beautiful, painful, scary, messy, exciting, and exactly what he wants.”

President Hall raised the question of “who are we, and what are we doing here?” as a daily guide and reminder to live purposeful lives. He quoted from I Corinthians 9:24, urging students to “run in such a way as to get the prize.”

“Too many people live by default – they just let them world happen to them,” he said. “What if we lived by design?”

Quoting Ephesians 2:10, Dr. Hall talked to students about becoming all God intends for them.

“Let’s not wait for the world to happen to us,” he said. “We’re called to live purposeful lives … to work hard in our classrooms, labs, on the field of play … in conversation, in quiet times, in fellowship, and on mission trips.

“God is on the move, and he has called us to rise to the challenge.”

Photos and video by Nathan Bruce and Sarah Barrows / Top, President Norm Hall delivers a charge to Simpson University students during academic convocation. (The shoes, which have five toes, were a gift from campus pastor Bill Griffin.) 


Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduategraduate, 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; the Betty M. Dean School of NursingA.W. Tozer Seminary, the School of Education, and the School of Graduate Professional Studies. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit