Simmer supports Sport Center renovation and expansion

Cornell College Trustee Scott Simmer ’73 is a storyteller.

photo of Scott Simmer at an office desk
Cornell College Trustee Scott Simmer ’73

But you won’t find his written words in a novel or a newspaper. 

You’ll find them in the factual arguments he makes as an attorney representing whistleblowers bringing cases of corporate fraud committed against government programs. 

“While I was at Cornell, I developed not just a love of writing and literature but a curiosity about character. All of these come into play in the legal work I do now,”  Simmer said. “The complaints I file on behalf of whistleblowers involve analyzing a complex set of facts, data, motive, and evidence of fraud committed by large corporations with tens of thousands of employees. It’s my job to boil all that down to a simple and well-documented story that is compelling enough to convince government prosecutors to intervene on my client’s behalf to recover the fraud.” 

The English and political science major says he learned the importance of analytical thinking and well-crafted storytelling from Cornell professors like Rich Martin and Robert P. Dana

Cornell is also a big part of Simmer’s personal story. Both of his parents and his two older siblings were Cornellians.  

“I felt really strongly about paying it forward,” Simmer said. “People helped me a lot over my career, and the college has meant a lot to my family. It’s important to support Cornell in any way we can.” 

He and his wife, Peggy Schoen, have made several donations to the college including contributing to the Science Facilities Project, the Stoll Program for Law and Society, and various scholarship programs. Simmer has also provided internship and job opportunities for several Cornell students who were interested in pursuing legal careers.

A soccer goalie while at Cornell, Simmer said he has always felt that competitive sports are an important part of college life, so the couple has also contributed to the renovation of the soccer field and recently committed to donating $250,000 to the $19.5 million expansion and renovation of the Small Sport Center.

“One-third of Cornell students play a sport and yet the facilities on campus haven’t changed all that much from when I was in college at a time when there were no intercollegiate women’s sports. So we’re really excited about what the new Sport Center will mean for Cornell,” he said.

After Simmer graduated from Cornell, his career didn’t follow a traditional storyline. He received his M.F.A. in creative writing and became an English professor before he decided to pursue his law degree. The Nebraska native is now a managing shareholder at Baron & Budd, P.C. in Washington, D.C.

Simmer married Schoen in 2007. After studying journalism and home economics at Truman State University, Schoen got her master’s degree in industrial relations from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Since then, she has worked nationally and internationally in a variety of communications positions. She is now retired and serves on Truman’s Foundation Board. Simmer has two sons from a previous marriage, Ryan, an automotive painting craftsman, and Reid, who is completing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa.  

Construction on the Small Sport Center is already underway and fundraising for the project continues. Please contact Kristi Webster Columbus ’96 or A.J. Plummer for information. The 18-month athletics and wellness project is scheduled to finish in the fall of 2022.