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Messiah College selects Dr. Kim S. Phipps as eighth president


Kim S. Phipps, Ph.D., eighth president of Messiah College
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GRANTHAM, Pa. (Dec. 15, 2004 ) — The Messiah College Board of Trustees voted yesterday to name Kim S. Phipps, Ph.D., as the eighth president of Messiah College. Phipps, 46, who has been serving as Messiah’s interim president since July, is the first woman president in the college’s history. She will begin her term of service immediately; details of the official inaugural celebration will be determined at a later date.

Phipps succeeds the late Rodney J. Sawatsky, who served as Messiah’s president for ten years before retiring in June due to illness. The college’s presidential search committee, chaired by Eunice F. Steinbrecher, chair of Messiah College’s Board of Trustees, has been conducting a national search for a new president since March, after Dr. Sawatsky announced his plans to retire.

“The board of trustees believes Dr. Phipps brings exceptional gifts to the presidency and is confident in her ability to provide strong leadership to the college,” said Steinbrecher. Upon completion of a national search process, both the search committee and the board felt that Phipps distinguished herself as the clear choice to assume the presidency. “Kim has a proven record of excellent academic and administrative leadership at Messiah. Her contributions to the college have been many, and we look forward to working with her in the role of the eighth president of Messiah College,” said Steinbrecher.

“I am privileged to be asked to serve as president of Messiah College,” said Phipps. “I am committed to strengthening Messiah’s reputation as a national leader in higher education. I’m looking forward to working with Messiah’s remarkable students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and community friends to fulfill the college’s mission. During the past decade, Messiah College has experienced consistent growth in enrollment and academic quality. We’ve enhanced our educational facilities and institutional resources. The college has recruited and retained gifted teacher-scholars who are national experts in their academic disciplines. We’ve attracted significant external funding and developed collaborative partnerships that have expanded Messiah’s ability to engage and serve the community in meaningful ways, and Messiah graduates continue to make significant contributions in all areas of contemporary society,” said Phipps. “This is an exciting time in the history of Messiah College. I am truly honored to be able to serve in this leadership role and look forward to being actively involved in the Harrisburg community.”

Prior to her appointment as interim president, Phipps served for four years (June 2000-June 2004) as Messiah’s provost, or chief academic officer, focusing on offices and programs that bear directly upon curricular and cocurricular learning. Before becoming provost, she served Messiah College for two years (July 1998-June 2000) as academic dean.

As president, Phipps serves as the chief executive officer of Messiah College, subject to direction of the board of trustees, and is responsible for visioning, planning, fundraising, administrating and nurturing a campus culture consistent with the mission of the college. During the 2004-2005 academic year, Phipps’ priorities have included: continuing to articulate and nurture the mission and identity of the college and to promote Messiah locally, regionally and nationally; providing leadership to the college’s governing council and to the development of an annual operating plan that defines the 2004-05 institutional goals and priorities as outlined in the college's Centennial Plan; promoting effective institutional budgeting and planning; assisting with the completion of Messiah’s current comprehensive $50 million campaign; providing leadership to the search for a college pastor; and developing strategic internal and external communications planning for the college.

During her combined tenure as Messiah's academic dean and provost, Phipps led a successful restructuring of the college, including the recruitment and appointment of five school deans; served as co-leader of the task force to redesign the college's governance structure; designed and implemented important initiatives to support faculty scholarship including a faculty workload reallocation program; gave significant leadership to the educational program review which has resulted in a first-year core curriculum and cocurriculum that is holistic, student-centered and focused on the college's mission and identity; co-authored a $2 million grant from The Lilly Endowment, and served as project director for that award, which has enabled students and colleagues to pursue programming related to understanding and discovering Christian vocation; and provided leadership to the Micah Project Committee, which seeks to address campus climate issues related to diversity. Key accomplishments of this initiative to date include: the design and implementation of a policy and protocol for racial harassment and ongoing anti-racism education for college educators.

Phipps has researched and authored numerous publications related to the structure, rhetoric and climate of higher education; the development of educational community; faculty development and identity; gender and diversity communication issues; and the complexities and nuances of religion and American political campaign rhetoric. Most recently, Phipps authored the epilogue on campus climate and Christian scholarship for the book Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation, by Messiah professors Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen, published in March 2004 by Oxford Press. In the fall of 2004, Phipps delivered a Presidential Scholar Lecture on the topic of developing hospitable campus climates and also spoke on this subject at the “Faith in the Academy” national conference, held at Messiah in September, and will address this subject at a conference for college presidents and provosts to be held at Pepperdine University in April.

Phipps holds a Ph.D. in communication studies from Kent State University. Before coming to Messiah, she served in a variety of leadership roles at Malone College in Canton, Ohio, including professor and chair of the department of communication arts, acting dean of the college, and associate dean for faculty development. She is a native of Long Island, N.Y., and currently resides in Mechanicsburg, with her husband, D. Kelly Phipps, J.D., and their daughter, Brooke.

About Messiah College

Messiah College, a private Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, enrolls more than 2,900 undergraduate students in 50 majors. Established in 1909, the primary campus is located in Grantham, Pa., near the state capital of Harrisburg. A satellite campus affiliated with Temple University is located in Philadelphia.

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