Kim S. Phipps, Ph.D.

President of Messiah College


Kim S. Phipps, Ph.D., was named the eighth president of Messiah College in December 2004. She is the first woman president in the College’s history. Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Phipps served as Messiah's interim president, provost and academic dean. She holds a Ph.D. in communication studies from Kent State University.

An advocate for academic excellence and holistic student learning, Dr. Phipps is an accessible leader who builds shared vision and authentic relationships with colleagues and students, and fosters a strong, nurturing academic community as a result.

An advocate for academic excellence and holistic student learning, Dr. Phipps is an accessible leader who builds shared vision and authentic relationships with colleagues and students, and fosters a strong, nurturing academic community. As president, she demonstrates Messiah College’s commitment to civic engagement by serving on numerous regional and national boards, including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the Christian College Consortium.

Phipps Family

During her tenure at Messiah she has led many significant institutional initiatives including: the implementation of a School of Graduate Studies, initiation of the undergraduate core course, “Created and Called for Community,” the successful completion of four major fundraising campaigns totaling $106 million, and the increase of the College’s visibility throughout the region and the nation, including hosting CNN’s 2008 Compassion Forum—a nationally televised, unprecedented conversation with presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the integration of faith and public policy.

Dr. Phipps is a native of Long Island, New York, and lives on campus with her husband, D. Kelly Phipps, J.D. Their daughter, Brooke, currently lives and works in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Civic engagement

Dr. Phipps demonstrates Messiah’s commitment to civic engagement through her past and present service on the following national and regional boards:


  • Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

  • Council of Independent Colleges

  • Christian College Consortium


  • Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra 

  • Keystone Human Services

  • Pennsylvania Campus Compact

  • Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania

  • Middle Atlantic Conference

  • Susquehanna Art Museum

Honors and recognitions

In recognition of her contributions to Christian higher education and local community involvement, Dr. Phipps has been awarded several honors including: being recognized with the Courageous Leadership Award by Credo for the transformative nature of her presidency at Messiah College and her advocacy of private, independent higher education (2017); distinguished by Christianity Today as one of 50 key leaders shaping the evangelical church and North American society (2012); received the Athena Award from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber/CREDC for her demonstration of excellent in her profession and commitment to mentoring women leaders (2012); honored by the Salvation Army of the Harrisburg Capital Region for exemplary service and social responsibility (2012); and noted as one of the region’s “25 Most Influential Women” by the Central Penn Business Journal (2010).

Educational and professional background

Dr. 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. Dr. Phipps has spoken nationally at numerous conferences on the topic of developing hospitable campus climates.

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.

Significant Messiah College initiatives accomplished during Dr. Phipps' presidency to date include:

Academic offerings

  • The implementation of graduate education into the College’s academic offerings. Master’s and doctoral programs are now available in counselingconductingbusiness and strategic leadershipeducation, higher education, and nursing, with occupational and physical therapy to be launched in 2017 and 2018.

  • The implementation of online curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

  • The addition of 13 new majors since 2011, designed to meet the career goals of students and demands of employers, including Chinese studies and Chinese business, sustainability studies, and digital media.

  • The initiation of the College's core course, "Created and Called for Community," which is an integral part of Messiah's curriculum for first-year students. The course serves as a critical introduction to Messiah College's unique heritage, mission, and identity. The core curriculum also included the launch of the College's Common Reading Program, in which first-year students read a common text selected specifically to educate students on essential themes related to intellectual and Christian faith development.

Resource stewardship

  • Led the successful completion of significant fundraising campaigns for the College, including:

  • The Campaign for Wellness (2016), funding the cornerstone project of a new fitness center addition and the renovations to the College’s current sports center ($6.5 million).

  • The  Centennial Campaign (2010), a $40 million fundraising endeavor that exceeded its fundraising goal by raising $46.2 million for student scholarships and the construction of the Calvin and Janet High Center for Worship and Performing Arts Center, which opened in January 2013. 

  • To Serve & To Lead (2004), the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in Messiah's history, which raised $50.5 million for student enrichment through new facilities (Boyer Hall, Larsen Student Union), academic programming, and financial aid.

Strategic planning

  • Recently facilitated the College’s new strategic plan for 2016-2020, “Embracing Change as Opportunity,” a comprehensive planning document that identifies key vision, themes and goals for Messiah’s second century.

  • The launch of a College-wide Diversity Strategic Planning Initiative, rooted in a comprehensive, candid survey of Messiah's campus climate related to a wide range of diversity aspects in the campus community.

  • The completion of the first phase of a new campus Concept Plan which will guide the College's facilities and land use planning and development through the year 2050.

Increased visibility

  • Messiah hosts prominent national speakers, recently including Ken Burns, Bob Woodward, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Brooks, Michele Norris, Helene Cooper, Tony Dungy, Henry Louis Gates, Leymah Gbowee, James Davidson Hunter, Juan Williams, Joni Eareckson Tada, and Philip Yancey.

  • Actively encourages students, alumni, parents and other friends of the college to friend her on Facebook. Maintains an Instagram and Twitter account (@messiahprez) and has championed the College’s creative and frequent use of social media for the purpose of building and maintaining relationships.

  • The launch of a new marketing communications campaign, inviting students and others to "see anew" based on the research of the College’s two-year strategic branding initiative.

  • Celebrated Messiah’s Centennial in 2009-2010 with a series of special events to remember the important people and initiatives of College’s first century while looking ahead to the promise and possibility of Messiah’s next 100 years. The Centennial year was themed: “Shared faith. Bold vision. Enduring promise.”

  • Hosting The Compassion Forum in April 2008, a nationally televised (CNN), unprecedented conversation with presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, on the integration of faith and public policy.