An advocate for academic excellence and holistic student learning, President 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. As president, she demonstrates Messiah University’s commitment to civic engagement by serving on numerous regional and national boards, including the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Council of Independent Colleges.
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 University’s visibility throughout the region and the nation.
Given the comprehensive nature of Messiah’s undergraduate curriculum and the expansion of our graduate school to include two doctoral level programs, the University’s board of trustees, in October 2018, unanimously approved the move to university status as of July 1, 2020. President Phipps will lead the University Implementation Team towards this historic milestone.
President Phipps is a native of Long Island, New York. She and her husband, D. Kelly Phipps, J.D., have an adult daughter, Brooke, who is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Maryland.
Educational and professional background
President 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. President 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.
Dr. Phipps demonstrates Messiah’s commitment to civic engagement through her past and present service on national and regional boards.
Honors and recognitions
In recognition of her contributions to Christian higher education and local community involvement, Dr. Phipps has been awarded several honors including:
- 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)
- Recognized with the Courageous Leadership Award by Credo for the transformative nature of her presidency at Messiah University and her advocacy of private, independent higher education (2017)
- Inducted into the Central Penn Business Journal’s Circle of Excellence, a recognition for women who are “the icons of their industry and hold a sustained leadership role in their organization and the community.” (2019)
Significant Messiah University initiatives accomplished during Dr. Phipps' presidency to date include:
- The implementation of graduate education into the University’s academic offerings. Over 30 graduate programs and certificates are now available in counseling, conducting, business and strategic leadership, education, higher education, and nursing, with occupational and physical therapy to be launched in 2019.
- The implementation of online curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
- The addition of several new majors since 2011, designed to meet the career goals of students and demands of employers, bringing Messiah’s total undergraduate majors to 89 as of 2019.
- The initiation of the University'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 University's unique heritage, mission, and identity. The core curriculum also included the launch of the University'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.
Led the successful completion of significant fundraising campaigns for the University, including:
- The Campaign for Wellness (2016), funding the cornerstone project of a new fitness center addition and the renovations to the University’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.
- Messiah hosts prominent national speakers, recently including Ken Burns, Bob Woodward, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Brooks, Michele Norris, Tony Dungy, Henry Louis Gates, Leymah Gbowee, Juan Williams, Joni Eareckson Tada, Philip Yancey, Jon Meacham and Thomas Friedman.
- Maintains Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts (@messiahprez) and has championed the University’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 University’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 University’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.
- Recently facilitated the University’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 University-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 University's facilities and land use planning and development through the year 2050.