Good news to seniors: in his graduating year, Bob Lipp ’60 never imagined becoming as involved with the College as he has been. “That would have been a joke!” he said. “I never thought about it, but it couldn’t have been a more wonderful experience.”
Bob Lipp ’60, who will speak at the Baccaleaureate Service over Commencement weekend, offers a unique perspective on the institution. At the College, Lipp has been a committed alumnus and a parent to Wendy ’90 and Jeff ’92. Outside the College, he has served senior positions with companies such as Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and has been a committed patron of the arts. He was co-chair of the Williams Campaign and is chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees during a period of growth. He retires from the Board in June, and will receive an honorary degree on June 1.
“Bob Lipp has presided over the Williams Board during a period of innovation in academic programming and major improvements in infrastructure,” said President Schapiro, who worked closely with Lipp during his time as a trustee. “He deserves a great deal of credit for any gains our college has made over the past decade.”
“As the incoming chair of the executive committee, it is a privilege to follow Bob,” said Gregory Avis ’80. “He has made remarkable contributions to the College during his tenure and is leaving the school in a better place.”
Though Lipp was appointed to the Board of Trustees in July of 1999, his post-graduate involvement with the College began because of his support of the arts.
Lipp credits Sandra Burton, now the Lipp Family Director of Dance, with bringing him back to Williams to contribute more intimately 15 years ago. “It was dance that [allowed me to] get back involved in a significant way at Williams College,” Lipp said. He established the Bari Lipp Endowment in Dance at the College in memory of his first wife, Bari Lipp.
After he had been involved with the dance program, Lipp became a non-trustee member of what was then the 20-person Finance Committee, now the Investment Committee, which oversees the endowment.
As a trustee, Lipp has served on several committees during his tenure and counts his work on the Committee on Instruction (COI), which works closest with faculty, as especially important to him. “It was the committee that got you closest to what was going on in the classroom with faculty and students.”
Improving the amount of interaction between the trustees and the faculty has been one of Lipp’s major projects. In addition to his efforts to keep the Board connected to the faculty by having trustees hear a report from at least one faculty department at each of their three or more annual meetings and attending classes when they are in town, Lipp has also focused on better informing Board members of the College’s financial standing. “Now there’s a full report, especially on the financial condition of the College, that the full Board is briefed on,” Lipp said. “It’s important for every trustee, regardless of what committee they’re on, to fully understand what the financial situation of the College is.”
In order to make the Board more representative of different disciplines, Lipp has led the Board in implementing a vision for its own makeup in the future. “I think we’ve made great progress opening up the trustees and getting trustees that really represent an intellectually diverse group on the Board,” Lipp said.
Another of Lipp’s noticeable involvements has been through his work coordinating the 2020 project, having spent the past few years focusing on using task forces to research issues that will increasingly affect the College.
“I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to be involved with such a great institution,” he said. “This has been a personal legacy for me, in that I’ve enjoyed it so much. [Working on the Board has been] one of the great experiences of my life personally.”
Lipp, as much as anyone, holds high the value of the College’s first-class liberal arts education. “Once you leave the Board, you leave the Board,” Lipp said, when asked about his plans to continue his involvement with Williams after the end of his tenure.
Lipp will remain chairman of the capital campaign until the end of the calendar year, and once he leaves the Board he plans to continue to be involved in supporting the College’s dance program. “The ’62 Center is exceptional,” Lipp said.
Future connections to the College continue. Lipp is looking forward to teaching a Winter Study class as he has done in years past called, “Managing Nonprofits: An Insider’s Look” with his wife, and would like to resume teaching a year from January. “I’m going to try to stay close to what I love doing so much, which is being with the students,” he said.
“I wouldn’t qualify it as a legacy, but as movement along a path that will continue. The people that will get on the Board are really dedicated. It’s been a great experience for all of us to serve on the Board,” Lipp said.
“[Lipp] has nurtured a culture on the Board that is inclusive and has inspired trustees with his commitment to and love for the College,” Avis said. “We will miss Bob but realize that we will all continue to benefit from the changes he championed and the progress the Board made under his leadership.”