by Zach Tackett, Staff Writer
Now that Br. Norman Hipps, OSB has taken office as the President of Saint Vincent College, we can be sure that some changes will ensue. These changes may bring new life to our campus.
Over the next few years, we can expect to see some programs finished, some programs begin, and many relationships formed between the college and the community. Br. Norman’s first line of business will be to complete funding for the multi-million dollar Dupré Science Pavilion, which has become a symbol for Saint Vincent’s entrance into the future. In the next months, the new president will work with other members of the campus to formulate a long-term plan for campus-related invigoration, including new buildings and residence hall renovations.
But most of all, Br. Norman hopes that he can provide all students with a “quality Benedictine education” that any Saint Vincent alum can be proud to receive. He wishes to see the school become more in touch with its Benedictine heritage, embodying all aspects of the ten Benedictine values. He hopes to see Saint Vincent become a place for students to work and pray or reflect, making it the perfect environment for self-exploration and discovery. He hopes that the college will embody a community- based attitude of mutual respect and open communication. Br. Norman foresees the school working to take care of the local community and environment, expressing the core Benedictine value of stewardship; one such effort is the attainment of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status for the campus’s buildings. In order to be LEED certified, buildings must demonstrate green qualities, such as high energy and water efficiency and limited carbon dioxide emissions.
The president also views the campus as an open symbol of hospitality, with a diversity and openness to other philosophies, religions, and walks of life. Moreover, the greatest statement of Benedictine life is his goal to strengthen and unite the community even further. He finds partnerships between schools in daily life to be the expression of a greater community. As an example of this, he cites the union of religion in science in the Dupré Science Building. He mentions classes he saw as the previous Dean of the Boyer School in the Biotechnology department, which bring together business and science. Br. Norman also views the Education department as a great bridge between all of the departments as students pursue a career in teaching. Classes like these, which combine unlikely fields to foster a true liberal arts education rooted in a holistic approach to education, are becoming more and more common in curriculua.
Br. Norman would also like to continue former president Towey’s focus on service learning as an integral part of a Saint Vincent education. “We will continue to fund Campus Ministry’s trips as well as the annual trip to Mother Teresa’s mission in Kolkota,” he said. He would like to stabilize these programs before moving forward to plan more missions.
However, the President did not shut down possible plans for future missions and projects. He mentioned a possible relationship with the L’Arche Communities, a Christian foundation that provides homes for persons with severe mental or physical disabilities, who he says often teach volunteers that live in a home with them “what is most important in life.”
Finally, the final question remains as to why Br. Norman Hipps was the right choice for Saint Vincent College. Perhaps the answer lies within his life. He chose to remain a Brother instead of attaining priesthood; a decision, he says, that was the right one for him.
“When I was attaining my doctorate at Northwestern, I was able to better relate to my colleagues, the undergraduates, and my teachers,” said Br. Norman. And in fact, Br. Norman is a man that forms as many connections as possible. During his time as Dean of the Boyer School, he formed a connection with Excela Health, allowing the school to begin offering a master’s in Health Sciences. He also formed a relationship with Johns Hopkins University to offer a Biotechnology program and establish an outreach program for the local high schools.
Moreover, he has been a member of the faculty for almost forty years, serving in administrative roles such as Provost and Academic Dean for more than thirty of those years. But even before this, he was a graduate of the Preparatory School and from Saint Vincent College, giving him more than fifty years of experience with the Saint Vincent community. He has experienced every level of the education process (student, teacher, administrator) and thus our new President can relate to us on a very personal level. Br. Norman Hipps, OSB, has seen where Saint Vincent College has come from, and now he can lead us forward into a bright future.