Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk, mathematics professor and administrator, has been named the 17th president of Saint Vincent College, effective July 1, according to an announcement today by the Rt. Rev. Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., archabbot and chancellor, and Mr. J. Christopher Donahue, chair of the board of directors.
Br. Norman, who is currently executive vice president of Saint Vincent College, dean of the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing, and associate professor of mathematics, becomes chief executive officer of America’s first Benedictine college, a 164-year old Catholic college of the liberal arts and sciences which is sponsored by the Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve as President of Saint Vincent College and I formally accept this appointment with gratitude and humility,” Br. Norman said at a news conference at the Fred M. Rogers Center at Saint Vincent College.
“For over 160 years, Saint Vincent College has served the region and the nation by offering an education that not only prepares students to make a living but how to live. This philosophy of education combines the basics necessary for success in a profession with the creative, life-affirming values of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts tradition. We will continue to build on our strong academic programs, as well as our community that makes it possible for us to grow in learning and in love,” Br. Norman continued.
“While I have enjoyed my work as Dean of the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing, I am happy to assume this new role and will work with President Towey to insure a smooth transition that will enable me to provide the kind of leadership that has been the hallmark of Saint Vincent College presidents,” he said. “Jim, you have my deepest appreciation for the leadership you provided the College during the past four years. In addition to the accomplishments that Archabbot Douglas and Mr. Donahue have recognized, the many service and mission learning initiatives you have instituted at Saint Vincent are a testimony to your deep faith and we are grateful to you.”
“I am thankful for the support of my Benedictine confreres, fellow alumni and benefactors, especially the charitable foundations in Latrobe, Pittsburgh and nationally, as well as governmental agencies,” Br. Norman concluded. “I look forward to working together with our Board of Directors, faculty and staff to offer our students a distinctive Benedictine education. We will continue to prosper by working together.”
“Br. Norman has been a big part of Saint Vincent College’s success and it is fitting that his decades of leadership on this campus culminate in this appointment,” Mr. Towey said. “I am excited for him and the College.”
As Dean, Br. Norman has had a leadership role in the largest construction project in the College’s history with the renovation and construction of the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, a $39 million project that will provide Saint Vincent students with a state-of-the-art facility for science education. The first phase of construction will be completed with the opening of the core building this fall. Further renovations will be made over the next two years.
“After reviewing the Presidential Prospectus developed by the Ad Hoc Committee on the Presidency, and the nominations which had been submitted, it was determined that a superior candidate was available within the Benedictine Community,” Archabbot Douglas explained. “Br. Norman will fulfill and articulate the mission and vision of the College by representing and promoting the College to all constituencies with emphasis on enhancing the financial resources and academic reputation of the College, leading and reinforcing a culture of student achievement and academic excellence, leading the integration of the Catholic, Benedictine, and liberal arts heritage into all aspects of life at the College, and nurturing a common vision and reinforcing the sense of community – a hallmark of the College.”
“Br. Norman meets the College’s academic needs and more,” Mr. Donahue said. “His proven leadership and administrative skills, his love for Saint Vincent and his ability to influence others to lend their support are unparalleled. Furthermore, his endless patience, his wisdom, outstanding educational background and experience, and his demonstrated commitment to community service and to the values and teachings of the Catholic tradition, bring together in one unique individual all of the qualities needed to take Saint Vincent College confidently into the future.”
Br. Norman is a 1961 graduate of the former Saint Vincent Preparatory School. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Saint Vincent College in 1966 and did graduate studies in Theology at Saint Vincent Seminary from 1966 to 1969. He earned a Master of Arts Degree in Mathematics in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1976, both from Northwestern University.
A member of the faculty since 1972, he has also served in many administrative roles at the College including Provost (1987-2002), Academic Dean (1980-1987), Director of the Opportunity Program (1978-1980), Campus Minister (1976-1978), and Director of Project Headway (1972-1974).
He has been involved in a number of community outreach programs including the Small Business Development Center, Drug and Alcohol Prevention Projects, and BRIDGES, a college-school-business partnership to improve mathematics and science education. He has served on the Board of Directors of Eastern Westmoreland Development Corporation and the Latrobe Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America.
Br. Norman served as Chair of the Steering Committee for the Monastery Run Improvement Project, a stream restoration and environmental education initiative for southwestern Pennsylvania and on the Steering Committee for the Loyalhanna Mine Drainage Coalition, a collaboration of more than 70 members dedicated to improving abandoned mine drainage in streams of the Loyalhanna Watershed.
In addition, he serves as the Higher Education Team Leader of the Math Science Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a seven-year (2003-2010), $18 million program funded by the National Science Foundation that focuses on improvement of student (K-16) achievement in mathematics and science.
Br. Norman has served as Principal Investigator for a project Saint Vincent College has undertaken with the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) to increase the number of students who enroll and successfully graduate in the fields of biochemistry, bioinformatics, biology and biotechnology by providing scholarship assistance and ongoing academic support.
As Dean of The Herbert W. Boyer School, he has established partnerships with Excela Health to offer a Masters Program in Health Sciences and with the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University to introduce a major in Bioinformatics and a Biotechnology Outreach Program for area high schools.
A member of the Saint Vincent Benedictine Community, he made simple profession of monastic vows on July 2, 1963, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1966.
A native of Carrolltown (Cambria County), Pennsylvania, he is the son of the late Blanche (Lieb) and George Russell Hipps. He has a brother, George Edward, of Williamsburg, Virginia.
With Br. Norman, a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey since 1963, the College returns to having a president who is a member of the Benedictine Order after two lay presidents in Jim Will and Jim Towey.
The previous presidents of Saint Vincent College are: +Rt. Rev. Boniface Wimmer, O.S.B., 1871-1887; +Rt. Rev. Andrew Hintenach, O.S.B., 1887-1892; +Rt. Rev. Leander Schnerr, O.S.B., 1892-1920; +Rt. Rev. Aurelius Stehle, O.S.B., 1920-1930; +Rt. Rev. Alfred Koch, O.S.B., 1930-1950; +Rt. Rev. Denis Strittmatter, O.S.B., 1950-1955; +Rev. Quentin Schaut, O.S.B., 1955-1962; +Rev. Maximilian Duman, O.S.B., 1962-1963; +Rev. Maynard Brennan, O.S.B., 1963-1968; +Rev. Fintan R. Shoniker, O.S.B., 1968-1971; +Rev. Cecil G. Diethrich, O.S.B., 1971-1982; Rev. Augustine Flood, O.S.B., 1982-1985; Rev. John F. Murtha, O.S.B., 1985-1995; Rev. Martin R. Bartel, O.S.B., 1995-2000; Mr. James F. Will, 2000-2006; and Mr. H. James Towey, 2006-2010.
During Mr. Towey’s service, the College enhanced its national profile and expanded its service learning, study abroad and campus ministry programs while making impressive progress in enrollment, fund raising, campus development and student diversity.
Br. Norman becomes head of one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, one that has made notable progress in all facets of its operation during the past 20 years. The College continues to be highly rated in national rankings.
More than 2,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate or graduate courses at Saint Vincent College. Students hail from 25 states and 12 foreign countries. Saint Vincent has more than 12,000 living alumni in all 50 states and 28 foreign countries, including more than 5,000 in Pennsylvania enjoying successful careers in business, education, finance, medicine, religion, law and public service.