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American Indian Educator Named 2008 Alumni Fellow

College of Education alumnus, Gerald E. Gipp, '71 M.Ed. and '74 Ph.D. will be honored on October 2 in University Park, Pa.
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by Pamela Batson

Gerald E. Gipp, ’71 M.Ed. and ’74 Ph.D., has been named a 2008 Alumni Fellow by the Penn State Alumni Association. Along with other 2008 Fellows, Gipp will be honored on October 2 in University Park at a dinner hosted by President Graham Spanier.

With an extensive background in the field of American Indian education and federal policy development, Gipp has had an accomplished and diverse career. Early on, he served as a school administrator, teacher and athletic coach in the K–12 public school system in North Dakota, the Busby School on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana, and the Cheyenne-Eagle Butte school system on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. In response to his outstanding efforts, the National Indian Education Association honored him in 1984 as "Indian Educator of the Year."

Gipp served as the executive director for the Intra-Departmental Council on Native American Affairs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He was the first American Indian appointed as the deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Indian Education, within the then newly-created U.S. Department of Education, and the first to serve as president of Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas, where he remained for nearly nine years. At Penn State, he was a faculty member in the Graduate School, the first person to earn a Ph.D. from the American Indian Leadership Program in the College of Education, and its first director.

Gipp spent six years as program director at the National Science Foundation, Division of Educational System Reform, Directorate for Education and Human Resources in Arlington, Virginia, before joining the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC). He led the non-profit organization to support the work of the nation’s 36 Tribal Colleges and Universities, which serve 30,000 students from over 250 federally recognized tribes. He recently retired as the executive director.

In 1995, Gipp’s accomplishments were recognized by Penn State when he received the “Outstanding Leadership and Service Award” from the College of Education.

Said Gipp, "I have always highly valued my Penn State experience because it not only prepared me, but opened many doors throughout my career. As a result, I have had the good fortune to assume several interesting and challenging leadership positions in the field of American Indian education. While completely unexpected, I accept this most prestigious award with humility on behalf of the many people that have supported me throughout my career.”

Gipp is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Hunkpapa Lakota) from Fort Yates, North Dakota. He is a graduate of Standing Rock Community College and Ellendale State Teachers College (ND).

He resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Virginia and daughter Giselle.

The Alumni Fellow Award is the most prestigious award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. Since 1973, the Alumni Fellow Award has been given to select alumni who, as leaders in their professional fields, are nominated by an academic college and accept an invitation from the President of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty, and administrators. The award is a cast bronze statue and framed certificate.