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Juniata President Accepts Contract Extension to Ensure Continued Stability, Growth

(Posted November 9, 2009)

Thomas R. Kepple Jr., Juniata president

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple Jr. has agreed to extend his current employment contract through May 2013 to ensure stability and continued growth for the college in a time of uncertainty for the economy in general and higher education in particular.

The agreement was announced by Juniata College board of trustees chairman David Andrews at a Nov. 4 college open forum and faculty meeting. Kepple had signed an eight-year contract in October 2003 and was scheduled to retire in May 2011.

In addition, the contracts of Kepple's senior management team, James Lakso, provost, and John Hille, executive vice president of enrollment and retention, also were extended.

"The executive committee of the board of trustees felt that the current economic situation made this not the right time to change a successful management team that has provided exceptional leadership and momentum," says Andrews, an Altoona, Pa. based attorney with Andrews Beard law firm. "The next few years will be critical for higher education and the college will be better served by having proven leadership in place to steer Juniata through."

"I'm pleased to accept the board's offer and I'm even more pleased that Jim Lakso and John Hille agreed to stay on," Kepple says. "We want to continue to add to College's progress."

"The executive committee of the board of trustees felt that the current economic situation made this not the right time to change a successful management team that has provided exceptional leadership and momentum. The next few years will be critical for higher education and the college will be better served by having proven leadership in place to steer Juniata through."
David Andrews, chair, Board of Trustees

Since arriving at Juniata from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was vice president for business and community at from 1989 to 1998, Kepple has overseen an ambitious plan for facilities improvement, most recently the renovation and refurbishment of Founders Hall, the college's 1879 original building.

Kepple also will oversee the college's effort to build the college's endowment above $100 million.
Kepple also has worked diligently to incorporate the college into the activities of Huntingdon and surrounding communities. In addition to the Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which acts as a business incubator and development agency for the county, Kepple has encouraged students and faculty to increase their service to the community.

Among the college's accomplishments during Kepple's tenure:

--The completion of an environmentally friendly renovation for Founders Hall, an $8.5 million project.
--Enrollment at Juniata has increased from just over 1,200 to more than 1,450, giving the college room to expand its academic curriculum without sacrificing the close-knit sense of community that Juniata is noted for.

--The Uncommon Outcomes campaign, begun in 1998, had an initial goal of $70 million and currently has raised more than $89 million to fund the operation of the college and several ambitious academic programs and building improvements.

--The completion of the $20 million William J. von Liebig Center for Science. The state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms make this education and research building one of the top facilities for undergraduate science research in the nation.

--The Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership has expanded the opportunities for Juniata business students to gain experience before graduation and has established a viable service to Huntingdon and surrounding communities for business creation.

--The Raystown Field Station, has been transformed into a residential learning community with Shuster Hall, a building that is environmentally "green" and can be used as a living classroom through its environmental monitoring systems, and the completion of two residential student lodges.

--The national profile of Juniata has increased in recent years. Juniata jumped 13 spots in the U.S. News & World Report Rankings and the Forbes.com rankings rated Juniata 75th in the nation in its recently released "America's Top Colleges 2009" poll.

Additionally, the Chronicle of Higher Education rated Juniata as one of 30 four-year colleges and universities nationwide to merit placement on the Honor Roll in the Chronicle of Higher Education 2009 "Great Colleges to Work For" survey.

Kepple became Juniata's 11th president in 1998, coming from an executive position at the University of the South as noted above. At Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., he served as director of administrative services from 1975 to 1981, dean of administrative services from 1981 to 1986, and as provost from 1986 to 1989.

A native of Murrysville, Pa., Kepple earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics from Westminster College in 1970. He went on earn a master's degree in business administration in 1974 and a doctorate in education in 1984, both from Syracuse University.

Kepple is the founding chair for the Tuition Plan Consortium, a nonprofit corporation overseeing the development of a national pre-paid college tuition program for private colleges and universities. Kepple has also completed extensive work on the development and implementation of early retirement programs for faculty, having co-authored the book "Incentive Early Retirement Programs for Faculty," with Jay Chronister of the University of Virginia.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.