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Juniata Honors Three Administrators with Endowment Gifts

(Posted May 20, 2013)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Three retiring Juniata College administrators -- Thomas R. Kepple, president; Jim Lakso, provost; and John Hille, executive vice president for enrollment and retention -- have been honored by the college they served by the establishment of a scholarship and two endowments to benefit students and faculty at Juniata.


At a recent faculty-trustee dinner, Robert McDowell, chairman of the college's board of trustees, announced that more than $2 million in gifts and donations have been designated to three endowments named for the three top administrators who have led Juniata for more than a decade.

Tom Kepple was honored by the announcement of the Thomas R. Kepple and Patricia G. Kepple International Opportunities Endowment, an endowment fund, with more than $1 million in donations to date, that will fund travel grants for Juniata students who are traveling to study abroad and for international students who plan on attending Juniata. Hille was honored by the announcement of the John and Tan Hille Endowed Scholarship, a $50,000 scholarship that will provide one student per year with a $2,500 merit scholarship to lessen tuition.

Kepple came to Juniata in 1998 from Sewanee: The University of the South. He is the founding chair of the Tuition Plan Consortium, a national non-profit organization organized to develop and market the Private College 529 Plan a prepaid tuition plan for private colleges and universities. On May 10, he was named president of the American Academic Leadership Institute, an agency specializing in leadership programs for higher education.

He served as the vice chair of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's higher education transition team. Kepple is the founding chair of the Landmark NCAA Division III athletic conference. Other memberships include: New York Times/Chronicle of Higher Education President's Cabinet; NCAA Division III Presidents Advisory Committee; Brethren Colleges Abroad; Princeton Review (Advisory Board); and he chaired the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

He was awarded the Westminster College Outstanding Alumni Citation in October 2000 and in 2011 was awarded the honorary degree, doctor of humane letters, from Elizabethtown College.?

Prior to his presidency, Kepple was vice president for business and community relations at Sewanee: University of the South. A native of Murrysville, Pa., he earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics from Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa. in 1970. He went on to earn a master's degree in business administration and a doctorate in education, both from Syracuse University.


In 2010, Jim Lakso was honored by the college and countless former students when Juniata raised almost $1 million to create the James J. Lakso Endowment for Faculty Excellence, which will provide annual funding for faculty development. In addition, the college also named its recently established teaching center the James J. Lakso Center for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.?

He came to Juniata as an instructor and was promoted to assistant professor in 1972 and to associate professor in 1976. He was promoted to full professor in 1981. He also has worked in administrative roles at the college, including stints as assistant academic dean, director of summer sessions, chair of the economics department and academic dean of social sciences.

Lakso received the 2005 Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service and the 1983 Beachley Distinguished Professor Award. He also served as an adjunct business faculty member at St. Francis University and has been a business consultant for such area businesses as Kish Bank. He remains active at St. James Lutheran Church, the Huntingdon Lions Club and Huntingdon County Business and Industry. He serves on the board for Kish Bank.

Lakso joined the Juniata faculty in 1970 after earning a master's degree in economics from the University of Maryland. He continued his doctoral work while teaching at Juniata and earned his doctorate in economics in 1973. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Wittenberg, University in 1967.

John Hille has been on the executive team at Juniata College since 1998, when he joined the college as vice president for advancement and marketing. He was named executive vice president for enrollment and retention in 2008. He was responsible for the development of the Juniata College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Sill Business Incubator from 2003 to 2011, serving as the center's executive vice president from 2003 to 2012.

Hille over saw the college's Uncommon Outcomes campaign, which raised more than $103 million to establish the William J. Von Liebig Center for Science, the renovated and improved Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts, and renovation of historic Founders Hall.

Hille also worked to establish the Bob and Eileen Sill Business Incubator within JCEL and established JCEL's focus on economic development and business formation for Huntingdon and surrounding communities.

Before coming to Juniata, Hille also served as vice president and principal at The Complex Sale, a global consulting firm specializing in serving information technology companies from 1997 to 2002. Before becoming a consultant, he served as president and chief operating officer for SFG Technologies, an international software firm specializing in software for public and private utilities, from 1994 to 1997. He was vice president of the financial systems division of Ross Systems from 1992 to 1994.

Hille has been very active within the Huntingdon community, serving as president of the Huntingdon Area Chamber of Commerce and of the Huntingdon Community Foundation, which he helped establish. He has served as president of the board of directors for Huntingdon Area Habitat for Humanity and chaired the advisory board for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Huntingdon. He has been active in the Huntingdon County Partners for Economic Progress and on the advisory board for Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. He received the Church-College Leadership Award from the Church of the Brethren in 2012
He earned a bachelor's degree from Rhodes College, in Memphis, Tenn., in 1969.

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