(Posted November 3, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata President Thomas R. Kepple Jr. has recently signed an eight-year contract to remain as president of Juniata College through 2011. The agreement was announced by Juniata College board of trustees chairman Henry H. Gibbel at the Oct. 17 meeting of the college?s board of trustees.

?Tom Kepple has provided exceptional leadership in his first five years here and the board believes his continued leadership is vital to the college?s future,? says Gibbel, president and CEO of Lititz Mutual Insurance Co. ?Dr. Kepple?s accomplishments have allowed the college to grow while also maintaining Juniata?s core values of superb teaching, interdisciplinary study opportunities and experiential learning.?

?I?m very much humbled by the confidence that the Board of Trustees has shown in this administration by providing an eight-year contract,? Kepple says. ?My wife Pat and I came here knowing that Juniata would do very well based on the fine faculty, staff and trustees associated with the College. We couldn?t be more pleased with the College?s progress and we wanted to be part of the many exciting opportunities ahead.?

The board of trustees cited a series of accomplishments during Kepple?s presidency that have brought Juniata College to the forefront of liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania and nationally.

?He brought with him a dream of the Juniata campus and worked with the faculty, students and staff to turn Juniata from a hidden jewel to a nationally recognized college,? says David Andrews, an attorney with the Altoona-based firm Andrews Beard and vice chair of the board of trustees. ?The long-term contract will be instrumental in helping the college achieve its goals and ensure stability. Dr. Kepple has a unique ability to bring all areas of Juniata together to work toward success.?

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 as well as a major capital campaign.

?Tom Kepple lets the people who work for him do their jobs without constantly looking over their shoulders. If you have an idea, his instinct is to help you find a way to make it work rather than to find a reason why it can?t be done,? says Juniata provost James Lakso. ?When Tom came to Juniata, he came to his first meeting of the Board of Trustees with a well developed outline for a capital campaign. It was aggressive and visionary and it succeeded because the plan made sense and because the timing was right.?

Kepple also has worked diligently to incorporate the college into the activities of Huntingdon and surrounding communities. In addition to encouraging students and faculty to increase their service to the community, he also has spoken out to support improvements to the community such as a community swimming pool, increased train service and hotel and restaurant development.

?President Kepple not only made a commitment to improve Juniata, but he also realizes Huntingdon must continue to improve in order to attract top students to Juniata,? says Huntingdon accountant Jay Muir, owner of the Jay Muir Agency and president of the Huntingdon County Business and Industry group. ?As time goes on, more and more people are recognizing the commitment he and the college has made to this area.?

?Under Tom?s leadership the college has become much more involved in the community,? says Steve Sliver, chief executive officer of Huntingdon-based Mutual Benefit Group. ?Juniata is an important resource for this community and Juniata?s stature as a college has risen dramatically with the additions to the campus facilities and programs.?

Among his accomplishments of the past five years are:

--Enrollment at Juniata has increased from just over 1,200 to more than 1,396 which allowed the college 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 is the new crown jewel of Juniata?s central campus. The building?s state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms make this impressive education and research building one of the top facilities for undergraduate science research in the nation.

--The creation of a new Information Technology curriculum that uses Juniata?s reputation as a superb teaching institution to customize the coursework to emphasize personalized instruction and hands-on experiential learning.

--The partial renovation of the Brumbaugh Science Center has brought the Information Technology program into a reorganized academic program that emphasizes interdisciplinary majors with other academic departments at Juniata, such as accounting business and economics, communication, environmental science and other science departments.

--The creation of 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 Bob and Eileen Sill Business Incubator is designed to help Juniata students and area residents create local businesses that will grow and expand.

--A $4.5 million infrastructure project beautified the Juniata campus and saved the college thousands of dollars in energy and utility bills by improving the college?s electrical and heating resources, removing utility poles, installing new boilers and steam pipes for the heating network and installing and mapping new telecommunication and technology lines.

--The completion of Shuster Hall, the first building in the eventual redesign of the Raystown Field Station, a $1.25 million classroom/laboratory building that is environmentally ?green? and can be used as a living classroom through its environmental monitoring systems.

--The national profile of Juniata has increased in recent years. The college was recently rated among the top 106 national liberal arts colleges by the magazine U.S. News and World Report. The college is the only institution to be rated in all of the following college guides: Kaplan?s ?The Unofficial Insider?s Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges,? ?The Princeton Review: The Best 351 Colleges,? ?Barron?s Best Buys in College Education,? ?Peterson?s Competitive Colleges,? Miriam Weinstein?s ?Making a Difference College Guide: Outstanding Colleges to Help You Make a Better World,? ??College?s that Change Lives,? by Loren Pope, ?Provoking Thought: What College?s Should do for Students,? ELLEgirl Magazine?s ?Top 50 Colleges That Dare To Be Different? and ?Cool Colleges: For the Hyper Intelligent, Self-Directed Late Bloomer or Just Plain Different.?

?This, I believe, is very good news for Juniata,? says Andrew Murray, Elizabeth E. Baker Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and a longtime Juniata faculty member. ?Tom Kepple has, in his tenure here, nurtured a relationship between faculty and administration based on both respect and high expectations. Faculty morale and energy seem to me to be at a high point for the 30-plus years that I have been associated with the college and this decision only increases my optimism for our future.?

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.