Allegheny Boosters: The Couple Behind a Big Campus Gift

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Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania recently received $7 million from the Tippie family to endow professorships and fund experiential learning. The series of gifts from Allegheny alumna Pat Tippie and her husband Henry Tippie will support the Eila V. Bush Endowed Professorship in Art, the Patricia B. Tippie Endowed Professorship in Economics, and the Henry B. Tippie and Patricia Bush Tippie '56 Educational Opportunities Fund, which facilitates "domestic and international internships and study abroad opportunities for Allegheny students as well as student-faculty research."

Interestingly, a look at recent grantmaking from the couple's philanthropic vehicle, the Henry B. Tippie Foundation, mainly tells the story of modest support for churches and museums. No, not in Western Pennsylvania, but in Texas.

Henry Tippie himself grew up in rural Iowa, and attended the University of Iowa thanks to the G.I. Bill. He worked as an accountant in Des Moines, and for John W. Rollins and Associates. Henry played a key role in the company's purchase of Orkin Exterminating Company, one of the first large leveraged buyouts of its kind in U.S. corporate history. 

Gratitude is a key part of Henry Tippie and family's strong and steady support of University of Iowa, whose business school is named after him. While Henry has showered his alma mater with millions, including with a $30 million gift, his first forays into philanthropy happened some six decades ago when he wrote a $5 check to his school.

Away from the middle of the country, though, Allegheny College has also received millions from the Tippies. Pat Tippie, a 1956 Allegheny College graduate, was raised in New Castle in Western Pennsylvania. Pat has kept an eye on her school and region, even as she's been pulled elsewhere, including to a 33,000-acre ranch in Texas. Alumni loyalty and strong regional ties can long help keep a donor's sights on where they got their start.

Look no further than the new Eila V. Bush Endowed Professorship, which bears the name of Pat's mother. Pat describes the influence Ella had on her: “Before her marriage, she taught art, and painted china and pictures... After raising her family, she continued painting pictures and instructing others — children and adults... I have always been proud of her talents."

Pat also brings up a good point about the changing dynamics of a college, and how she continues to be committed to helping her school adjust and grow. As she puts it, "we want the College to continue to be one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States... the College has changed since I was a student. We have grown in many areas and kept up with the changes and the competition with other colleges...We must continue to expand and provide even better opportunities than those that are available at other colleges."

The Tippies' past giving at Allegheny College has also brought about the Patricia Bush Tippie Alumni Center, and the Henry B. and Patricia Bush Tippie Professor of English. The family also have funded a scholarship for students from New Castle, Pennsylvania to attend Allegheny.