I first met Dr. William Sipple when we were ‘students’ in a post-doctorate leadership program at Harvard University. At the time, he was at Robert Morris University. We sat next to each other on the first day, and we instantly connected. Bill and I were at similar points in our careers, and I was impressed by the work he was doing at Robert Morris. It was not long after the Harvard program that I accepted the leadership role at Bay Path. The first vision plan of my presidency included launching graduate programs and attracting adult students. Key to reaching those goals was having an individual who had foresight and a “can do” attitude. I saw Bill at a professional conference I was attending and told him we were in the process of hiring our first provost! He submitted his resume, the faculty selection committee interviewed and selected Bill, and the rest is history. To say he played a pivotal role in reshaping the future of this University at a critical time would be an understatement. During his tenure he helped reinvent Bay Path into a multi-faceted graduate institution with multiple campuses, expanded academic offerings at the undergraduate and graduate level, and created online graduate programs. When he retired, the University had more than 2,000 students. Yet, beyond his accomplishments, what people remark about Bill is his curiosity, his welcoming personality, and his sense of humor. A true Renaissance man, he has a broad array of interests and is a devoted traveler. For Bill, learning is truly a lifelong passion. It is in this spirit of promoting learning that he recently established the The Dr. William L. Sipple Scholarship at Bay Path. His legacy and all his good works will continue, influencing new generations of Bay Path students. I will be eternally grateful to Bill for his leadership and his commitment to Bay Path.
Could you share a bit about your life journey and career?
I started my career in higher education by completing my master’s degree (Gannon University) and doctoral degree (Duquesne University) in English Literature, as well as teaching at the college level at Gannon University, Duquesne University, Waynesburg University, and Robert Morris University. Over the years, I have held a number of positions at various universities, including Founding Dean of the School of Communications and Information Systems at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I came to Bay Path College in 1999 to become the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. My goals were to stabilize and diversify enrollment, establish financial viability, increase the number of doctoral qualified faculty, and improve facilities. In 1999, the One Day Saturday Program for adult women was launched and the Graduate School in 2000. Recognizing the potential for growth in this area, a new graduate degree was added each year thereafter. At the end of June 2010, I retired from Bay Path. I am honored to have served at Bay Path because I have helped it become a stronger University by diversifying its student population and building academic programs that were relevant to the marketplace. But overall, I am most gratified with my 50 years with my wife Jo-Ann, also an educator, and hope that we can continue to inspire others.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I think for anyone who is in the business of educating students, I am pleased with the influence I have had on my students and those touched by the programs we developed. I hear regularly from many graduates from Bay Path and my other institutions telling me I have had an impact on their lives, and I know then that I have done something very profound. I have changed a person’s life for the better. And I am pleased I have enabled faculty to excel and reach their goals.
What is one regret that you have in your career?
No regrets really—perhaps my only regret is that it seems to all have passed by so quickly. Looking back, I can’t help but think of the old saying: “so much to do, so little time.”
What advice would you give to students at Bay Path who are setting out on their own life journey?
In offering advice, I think it is best to keep it simple: do your homework and keep your eye on the ball. There is a lot in this that applies to many life and work situations.