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Trustee Kip Kiplinger '39 is 'flabbergasted' by gift overlooking site of his 1939 oratory

Austin Kiplinger and David Skorton
Lindsay France/University Photography
Austin "Kip" Kiplinger stands with President David Skorton and greets President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes at the dedication of a bench in Kiplinger's honor in front of McGraw Hall, May 24.

The dedication of a bench in front of McGraw Hall in honor of trustee Austin H. "Kip" Kiplinger '39 -- a surprise, at least, to Kiplinger himself -- was a highlight of Saturday's convocation activities, following receptions for graduates and their families on the Arts Quad.

Kiplinger is chairman emeritus of the Cornell Board of Trustees (1984-89) and has been a trustee since 1960. He has been a presidential councillor since 1989. His sons -- Todd L. Kiplinger '68 and Knight A. Kiplinger '69 -- are both Cornellians.

Knight Kiplinger's son, Brigham, graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2003, and his daughter, Daphne, is receiving her bachelor's degree May 25 from the College of Human Ecology. All attended the ceremony.

The surprise for Kip Kiplinger was total: As he walked across the Arts Quad with family members, he was greeted by President David Skorton. Then, as Kiplinger realized that the gathering in front of McGraw Hall was for him, he offered, "What's going on?"

Among those gathered was President Emeritus Frank H.T. Rhodes, who said of the dedication, "This is a wonderful opportunity to honor Kip for a life of devotion and service to Cornell."

Kiplinger was his class orator, Rhodes said, giving the class oration in June 1939 from the plinth in front of the statue of Andrew Dickson White. The bench in front of McGraw Hall looks across the quad toward that spot. It is a gift from his extended family and from David Maisel '68 and his wife, Martha.

Austin Kiplinger sits on the bench named for him
Lindsay France/University Photography
Kiplinger relaxes on the bench, which was a gift from his extended family and from David Maisel '68 and his wife, Martha.

"Kip has not only given his life to Cornell, he's given his fortune to Cornell," Rhodes said, noting several of his contributions: the Kiplinger chair in economics; his support of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts (which includes the Kiplinger Theatre); his role as co-chair in the effort to renovate and expand Lincoln Hall; his role in supporting student aid in challenge grants and leadership roles; and his work as a member of the administrative board of the Lab of Ornithology.

"Wherever you look on campus, there is Kip -- but nowhere more than here on this Arts Quad," Rhodes said, before leading everyone in a champagne toast.

Kiplinger said that he would offer the same closing remarks he gave on that day in June 1939: "Cornell, for better or worse, is a permanent part of our lives."

Afterwards, he confessed, "I was absolutely flabbergasted, overwhelmed, and I still am." Along with Skorton and Rhodes at the ceremony were former Cornell Presidents Dale Corson and Hunter R. Rawlings; Peter Meinig, chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees; and Chairman Emeritus Harold Tanner.

Kiplinger is chairman of the board of The Kiplinger Washington Editors. His father, the late W.M. Kiplinger, founded "The Kiplinger Letter" in 1923; Kip Kiplinger took over the company from his father in 1959 and served as chairman and president from 1961 to 1993. He began his career as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle (1940-41). He was then a business columnist for the Chicago Journal of Commerce (1948-50) and a news commentator for ABC and NBC radio and television (1950-56).

 

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