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Summer 2018 Wofford Today
Van Hipp header

Power of the gift

Van Hipp turns American defense into student success

“My father was a military policeman at Fort Gordon in Augusta, and I remember playing with his uniform,” says Hipp. “I’ve always been interested in history and politics, and since I was a kid I believed I could make a difference.”

Hipp’s childhood conviction held true. Throughout his celebrated career, Hipp, commissioned through the ROTC program at Wofford and a veteran of the U.S. Army, has been involved in defense and security matters as well as international policy issues. He served as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, as a member of the Presidential Electoral College and as a speaker at the 1988 Republican National Convention. In 1990, Hipp became deputy assistant secretary of the Army, serving as the Army secretariat’s “point man” for the successful mobilization and demobilization of the Army’s reserve forces for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney named Hipp principal deputy general counsel of the Navy, and Hipp’s book, “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It,” was published in 2015, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to scholarships for the children of fallen National Guardsmen. Hipp currently serves as chairman of American Defense International Inc. and is regularly tapped by major news networks as an expert commentator on terrorism.

Although he regularly works with kings, queens, presidents and other international leaders, Hipp’s roots remain firmly planted at Wofford College. According to Hipp, his “favorite job in the world” is being the sideline reporter for Terrier football, a position he holds rain or shine, sun or snow at every game. In 2011, Hipp founded the Hipp Lecture Series on International Affairs and National Security, designed to create ongoing, signature learning opportunities for students. From the 2011 Republican Presidential Candidate Debate to Buzz Aldrin to bringing presidential candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump to campus in 2016, the Hipp Lecture Series has engaged student and faculty participation in history and world affairs since its inception.

Through a generous gift and because of Hipp’s desire to offer more opportunities to Wofford students, the college recently announced the formation of the Hipp Center for National Security and Foreign Policy. The Hipp Center offers experiential learning options for Wofford students through scholarly pursuits that focus on topics and events significant to the nation. “I believe that education is a national security issue,” says Hipp. “It’s important that young people have a sense of history, what it means to be an American and an understanding of national security and foreign policy.”

Elements of the Hipp Center include student opportunities for internships in national security and foreign policy and an upcoming exchange program. “A number of Wofford students have reached out to me over the years, asking me for guidance in the national security arena,” continues Hipp. “I put them in touch with the right people, but I figured if we had a center at the college, we would have the mechanism in place with the right organizations to expose our students to singularly unique experiences.”

The center also features a new on-campus ReadyCam studio, giving the college the ability to connect its experts with broadcast networks around the world. According to Hipp, “It is important to share these experts to demonstrate the caliber of professors and leaders at Wofford to a broader audience. Also, the ability to serve as the studio for national and international interviews of non-Wofford newsmakers allows the college to provide a huge service to the news media.”

“Van Hipp has spent a lifetime working to defend America and defeat our enemies,” says Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives. “This new Hipp Center for National Security and Foreign Policy will help a new generation learn the key lessons that shaped Van’s life.”

Wofford College President Nayef Samhat agrees. “We are exceptionally grateful for the generosity of Van Hipp. His amazing and seemingly limitless network of connections offers the college community distinctive learning opportunities, and his personal commitment to our football program is unparalleled. We anticipate many transformational educational and experiential learning opportunities for our students as the Hipp Center continues to develop.”

“My father and grandfather were my greatest influences,” adds Hipp. “They were hardworking people who made sure the next generation had more opportunities than they had. I am dedicated to building on that legacy.”

For more information, visit Wofford.edu/hippcenter.

By Annie S. Mitchell