John M. Hilpert is president of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. He accepted this position in 2003 after six successful years as president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. During more than 30 years in higher education administration, he has also served as executive vice president and acting president of the University of South Dakota and as a vice president at Thiel College in Pennsylvania and executive assistant to the president at Suomi College (now Finlandia University) in Michigan.
Hilpert set the tone for his current presidency by asking at his inauguration that everyone on campus work toward creating the Best Regional University in America. Delta State has met enrollment and fund raising goals. Budgets are sound, and faculty leaders participate regularly in institutional governance. The university’s relationship with its community is strong, and the DSU Foundation has made significant organizational progress. Each year the campus community selects and celebrates a theme with special programs – examples, the Year of Health and Wellness and the Year of Delta Heritage – and the institution’s engagement with the region continues to grow. Notably, Delta State won a best practices award for its efforts in energy conservation.
Others have recognized Hilpert’s leadership skill. Since 2003, he has served as board president for the Delta Health Alliance, a regional non-profit corporation with a $40 million annual budget. He was elected president in 2008 of the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Universities, an organization of all public and private, two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions in the state. He also serves as chair of the Commission on Colleges Board of Directors (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), the regional accrediting body for more than 800 colleges and universities. Similar opportunities with other local, statewide, and national organizations have come his way throughout his career.
Each month Hilpert writes a column that originates in Cleveland’s hometown newspaper and is subsequently picked up by other dailies around the state. He has authored many articles for scholarly and other periodicals over the years, and he is frequently invited to address groups on a variety of topics.
Hilpert’s degrees are a Ph.D. from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Michigan, an M.Div. from Concordia Seminary in Missouri, and a B.A. from Concordia Senior College in Indiana. He also holds a two-year diploma from St. Paul’s College in Missouri. At the University of Michigan he won the John S. Brubacher Award for scholarly excellence in the history of higher education.
John Hilpert and his wife Pat have been married since 1971. They have three adult sons, Joshua, Zachary, and Adam, and two granddaughters, Julia (Joshua’s daughter) and Abby (Adam’s daughter). Pat retired from a 27-year career as a registered nurse in 1998. She is an avid photographer and has won recognition for her work, including an award from the Smithsonian.