It’s been nearly 40 years since Bill Katip graduated from Grace College and began a career in higher education that included leadership roles at several colleges and seminaries.
But now – after what he jokingly refers to as an extended sabbatical – he’s here to stay.
On Friday, Grace College and Seminary will conduct an inauguration ceremony to honor William J. Katip, the sixth president in the Winona Lake school’s 76-year history. Grace opened a Fort Wayne campus in 2011.
Katip, 61, is both the oldest president and the first Grace College graduate to take the reins.
This year, former President Ronald Manahan announced plans to retire May 11 after serving as the college’s leader for 20 years.
“It’s been a very fast and busy summer, I’ll say that,” Katip said. “But it’s also been a very comfortable and natural transition.”
Manahan described Katip as outgoing and hardworking, as well as a dedicated leader, husband and father.
“He’s the kind of person you’d want to know,” Manahan said. “I think he’ll be a wonderful fit for the campus and community.”
Katip described his leadership style as hands-on and tenacious, especially when it comes to getting things accomplished.
“I’m a hard worker and I work long hours, and people tease me about that sometimes, so I try not to put my crazy work style on everybody,” he said.
Katip’s long hours are no joke, said Derya Jacobs, vice provost for research and graduate study at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, where Katip was provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs until he returned to Grace in 2007 to serve as provost.
“He’s one of the greatest leaders I’ve worked for. He’s a visionary and able to get those around him in the organization to jump with his vision and see that vision to an outcome,” she said.
“He doesn’t have to tell us what to do; we all run to do things for him.”
But, she added, he doesn’t sleep – and she has the emails to prove it.
“We never figured it out, how he could be involved with everything, … but we found out he doesn’t sleep,” Jacobs said, laughing.
Although there’s no shortage of challenges for higher education, Katip has been working with the college’s leadership team to develop a list of visions and goals.
Among them are what Katip calls “the big three” – an emphasis on relevance, a promise of affordability, and the creation of partnership within the community and with other colleges and universities.
Katip said he hopes to invest in academic programs while making sure Grace remains a leader in providing faith-based education.
“We’ve been growing, and we’re at all-time records, but we also need to stick with the big theme, and that is affordable, faith-based education,” Katip said.
Grace College and Seminary saw an increase of 83 students this year, bringing its total enrollment to about 1,900. Grace’s Fort Wayne campus is on Rudisill Boulevard, on the site of the former Taylor University campus.
In coming years, Katip hopes to make more community partners to help students find jobs, internships, fellowships and other real-world experience, while also expanding and diversifying the student body.
“We’re no longer these two types of students – seminary or college students. We have adult students, online students and many others, and we need to make sure they are also being served,” he said.
Katip earned his bachelor’s degree in Bible and psychology from Grace College, his master’s degree in clinical psychology from Purdue University and his doctorate in higher education administration from Michigan State University.
Katip is a member of the Breakfast Optimist Club, sits on the board of directors for the Kosciusko Economic Development Corp. and is a member of the Strategic Advisory Board to OrthoWorx in Warsaw.
He and his wife, Debbie, have four children – Mike, Scott, Adam and Holly – and one grandson.