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Scholarship Support Comes Full Circle

Cary Brewbaker (center) is one of four men the Hippses chose to honor through their endowments.

Hipps Gives Back to CALS, Engineering and Athletics

Growing up on a small farm in western North Carolina, Jim Hipps often wondered about his future. In the late 1960s, a football scholarship brought Hipps to NC State University, where he earned a degree in biological and agricultural engineering and a graduate certificate in sanitary engineering.

The opportunity to attend NC State made a huge impact on his life. After graduating, Hipps began a 35-year career in civil engineering — working on projects ranging in scale from small wastewater treatment plants in North Carolina to China’s Longtan Dam, the world’s largest roller-compacted concrete dam.

“I never could have envisioned, nor imagined, what was in front of me — a wonderful, supportive wife and family, getting paid to see most of the world, meeting folks from different countries and cultures, forming friendships and working relationships with people in parts of the world I did not even know existed, and providing an important service — clean water and an improved environment — often for many of the world’s destitute and impoverished,” Hipps said.

Although he has traveled the globe and enjoyed a decades-long career as a civil engineer, Hipps never forgot his alma mater and its influence on his life. Now retired, Hipps and his wife, Kathy, recently made philanthropic commitments that will positively impact the university for generations to come. Their generosity also pays tribute to some of the people who defined Jim’s experience as a student-athlete at NC State.

“NC State is a great institution. Like all great institutions, it’s based on great people,” Jim Hipps said. “It’s like a big extended family to a certain extent.”

The Hippses are establishing four endowed funds at the university, including three scholarships and a graduate student award:

  • The Henry D. Bowen Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship in Biological and Agricultural Engineering honors a former NC State professor and adviser who mentored Jim Hipps
  • The Cary Brewbaker Football Scholarship honors an inspirational former assistant football coach who continued to work on the Wolfpack’s sidelines for several years after brain surgery to remove a tumor left him with significant physical disabilities.
  • The Chester Grant Athletic Trainer Scholarship honors a former trainer, described as gentle and quiet, who was the only African-American on the athletics department staff for many years.
  • The Charles Smallwood Jr. Graduate Student Award in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering honors a former NC State professor who ran the sanitary engineering graduate program.

Hipps said the four men who he and his wife chose to honor with these endowments are “good representatives of a much larger group of people.”

Jim and Kathy Hipps
Jim and Kathy Hipps

“There is no way I could honor all of those professors, and other people involved in athletics, who had a significant, positive influence on my time at NC State,” he said. “I could’ve pulled four or six or eight different names and told similar stories about those individuals.”

Hipps hopes to encourage fellow NC State alumni to give back.

“Not everybody can give a tremendous amount of money to the university, but anything that the university gets is appreciated,” he said. “We’ve made provisions in each of the funds we’ve set up to allow anyone who’s interested to make a contribution.”

Although Kathy Hipps did not attend NC State, she said providing scholarship support for current and future students holds particular interest for her.

“I like the idea helping students who need financial assistance and giving them the opportunities that Jim had,” she said.

Jim Hipps echoed his wife’s sentiments.

“It’s all about creating opportunities for people, and I’m quite confident the recipients will take advantage of the opportunity and do great things in their careers,” he said.

In the years to come, the Hipps family’s generosity will provide critical support for countless NC State students — many of whom may find themselves pondering their futures just as Jim did so long ago.