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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Leadership and Service

Jeff Rippey ’78 reconnects to PLU through the Board of Regents

By Greg Brewis

Jeff Rippey

PLU’s well-deserved reputation as a warm and friendly place probably began well before Jeff Rippey ’78 arrived on campus. But if you had to choose the personification of that PLU spirit, you’d be hard pressed to find a better choice than Rippey.

A member of the Board of Regents and the Alumni Board for almost two years, Rippey is a highly success-ful financial management expert. He is also the most upbeat, super-charged, positive personality around.

“When I arrived on campus for the first time I didn’t know anything about PLU. I gave myself a self-guided tour and I couldn’t believe it. I said ‘Wow! This place is beautiful.’ Within days I had checked it out with family and friends and made PLU my number one college choice,” Rippey said.

“I didn’t know a single person on campus when I started out as a freshman, but before long had many great friends who continue to be friends today.” Rippey considers his time at PLU a major turning point in his life.

“I had a very good experience at PLU. The people I met here, the activities I was involved in, and even my academic work helped me grow spiritually,” Rippey said. He didn’t grow up attending church much—his interest in Christianity began only a year to two before he came to PLU.

Baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church as a junior, Rippey lived for several years with the Trinity pastor and seriously considered entering the clergy himself.

“Eventually I decided that instead of pursuing an interest in the ministry, I would concentrate on my skills in economics and finance,” Rippey said. “I found myself—and my life’s work—at PLU.”

Rippey worked part-time at Rainier Bank in Seattle in the trust department during his senior year evaluating financial statements of closely held companies. After graduation, he stayed with Rainier for three years.

He then returned to his hometown, Portland, Ore., and went to work for Columbia Management Company. Rippey has now been there for almost 20 years.

He eventually became a share-holder in the company. When it was sold three years ago to Fleet Bank of Boston, he stayed on and managed one of the most successful high-yield investment funds in the nation.

“Except for being a Q Club member I didn’t have much contact with PLU after I graduated,” Rippey said. “The school was always in my mind, I just never reconnected.” It was when President Loren Anderson and Alumni Director Lauralee Hagen asked if Rippey would serve on the Alumni Board, and as one of three Alumni Board representatives to the Board of Regents, that the reconnection was sparked.

“When I attended my first regents’ meeting it probably had been 20 years since I had been on campus,” Rippey said. “Here I am again, walking on campus thinking what a beautiful place this is—but this time I’m wearing a suit and a tie and carrying a briefcase. If it weren’t for the gray hair I’m sure I could just walk right into class, sit down and fit right in.”

Rippey has fit right into his new volunteer activities. He serves on the executive committee of the Alumni Board and on the Board of Regents’ finance committee, where he helps with the management of the university’s endowment investments.

“It has been personally rewarding for me to get to know the people on the Board of Regents, especially those who serve on the finance committee,” Rippey said.

“Most students, faculty and alumni have no idea how much knowledge and expertise the high powered, talented people who volunteer as regents bring to help guide the university.

“I’ve learned a lot from them and feel fortunate to have a chance to donate my time back to the school to help them keep that special PLU spirit alive. It is such a good feeling and uplifting experience for me to be back. PLU is a special place. It’s great to see how nice and friendly this campus and the students still are.”

Some nice guys, like Jeff Rippey, finish first.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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