Dr. Robert Clifford Shippey Jr., a veteran academic leader, has joined the staff at Brenau University as senior director of development responsible for legacy gifts and major donations for the long-term growth of the institution.
Shippey, a native of Warner Robins, Ga., came to Brenau in May from Bluefield College in Bluefield, Va., where for the previous four years he was vice president for academic affairs and enrollment management. He also served as a professor of Christian studies at the college. From 2007-09 Shippey served as theologian in residence at First Baptist Church in Rome, Ga., where he previously had been vice president of institutional advancement and a tenured professor of religion at Shorter College. At Shorter College, he played an instrumental role in raising funds for that institution’s library expansion capital campaign.
“It is rare that you find someone with Robert Shippey’s academic credentials who is also an experienced fund-raising professional,” said Matt Thomas, vice president of external relations at Brenau. “He knows that institutional development is delivering more on ideas and ideals than simply about raising money. He already has become active throughout the community and has made significant contributions to our development operations.”
Shippey graduated cum laude from Furman University in Greenville, S.C., then earned dual master’s degree in theology and divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He also completed a Ph.D. at the seminary in 1991 after additional graduate study in historical theology, Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, Tenn. He has also participated in the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management.
Although he has spent most of his academic career in Baptist institutions, his first academic role was as an adjunct instructor at Bellarmine College in Louisville, which bills itself as “the premier independent Catholic institution in the South.” Ironically, Brenau opened its doors in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary, and one of its founders was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Gainesville. However, the institution has never been affiliated with the Baptist church and has operated as nonsectarian throughout its history.
In fact, the nonsectarian perspective is what led Shippey to Brenau.
“Creating strong individuals with a commitment to serve in an environment where students are allowed and encouraged to think for themselves is important to me and is a value that is central to the Brenau mission,” Shippey said. “Developing friendships and encouraging relationships between people who value creativity and critical discernment is what I do and I am looking for an audience to share far and wide the passion I have for the critical role that the Brenau University system plays as it seeks to foster strong women, strong leaders, strong servants and independent thinking individuals ready to shape and transform the world.”
Aside from the temporary diversion to western Virginia, Shippey’s career has been primarily in north Georgia. He started in 1994 as chair of the humanities division at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., and rose to that institution’s top academic post before moving to Rome and Shorter in 2003.
Shippey and his wife, Cheryl, a Baylor University graduate, is also a professional engaged in fundraising; they have three grown children, Margaret, Ben and Aaron.
Shippey is a member of Theta Alpha Kappa International Honor Society in Religion, the Karl Barth Society and Gainesville Rotary. He is a distinguished president of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club. He has also published many scholarly articles, is a Freeman Foundation Scholar and has published a book titled “Listening in A Loud World: Toward a Theology of Meaning.” He continues to study the relationship between religion and visual art.