Roanoke College

Roanoke College Honors Alumni Medalists

  • Roanoke College Honors Alumni Medalists

  • 04/14/10
  • SALEM, VA-Three Roanoke College alumni honored during Alumni Weekend with the Roanoke College Medal receive the highest honor bestowed upon the College's alumni. Joyce Kipps of Aroda, Gilbert Robinson of McLean and Michael Wessells of Beaverdam, Va. are new medalists.

    Kipps was born in Madison County, Virginia, and raised on the family farm in Aroda where she lives today. Her desire to be an educator brought her to Roanoke College where she majored in education and psychology.

    After graduating, Kipps taught elementary and high school. She retired after 40 years as an educator, but her belief in the power of education has continued. She established two scholarships to support RC students and international students attending Roanoke College. Along with classmates, she helped to establish the Class of 1950's Dawson-Bartlett Memorial Scholarship to honor two beloved professors.

    Kipps has served as Class Agent for the Class of 1950. She is member of the Society of 1842 and a Roanoke College Associate. Kipps also worked with Mawine Diggs '06, a former international Lutheran student from Liberia, to start a Lutheran women's group on campus and has been active in other activities of the Lutheran church.

    Robinson grew up in New York City. After serving in the Army, he entered Roanoke College where he majored in economics and graduated in 1950. At Roanoke, he was a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society and served as captain of the College's swim team.

    Robinson has worked in various careers in government and public service as well as business. He was a businessman in New York City for 20 years and was chairman of major public relations firms Gilbert A. Robinson, Inc. and The Public Relations Board, Inc.

    In 1959, Robinson was a consultant to the director of the Peace Corps and then coordinator of the American National Exhibition in Moscow where he brought together Vice President Richard Nixon and Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev in the famous "kitchen debate." In 1978, as Chairman of the New York Board of Trade, Robinson led this country's first business delegation to China for the development of new trade relationships.

    With his expertise in communications, Robinson has held numerous governmental appointments, including key positions in the administrations of Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan. As special advisor to Secretary of State George Schultz, he was named Ambassador-at-Large in 1983. Robinson served as chairman of the U.S. Government's International Information Committee of the National Security Council and was appointed Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency by President Reagan in 1981.

    Since leaving the State Department, Ambassador Robinson serves as president of GAR Inc., an international firm advising companies on international trade, government relations and communication, and as chairman of New Realm Investments LLC, a private investment company. He is chairman of Corporations to End World Hunger Foundation and serves on the advisory board of InZero Systems and the board of trustees and advisory board of the National Bible Association.

    Ambassador Robinson was honored with Roanoke College's Sesquicentennial Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992. He is a member of the Society of 1842.

    Wessells was born in Roanoke and grew up in Richmond. He attended Roanoke College where he majored in psychology and graduated in 1970. Wessells was designated both a junior and senior scholar in psychology. He was a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society and Sigma Chi fraternity, and he was president of Honors Council.

    Wessells continued his education at the University of Massachusetts earning master's and Ph.D. degrees in psychology. He joined the faculty at Vassar College in 1974 as assistant professor of psychology and in 1981 became professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College, a position he held through 2009.

    Until recently, Wessells also served as senior advisor on child protection for the Christian Children's Fund. He currently is a professor of Clinical Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where he teaches and conducts research on the impact of child care and protection programs.

    In 2009, Wessells received the International Humanitarian Award from the American Psychological Association and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Division of Peace Psychology.

    Wessells is associate editor of Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology and the author of Child Soldiers: From Violence to Protection.

    Photos from the event are now online here.

    Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 280 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

    For further information, please call the Public Relations Office, (540) 375-2282.

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