Dick Kiphart

As the head of William Blair & Company’s Private Client Advisors and a member of the global investment firm since 1969, Dick Kiphart knows a good investment when he sees one. And as a new member of Columbia College Chicago’s board of trustees, he thinks we’re on to something.

It's fun to be involved with so much creativity.“Columbia is hitting on some things that are very important,” he says, noting the college’s advocacy of artistic entrepreneurship and commitment to new technologies and creativity as examples. “This place just oozes with creative fervor.” He’s also a proponent of the college’s generous admissions policy. “It creates a lot of opportunity for a lot of students who find their creative niche here, who might not have found it elsewhere,” he observes. But while he applauds the college’s generous admissions, he is also impressed with its high academic standards. “It’s very rigorous,” he says. “We help students get this creative activity going, and at the same time understand the rigors of academia.”

Columbia seems a fitting environment for Kiphart, who has devoted himself to furthering both the arts and education around the world. He is president of the Lyric Opera and chairman of the Erikson Institute. He is also passionate about the work he has done in Ghana for the past seven years. A member of the board of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) since 2003, Kiphart worked with Bono, Bobby Shriver, and George Soros toward social and economic justice in Africa. “We consider ourselves water people,” he says of himself and his wife Susan. He tells of how, when they asked what they could do that would have the most impact, they were told, “The best thing you can do for Africa is to educate the girls, and the best way to educate the girls is to build wells. When you go out into the savannah, where there is no power, no water, the girls walk all day long fetching water, and they don’t go to school.” Bring the water to them, and they have the time and opportunity for education. So far, they’ve built 70 wells in Ghana.

Closer to home, Kiphart is excited about his new association with the college. “I’m very happy to be involved with Columbia,” he says. “It’s very much on the forefront of things, an urban college in one of the great cities of the world. It can’t do anything but get better and better.”