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Tipke recognized for commitment to social justice for campus and community

Bonnie Tipke, third from left, was awarded the Faculty/Staff Community Engagement Award from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Tipke is pictured with her nominators, (left to right) Jennifer Amy-Dressler, Laura Thielke and Hilda Ladner.

MORRIS – Bonnie Tipcke is a familiar face at the University of Minnesota, Morris. In her 43 years at UMM she has staffed offices across campus.

Last month, Tipcke was recognized for her support for social justice and engagement on- and off-campus when she was awarded the Faculty/Staff Community Engagement award from the University of Minnesota, Morris' Office of Community Engagement.

Her nominators – Hilda Ladner, Laura Thielke and Jennifer Amy-Dressler – said Tipcke “embodies community in the town of Morris by always ensuring that each person feels welcome and has an opportunity for success in Morris.”

In addition to being an active member of AFSCME on campus, Tipcke volunteers with the Stevens County Food Shelf and plays with the community band, and has welcomed individuals into her home during tough times.

“Bonnie approaches social justice one person at a time,” said Ladner. “She reaches out to the disconnected among us.”

Tipcke first came to Morris in 1964 to study sociology at UMM. Two years later, Tipcke got married and started working, following her then-husband to Arizona for graduate school shortly after.

They returned to Morris in 1970 and Tipcke took a job in the university counseling office. She has worked for UMM in various offices ever since. In 1990, Tipcke joined the multi-cultural student program, now called the Office of Equity, Diversity and Intercultural Programs (EDI).

Tipcke has served as a steward with AFSCME since the 1990s, as the lead steward since 2008. In this capacity, Tipcke has worked to help other clerical employees through issues that come up during their work and address concerns that come up as grievances or through contracts.

“I've always felt like you have to fight for yourself, you have to be your own advocate because if you don't speak up, nobody else is going to do it for you,” said Tipcke.

She also participates in steward meetings with staff on the other campuses to hear about what issues have come up across the campuses.

“We usually come out of there feeling pretty happy that we're in Morris and not on the Twin Cities campus,” laughs Tipcke. “They have some pretty unique stories down there – things that probably would just not happen on the Morris campus.”

After 23 years with EDI and 43 years at UMM, Tipcke decided to retire this April. Tipcke and her husband Tip will be staying in Morris through the year, but eventually hope to move closer to their kids and grandkids.

“I would love it if anybody in my family wanted to move here and stay here,” said Tipcke. “When I go away is when I realize how much you take for granted, how many people you do know, how comfortable you are and how safe you feel here.”

In the nomination letter, Amy-Dressler noted that Tipcke “truly lives in both community and university worlds, and considers herself as much a part of one as of the other.”

“Bonnie works full time, yet every Thursday she is at the food shelf, filling bags for those in tight times,” said Amy-Dressler. “I've seen her walk clients through the facility, suggesting items, asking about family so she can guide to needs.”

Tipcke said much of her service in the broader community has come from connections built on campus. Over the year, Tipcke and her family have had students and community members live with them while they tried to get on their feet.

“You wish you could win the jackpot sometime to help all the people that need help, but I never buy tickets,” she said. “I don't feel like I do anything that you wouldn't do if you were sitting where I'm sitting.”