A legacy of excellence in global health that will live on

A planned gift from a professor emeritus will ensure School of Public Health students have the chance to become better public health champions locally and globally.

Shelby Soke - 25 January 2021

After a career improving community health in African countries and mentoring School of Public Health students, Walter Kipp’s legacy of excellence in global health will continue thanks to his planned gift to the School. 

Kipp, a retired School of Public Health professor, wanted to ensure that students would continue to have the opportunity to be exposed to global health on the ground. 

“I hope that my gift provides incentive for students to go abroad since the funds are available. My wish is that their experience would be similar to mine, in that they would go to developing countries and come back changed,” said Kipp. 

Working in a low/middle income country (LMIC) setting provides unique opportunities for students. Since public health endeavours to improve health for all, including under-served populations, experience in a LMIC setting prepares for their future careers by having a broader understanding of health status and the determinants of health around the world. 

To ensure opportunities in the LMIC settings continue to be available for School of Public Health students, Kipp will designate a portion of his estate to  establish the Dr. Walter Kipp African Global Health Graduate Award. This award will support students in any School of Public Health program who want to undertake an educational or research program in an African country.

“The University of Alberta had been such a good employer, it was such a fantastic time for me,” said Kipp. “I am thankful for the experience the University provided for me and I wanted to give back to the institution.”

When deciding to make an investment in the School of Public Health, Kipp and his wife Jean felt that a planned gift was the best fit for their goals. 

“Since my family all lives in Germany and my wife and I are in Canada, I found a sense of emotional security by making a planned gift, as opposed to making the donation right now,” said Kipp. “I wanted to make sure there was some funding available for global health, and a planned gift allowed me to know students will continue having the opportunity.”

The highlight of Kipp’s career at the university was inspiring students and giving them the tools and awareness to become better public health champions locally and globally.  

“Mentoring students and assisting them in recognizing their talents and achieving their goals is one of the most important things we can do,” said Kipp. 


Excellence in global health

Kipp’s travel experience led him to be interested in global health, a journey that would take him from a medical practice in Germany to Uganda, and finally to an academic career at the School of Public Health. 

“Travelling young sparked my interest in tropical medicine and global health,” said Kipp. “I went to tropical countries, and I wanted to learn more about local problems, that was my primary motivation.” 

In 1980 Kipp got a call to go to Uganda to work for a private organization. After that, he decided to focus his career on the areas of global and tropical medicine. He later worked for the German government in African countries for many years. 

While in Africa, Kipp developed a great relationship with University of Alberta researcher Stan Houston, who initiated Kipp’s link to the University of Alberta. He joined what was then the Department of Public Health Sciences, now the School of Public Health, where he was a professor until 2013.

During his time at the School of Public Health, Kipp championed the Master of Public Health in Global Health, the first program of its kind in Canada.

Kipp believed providing international experiences wouldn’t just help programs abroad but would have a local impact also. Students would return with experience that would help them be better public health leaders in Canada as well.

“It’s not a one-way street. Once you come home from a global experience, you approach your local work differently than before,” said Kipp. “In order to build greater equity and social justice, we have to provide international experiences for students.”

According to Kipp, nothing can substitute for real-world global health experience. He found that students who travelled to African countries for research or for their work-integrated learning practicums were involved in a range of public health activities that helped shape their future careers in a profound way. Global health seeks to solve challenges such as inequity, poverty and disease burden.  Experiential learning opportunities in these critical areas helps students to hone their skills, preparing them for their future careers prior to graduation.

“I feel so strongly that international experience is hugely important for young people to become global citizens. Issues related to globalization will continue to occur,” said Kipp.

“If you take the opportunity in your education to study abroad, it helps change your whole perception of the world.”


Giving to the School of Public Health

There are many ways to support the School of Public Health. Planned giving is a great way to enrich lifetime gifts donors may wish to make. Giving through an estate allows donors to leave a personal legacy that will empower the School of Public Health to undertake critical research to improve the health of communities in Canada and across the globe. 

A planned gift can be tailored to meet a donor’s wishes and areas of interest, whether that be supporting students, research, or infrastructure. 

What is a planned gift?

A planned gift can include cash, securities, retirement funds, real estate or other property and is bequeathed to the Faculty in a will or estate. These types of gifts offer numerous tax benefits that you can explore with your financial advisor. There are two common types of legacy gifts. 

  • Residual bequests designate all or a percentage of your estate to the University of Alberta. The advantage is that there is no need to update that part of your will, even as your estate adjusts in size.

  • Specific bequests designate a fixed dollar amount or a specific property to UAlberta.

The advantage is that the size of the gift remains fixed and is the first to be distributed. A licensed financial adviser should be able to provide information about the options available. 

More information about planned giving can be found here.


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Walter Kipp with his wife, Jean.