In 13 years: New grad to Art Academy’s star speaker

Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m., Memorial Hall

Just 13 years ago, Mitchell Sutika Sipus – a product of Covington Catholic High School – earned his first college degree.

Since picking up that first one – from the Art Academy of Cincinnati – he’s earned two more from UC, traveled throughout Africa on a Fulbright Scholarship, taught at three universities, helped transform the economy in Somalia . . .

And, to top it off, last year he won a White House Fellowship from President Barack Obama.

Mitchell Sutika Sipus

Mitchell Sutika Sipus

This weekend, Sipus, a 2004 graduate of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and current White House Presidential Innovation Fellow, will deliver the school’s commencement address.

In his talk, titled “In the Event of an Earthquake,” Sipus will describe the power of art and design education to help activate plans that can change global struggles into opportunities to shape the future.

A design, planning and innovation specialist, he advises regional, national and international governments and major corporations on creating and implementing positive outcomes in the most challenged environments.

As a student at Covington Catholic High School in 2000, Sipus applied to the Art Academy’s BFA program, which he finished in 2004. Then, at the University of Cincinnati, he earned master’s degrees in architecture and city planning.
Upon graduating from the academy, Sipus won its Stephen H. Wilder Traveling Award, which funded his research, design and art-making while traveling in Asia.

As a Fulbright Scholar at the American University in Cairo, he earned a graduate diploma in forced migration and refugee studies. He has served on the faculties of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Carnegie Mellon University and the American University of Afghanistan.

Sipus has reduced poverty in urban slums and improved living conditions in refugee camps by placing concerns such as education, prayer and welfare of livestock at the foundation of map-making strategies and housing construction.

Among other projects, he led the reconstruction that transformed Mogadishu, Somalia, into a rapidly growing urban economy.

In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed Sipus as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow. In that role, Sipus spearheaded the declassification of over 18 billion government records while working for the National Security Council. He designed enterprise software for the Environmental Protection Agency and executed service design for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sipus currently advises the State Department on the design of innovative technologies used to monitor, and ultimately, to uphold nuclear peace treaties.

In all, 39 Art Academy students will receive bachelor’s degrees in fine arts degrees, and three will get master’s degrees in art education.

The academy’s Alumni Association will recognize Sipus and the late Edie McKee Harper (Class of 1947) with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

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