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Van Riper wins Kappa Psi honor

Gary Van Riper
Gary Van Riper

A dozen years after he retired from the faculty, Gary Van Riper continues to win awards for the work he does with students.

This summer the assistant professor emeritus from the South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions was awarded the Grand Council Deputy Outstanding Achievement Award by Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity. Van Riper has been adviser for 45 years, longer than anyone else in the national organization.

The Brookings resident also has won the adviser of the year award more than anyone else—2005, when it was first presented, 2015 and this year.

“His reputation precedes him and he has always been around to make sure (Kappa Psi) brothers are understanding the importance of what it means to be a brother,” according to Savanah Suchor, the regent (president) of the Gamma Kappa chapter in 2017-18.

Van Riper scored a perfect 1,400 points on objective categories like years a Grand Council Deputy (the group’s term for adviser), percentage of chapter meetings attended and number of chapter social events attended. A committee then subjectively ranks essays written by chapter presidents, according to Van Riper, who actually is committee co-chair.

Committee members don’t evaluate applications from their own chapter, he clarified.

Kappa Psi, the largest professional pharmaceutical fraternity in the world, has 111 collegiate chapters and 24 of them submitted applications to honor their Grand Council Deputy.

Van Riper, who retired in 2006 after 34 years on the faculty, said he continues to advise the chapter because “We enjoy the interaction with the students. (My wife) Sharon and I say it keeps us young. It keeps us in touch with the university and we’ve made a tremendous number of friends in the Northern Plains.”

In addition to Kappa Psi, Van Riper also stays in touch with the South Dakota Pharmacists Association, where leaders are often former Kappa Psi brothers and has served as secretary of the South Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacists for 44 years.

Suchor wrote, “Gary Van Riper has been a longtime standing role model for all of us brothers. He routinely follows up with the executive board by making sure the officers are ahead of their tasks for the semester. I can't think of a time when he ever missed a meeting or was unprepared for any activity that was going on in the Gamma Kappa chapter.

“GVR always made an effort to make an appearance at nearly every event we had going on throughout the year. He was a major staple in the success of our chapter and our brothers on the collegiate level. His capability to instill a sense of pride of the profession of pharmacy, through Kappa Psi, in fellow brothers is beyond comprehension.”


Van Riper, who is pushing toward his 72nd birthday, plans to continue “as long as I’m able to do so.”