Commencement Speakers

2019 Commencement Speakers

Kip Korir '74 and Karen Korir '02

Sunday, May 12 at 10:00 AM on the Stewart Memorial Library Lawn


Titus “Kip” Korir '74

Titus “Kip” Korir ’74 is from Kericho, Kenya, and graduated from Coe College with a Bachelor of Arts in biology & psychology. After graduation, Kip returned to Kenya and was employed shortly thereafter as an assistant manager at James Finlays Kenya Ltd., a British tea and flower company. During the course of his employment, he was elected chairman of the Kenya Tea Growers Association and director of the Federation of Kenya Employers, where he served for 10 years. He was also nominated to the Local County Legislative Council to represent the tea industry between 1992 and 1997. He served as the director of the Tea Board of Kenya for six years, and was the director of industrial training in the Ministry of Labour for six years. He also sat on the board of directors for a number of schools and colleges.

Kip’s career at James Finlays spanned 34 years and in 2008 he retired as its deputy CEO and director of corporate affairs in charge of 18,000 employees. In 2009, he was awarded the Head of State Commendation medal by the president of the Republic of Kenya for his exemplary community work. 

In his retirement, Kip has continued to dedicate his time to serving his local community, including helping found a health care center and build a high school that currently seats 460 students. These facilities were built with the generous donations of local organizations and U.S. donors, many of whom he developed lifelong relationships with during his academic tenure at Coe College.

In his time at Coe, Kip was well known for his outstanding athletic abilities. His remarkable track and field career culminated the day before his graduation when, in a single meet, he won Conference titles in the 440-yard dash, 220-yard dash, javelin and triple jump. On that day he anchored the Coe mile relay team, which won four straight league titles from 1971 through 1974. He also ran a leg on the championship 440-yard relay team for a total of six conference championships in a day. In all, he won 10 individual Midwest Conference titles in four years and ran on six conference-winning relay squads. He held 10 individual school records in 200-yard dash, 440-yard dash, triple jump, and javelin. Kip’s triple jump record of 49 feet, 8 ¾ inches (15.15 meters) and 440-yard dash record of :47.3 still stand 45 years later. In 1987, he was inducted to the Coe College Athletic Hall of Fame.

Kip is married to Linner Korir and together they have six children and 10 grandchildren. Four of his children attended and graduated from Coe College. 


Karen Korir '02

Karen Korir ’02 is the daughter of Linner Korir and Titus “Kip” Korir ’74. She is the fourth of their six children and one of the four that graduated from Coe. She graduated cum laude with a major in business administration and went on to earn a Master of Public Administration Aviation degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2005. 

After completing her master’s, Karen was employed by the Atlanta International Airport as an aviation planner, and soon after was promoted to aviation facility manager. She managed projects in two domestic concourses as well as the international terminal, and received recognition for her outstanding leadership and commitment to excellence during her time in Atlanta. In 2012, she relocated to the Houston Airport System as the managing aviation planner, where she lead billion-dollar projects in the planning and development of the terminal, landside and support facilities, as well as co-lead the masterplans of the systems’ three airports: Bush Intercontinental Airport, Hobby Airport, and Ellington Airport. She was promoted to Chief Aviation Planner in 2015, and now oversees the planning and programming of all airfield, terminal, landside and support facilities for the airport system.

Karen is an Accredited Airport Executive (AAE), having been certified and accredited by the American Association of Airport Executives in 2012. In 2015, she was among Airport Business Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 airport executives, which honors the best and brightest under the age of 40.

Following her parent’s example of professional excellence and giving back to the community, Karen has dedicated much of her time in the last seven years volunteering to serve children with Autism and other special needs through Lakewood Church in Houston. Together with her family, she also supports the health center in their hometown in Kenya.