Reno Attorney Bret Whipple
From the June 2003 edition of Regent’s Review article about Bret Whipple, who served as UNLV Regent from 2003 to 2008.
As a native Nevadan, Bret has a deep and personal knowledge of the unique issues related to providing legal representation throughout the state. Having lived in Las Vegas and rural Nevada, he is acutely aware of the issues present in the state of Nevada. Bret has actively practiced in White Pine County, Lincoln County, Washoe County, and Clark County.
Bret‚Äôs experience includes three years with the Clark County Public Defender Office, and an additional three years with the Clark County Special Public Defender Office, which is restricted to murder and death-penalty cases.
In addition to his legal practice, Bret is also a Certified Public Accountant, and has served as Chairman of the Tax Section of the Nevada State Bar. Recognizing the importance of education for future generations, Bret welcomed the opportunity to serve as University Regent for five years.
Bret‚Äôs professional experience was honed early in life. At the age of 18, Bret left Nevada searching for his path in life, and what he discovered is that the best route to a good life is through education.¬† As a Nevada state officer of the Future Farmers of America, Bret Whipple learned to cultivate crops at a young age. As a member of the Board of Regents, he adapted that knowledge to fit the needs of Nevada‚Äôs growing system of higher education.¬† ‚ÄúThe growth in our state puts tremendous pressure on higher education,‚ÄĚ says Whipple. ‚ÄúMy intent is to make sure the Board changes with that growth in a positive manner, and that we continue to improve the quality of instruction at our institutions.‚ÄĚ Long before he pondered the question of how higher education can most effectively meet the demands of a booming state, Whipple focused on completing his chores and making it to school.¬† Growing up on a ranch in Hiko, Nevada, Whipple fed cattle and milked cows by hand every morning and every night, and laced up his boots during school weeks and walked a quarter mile to reach his school‚Äôs bus stop. From there, ‚Äúit was a five-mile ride to Alamo, where I attended both elementary and high school.‚ÄĚ After graduating from high school, Whipple took a brief hiatus from traditional education and traveled around the world. Three days after graduation he packed his bags and set off for Western Europe. Although his mother provided most of the funding for his trip, he earned the rest from agricultural employers.¬† ‚ÄúThrough the Future Farmers of America‚Äôs Work Experience Abroad program, I had the names and numbers of families in Germany and Australia.‚ÄĚ After spending five months working on a family farm in Germany, Whipple traveled for a couple of months through other countries, eventually making his way to Australia.¬† Unlike the farm work in Germany, Whipple‚Äôs host family in Australia required him to do much ‚Äúhairier‚ÄĚ work to earn his keep.
‚ÄúI worked about five months on a sheep station in the Australian outback sheering sheep.‚ÄĚ Well traveled and more knowledgeable in the areas of farming and related industries, Whipple was ready to return to the states a worldly man after his 13-month oversees odyssey.
Once home, Whipple picked up where he left off with traditional education. ‚ÄúI decided to attend a junior college on the coast of California. While I was there, I went to school, played football and worked in a feedlot in the evenings. After a year and a half of junior college, Whipple knew he wanted to attend an Ivy League school on the east coast.¬† To that end, he took a bold step: He flew to Boston, where he met with an official at one of the most prestigious schools in the state. ‚ÄúI walked into the football coach‚Äôs office at Harvard University and told him I wanted to attend the school.‚ÄĚ Armed with only his transcripts and footage from a few of his football games, Whipple won over the coach. ‚ÄúHe told me, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm not sure if I can get you in, but I‚Äôll see what I can do,‚Äô ‚Äú Whipple recalls.¬† Following the coach‚Äôs advice, Whipple visited some of the neighboring Ivy League schools, and was able to meet his goal. ‚ÄúI interviewed at Princeton, Brown, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. Penn accepted me first.‚ÄĚ
In addition to the time he devoted to his studies, Whipple was a member of the Penn football team that won two Ivy League championships in football. He also spent considerable time in the ring, perfecting his boxing skills by training under Joe Frazier in north Philadelphia. After three years, he graduated from Wharton School of Business with a bachelor of arts in economics/ accounting. But he wasn‚Äôt ready to return to Nevada just yet.¬† Instead, he spent some time boxing on the east coast, and then returned to Europe. Once there, he worked as a tax accountant during the day, and spent his leisure time representing Hanover, Germany on the city‚Äôs amateur boxing team.
So far, Whipple‚Äôs life has been a fascinating journey. He‚Äôs gone from a farmer, to an athlete, to a CPA ‚ÄĒ all while maintaining one belief. ‚ÄúI believe education is the one route all Americans have equal access to in order to benefit their lives.‚ÄĚ That belief has not only kept him grounded, but was no doubt part of the reason he earned his juris doctorate for the University of Arizona‚Äôs College of Law. Despite his tough schedule, he time to work on the family ranch in central Nevada. He feels his experience as an attorney and as¬† certified public accountant helps the Board make informed decisions regarding specialized issues. And he knows he‚Äôs not alone in his fervor for education. ‚ÄúEveryone on the Board o Regents firmly believes in higher education; it‚Äôs a common theme for us, and something we all enjoy,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not only nice to know that everyone is interested in higher education, but it also provides the basis for some strong friendships as well.‚ÄĚ