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President Krendl honored as a Progressive Woman

August 15, 2017
Otterbein University

Otterbein University President Kathy A. Krendl was recently selected as a 2017 Smart Women Award honoree by Smart Business Columbus. She was recognized in the Progressive Woman category. The prestigious award recognizes female executives or managers who have risen through the ranks in their careers and overcome significant challenges along the way.

Presented by Smart Business Columbus, the Smart Women Awards was created to recognize the achievements of businesswomen, male advocates, and women’s programs. Honorees selected by the judging panel are recognized through digital and print content, as well as during the Smart Women Awards Breakfast, held on Aug. 15, 2017.

President Krendl is an innovative leader and a champion of diversity and inclusion — she truly believes that higher education should be available to everyone.

She was raised on a farm in northwest Ohio and put herself through college, attending Lawrence University in Wisconsin for her bachelor’s degree, The Ohio State University for her master’s degree, and University of Michigan for her doctorate degree. She has held leadership positions at Indiana University, Ohio University and Otterbein University, where she was named the 20th president and the first woman to lead the university and took office July 1, 2009. 

Otterbein, a comprehensive master’s institution, has an enrollment of 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students and offers degree programs in arts and sciences and professional studies. During President Krendl’s tenure at Otterbein, the institution has won national recognition as an “Educational Innovator” and an “Up and Comer” with its focus on integrating direct experience into all learning. Otterbein is also noted for its dedication to community engagement, consistently winning a place on the President’s Honor Roll of community-engaged institutions as well as its inclusion in the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification.  

President Krendl began her academic career at Indiana University, holding teaching and administrative positions as a tenured faculty member from 1983 through 1996. In her last position there she served as Dean of IU’s state-wide School of Continuing Studies with offices on eight campuses.

In 1996, President Krendl was recruited as dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. In 2004, she was appointed Academic Vice President and Provost, and in 2007, was promoted to Executive Vice President and Provost at the institution. As Executive Vice President, she led Ohio University’s first-ever strategic plan.

At Otterbein, President Krendl has overseen major initiatives while serving as a role model for aspiring women leaders. She has worked to position Otterbein for continued success through increasing fundraising efforts, launching new academic programs, diversifying revenue sources, building relationships with business and community leaders, establishing partnerships with women’s organizations, and collaborating with non-profits and other higher education institutions. She has also focused institutional attention on recruiting top quality students, faculty and staff to the Otterbein community. 

She led the institution in becoming a university, transitioning to a semester calendar, and developing new undergraduate and graduate programs including its first doctoral program, the Doctorate in Nursing Practice. Otterbein has also developed programs building on its strengths in the sciences with recent launches of a Zoo and Conservation Science program and a Systems Engineering program.

She built the infrastructure to launch the largest campaign in the University’s history – the $50 million Where We Stand Matters campaign, which launched to the public in September 2014. The campaign is already more than halfway to completion, standing at more than $31 million.

The campaign supports three funding priorities: campus renewal; access and affordability; and building a model community. Campus renewal includes campus master planning and facilities updates. Building a model community includes providing resources for departments, programs, faculty, staff, and students with funds for research, internships, and travel. Access and affordability provides funds for new scholarships to make it possible for students — regardless of their financial circumstances — to receive a quality Otterbein education.

Another effort to establish an affordable pathway to a degree was announced in spring 2016 with the development of a new dual admission program with Columbus State Community College. The program drastically reduces the cost of a four-year degree for families making an Otterbein degree more affordable than most four-year public institutions in the state.

Partnerships with local K-12 school districts have also created affordable opportunities for students graduating from Columbus City, Westerville, South-Western, and Whitehall school districts to complete a four-year degree at Otterbein through special financial award packages.

President Krendl also has championed innovation at Otterbein. Her vision for the future of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) led to the creation of the STEAM Innovation Center. This new state-of-the art facility combines academics with the business and manufacturing needs of the local community. It brings together students, educators, business, industry and regional economic planning and development partners in one location for the benefit of all. Students will work alongside resident professionals and complete on-site internships. They will collaborate with students, faculty and working professionals through classroom, internship and experiential learning opportunities that could lead to employment in the community. 

Businesses will benefit from a pool of talented students and on-site equipment and services. Ultimately, this project is expected to create 200 jobs in five years totaling $16 million in payroll. The state and local tax impact over five years is projected at $3.6 million. 

President Krendl uses lessons learned as a leader to mentor female students, create opportunities and develop curriculum for her Women and Leadership First-Year Seminar. Through the course, she and other women business and community leaders share life experiences and lessons that help students better address challenges they face. Students learn how to navigate and negotiate gendered social, cultural and political obstacles before transitioning into leadership roles on campus. Students also serve as mentors for local middle school girls as way to apply lessons learned.   

In addition, President Krendl has championed annual summits for the community to explore issues women face. Otterbein’s first summit, Women and the New American Dream, was held in March 2012 as part of the Opportunity Nation movement. In April 2013, President Krendl spearheaded the Community Impact Summit, featuring women business leaders discussing social innovation and national policy issues related to business and community development. In 2014, President Krendl teamed up with the female presidents of The University of Findlay and Bowling Green State University to offer  a series of summits over a three-year period to discuss women’s issues. In March 2015, Otterbein hosted the second in the series, The Women in Philanthropy Summit: Investing in Women for the Common Good.

President Krendl is the first recipient of the Women for Economic Leadership Development (WELD) Riveter Award; was named among Ohio’s Most Powerful and Influential Women by the National Diversity Council; was a finalist for the 2016 Columbus CEO Award; and in August 2017, will be honored as a Progressive Woman in the Smart Women Awards ceremony. She has served on numerous boards including the Columbus YWCA, I Know I Can, Ohio Campus Compact and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.

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