After more than 20 years at Clark State Community College, Kristin Culp will trade in her name badge for the key to her 1956 Ford. Culp, currently serving Clark State as the vice president of external affairs will enter into retirement on August 5 of this year.
“The biggest part of my job for nearly 20 years has been serving as the executive director of the Clark State Foundation,” Culp said. “During that time, I have worked closely with a 25-member community Board of Directors.”
As the executive director of the Clark State Foundation, Culp and the Board successfully increased the Foundation’s fund balance (assets) from less than $1 million to $13 million; positioned Clark State as the community college with the largest endowment per student in Ohio; raised more than $35 million through private fundraising, resulting in construction of two buildings (Sara T. Landess Technology and Learning Center, Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center) and awarding $2.5 million in scholarships; created the Champion City Scholars Program to help students in Springfield City Schools become the first in their families to graduate from college; and established the Dreamkeepers Program to help Clark State students cope with one-time financial emergencies that threaten their ability to stay in school.
“Because of Culp’s tireless efforts, we can enjoy such facilities as the Sarah T. Landess building and the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts Center, and our students have participated in programs ranging from Champion City Scholars, the National Science Foundation Cybersecurity Initiative, Project Jericho, Performing Arts Center Circle of Friends and countless scholarships,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Kris is truly the best of the best, and the above fundraising totals represent an incredible record of accomplishment in the field of fundraising.”
Culp said she is humbled that so many donors have trusted her with their gifts over the years, “I have always believed that it is my first responsibility to make sure that donors are proud of what we have accomplished through their generosity, regardless of the size of the gift.”
Culp was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio, and moved to Springfield to attend Wittenberg University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She met her husband Steve, and they have been married 43 years. In 2003 Culp earned her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton. She began working at Clark State in 1993 as the director of the Tech Prep Consortium. She then held various other positions within the College including director of community relations, executive director of the foundation and vice president of advancement.
“I am convinced that I have had the best job in the world,” said Culp. “I’ve been privileged to work with amazing volunteers and wonderfully generous donors to help deserving people change their lives through a college education. Raising funds to construct two buildings and seeing them go up was exciting. But it’s the differences that we’ve been able to make in the lives of our students and their families that means the most to me.”
Additional Clark State responsibilities and achievements attributed to Culp and her colleagues include: securing more than $40 million through public and private grants and securing a major grant from the Kresge Foundation to help build the Hollenbeck Bayley Conference Center.
“I had the opportunity to oversee operations at the Performing Arts Center for two years, and that was a fascinating experience,” said Culp. “You can’t imagine everything that goes into a production.”
Culp said the community outreach programs have meant a lot to her. “Making connections with young people through Project Jericho, Champion City Scholars, College for Kids, Johns Hopkins programs—we all need to do everything we can to help kids develop big dreams for their futures,” she said.
Culp also served as an adjunct instructor in the early 1980s, teaching Business English, Business Management and Business Math, “That’s when I first fell in love with Clark State and developed such an appreciation for faculty.”
During her tenure at Clark State, Culp has been recognized as the Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the National Council for Resource Development, Washington, DC, in 2009; earned the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential continually since 1999, served as chair of the Rotary Club Scholarship Committee for ten years and secured two grants totaling more than $500,000 from Rotary International Foundation to support club projects in Africa and Honduras.
In the late 1980s, Culp had a side business as a resume-writing consultant with more than 500 clients. “I was one of the three incorporators of the current Community Leadership Association,” she said. “I was the first woman inducted into a men’s service club in Springfield when I became a member of Springfield Lion’s Club in 1987.”
Culp said over the last 20 years, community colleges have become much more of a first choice for individuals wanting to prepare for an in-demand career or to complete the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. “I think the community increasingly sees Clark State as a partner in individual, corporate and community prosperity, and I expect that trend to continue. Community colleges are just much more relevant than they have ever been.”
“I have been privileged to work with incredible boards throughout my career,” said Culp. “Any accolades that come to me over the next few weeks belong to them. I have been blessed to work with great people.”
Following her time at Clark State, Culp will continue to help complete the College’s major gifts campaign as a consultant; “Then I want to continue working part-time in the community. I would like to do something different, and I’m excited to see what that will be.”