The Rafinski Student Center was dedicated on August 19 in honor of Clark State’s fourth president, Dr. Karen Rafinski. Amid a packed house of faculty, staff, students and honored guests including State Senator Chris Widener, State Representative Kyle Koehler and Chancellor John Carey of the Ohio Department of Higher Education; Rafinski was honored for her dedication to education and Clark State Community College.
Chairperson of the Clark State Board of Trustees, Peggy Noonan, recognized many of Rafinski’s awards and accomplishments during her 16-year tenure as president of Clark State including the initiation of online courses and the opening of the Sara T. Landess Technology and Learning Center, the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center and the Greene Center on the Beavercreek Campus. “Dr. Rafinski broke the glass ceiling in community colleges,” she said.
The new 17,620-square-foot student center connects Rhodes Hall with the LRC. “This building is over the top,” said Rafinski. “The vision is now real.” The center features a bookstore, dining, academic and student support services, such as computer labs, tutoring, testing, accessibility services, advising and small group study areas. It also houses Ryan’s Place in honor of Rafinski’s late son.
A school guidance counselor once told Rafinski she should not go to college, but a benefactor disagreed and paid for her to attend community college. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, and she wants the Rafinski Student Center to be where students come to “study, greet friends, be inspired and get’er done.” To assist with this goal, Rafinski and her husband, John, will “pay it forward” with a gift of $100,000 to the Clark State Foundation to be used for scholarships. “I love community colleges, their mission, connections and the students,” she said.
Current Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin said Rafinski’s presidency was about student success, and she wants to continue the tradition. “We celebrate today, what Clark State is going to do in the future,” she said. “We will continue to build on Dr. Rafinski’s legacy.”