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Otterbein University President Named a YWCA Woman of Achievement

November 16, 2017
Otterbein University

Westerville, OH—YWCA Columbus has named Otterbein President Kathy Krendl a Woman of Achievement for her efforts that align with the YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women.”

She will be inducted into the Women of Achievement Academy at a ceremony with six other inductees on April 11. YWCA Columbus has been recognizing Women of Achievement with the honor for more than 30 years.

President Krendl is a progressive professional who grew from humble roots to become the first female president of Otterbein University, and retained her values along the way. In 2009, she became the first woman president to lead Otterbein since its founding in 1847. This was not her first first, however. She was the first female dean at Indiana University, first female dean of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, and first female executive vice president at Ohio University. 

President Krendl was raised on a farm in northwestern Ohio and used earnings from the farm to pay for her own college education. As a result, she understands the struggles of others and relates to people of all ages and backgrounds. As a first generation college graduate herself, she has led initiatives and established partnerships that make an Otterbein education affordable for students, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, age and more.

Initiatives like scholarships for students from under-served school districts and partnerships with organizations like I Know I Can – Columbus have brought more diverse students to Otterbein. This fall’s first-year class exceeds 20 percent students of color, or 133 students; it is the most diverse class in Otterbein’s history, for the fourth year in a row. 

Once they are here, students continue to receive the support they need. Under President Krendl’s leadership, Otterbein established the Center for Student Success to remove barriers to success for students at risk of leaving college. It has greatly increased the retention rate of the university and created countless success stories for previously at-risk students. Columbus City School graduates have a 94 percent retention thanks to these support mechanisms.

Partnerships with local K-12 school districts have also created affordable opportunities for under-served 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 is a strong advocate for strengthening existing community partnerships and building new ones. 

Her innovative vision and strong partnerships have been key to the success of The Point, an economic driver and collaborative partnership with business and industry, the City of Westerville and the State of Ohio, has re-defined the future of higher education as students, faculty and partners integrate the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) fields with an experiential, hands-on learning environment. The collaboration will drive economic growth for the region through business development and job creation, while providing student experiences through internships, capstone projects and research initiatives. This one-of-a-kind concept has been identified as a model of the 21st century education.

The Point initially set out to become home to two resident companies in its first year, but demand for partnerships was far greater than expected. As a result, The Point currently has five companies in residence, including Nestle, Nikola Labs, PolymerOhio, Educational Robotics of Central Ohio, and edgeThingz.

Using lessons learned as a leader, President Krendl mentors female students, create opportunities and develop curriculum for her Women and Leadership First-Year Seminar. Through the course she personally developed, 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.  

President Krendl has also partnered with Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) to bring an annual summit to campus. The June 2017 summit added a Girls Track, which saw over 150 participants from central Ohio schools.

Additionally, in 2016 and 2017, President Krendl brought the central Ohio arm of the national 2020 Women on Boards event to Otterbein’s campus.

President Krendl is active in community engagement, including volunteering alongside students at the university’s two annual service plunges. She also sits on the boards of the Ohio Campus Compact, Osteopathic Heritage Foundation and I Know I Can. She previously served on the boards of YWCA Columbus, Westerville Area Resource Ministry, Ohio Learning Network and OhioLink. She is chair of the executive committee of Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO).

She was recently selected as a 2017 Smart Women Award honoree by Smart Business Columbus 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. She was a CEO of the Year finalist in the large nonprofit category in Columbus CEO magazine in 2016. She was the first recipient of the Riveter Award from Women for Economic and Leadership Development (WELD) in 2015. She has received the Global Women’s Summit Leadership Award from The Women’s Information Network; Living Faith Award from the Columbus Metropolitan Area Church Council; and the University Professor Outstanding Teaching Award and Distinguished Service Award from Ohio University. In 2011, she was named one of Ohio’s Most Powerful and Influential Women by the National Diversity Council.

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