By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Mike Kuhlin learned his lessons from his wife well, and Bowling Green State University is a beneficiary.
Kuhlin met his Falcon Flame, Sara, after graduation when both were working for the university.
Kuhlin, a 1968 journalism graduate, told the Board of Trustees Friday that he was the kind of guy who ended up with 50 cents in his checking account at the end of the month. “We were kids who were the first in our families who went to college, also kids who didn’t have a clue what our future was going to hold for us.”
This guy from Long Island, New York, married the woman from Ohio, in Prout Chapel in 1971. When they bought a house, Sara Kuhlin took a job at a bank and declared they were going to pay off the mortgage as fast as they could. They did, Kuhlin said. “And we were never in debt again.”
Sara died in 2013. At a gathering recently Kuhlin was asked to sum up his life’s philosophy in six words: “Living her values as my own.”
Doing that is what has enabled the Kuhlins to contribute to their alma mater. Capping that off will be the naming of the new home for the School for Media and Communication the Mike and Sara Kuhlin Center. (“Kuhlin” is pronounced “Coo-Leen.”) The building had been South Hall. It is in the final stages of a $24 million make over, including the adding of a new production wing. The center will open this fall.
BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey has long insisted that she didn’t want buildings named after directions. Instead of South, East and West halls, the university should have buildings that boast the name of donors. This marks a long step in that direction.
The naming is in recognition of the more than $2 million in donations the Kuhlins have made to the university over the years. He said that when the idea of having the building named for him and his late wife he was “bowled over.”
“Then I had a lot of reservations about, with all the other names around campus, how does Kuhlin fit into that,” he said. He was convinced when university officials told him they hoped that his action will spur other donors into action. “I am happy to talk to them,” he said of other donors.
“I’m excited our gift will go toward the maintenance of that building so we can keep it state of the art,” he told the trustees.
BGSU, he said, laid the foundations for his career in corporate communications. As much as the education it was the leadership opportunities through his fraternity, he was BGSU’s Outstanding Greek Man in 1968, and the BG News where he worked as a photojournalist and editor. He retired as Ameritech’s senior director of corporate relations and is now a consultant and is associated with the Voyage Financial Group.
But Kuhlin said it wasn’t just his and his wife’s past experience at the university that made him want to donate. He praised the university’s leadership. “Bowling Green has always provided a good education,” he said. “But you’re outperforming yourself now. … This university is going places. It’s being recognize now, and it would not be without your time and dedication.”
David Levey, chair of the trustees, said of Kuhlin that he’s never met anyone in whom he realized “so quickly his passion for this university.”
Also the trustees approved naming of the lobby of the Kuhlin Center, the O’Neill-Stoddard Lobby in honor of Popular Culture Department graduates Eileen O’Neill and Karen Stoddard.
O’Neill is the former group president of the Discovery Channel and TLC. Her career with Discovery Communications started as an unpaid intern while earning her master’s in popular culture.
University officials would like more buildings, programs and professorships to find patrons. During the board’s education session, deans and top administrators told the board what their top priorities would be for the ongoing capital campaign.
That includes naming the new home for the College of Business. The plan is to renovate and add onto Hanna Hall, one of the university’s Traditions buildings. Renovations would also be made to the current College of Business, which will continue to be used for classrooms. That work is not expected to start until 2020. The college is looking to attracting donations of about $16 million toward its facilities.
Other naming opportunities include:
- The Park Avenue building, formerly warehouse, that now houses the architecture program;.
- The new Optimal Aging Institute in the College of Health and Human Services.
- The MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music.
- The Learning Commons and other areas within the Library.
- Various centers, institutes and facilities in collaborative areas, including water quality, photochemistry, developmental neuroscience and cognition, media and communication, and arts and design.
- Lab, classroom and support centers in Eppler Complex and the Education Building.