Springfield native Karen Olson Rafinski  honored by Clark State Community College

Springfield native Karen Olson Rafinski honored by Clark State Community College

Student Center named in recognition of stellar leadership in education

Springfield native Karen Olson Rafinski is being recognized by Clark State Community College for her stellar career in the nation’s community colleges by naming the college’s new student center in her honor. The new building in Springfield, Ohio, will be dedicated Wednesday, August 19.

Dr. Rafinski has completed 42 years of work in the nation’s community colleges and 26 years in presidencies in Ohio and Minnesota’s State  Colleges and Universities. 

“Dr. Karen Rafinski led Clark State for 16 years and oversaw growth in students, programs, facilities and two branch campuses,” said Jim Doyle, chair, Clark State Board of Trustees. “Creating a student center dedicated to fostering relationships and engagement with the college was her final vision for the Leffel Lane Campus.”

The Karen E. Rafinski Student Center connects Rhodes Hall with the Leffel Lane Campus and houses a new bookstore, state-of-the-art food service, dining facilities and lounge space for students to study and relax between classes. The Student Center is 17,620 square feet.

In addition to this new construction, the bottom floor of Rhodes Hall was renovated to create a Student Success Center that will bring together support services to help students achieve their academic goals.

“This renovation will enable all of Clark State’s student services to more easily work together to provide a holistic support system that encourages academic success and ultimately graduation,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president, Clark State community College.

The $7.4 million project was funded through state capital appropriations and College funds. 

Karen, the daughter of Elizabeth and Clarence Olson, grew up in Springfield and is a 1966 graduate of Springfield High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University at Moorhead, a master’s degree from the University of Washington, Seattle; a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and a M.P.A. from Harvard University in Cambridge.  She completed the Harvard Institute for Higher Education in 1998, and received an honorary doctorate from Urbana University (Ohio) in 2000.  You'll find more of this story in this week's Springfield Advance-Press

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