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Alumna Karen Hendricks recognized for distinguished service

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Chemical engineering alumna Karen L. Hendricks ’71 received a 2023 Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her exceptional service to The Ohio State University as a university trustee, philanthropist and volunteer leader.

Acting President Peter Mohler presented Karen Hendricks with the Distinguished Service Award at Ohio State's 435th Commencement ceremony in December 2023
Acting President Peter Mohler presented Karen Hendricks with the Distinguished Service Award at Ohio State's 435th Commencement ceremony in December 2023

Established by the Board of Trustees in 1952, the Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have served the university in a truly outstanding fashion. Hendricks received the award during the Autumn Commencement ceremony in the Schottenstein Center on December 17, 2023.

“Your dedication to paying forward at the institutional and individual level has forever improved the university and those who call it home,” Ohio State Board of Trustees Chair Hiroyuki Fujita said during the ceremony.

One of very few women studying engineering in the late 1960s, Hendricks continued to be a trailblazer in both engineering and business throughout her accomplished career in the consumer products industry. She is the retired CEO and board chair of The Baldwin Piano & Organ Company. Prior to this, Hendricks was the executive vice president of the Dial Corporation, overseeing the Dial soap brand. She also spent 21 years at the Procter & Gamble Company in increasing levels of management responsibility in product development and general management in the health care, paper and beauty care businesses, and was the company’s first female general manager in the U.S. While she was with Procter & Gamble, Hendricks also oversaw its corporate recruitment at Ohio State.

“In an engineering field where women are vastly outnumbered by men, Karen’s career accomplishments and service made her an aspirational role model, inspiring me in my career at Procter and Gamble, and in service and philanthropy at my alma mater,” described distinguished chemical engineering alumna Nancy Dawes ’81, who supported Hendricks’ award nomination. “Ms. Hendricks' ongoing commitment and service to Ohio State also inspired me to serve Ohio State.”

A loyal Buckeye, Hendricks was appointed to the Ohio State Board of Trustees, where she served a nine-year term. She is also a dedicated champion for the university’s fundraising activities. Hendricks spent three years on the executive committee of the President’s Club and provided volunteer leadership for southwest Ohio’s participation in the university’s Affirm Thy Friendship $1 billion fundraising campaign, which concluded in 2000. She was also a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Alumni Association Advisory Council, serving for six years as alumni representative to The Ohio State University Research Foundation.

In the College of Engineering, Hendricks and her late husband, Milton, established the Milton H. and Karen L. Hendricks Scholarship Fund in 1999 which provides transformational support to one chemical engineering student each year. A member of the Koffolt Laboratories National Committee, Hendricks not only helped raise funds for the new 237,000-square-foot Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry (CBEC) facility that houses Koffolt Labs and opened in 2015, but she and her husband made a generous gift to name its Unit Operations Student Lounge.

“Karen’s steadfast support of the College of Engineering, including the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has benefitted countless students and faculty,” said Dean Ayanna Howard. “Leading by example, she has inspired generations of successful leaders who in turn are committed to paying forward to their alma mater.”

Hendricks’ numerous recognitions include the Ohio State Alumni Association’s Ralph Davenport Mershon Award, which recognizes alumni who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, and the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumna Award and Texnikoi Outstanding Alumni Award.

In retirement, Hendricks has also spent 13 years serving on the public corporate boards of AC Nielsen, Columbia Energy Group and Ingredion, as well as the board of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities. More recently she completed her second term on The Immokalee Foundation Board in Naples, Florida. Earlier nonprofit experience includes the executive committee of the board of directors of the Greater Cincinnati American Red Cross, the Ohio Business Roundtable, executive committee of the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees and a member of the Cincinnati Business Committee. 

by Candi Clevenger, College of Engineering Communications, clevenger.87@osu.edu

Category: Alumni
Tag: awards