When Michael and Sara Kuhlin got married at Prout Chapel on campus, the last thing on their mind was that one day they would have a building named after them. So how did Michael Kuhlin go from president of Delta Tau Delta to having a state-of-the-art media building named after him?
The now taller, grey-haired gentleman begins his story in Chicago, where he was born. Shortly after, he moved to Syosset, New York, a suburb about an hour drive east from Manhattan.
When the time came to go off to college, Kuhlin was looking at two schools: Syracuse, because of its journalism program, and the University, because his high school friend Jim was attending there. Shortly after applying to the University, Kuhlin was accepted. The quickness of the acceptance and the good things he heard about the school were all he needed to pack his bags and head to Northwest Ohio.
Upon arriving at Toledo Express Airport, Kuhlin recalled looking out at all of the cornfields on the car ride to Bowling Green and thinking, “What did I get myself into?”
He was interested in joining a fraternity after his friend Jim from high school introduced him to Larry Donald of Delta Tau Delta. While pledging Delta Tau Delta, Kuhlin was elected class president for the leadership qualities his pledge brothers saw in him. It wasn’t long before he picked up the role as being president of the fraternity. This leadership experience in the fraternity, his time at the BG News and the hands-on work in the classroom made a lasting impression on how he advanced in life and his career after college, he said.
After graduating from the University, Kuhlin wasn’t ready to leave; his first year out he was the hall director for Conklin Hall. Then he moved into the Communications Department for Career Planning and Placement for about two and a half years. While working there, he met his future wife, Sara, who was working next door at the Financial Aid Office. They ended up getting married at Prout Chapel on campus in 1971.
Once married, Kuhlin decided he needed to get serious about finding a career path, which was when he started working at Ohio Bell, owned by AT&T. While working there, AT&T had to divest itself from Ohio Bell and formed Ameritech as the regional holding company.
While working for AT&T from 1971 to 2000, Kuhlin worked at every communications job except advertising, retiring as the senior director of corporate relations at Ameritech, according to the University’s website. Since his retirement, Kuhlin has been a consultant, providing guidance with communications for a number of companies including: Pharmacia, Sears, SBC Ameritech, LitLamp.com and many non-profits.
Kuhlin started working with the University’s foundation from 2006 through 2010, until his wife was diagnosed with cancer. At that point, he decided to drop everything and focus on Sara and her treatment process. Once Sara passed away in 2013, Kuhlin got involved in three non-profits: Special Olympics Illinois, Owensboro Health Foundation and the University. In 2016 Kuhlin got back onto the Foundation Board.
“After a period of time, I just felt I couldn’t do all of that and had to pick one,” he said. “I picked Bowling Green because that’s where I thought I could have the most impact.”
However, Kuhlin still supports the other organizations through donations.
Kuhlin wanted to know how he could contribute to the University, so he asked then-president Mary Ellen Mazey. After some thought, Mazey said they wanted to name a new media building after the Kuhlins. He was blown away by this, but Mazey insisted the amount they were contributing made it appropriate.
Ultimately, Kuhlin had to take some time to make sure it was something Sara would want them to do. He decided it was something she would want because of her love and affinity for the University. Kuhlin graduated the University with a degree in Journalism, so he realized attaching his name to the new home of the School of Media and Communication was a perfect fit.
He’s has been working very closely with the Alumni Office since the vice president stepped down in April.
“He’s super humble and has an obvious passion for BGSU,” Special Assistant to the Vice President Sarah Brokamp said. “It’s been great working with him. He’s such a hard worker.”
During Homecoming, Kuhlin will be elected chair of the BGSU Foundation.
Kuhlin continues to convey the passion and love he and Sara shared for the University, its students and its faculty through his involvement.
“(He is) humble, genuine and caring,” fraternity brother Mike Hart said. “Mike Kuhlin is an example of what it means to be a true gentleman.”