Mentor Award

Ohio Wesleyan’s Nancy Bihl Rutkowski Honored by Higher Education Organization

By Cole Hatcher

Nancy Bihl Rutkowski

DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan University’s Nancy Bihl Rutkowski is “the mentor you wish every young professional could have,” colleague Brad Pulcini says. And the Ohio College Personnel Association (OCPA) agrees – honoring Rutkowski with its 2019-2020 Gerald L. Saddlemire Mentor Award.

Rutkowski, M.Ed., director of both the Ohio Wesleyan Student Involvement Office and Fraternity and Sorority Life, received the award at the association’s 2020 Annual Conference held Jan. 30-31 in Worthington, Ohio.

According to the OCPA, the Saddlemire Mentor Award is presented to higher education professionals who:

  • Serve as mentors and role models to graduate and/or undergraduate students and other student affairs professionals.
  • Serve as supportive and educational administrators.
  • Make significant contributions to the ideals of the student affairs profession.

A member of the Ohio Wesleyan community since 1987, Rutkowski is “beloved by the entire community, and they trust her,” said Pulcini, M.S.Ed., associate dean for student engagement. He nominated Rutkowski for the OCPA award.

“For most students and staff, they cannot think about OWU without thinking about Nancy Rutkowski,” Pulcini said. She is OWU. …

“When I meet with students who have graduated from the university, the first thing they say is not ‘How’s Nancy?, but ‘I just talked to Nancy and she said. …’ Students continue to come to her for conversation and advice well past graduation,” Pulcini said. “[She] is that positive spirit you just want to be around.”

Several OWU alumni wrote letters of recommendation in support of Rutkowski’s nomination including Catie Kocian, Class of 2017.

“Nancy has had a positive effect on hundreds of students, and I count myself as lucky to be one of them,” Kocian shared in her letter. “Her legacy ripples far past Ohio Wesleyan as she gives a part of herself to each student she works with to take with them, making the world a better place.”

As part of Rutkowski’s work at Ohio Wesleyan, she seeks to develop leaders. She holds seminars and classes to teach new leaders how to fulfill their roles, and she created OWU’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Fellowships. She also created the Orientation Team Leader position and for many years organized the annual Golden Bishop Awards and advised the President’s Club.

Rutkowski said she is honored to be recognized for mentoring others – one of her greatest joys and passions.

“Just reading the references made me feel like I had won an award,” she said. “I am humbled and grateful for all the friendships I have made during my time at OWU. It’s always been mutual – I have benefitted and learned from the students I have worked with in so many ways.”

About the Ohio College Personnel Association

The OCPA exists to advance student learning and development and achieves its mission by facilitating the sharing and creation of knowledge and best practices for student affairs professionals throughout the State of Ohio. Learn more at

About Ohio Wesleyan University

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at