COSI chief stepping down; will stay on as science adviser

The woman who has led COSI for ten years and the woman how led its move to a new location on the Scioto River, is stepping down as the museum’s president.

Kathryn Sullivan Monday announced she will leave the post of COSI President and CEO and become a part-time scientific advisor for the museum.

Coming up on her 9th anniversary as the president of COSI, Kathryn Sullivan says she is leaving to concentrate on what she likes to do best, teach. At my core I have always been a teacher. I’m looking forward to supporting COSI as an educator, rather than an administrator, Sullivan said.

Sullivan says she and COSI board president Karl Kohrt agreed that now that COSI is entering a new era, it is time to bring in a new leader. Sullivan says she was not fired; nor is she quitting. She calls it a joint decision to relinquish her role as president. Board chairman Kohrt called Sullivan a world class scientist and her new role will allow COSI to take full advantage of her talents and interests.

The announcement comes about a year after voters soundly rejected a levy request which forced COSI to layoff staff and cut employees. Sullivan says, while it was her biggest disappointment at COSI, it’s not the reason she’s leaving.

While proud of moving COSI to its new location on time and under budget, Sullivan says her greatest achievement as the museum’s president was bringing science programs to school students, especially ones in at-risk districts.

Sullivan says she plans to stay in Columbus. She wants to do more speaking. She may write a book. She sees the possibility of her leaving the running of COSI to someone else while becoming an ambassador for the museum – much like Jack Hanna has become for the Columbus zoo.

For good or bad, Kathryn Sullivan’s name will be linked to the new COSI – a building with has brought praise and criticism. Sullivan says 10 of 20 years from now, she is confident the new COSI will be a vital hub of learning in the center of Columbus. She says efforts to create partnerships with WOSU and other Columbus organizations will continue.

Sullivan plans to remain as president until a successor is found.

When asked if she would like to return to NASA the former astronaut joked and said yes, if the space agency would allow her to return to space to travel to another planet. Click the Listen icon to hear an extended interview with Kathryn Sullivan.

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