As an Albion College student, Sally Stark Cutler, ’75, prepared to be a teacher. And now, living in Gates Mills, Ohio near Cleveland, education remains a common thread in her activities and interests. For several years she headed a non-profit board supporting the Cleveland School of the Arts, a magnet school for inner-city youth, and at the same time she chaired the board for a social services agency that provides job training for people who have disabilities or economic challenges. She is currently a board vice president for the Cleveland Museum of Art, which offers extensive public outreach and educational programming.
Education is central to the philanthropic interests she shares with her husband, Sandy Cutler, chairman and chief executive officer of Eaton Corporation. That commitment recently led them to make a leadership gift creating the new Cutler Commons in Albion’s Stockwell Library. The Cutler Commons, part of a larger renovation plan for the Albion College library complex, has been designed with today’s student in mind, providing spaces geared to group study and team projects, all supported by the latest technology. The new space will also offer a one-stop service desk and a café catering to the campus community and visitors alike.
“The possibilities that we saw in this concept—especially the fact that it makes technology instantly accessible—struck a chord with both of us,” Sally says. “Libraries are changing, with constantly advancing technology for locating and presenting information. If Albion is to remain competitive, the library needs to keep up with these trends. Sandy and I are pleased that we can help make this happen at Albion.”
She adds, “I was also intrigued with the lifelong learning aspect of this project. The library will be a more inviting place to be for everyone, including alumni and area residents.”
A Milwaukee native, Sally says she felt at home at Albion the moment she stepped on campus during her college search. “It had a great feel—I liked that it was a manageable size.” Though she admits she was never a “diehard student,” she appreciates that Albion’s faculty challenged her to grow academically. In an English class, focusing on works from classical Greece through the European Middle Ages, she recalls she was pushed to think in ways she never had before. “I had to really work hard in that class,” she says with a smile.
Her college experience also instilled a sense of responsibility for helping others, she observes. “That was the heart of what Albion was all about.” An active student volunteer during her college days, she has since given her time to numerous projects in the greater Cleveland area, among them the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which recently has saved over 23,000 acres of land from further development in northeast Ohio. “I like wide open spaces,” she explains, noting that natural areas need to be preserved now for future generations to enjoy.
Albion gave her a broad network of friends, she says, and some of those friendships have lasted to this day. “It’s hard for me to believe that I’m being invited to the weddings of my friends’ children. It seems to me that we were the ones who were just getting married. I feel fortunate that I still stay in touch with friends I met on my very first day as a freshman on campus.”
Sally currently serves as an enrollment volunteer, sharing her Albion experience with future students, and she and Sandy also made a major gift in support of the College’s science complex renovation and expansion project several years ago.
She reflects, “Although it’s been said often, Sandy and I believe that it is remarkably true that giving back is one of life’s great privileges.”