Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center President and CEO, Jeff Ollenburger, has announced his resignation from the internationally acclaimed museum. Ollenburger said that he would let his contract expire at the end of 2006, but would be willing to remain at the helm until such time a successor was named.
Ollenburger, 35, who has been with the museum since 1996, and has been President and CEO since 2002, is leaving the non-profit museum world for a management position in the private sector.
"I have truly loved my time with the Cosmosphere and consider myself fortunate to have led this wonderful museum for over four years. I don't believe there is a finer museum with such an exceptional staff anywhere in the world."
The time was right.
"With the goals I've set for myself, both personally and professionally, I always knew I'd make a move to the corporate world at some point. The museum operation is in excellent condition and we have a talented staff and an engaged board so the timing was just right. I am looking forward to this next challenge and opportunity in my career, and I am also looking forward to watching the museum continue to grow and prosper."
Since 2002, the Cosmosphere has seen growth in many areas of the operation. Summer camp and educational program attendance and revenue have nearly doubled in the past four years and field trip attendance is near its five year high. Fundraising for the Cosmosphere Foundation has added more than $2 million to address current and future needs and operationally the museum is having another positive financial year, with a projected a surplus of more than $100,000. Just last month, the Cosmosphere also announced a $2.4 million project to build an exhibit for a museum in Oregon.
Said Ollenburger, "The museum is in excellent financial health. We have significant restoration and replication projects on the books to stay busy and vibrant for many years to come. We've been able to accomplish a lot in the past few years and the museum's healthy bottom line will insure fiscal stability well into the future."
Board chairman Tom Sellers said, "We would have loved to keep Jeff around for many more years, but understand and support his decision. We deeply appreciate his leadership and wish him nothing but success in the future. He will do well."
Ollenburger will be joining the management team of American Packaging based in South Hutchinson. "My family and I are excited that we will continue to work and live in Hutchinson," Ollenburger said. "We certainly consider this home, and the location of this new opportunity, made this difficult decision easier."
Moving forward, the board will carefully consider its options in replacing Ollenburger. Said Sellers, "Jeff has considerately given us the leeway to approach this leadership change with the time and serious consideration it deserves."
The Cosmosphere, founded by the late Patricia Brooks Carey, traces its roots back to 1962 with the creation of the Hutchinson Planetarium. Ollenburger has been just the second President and CEO in the Cosmosphere's rich history, replacing co-founder Max Ary who left in 2002 to lead a museum in Oklahoma.