CSU Service 1979 to 2006
Department Head and Faculty, Design and Merchandising
Husband, Jerry Culp
8 nieces and nephews, 20 great nieces and nephews and lots of cousins
Antigone (Anne) was born in Kearney, Nebraska and grew up there attending Emerson grade school, Kearney Junior High and Kearney Senior High. In 1967-68 she served as the first female president of Kearney High and in 1968 was named Outstanding Teenager for the State of Nebraska.
College and Pre-CSU employment
Antigone says that while in high school and during her undergraduate days she majored in activities. In addition to her heavy course load she volunteered for numerous campus activities, was President of her sorority, President of the PanHellenic Association and worked in retailing. Antigone thought she might want to study law, but one summer as a congressional intern in Washington D.C. changed her perspective.
In the first semester of her fourth year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she took two courses to complete her undergraduate degree and began taking graduate courses. She took coursework in Textiles, Clothing and Design, and Marketing. Antigone (Anne) was employed as a graduate assistant, working closely with Professor Rob Hillestad and completed her master’s degree in 1974. Her thesis, “A comparative analysis of three clothing value measures,” was completed under the direction of department head Dr. Audrey Newton. In graduate school, Antigone continued to work in retailing while she and her husband became the first of two college-age couples to serve as house parents for sorority/fraternity houses on the UNL campus.
At the completion of her master’s degree, she was hired by UN-L to teach and collaborate on the development of a merchandising program. Four years later, in 1978, she received the college’s Outstanding Professor Award. In addition to developing courses and internships, she worked with Ann Parkhurst, who had computer and statistical expertise, to create a computerized mechanism for testing math skills needed in the merchandising field.
CSU Work History
In the fall of 1979, Antigone started teaching at Colorado State University. She coordinated the merchandising program, developed new internships and helped create the first computer lab for the college. While teaching a variety of courses as an instructor at CSU, Antigone began taking more graduate courses at CSU and other institutions including Michigan State and the University of Colorado.
In the early 80’s, a graduate student suggested that she meet “Aunt Kathryn” who turned out to be Dr. Kathryn Greenwood. Dr. Greenwood was educated at New York University, was author of one of the only books on the market about fashion merchandising, and was a practitioner at heart. Kathryn encouraged Antigone to enroll in summer school at Oklahoma State University to see how she liked it and then make a commitment to enter the doctoral program. By the end of summer 1982, CSU agreed to hold her teaching position and she enrolled as a full time student.
Antigone gives much credit to Dr. Greenwood for her ability to obtain a PhD in record time. She gave Antigone an assistantship, got creative in putting a program together that utilized courses taken at other universities in prior summers, and found courses that met her professional needs. The administrators at OSU recognized that Antigone had a background in retailing, had taught most of the merchandising courses offered, and served as regional president of the Association of Professors of Textiles and Clothing (now the International Textile and Apparel Association). No faculty or students in the department had computers at the time, so Antigone was also able to provide expertise in this area as well. Her responsibilities within the Center for Apparel Marketing and Merchandising included providing workshops, lectures and consultations for retailers at merchandise marts throughout the U.S., writing articles and editing the CAMM newsletter, and “other duties as assigned.”
While presenting a program at the Merchandise Mart in Los Angeles, the founder of a computer company asked for assistance with the development of a turnkey computer system for small retailers. Since no other such product was on the market, Antigone asked for her leave from CSU to be extended until the fall of 1985. She felt that this “real world” opportunity would provide research ideas and strengthen her teaching. With the title of Director of Marketing, her primary responsibilities were to write product specifications and direct market research for the development of a pioneering product.
After returning to CSU as Antigone Kotsiopulos, Ph.D., she was promoted to Associate Professor and tenured. In 1991, she was promoted to Full Professor and Acting Department Head of Design, Merchandising and Consumer Sciences. A year later she became Department Head and held that position for the next decade. In 2001, she became Associate Dean for Academic Programs for the College of Applied Human Sciences (now the College of Health and Human Sciences) until her retirement in 2006.
When asked about the evolution of CSU campus over the last 30 years, Antigone feels like more changes have occurred since her retirement than in the years she was at CSU. She has no particular attachment to buildings, but rather the people in them. Someone early in her student career said, “people who plan on moving up don’t take time to put curtains on their windows,” and that must have stuck with her. Kotsiopulos’ first office was in the Gifford building, which was new when she moved in. When she was Department Head, Textile and Clothing merged with Interior Design, so she strategically moved to Aylesworth Hall in order to be near faculty who were not in her content area. As Associate Dean she was in the Gibbons Building with a great view of the oval, providing an ideal location for viewing and appreciating campus pre-retirement.
The three most significant factors that impacted her teaching, research and service were the physical structure of the retail industry, enhanced use of computerization, and decreased state and federal funding for high education. As more “big box” stores permeated communities, more and more small businesses could not survive. Larger companies each had their own systems, processes and procedures for accomplishing tasks, so the teaching focus turned to logic and critical thinking skills, which were transferrable. Kotsiopulos was fortunate to have early exposure to computer technology, which turned out to have application in all areas of her work. With decreasing state and federal funding, greater emphasis was placed on obtaining external financial support for maintaining high quality programs.
Dr. Kotsiopulos says that change in her academic programs has always been inevitable. With the evolution of business, industry and service sector needs, the curriculum has changed to meet those needs. Disciplines within Design and Merchandising are constantly changing and it takes great effort to remain current, keep up with technology, and address contemporary issues. Recent significant donations and gifts to the department have greatly enhanced the historic and material culture focus of the unit, which was very small when she first came to CSU. Also, with increasing emphasis on external funding, faculty are naturally drawn away from service and toward income generation and research opportunities.
Kotsiopulos says, “The blessing is that I’ve always loved what I was doing professionally. It’s challenging to make the tough decisions, because not everyone embraces change, but I always tried to look at what was in the students’ best interest.” In sharp contrast to all the times of celebration, Antigone remembers dealing with the flood of 1997 and subsequent renovation and asbestos abatement in Aylesworth, a fire and air quality issues in Gifford, department and college mergers and name changes, and the premature passing of two dear colleagues (Barbara Oliver and Sally Haxton). “There is no doubt that it is much easier to lead in times of harmony, joy and affluence, than through tough times.”
Something that has not changed greatly from Kotsiopulos’ perspective, and is an emerging focus of attention for President Frank, is the role of women at CSU. While there are more women completing PhDs, there are still not many women administrators and few minority female leaders. Antigone never planned on becoming an administrator, but doors seemed to open for such opportunities and she hopes an increasing number of women will be able to obtain leadership positions.
Mentors and Valued Colleagues
Antigone gives credit to her undergraduate department head, Audrey Newton, and dean, Hazel Anthony, who suggested that she continue on to graduate school. She worked with Rob Hillestad, designer and fiber artist who is internationally known among academics. Her friend and college, Joan Laughlin, had just arrived at UN-L, having completed her Ph.D. All of these individuals remain life-long mentors and friends.
At Colorado State University there are many more people to credit. Rex Richards, department head, and Helen McHugh, dean, hired Antigone and supported her through her early years and leaves while completing her Ph.D. George Morgan was also instrumental in creating a long-term plan for her professional development and for service as department head until Antigone returned to CSU. Kathryn Greenwood was not only Antigone’s major professor for her Ph.D., but retired in Fort Collins where they were able to spend quality time until Kathryn’s passing in 2012.
Antigone has worked with many colleagues who remain friends and have impacted her life. Kotsiopulos credits her involvement with the International Textile and Apparel Association, Great Plains Idea and numerous land-grant groups, committees and reviews with the vast number of friends and acquaintances she has throughout the country especially Soyeon Shim, dean at U of Wisconsin and Anne Fairhurst, department head at U of Tennessee. Among the many CSU colleagues who have served as great sounding boards over time and continue to be cherished friends are Nancy Hartley, Kevin Oltjenbruns, Cathleen Love, and Myra Powers.
Antigone would say that one of her greatest mentors was her father. While growing up, she worked after school and summers in his dry cleaning and formal wear stores. In addition to learning about business operations and management, she was able to travel to major markets around the country and take part in national and regional conferences. Little did she realize at the time how valuable these experiences would impact her professional interests and serve as the foundation for a career in higher education.
Academics and Research
Dr. Kotsiopulos would describe her greatest contribution to her academic discipline to be in the area of computer and mathematic applications in retailing. She engaged students to help write software that would support her efforts and she wrote the teaching manuals. It was her students who insisted that she publish the material which became MERCHMATH.EZY (with Jikyeong Kang) and Merchandising Mathematics (with Joan Anderson, Jikyeong Kang and Cindy Zayas – all former CSU graduate students). These textbooks were used for two decades to inform and train students aspiring to become successful in business. She was instrumental in bringing other business software into the classroom, not only for herself, but others throughout the country teaching in the profession. Antigone wrote over 100 journal and trade publications, most focusing on business practices, consumer behavior or futuristic thinking.
- CSU Oliver P. Pennock Award for Distinguished Service, 2006
- Creation of the Kotsiopulos Education Enhancement Endowment by the College of Applied Human Sciences, 2001
- CSU Women’s Caucus Margaret B. Hazaleus Award, 2001 (given for efforts to enhance opportunities for women faculty, professionals, students and staff and within one’s profession)
- Outstanding Alumni Leader, OSU, 1998
- Fellow designation, International Textile and Apparel Association, 1996
- President of the International Textile and Apparel Association, 1994-95
A number of notable accomplishments came about while Dr. Kotsiopulos was a faculty member, Department Head and Dean’s Office, but she says that they all occurred as collaborative efforts with others. Some examples include:
- The expansion of UCAN Serve AmeriCorps in the College from 13 students in 2003 to 171 in 2005
- American Distance Education Consortium Award for Excellence in Distance Education, as a member of the Great Plains Interactive Distance Alliance, 2002
- $3.2 million donation by Lectra Inc. in support of technology, 1999
- (at that time the largest corporate donation of its type in CSU history)
- CSU Outstanding Service Award for Diversity, 1999
- American Textile Manufacturer’s Institute Award for Excellence, 1989
- Best Paper Award, given by the Academy of Marketing Science and the American Collegiate Retailing Association, 1988 (with Dr. Soyeon Shim)
Dr. Kotsiopulos believes strongly in providing experiential learning for students. She coordinated and/or accompanied students for professional tours to New York City from 1976-2006, was involved with internship development and monitoring, and constantly looked for opportunities to link students with businesses for creative problem solving in the industry.
What is Antigone doing today?
Dr. Kotsiopulos sums up her current priorities as: faith, family, friends, food and fun.
She and husband, Jerry Culp, divide their time between Colorado and Arizona, golfing as much as possible. They have been fortunate to travel widely domestically and internationally, love time with family and friends, volunteer for church and community activities, cook, entertain, dance, read, swim, and never seem to have enough time for everything they would like to do. Antigone says her study and workroom are paved with good intentions – more projects and ideas that she will ever be able to complete. In retirement she has served as a CSU Mediator, a member of the Senior Scholars Board, and as a private consultant in areas such as strategic planning, academic programming and on-line education.