Bob Kohlhepp, retiring Board member, is the name behind Cintas Center

Have you ever wondered how the Cintas Center at Xavier University got its name?

The answer lies with Bob Kohlhepp, the former CEO of Cintas Corporation, who retired in 2016 after seven years as Chairman of the Board. Kohlhepp joined Cintas, the Cincinnati-based uniform and workplace products company, in 1967 as controller before rising through the ranks.

While a Cintas employee in 1971, Kohlhepp earned his MBA at Xavier. Xavier was now in his blood. In 1989 he brought his leadership and expertise to the Xavier Board of Trustees, eventually serving as chair for five years, from 2009 to 2014.

At the May 2019 Board meeting, Kohlhepp retired from the Xavier Board after 30 years of service and was honored by his fellow Board members. Xavier President Michael Graham, S.J., offered his “grateful recognition” to Kohlhepp, who he said is “truly a man for and with others in the tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola.”

“When I think about the management team, the faculty and this Board,” Kohlhepp told his fellow Board members, “I leave knowing Xavier is in good hands. I have no doubt they will continue to take Xavier to even higher levels.”

Kohlhepp’s decades of service to Xavier include becoming an indispensable proponent of the initiative to build an arena and convocation center that, among other things, would bring Xavier men’s basketball back to campus. For 17 seasons, starting in 1983-1984, the team left its home court at the Fieldhouse on campus and moved off-site to the Cincinnati Gardens.

In 1998, ground was broken on the multi-use center in large part thanks to Kohlhepp, who personally provided the significant financial support needed to make this dream come true. In addition to his own giving, Kohlhepp was successful in his efforts to shepherd additional and substantial gifts from others to ensure the dream was realized.

In recognition of his role, the University granted Kohlhepp the opportunity to name the new convocation center when it opened in August 2000. He could have selected any name, including his own. He opted to honor his company by putting the Cintas name on what would become the largest building on the Xavier campus.

But Kohlhepp’s generosity didn’t end after the building opened. To ensure that the Cintas Center continues to be a state-of-the-art facility, he provided the lead gift to maintain and update the Center by establishing the Cintas Center Endowment Fund. Kohlhepp is an enthusiastic supporter of a wide variety of Xavier University Athletic Department programs, most especially men’s and women’s basketball. In addition, he has mentored numerous members of the Athletic Department staff, including coaches, and his advice and support was critical to Xavier’s successful entry into the Big East Conference.

In 2017, the University was able to put the Kohlhepp name in the spotlight, naming the Cintas playing floor the Kohlhepp Family Court.

Kohlhepp and his wife Linda, as well as his children, all graduates of Xavier, have established the Kohlhepp Family Scholarship Fund and remain consistent, enthusiastic and incredibly generous financial supporters of the mission of Xavier University. 

But the Xavier Board will not be without a Kohlhepp for long. At the May Board meeting, members voted to approve his daughter, Becky Kohlhepp Scullin, as the newest member of the Xavier Board of Trustees.