Dawn Crim: Sharing her passion for education

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

A college scholarship turned out to be life-changing for Dawn Crim. "It gave me the opportunity to continue my education, which has opened up so many doors," she said.

Crim earned her bachelor's degree in rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia in 1989. She then played professional basketball in Munich, Germany, for one year before settling in Newport News, Virginia, where she joined Coca-Cola as a territory sales representative.

"I was making a great salary, but I really wanted to make a difference," said Crim.

College of Education alumna Dawn Crim started her career in sales before becoming a collegiate-level basketball coach for the the University of Wisconsin. She now works alongside the governor of Wisconsin to make changes to the state's public education system. Credit: SubmittedAll Rights Reserved.

She enrolled in the Penn State College of Education's counselor education master's program, and coached Lady Lions basketball as a graduate assistant. When she finished her degree, Crim became the assistant women's basketball coach at the University of Kentucky (UK).

But Crim wouldn't be away from Penn State for long.

After one year at UK, she moved back to State College and accepted a development position with Penn State Athletics.

"I traveled with the women's basketball team and met with former student-athletes to discuss their Penn State experience, in hopes of keeping them connected to the University," said Crim. "I also called the games on the Penn State Radio Network."

One game, in particular, led to an exciting career opportunity.

"I interviewed the University of Wisconsin's head coach after a game," said Crim. "A few months later, she recruited me to be her assistant coach."

Crim coached at UW for four years before stepping down to continue her career in higher education administration. From 1996 to 2017, she held five different positions at the university.

In the fall of 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction hired Crim as assistant state superintendent in the Division for Student and School Success. She said the best thing about that role is that she constantly communicated with students about the importance of education.

"Education can take you many different places, and I impart that to my students," said Crim.

That theme continues to ring true for Crim. In January 2019, she became the secretary for safety and professional services for the state of Wisconsin when Tony Evers, the former state superintendent of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, became governor of Wisconsin and asked Crim to join him in leading the state.

Crim resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Elton, a 2006 Penn State alumnus with a graduate degree in higher education; and their children, John and Danielle.

Last Updated March 06, 2019