Alumni & Friends

Distinguished Alumni Awards - 1992

All information is as appeared in the 1992 Distinguished Alumni Awards progarm.

EMERGING LEADERSHIP: Joseph Bergant II, ’84 Med

For Joseph – a father, musician and educator – a true community shares the joy of life and passes it on to the next generation. This starts, he believes, by building confidence and trust within and between individuals.

As principal of Royalview Elementary School in Willowick, he sets this tone, naturally, in his school. “When folks come through our building, they leave with a sense of warmth. I hear that all the time,” he says. “With a good staff, that happens.”

Over the years, Joseph has worked tirelessly to expand the definition of a close community, not only within the Willoughby-Eastlake school system but in Northeast Ohio. Joseph constantly promotes regional and cultural awareness by inviting performance-art groups to Royalview. The school has hosted a Japanese theater, Karamu theater of Cleveland, and the students of Chambers Elementary in East Cleveland, who performed for Martin Luther King Day. Currently, Joseph is working to bring a black artist and an exhibition of black art to the school. Because of his leadership in education, Royalview has received an International Invitational School Award and a National Blue Ribbin School Award. Royalview has also been named an OAESA Hall of Fame School and is currently contending for an award from the United States Department of Education. Joseph encourages achievement in students and teachers alike. For example, he allows his staff time to research and write grants for instructional materials. This year, Royalview is working with $30,000 in extra funds. The accomplishment has built confidence and collegiality among the teachers, an attitude they pass on to the students. With Joseph’s support, the children, too, are getting a boost in self-esteem. Games within the school, like Team Challenge and Bonus Bucks, reward each child for his social behavior and academic achievements. The result has been a steady increase in standardized test scores.

Having been raised and schooled in Willowick himself, Joseph has a personal relationship with the community and works cooperatively with organizations like the Willowick Kiwanis, the Willowick City Council and the Lake County United Way as Royalview’s representative.

GEORGE B. DAVIS AWARD: Larry C. Glasscock, ’70 BA

Larry is a persistent man. For almost a decade, he has been promoting and supporting the University in very direct, tireless ways. Recently, he completed an eight-year post as a Director of the Cleveland State University Foundation, Inc. But it wasn’t the only position he held. He was also an active member, vice-president and president of the Alumni Association. He served as the Chairman for the National Alumni Annual Appeal and as a member of the Honorary Committee for CSU’s 25th Anniversary celebration.

Larry began his long, dedicated relationship with CSU as an undergraduate student, earning a bachelor’s of business administration degree in 1970. After graduating, he served six years in the United States Marine Corp. Since then, he has worked most of his life in the banking industry. Today, he is the President and COO of the First American Bank in Washington, D.C. On many occasions Larry has said that his success is a direct result of his CSU degree. Without it, he never would have succeeded to such professional heights.

Larry is a member of the American Institute of Banking, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, and the Cleveland Athletic Club. He has served as the director of the board for First American Bank, the Great Lakes Construction Company and Ameritrust Financial Corporation, among others. He has received awards from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business and from the American Banker’s Association School for International Banking.

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: Mary C. Grimm, ’80 BA/’89 MA

After writing her first short story when she was 18 years old, Mary waited another ten years before she began writing again. Now, the Cleveland native has a list of published stories, which have appeared in popular magazines like the New Yorker and Redbook and in many regional magazines. In 1993, a collection of her short stories and a novel will be published by Random House.

Mary started on the road to a writing career in 1969 when she entered CSU as an undergraduate. Attending part-time while raising two daughters, she copleted a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology and received a fellowship from the Department of English, to continue her studies. While working on her master’s thesis, Mary taught part-time at Cuyahoga community College and worked as the managing editor for The Gamut. During this time, she also co-founded and edited Ohio Writer, a newsletter for regional writers, which the Poets’ League of Greater Cleveland continues to publish.

Today, Mary teaches creative writing at Case Western Reserve University. She has conducted workshops at the Antioch Writer’s Conference and has spoken at the Midwest Writers Conference and the Northwest Writer’s Forum in Toledo, Ohio.

Although Mary’s two forthcoming books may open doors to teaching positions elsewhere, she is in no hurry to leave her home and her post at CWRU.

Mary views all her accomplishments, not just the teaching, the stories and the books, as her real success story. It has been a process of learning, a process of living. “Education is not a product that you pay for,” Mary says. “Of course there are the practical issues. But what is most important is learning how to think and how to fit yourself into the world and how to measure yourself against your own expectations and the expectations of others.”

EMERGING LEADERSHIP: James A. Sipos, ’83 BA

Many people have contributed to the City of Cleveland’s come-back story. In the Buckeye Road neighborhood bordering Shaker Heights, Skip Sipos, executive director of the Buckeye Area Development Corporation, is leading the way. Thanks to Skip, merchants and residents are teaming up to rebuild their community. Skip, a man with training in business administration, thinks a public entity like the BADC should run like a private one: efficient and proud.

Skip has found that self expression and productivity work hand in hand. It’s true. Since joining the BADC in 1986, Skip has restructured the BADC’s Board of Directors to include more members of the neighborhood’s black-majority population. “It’s the way it should be,” he says. “The power base is much more representative. The people have more of a feeling of attachment to what goes on.” With this new sense of community ownership, the BADC is reviving its neighborhood as it buys, fixes and leases commercial and residential properties.

Because of Skip, the BADC has more staff members and more money to fuel its cause. Since 1986, Skip has increased the organization’s budget from $65,000 to $444,700 a year. He has also increased the staff from one employee, himself, to 15 employees.

For his vision and leadership, Skip has received an Outstanding Service Award and the Community Service Award from the local Ward Club. He also received the 1990-91 Community Leader of the Year Award from the Woodland Recreation Center.

Skip’s dedication to neighborhood-based organizations is not new. As an undergraduate at CSU, he volunteered with the West Boulevard Neighborhood Association and took a full-time position thereafter earning a bachelor’s of business administration. Truly an emerging leader in Cleveland, Skip will remain with the BADC, which plans to fix up 20 homes in 1992. Eventually, Skip envisions the BADC becoming involved with new residential developments on vacant sites near Buckeye Road. “In five years, I want this neighborhood to be on equal par with the surrounding suburbs,” Skip says. “Right now you can tell when you cross the line. There should be no difference.”

CIVIC ACHIEVEMENT: Hon. Lesley B. Wells, ’74 JD

Noted for her ability to explain constitutional rights in plain language, Judge Wells strives to empower every individual with the capacity to participate in the law. “Much of what’s taught makes the law seem complicated and inaccessible to people,” she says. “We who are involved with the law have to make sure it’s accessible to everyone. It’s our system, not a system of the privileged. Everyone understands justice.”

Judge Wells, who presides over the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, hears cases ranging from felonies to serious civil suits, which include disputes over environmental issues like toxic waste disposal. She was the first judge in Northeast Ohio who issued orders to board up crack houses.

In many ways, Judge Wells has used her civic vision to make the law work for the community at large. As a member of the Legal Aid Society, she worked to make acts of domestic violence enforceable with legal action. At the Domestic Division of the Common Pleas Court, she set aside a room in the courthouse specifically for children of divorce case, so they would not be exposed to the disputes of the courtroom. For this innovation, Judge Wells was recognized with the Women’s City Club Award for Compassionate Judicial Service. She has also received an Award for Outstanding Service to WomenSpace, which assists organizations like the Girl Scouts and the Rape Crisis Center.

A Distinguished Alumna of Chatham College, Judge Wells has sat on the Board of Trustees of Chatham, Miami University, the Urban League of Cleveland and the Rose Mary Center. Currently, she is an adjunct professor and member of the visiting committee of both the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

LIFETIME LEADERSHIP: Hon. George W. White, ’55 JD/’97 LL.D.

From the smoke of a Pennsylvania steel town to the gavel of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Cleveland, Judge White has come a long way. But he never expected it to happen this way.

As a young man, he came to Cleveland and attended Baldwin Wallace College to pursue a career in business. While selling cookware, he found himself in the home of two lawyers who would change his life. He didn’t sell them the pots and pans, but they sold him on law school. He applied and was accepted to the Cleveland-Marshall Law School.

After graduating, Judge White opened a general law practice and became a Domestic Relations Referee in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. He was an attorney with the Civil Branch of the Legal Aid Society, and from 1963 to 1968, he served as a Cleveland City Councilman for the Lee-Harvard neighborhood. In 1968, he was elected judge of the Court of common Pleas. In 1980, he was appointed judge for the U.S. District Court of Northern Ohio, in Cleveland, by President Jimmy Carter.

At the federal court, Judge White enjoys hearing a wide variety of cases. “I can never become complacent in my learning. I could remain on the bench the rest of my life and keep learning.”

With this passion for learning about the day-to-day experiences of others, Judge White has gained a valuable insight that he uses in his professional and volunteer work. “The more you deal with people and their problems,” he says, “the more you learn how to solve those problems.”

Throughout his career, as a member of the bar, city council and judiciary, Judge White has been particularly dedicated to improving the quality of life in Northeast Ohio’s black community. He was instrumental in organizing the United Black Fund of Cleveland, Inc., which raises and grants money to non-profit groups, such as the Cleveland Food Basket Program, the East Side Catholic Shelter and the Karamu House. This year, the UBF is funding 18 agencies, which reach 45,000 persons. Currently, Judge White is a trustee of the UBF. He is also a long0time member of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Alumni Association and was named Alumnus of the Year in 1990.