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CSU community to recognize work of nine distinguished alumni at Oct. 12 ceremony

September 27, 2012

By Samah Assad


Nine Cleveland State graduates will be honored for their leadership, service and career achievements at the 22nd Distinguished Alumni Awards on Friday, Oct. 12 at the Bert L. and Iris S. Wolstein Center.

They will join the club of 161 past honorees. The distinguished alumni were nominated by their colleges and includes Timothy F. Hagan, who is the recipient of the George B. David Award that recognizes a graduate’s service and dedication toward the growth of Cleveland State.

Hagan graduated with a degree in Urban Studies in 1975 and is one of the longest serving members of the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners. In 1998 he was honored by Cleveland State with the Tribute to Public Service Award.

According to Carolyn Champion-Sloan, director of Alumni Affairs, these alumni are also being distinguished for their personal or professional accomplishments either to a community or to Cleveland State.

“It's a very moving kind of thing,” Champion-Sloan said. “You do feel a kind of connection to CSU – you feel [the alumni's] passion when it comes to wanting to help these students.”

Among the honorees are William J. Centa (Monte Ahuja College of Business), Sheila M. Niles (School of Nursing), George J. Palko (Fenn College of Engineering) and Larry H. James (Cleveland-Marshall College of Law).

Recipients also include Dr. Ruth D. Peterson (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences), Thomas E. Hopkins (College of Sciences and Health Professions) Erin Dee Huber (Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs) and Dr. Daniel J. Keenan, Jr. (College of Education and Human Services).

Reflecting on his time at Cleveland State, Keenan said receiving this award is an exciting experience because it was this university that taught him about himself.

“CSU was excellent for me to see different perspectives and understand the strength of diversity – there's a lot more that people have in common than they are different.” Keenan said. “It taught me how I can be a more impacting educator.”

Keenan, who received his doctoral degree from Cleveland State, is currently the superintendent of Westlake City Schools. He also recently taught a class at Cleveland State.

Cleveland State students who have shown outstanding academic and leadership abilities on campus will also be presented with awards. The event will honor 18 scholarship recipients, and 45 students will represent the various colleges.

“‘Distinguished Alumni’ is the title, but in that we also want to recognize a student leader who has done his or her best in learning what leadership is and pursuing it while a student at CSU,” Champion-Sloan said.

Cynthia Johnstone, a senior Graphic and Web design major, is among the 18 students who will be receiving awards. She is president of the Single-Parent Student Network and works for the Women's Center and Student Life.

Johnstone said she was thrown aback upon learning the news just a few weeks ago that she won the Distinguished Leadership for Scholarship Award.

"I'm in shock mode right now, and I really haven't digested it," she said. "I'm just a normal student doing normal student stuff, and to be awarded for working hard…I'm honored."

A reception will kick off the evening at 5:45 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards program. Tickets are $100 each and valet parking is included. For reservations, call the Alumni Affairs Office at (216) 687-2078 by Oct. 5. Proceeds will benefit alumni programs and scholarships.