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IRA and WeTeach honor Dean Zachariah with a tree

October 11, 2012

By Amanda Duncan

The Cleveland State chapter of the International Reading Association and the student organization WeTeach teamed together to honor Dean Dr. Sajit Zachariah with a plaque and tree dedication on Sept. 26.

At the time of the appointment of Zachariah as the new dean of the College of Education and Human Services, President Berkman had said that Zachariah is a passionate leader who would inspire his colleagues and students.

Zachariah came to Cleveland State from the College of Education at University of Akron where he earned laurels for strengthening the STEM program.

"There are many similarities between the educational climates in Cleveland and Akron," said President Berkman when he named the new dean. "Bringing this expertise to CSU will help advance our goals to engage the University and our students with the community."

The decision by the IRA and students of WeTeach to honor him with a plaque shows that the students feel Zachariah has performed to the expectation.
Katie Hahn, president of the chapter of the IRA, presented the plaque to Zachariah and they both shoveled dirt over the newly planted Paperbark Maple Tree.

"It was our hope under the stewardship of Dean Zachariah as the tree grows on the outside students, faculty and staff will prosper," Hahn said in her speech. "It is symbol of his rareness."

This tree is the only one of its kind on Cleveland State's campus. Hahn said that it would turn a beautiful red in the fall, and the students involved wanted to add some more beauty to the campus as well.

The idea had been discussed last semester at an officer's meeting of the International Reading Association chapter and put into action with help from WeTeach. Both the IRA chapter and WeTeach co-sponsored the cost of the tree.

In the interview for this story, Zachariah was more interested in talking about the future of the college and the students of Cleveland State than his own personal achievement.

In fact, he had watched the hole for the tree being dug and not even realized that later he would be standing down there accepting a plaque. The students succeeded in surprising him.

“I am truly honored," Zachariah said. "It was very kind of students and faculty and staff to recognize me.”

His office window over looks the west lawn of Julka Hall where the tree was planted so he can gaze out at the tree and be reminded of that day. Dean Zachariah's office door always remains open for students.