Photo Courtesy of Cleveland State Marketing

From left to right: President Ronald Berkman, Monte Ahuja and wife Usha, Pamela and Donald Washkewicz at last year’s Radiance event.

May 10, 2016

‘Radiance’ event works to provide funding to at-risk students

Cleveland State University will hold its sixth Radiance, a fund-raising event to provide scholarships for students at risk of dropping out of school or who have dropped out because of financial reasons on May 13 in the Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom of the Student Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“The name Radiance infers shedding light and shining light, and that’s how the name was decided,” Robert Spademan, Cleveland State’s chief marketing officer, said. “The other deciding factor [to host Radiance] was there were a whole bunch of students who basically stopped going to school because they ran out of money, yet they were close having about 90 credit hours out of 120 to complete so we pinned the money on that.”

The fundraising campaign is spear-headed by the combined efforts of the board of trustees and the Cleveland State University Foundation Board of Directors.

“Many volunteers from both boards work tirelessly to raise these funds,” Bridget Sukys, associate director of the CSU Foundation, said. “Donations come from hundreds of individuals and corporations who strongly believe in supporting educational access and student success.”

Spademan said during the first year of Radiance, the starting goal was $250,000 and it has kept going up in dollars ever since. Last year’s goal was $1 million, which was achieved and Radiance raised $3.7 million in the past five years to support student scholarships.

“We’ve kept costs down and we haven’t done extravagant things,” Spademan said, referring to hosting Radiance each year which includes cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for guests.

“We’re not spending the money people give us on giveaways and things like that. Instead, as much as we can [give] is going to students and their scholarships.”

Cleveland State President Ronald M. Berkman discussed the importance of Radiance and the prominence it brings to the university and its students during an interview in March.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger, raising more and more dollars to go toward student success and [for them] to be able to finish their degrees,” Berkman said. “The $1 million raised last year was divided up to students who typically have 90 credits or more, are in good academic standing, but don’t have the dollars to fill the delta they need to finish the last 30 to 40 credits. That’s what Radiance is all about.”

Select students who are in desperate need of financial assistance to finish their degree are informed if they’ve been selected by the Financial Aid office to receive a Radiance scholarship.

Students are also able to apply for a Radiance scholarship on their own, but no statistical data exists to see which group is more likely to receive a Radiance scholarship.

“We do not track percentages of students who seek funds out versus those that are contacted by Financial Aid,” Rachel Schmidt, director of Financial Aid, said. “While limited funding prohibits us from being able to assist every student who asks for assistance, the generosity of our donors who make their gift designation to the Radiance program greatly expands the number of students we can support.”

According to Spademan, the number of students who have received some form of Radiance assistance in the past five years totals 1,186. Cleveland State won’t count the amount of money or the number of students who will receive it until the event is over.

Schmidt said in fall 2015, 299 students at Cleveland State received the Radiance award. The awards come in different amounts based on each individual’s financial need.

The Financial Aid office receives the figures on the funding amount from Radiance a couple of weeks after the event. Schmidt said her office processes awards throughout the summer semester when it notifies the chosen students via email that they have received a scholarship for the fall.

“Students are asked to review their financial aid award letter in CampusNet [under the financial aid section],” Schmidt said. “Students must have a free application for federal student aid on file to be considered for Radiance.”

Radiance has been held on the Friday before spring commencement for the past six years.

“The idea was that you have all the excitement of commencement,” Spademan said. “It’s really the high point of the academic year for us to watch our students walk across the stage.”

According to Sukys, Berkman annually awards the President’s Medal to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and dedication to the university as part of the Radiance event.

Steven Minter, a retired CEO of The Cleveland Foundation, will receive the medal during Radiance this year. Spademan said Minter was the mastermind in putting Radiance together as the kind of event that needs to happen in today’s world.


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