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October 24, 2013

Homecoming weekend starts with Distinguished Alumni Awards

By Doug Vehovec

Distinguished Alumni Award winners stand together in the Wolstein Center

Homecoming weekend 2013 kicked off in elegant style inside the Wolstein Center on Friday, Oct. 30. The home of Cleveland State University’s men’s and women’s basketball was transformed from the Horizon League’s largest arena into a tasteful reception area and grand dining room to host the 23rd annual Distinguished Alumni Awards. The event, organized by the Cleveland State University Alumni Association, continued to build on a strong tradition of Homecoming by honoring 11 of the university’s most eminent graduates.

“The best of the best,” as Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman described it.  “Including two individuals who are receiving special President’s Awards for international achievement and community service.”

Martin J. Sweeney, BA ’88 and president of Cleveland City Council, received the award for community service for his outstanding work creating jobs, making neighborhoods safer and invigorating the downtown through redevelopment. During his time at Cleveland State, Sweeney played for the renowned ’86 Vikings basketball team that advanced to the NCAA’s Sweet 16.

The recipient of the international achievement award was Kabir Singh, MBA ’97 and president of two Sigma Group companies, a family business based in his native New Delhi, India. After matriculating to Cleveland State seeking the best education opportunities, Singh began a new family tradition – two of his brothers came to the U.S. and earned bachelor’s degrees in 2000.

Emcee duties were fulfilled admirably by Diann Burns, BA ’79 and president of Diann Burns Media. The multiple Emmy Award winner exemplifies the Cleveland State spirit, with her hard work and dedication that lead her through a groundbreaking career. A school of communication alumna, Burns started off at the Plain Dealer and kept forging ahead.
With work both behind the cameras and on air, she became the first African American woman anchoring prime-time news in Chicago and in 2010 was inducted into the Today’s Chicago Woman Hall of Fame.

Burns’ presence at Homecoming weekend was particularly special for the school of communication, which celebrated its first College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) reunion this year. Leslie Lang, communications coordinator for CLASS, explained that instead of organizing reunions for specific graduation years there would be department reunions instead. By focusing on three of these groups, there would be greater opportunities for different generations of grads to connect with each other.

CLASS Dean Gregory M. Sadlek expressed the remarkable success of Homecoming weekend due to the determined efforts of the Alumni Office and dedicated staff, faculty and volunteers.

“When we think of who we are as a college, we have to include these alumni success stories,” said Sadlek. “Homecoming helps us reconnect and appreciate the big picture.”
For in-depth coverage of the School of Communication Reunion, turn to page 6 and 7.