May 6, 2016

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Let's hear it for the Class of 2016! At Cleveland State University, student success remains our top priority – and our graduates represent the ultimate student success stories.

Spring Commencement is Saturday, May 14, at the Wolstein Center, where the morning ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m and the afternoon ceremony begins at 2 p.m.

Congratulations to our honorary degree recipients, Professor Norman Krumholz and outgoing CSU Board of Trustees Chair Robert Rawson, Jr., as well as to our valedictorians, Lana Erin Sims (B.A. Spanish and International Relations) and Claudine Campos Lacdao (B.S. Chemical Engineering).

At the morning ceremony, the Commencement speaker will be CSU alumnus Andrew Puzder (B.A. History, 1975), CEO of CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., the parent company of the Carl's Jr. and Hardees restaurant chains. At the afternoon ceremony, the Commencement speaker will be the aforementioned Mr. Rawson.

The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law will hold its Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at the Wolstein Center. Dr. Mary Robinson, the first female president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, will receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address.

A quick programming note: I encourage you to use the hashtag "#CLEstate16" to participate in the Commencement-related fun on social media – and be sure to visit our Official Selfie Station (during Commencement or at the CSU Alumni Association Graduation Party) to take your #CLEstate16 selfie.

Before we cue "Pomp and Circumstance," it's my pleasure to share with you the latest good news from the University....

Lights! Camera! Action!

Officials from the Ohio General Assembly and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission came to campus last month to help us make a major announcement: Cleveland State University will be the first university in Ohio – and one of the few between the East Coast and the West Coast – to have a dedicated School of Film, Television and Interactive Media.

CSU is expected to receive $7.5 million through Ohio's capital budget for this exciting project, which will build upon the success of our popular Film, Television and Interactive Media Program.

When guests arrived for the April 15 press conference in Mather Mansion, they were greeted by the smell of fresh popcorn and the sight of posters from movies filmed in Northeast Ohio, including The Avengers and Criminal Activities. It was an honor to have Speaker of the Ohio House Cliff Rosenberger, State Senator Tom Patton, State Representative Kirk Schuring and Greater Cleveland Film Commission President and CEO Ivan Schwarz on hand to break the big news.

As noted in a a recent study by the Levin College of Urban Affairs, Ohio's burgeoning film/media industry has resulted in $400 million in economic impact and the creation of more than 1,700 jobs. The new school at CSU will uniquely prepare students for successful careers in this rapidly growing field.

Radiance: A Shining Example of Support

Mark your calendars: Our sixth annual Radiance – CSU Realizing the Promise benefit is Friday, May 13, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center's Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom.

During the program, it will be my distinct privilege to award Steven Minter with the President's Medal. Without the outstanding civic leadership and exemplary community engagement that he has demonstrated over the past 50-plus years, Cleveland simply would not be the same – nor would Cleveland State University. Mr. Minter, who formerly led the Cleveland Foundation, is an executive-in-residence at the Levin College of Urban Affairs. He also has guided University Advancement and the CSU Foundation. I can think of no recipient more deserving of CSU's highest nonacademic honor.

To date, Radiance has raised more than $3.7 million for CSU scholarships, helping 1,186 students stay in school and on track to graduation. This year's event promises to be another great evening for a great cause. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Tennis, Anyone?

I've attended my fair share of ribbon-cutting ceremonies over the years. But this was the first time I've ever had the privilege of participating in a net-cutting ceremony.

The happy occasion was the April 21 dedication of the new Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion at CSU, on the corner of Chester Avenue and East 21st Street.

Wielding ceremonial scissors alongside Medical Mutual Chairman, President and CEO Rick Chiricosta and me were Medical Mutual Chief Communications Officer and Executive Vice President Jared Chaney, CSU Director of Athletics John Parry and CSU Tennis Coach Brian Etzkin.

I'm tremendously grateful to Medical Mutual of Ohio for generously donating $1.4 million toward the construction of this stunning all-season facility, which features six air-conditioned/heated courts under a permanent dome. The new home court of our Vikings men's and women's tennis teams is the only such pavilion on a Horizon League campus – and the only one of its kind in downtown Cleveland. The community at large also will have opportunities to play in the facility.

Just for fun, the festivities concluded with a friendly doubles match. Mr. Chiricosta and I were paired with CSU tennis standouts Mathilde Orange and Victoria Bensimon, respectively. Let's not dwell on who won – although in my defense, let me point out that my esteemed counterpart from Medical Mutual went to college on a tennis scholarship. Go Vikings!

Let's Do Lunch

Many thanks to all the students who entered the lottery for an invitation to the inaugural President's Lunch. We received nearly 130 entries. A random drawing was held to determine the first group of participants.

Over lunch last month, 25 students and I discussed a range of topics. I was very interested to hear their thoughts on everything from student employment opportunities on campus to budget support for student organizations to CSU's social media presence, among other subjects. We even discussed the possibility of a "nap room" for sleep-deprived students.

I've shared these issues with members of my senior staff, who have been tasked with following up on the concerns and suggestions of my lunch guests. I'll keep you posted on our progress.

The lively exchange of ideas made for an engaging and eye-opening event – one that I am excited about continuing. Going forward, I plan to host the President's Lunch twice per semester, allowing more students to have an opportunity to be heard, to ask questions and to share the issues that matter most to them. Stay tuned for details.

Take a Bow, Robert Rawson

As noted above, Robert Rawson will be particularly busy during Spring Commencement, where he'll receive an honorary degree AND deliver a Commencement address. Then again, keeping busy is nothing new for this indefatigable force of nature.

For 15 years, Mr. Rawson was the partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office of Jones Day. Amid handling cases involving mergers and acquisitions, monopolization, intellectual property and other matters, he also devoted himself to public service with an emphasis on education, having served as chair of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University (his alma mater), the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education and the Cleveland Initiative for Education, as well as interim dean of the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

How fortunate it was for CSU when in 2007 then-Governor of Ohio Ted Strickland appointed Mr. Rawson to the CSU Board of Trustees, which he chaired for the past five years. His other roles have included vice chair and treasurer, as well as chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and chair of the Financial Affairs, Audit and Facilities Committee. His Board term expired May 1.

CSU would not be the best-in-class urban university it is today without the visionary leadership and selfless dedication of Mr. Rawson. Please join me in thanking him for his invaluable contributions to the University.

With summer right around the corner, let me close by reminding you that enrolling in summer classes is an excellent option for students who are looking to stay on track academically and graduate on time or even ahead of schedule.

For our upcoming summer sessions, CSU has added more class offerings, more convenient time slots and more online courses. Summer classes do tend to fill up quickly, so don't delay in planning your schedule.

In the meantime, good luck on final exams – and here's wishing all students, faculty and staff a safe and enjoyable summer!


Ronald M. Berkman

Cleveland State University


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