December 12, 2016

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Commencement is a very special day in the life of a president. Shaking hands with our graduates is brief, but very poignant. I’m proud we have helped each graduate reach their goal. Years of hard work are finally rewarded, and the future is wide open. It makes for a powerful moment.

I know those of you who won’t be there in person to celebrate this joyous occasion will be with us in spirit when CSU hosts Fall Commencement on Sunday, December 18, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Wolstein Center.

Our valedictorian is Mackenzie Paul, who is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts in history from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Honors College. The Commencement address will be delivered by Rich Paul, founder of Klutch Sports Group, a premier sports management agency that represents LeBron James and other NBA talents. We’ll also bestow an honorary degree on Mr. Paul.

I encourage you to use the hashtag #CLEstate16 to participate in all of our Commencement-related fun on social media. Also: Have fun with our Commencement Snapchat filter and get your picture taken with one of the #CLEstate16 selfie frames that will be circulating in the Wolstein Center on the big day.

Onward and upward! It’s my pleasure to share with you the latest good news from the University. . . .


Arts and Humanities to Come Alive at New Festival

Award-winning authors Jon Meacham (American Lion) and Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns), dancer Karina Smirnoff (“Dancing with the Stars”) and actress Yvette Nicole Brown (“The Odd Couple”) are among the headliners booked for an exciting new addition to Cleveland’s cultural calendar, presented by CSU.

Our inaugural AHA! (short for Arts and Humanities Alive!) Festival is set for June 7-9, 2017, with events on campus and at Playhouse Square, our flagship partner. In addition to appearances by the aforementioned luminaries, the festival will include a performance by the Malpaso Cuban Dance Company, a TEDx Salon with astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz, a book fair and a pair of theater productions: Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron and the world premiere of What Do You Do With an Idea?, based on the best-selling children’s book by Kobi Yamada.

The AHA! Festival is being orchestrated by Katie Shames, director of CSU’s Center for Arts and Innovation. John Frohnmayer, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, is serving as resident curator of the festival, which is made possible by a generous gift from Myra and Darwin Smith.

Best of all: Most of the festivities will be free. For details, please visit ahacsu.com. Circle your calendars — and see you there!


Science to Publish GRHD Researcher’s Paper

Illustrating the innovative research being conducted across campus, I want to recognize Valentin Boerner, a member of CSU’s Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease, who recently had a paper accepted for publication by the prestigious journal Science. Dr. Boerner is doing groundbreaking work on the interplay between chromosome structure and DNA recombination during meiosis, and how errors in this process could impact genome development. This achievement also highlights the continued national and international prominence being received by GRHD, its researchers and students. My congratulations.


TEDxClevelandStateUniversity Delivers Ideas Worth Spreading

Did you know that postmenopausal killer whales become leaders of their pods? You certainly did if you caught an enlightening and entertaining presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Connie Schultz at our third annual TEDxClevelandStateUniversity, held October 21 in Waetjen Auditorium.

Schultz passed along the orca trivia to drive home her thesis about women over 50: Namely, they’re no longer invisible and they’re embracing the freedom to reinvent themselves. Other speakers covered a range of topics related to our theme: “Reality Shifts: Are You Ready?” Attorney Mark Avsec (a CSU alumnus) sounded a wake-up call about disruptive technology, MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros made a case for leading with love and Honey Bell-Bey, director of the Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word performance troupe, earned a standing ovation for her inspiring reflections on “the resiliency of yes.”

Also on the program were Mississippi Charles Bevel, Fred Bidwell, Thomas Maridada, Roberta Muehlheim, Andrea Muto, Cody Peacock, John Perrine, Elizabeth Pugh and Ron Soeder. Byron White, CSU’s vice president for university engagement, served as emcee.

If you missed the event, the TEDx Talks will be posted soon at tedxclevelandstateuniversity.com. Check out these “ideas worth spreading” — you’ll be glad you did.


Volleyball Vikings Are Victorious

It’s like déjà vu all over again: The CSU volleyball team continued their domination of the Horizon League, winning the regular season title as well as the tournament title for the second year in a row (and third time overall). This led to the second straight NCAA Tournament appearance for the Vikings.

Congratulations to Coach Chuck Voss, his staff and the entire CSU volleyball team on another outstanding season!

Winter sports, including basketball, wrestling and swimming and diving, are in full swing. Our men’s basketball team, which played two games earlier this month at Quicken Loans Arena, is back in action at the Wolstein Center against Lake Erie College at 7 p.m. Monday, December 19; University of Wisconsin — Green Bay at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 29 and University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, December 31. Go Vikes!


It was great to catch up with so many of you last week at the President’s Holiday Reception. I’m happy to report that 8 boxes of toys were collected at our event in the Student Center’s Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, to be distributed among the less fortunate children in our community.

The generosity of our Vikings family never fails to impress me.

Last month, CSU presented the First and Ten Food Drive, a team effort with the Cleveland Browns and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to gather food for the hungry. Our students did their part by collecting canned goods on campus and delivering them to FirstEnergy Stadium, where other members of the community also dropped off donations before the Browns-Steelers game on November 20. The First and Ten Food Drive will go a long way toward providing 14,000 meals over the holidays for families in need.

A few weeks earlier, when the Cleveland Indians were in the midst of a thrilling postseason, Huntington University in Canada and CSU made a friendly wager on the American League Championship Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Indians. We ended up winning a case of Canadian maple syrup, which turned out to be a welcome donation to our Lift Up Vikes! food pantry.

I wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons. Remember: CSU will be closed from December 24, 2016, to January 2, 2017. Have an enjoyable and restful winter break!

Sincerely,

Ronald M. Berkman

President
Cleveland State University

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