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Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Let’s talk! I hope you’ll join me for my first Twitter chat at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 28.

If you’re not already following me on Twitter, my handle is @PresBerkman. I welcome your questions about Cleveland State University, and I’ll be live-tweeting my answers. Please use #AskPresBerkman to participate in the chat. You may also use the same hashtag to submit questions in advance.

I’m looking forward to the conversation. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of the most talked-about news at CSU in recent weeks . . . .

Beyond Foster Care, a Bright Future at CSU

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when we dedicated The Pratt Center during an emotional ceremony last month in Rhodes Tower. This important new addition to our campus will enhance educational opportunities at CSU for youth who have aged out of foster care.

The center is named in honor of CSU Assistant Vice President for Inclusion and Multicultural Engagement Charleyse Pratt, who is also the director of our Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program for students formerly in foster care. Thanks to Dr. Pratt’s inspirational vision and leadership, this at-risk population will always have a welcoming home at CSU.

On behalf of the entire Vikings family, I wish to thank Barbara and Frank Sullivan for their $1 million gift to establish The Pratt Center. Their generosity will make a positive difference in the lives of many students.

It was an honor to have Dr. Pratt and the Sullivans share a few words with us during the ceremony, along with Sullivan-Deckard Scholar MaryAnn Dowdell and Ohio Senator John Eklund, a champion of foster care legislation.

CSU is at the forefront “of creating resources that encourage more former foster care youth to attend college,” The Plain Dealer/cleveland.com wrote in a glowing editorial. “That deserves national attention.”

Beam Us Up!

How do you autograph a 10-foot steel beam that weighs 140 pounds? With an assortment of brightly colored permanent markers, of course.

There was plenty of ink to go round at the fun “top out” ceremony for CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering annex. It’s taking shape as we speak on the southwest corner of Chester Avenue and East 24th Street, thanks to the munificent support of Don and Pam Washkewicz and the Parker Hannifin Foundation. I’m deeply grateful to these benefactors for thinking big on behalf of our top-ranked engineering programs.

College of Engineering students, faculty and staff recently joined Pam Washkewicz, Dean Anette Karlsson and me in Fenn Hall to sign the final steel beam for the new structure, before it was hoisted into place. The annex will provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for our next generation of engineers.

Mark Your Calendars

  • “The Resurgent City” is the theme for our next TEDx Salon, set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the Student Center’s Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom. Hosted by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the event will explore the key role of anchor institutions in metropolitan revival. Speakers will include Danette Howard of the Lumina Foundation and Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative, as well as Dean Roland Anglin and Associate Professor Ronnie Dunn of the Levin College and Interim Dean Lee Fisher and Associate Professor Jonathan Witmer-Rich of Cleveland-Marshall.

  • Spring Open House is Saturday, April 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Invite them to experience CSU for themselves and to learn firsthand how we’re helping students succeed through Engaged Learning.

  • Monday, April 3, is CSU Day at the 41st Cleveland International Film Festival. Students, faculty and staff who present a valid Viking Card at the festival box office in Tower City Cinemas will receive free tickets to CIFF films (subject to availability).

Comings and Goings

  • Steven Percy, former chairman and CEO of BP America, has been named the first leader-in-residence in the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. A proud alumnus of Cleveland-Marshall himself, he previously chaired the CSU Foundation Board of Directors and served as interim dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business. It’s good to have you back, Steven!

  • Michael Thomas is CSU’s new athletic director, in charge of promoting athletic and academic excellence among student-athletes across our 17 Division I sports. He comes to us from the University of Illinois, where he oversaw teams that won a national championship, claimed four Big Ten titles in one year, earned numerous Top 10 rankings and made multiple bowl and NCAA tournament appearances. Prior to that, he was the athletic director at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Akron. Welcome to Cleveland, Michael. (Did we mention it’s a city of champions?) Go Vikes!

  • How about a tip of the Viking helmet for John Parry, our outgoing AD? A legend in collegiate athletics whose career spans more than three decades, he built winning programs at three Division I universities. Over the past six years at CSU, he advanced the strength of athletics while ensuring a strong focus on academics. Thank you, John — and enjoy your retirement!

Finally, a quick programming note: I somehow doubt that many students need to be reminded, but spring recess is March 12-19. Best of luck on midterms — and have an enjoyable break!


Ronald M. Berkman

Cleveland State University

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