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Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

It’s time to celebrate Cleveland State University’s Class of 2017!

Spring Commencement is Saturday, May 13, at the Wolstein Center, where the morning ceremony (for the College of Education and Human Services, the College of Sciences and Health Professions, the Washkewicz College of Engineering and the Mandel Honors College) begins at 9:30 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony (for the Ahuja College of Business, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the Levin College of Urban Affairs, the Mandel Honors College and the School of Nursing) begins at 2 p.m.

Congratulations to our valedictorians, Joseph Hubach (B.S., Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude) and Alyse Souza (B.B.A. Accounting, summa cum laude).

During the morning ceremony, Gary Waters will receive the President’s Medal, CSU’s highest nonacademic honor. Coach Waters, the winningest coach in the history of the Vikings men’s basketball program, retired in March.

In the afternoon, CSU will confer honorary degrees upon longtime public servant William Denihan, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County, and Piotr Wilczek, the Polish ambassador to the United States. Dr. Wilczek will deliver the Commencement Address.

The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law will hold its Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Playhouse Square’s Ohio Theatre. Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association, will receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address. Richard Pogue, former managing partner of Jones Day, and College of Law Leader-in-Residence Steven Percy, former chairman/CEO of BP America, also will be awarded honorary degrees.

To participate in the Commencement-related fun on social media, please use the hashtag #CLEstate17. Also: Be sure to have fun with our Commencement Snapchat filter and get your picture taken with one of the #CLEstate17 selfie frames that will be circulating at the CSU Alumni Association Grad Party at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, at Mather Mansion and on the big day in the Wolstein Center.

Congratulations, graduates! Our entire campus community salutes each and every one of you. I hope you’ll always look back fondly on your time at CSU, and may all the hard work that you put into earning your degree here be richly rewarded, wherever the future may lead.

As another eventful academic year winds down, with many accomplishments to be proud of, here’s a quick rundown of the latest CSU news of note:

Thank You, Twitterverse

I’m grateful to everyone who participated in my first Twitter chat. You posed excellent questions (nearly 80 in all!) on a broad range of CSU-related topics. I did my best to reply to as many as possible in the allotted time, and I was happy to follow up on questions that required some additional digging. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did. If you missed it, check out this recap. Let’s do it again in the coming academic year, shall we?

Radiance: A Great Evening for a Great Cause

I look forward to seeing many of you at our seventh annual Radiance — CSU Realizing the Promise benefit, set for this Thursday, May 11, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center’s Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom.

As part of the festivities, it will be my distinct privilege to award the President’s Medal to Rick Chiricosta, chairman, president and CEO of Medical Mutual of Ohio. A tireless community leader, Mr. Chiricosta is a true friend of CSU, where we could not have opened the Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion last year without his enthusiastic and generous support.

To date, Radiance has raised more than $4.8 million for CSU scholarships, helping 1,500 students stay on track to graduation. We’ll also have a very special announcement at this year’s event. Stay tuned!

Celebrate Arts and Humanities at AHA!

We’re less than a month out from our inaugural AHA! Festival, and the excitement is building. Presented by CSU in collaboration with Playhouse Square and other community partners, this unique celebration of the arts and the humanities runs from Wednesday, June 7, through Friday, June 9, with an enlightening and entertaining array of events (many of which are free) coming to campus and the neighboring theatre district.

Our headliners include Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Jon Meacham (American Lion) and Isabel Wilkerson (The Warmth of Other Suns), actress Yvette Nicole Brown (“The Odd Couple”) and dancer Karina Smirnoff (“Dancing with the Stars”). AHA! will also include an exclusive sneak preview of the new Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary series The Vietnam War; a TEDx Salon with astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz, a pair of theater productions (Love, Loss and What I Wore and The Frog Bride), a book fair and more.

More than 1,400 tickets have already been snatched up. Don’t miss out. Check out the complete festival schedule and get your tickets before they’re gone at ahacsu.com.

CSU Faces and Places in the News

Welcome Aboard, Part I: Dr. Sanjay Putrevu is the new dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business, effective July 1, 2017. He also has been appointed as the Monte Ahuja Endowed Chair. A widely recognized authority on advertising, consumer behavior and international marketing, he was dean of the College of Business at the University of Wyoming.

Welcome Aboard, Part II: Dennis Felton is the 15th head coach of the Vikings men’s basketball program. He brings more than 30 years of experience with him, including coaching assignments at the University of Tulsa, the University of Georgia and Western Kentucky University, as well as a stint as director of pro player personnel for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.

Coming Soon: CSU’s new School of Film, Television and Interactive Media has found a home on our Playhouse Square Arts Campus. We’re finalizing a lease for nearly 39,400 square feet of space on the sixth floor of the Idea Center on Euclid Avenue. When the school opens in the fall of 2018, CSU will be the first university in Ohio — and one of the few between the East Coast and the West Coast — to have a standalone film school.

New Pathway for Nurses: Northeast Ohio will need at least another 3,500 nurses by 2020, according to The Center for Health Affairs. Enter a forward-thinking collaboration among University Hospitals, the CSU School of Nursing and Cuyahoga Community College. Together, we’re proactively addressing the impending shortage of nurses by creating a workforce development pathway that will yield more registered nurses and more nurses with a B.S.N. degree.

Green with Envy?: CSU finished No. 1 among Horizon League schools in the Environmental Protection Agency’s College & University Green Power Challenge. All of us can take great pride in the fact that CSU uses more green power annually — 18 million kilowatt-hours (equivalent to the electricity usage of 1,600 homes) — than any of our peers. Going forward, we plan to obtain an additional 36 million kilowatt-hours from green sources.

Fore!: Congratulations to Coach Steve Weir, his staff and the outstanding student-athletes of the Vikings women’s and men’s golf teams on winning their respective Horizon League Championships last month. This was the first title for the women and the fourth consecutive title for the men. We’ll be rooting for both teams this month in NCAA competition.

Let me close with a friendly reminder: For students looking to stay on track academically and graduate on time or even ahead of schedule, summer classes are an excellent option. For our upcoming summer sessions, CSU has added more class offerings, more convenient time slots and more online courses. Classes fill up quickly, so don’t delay in planning your schedule.

For now, best of luck this week on final exams — and here’s wishing all students, faculty and staff a wonderful summer!


Ronald M. Berkman

Cleveland State University

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