Remarks by President Ronald M. Berkman at Distinguished Alumni Awards



Tonight is a celebration but for me, it’s bittersweet because it is my last official Distinguished Alumni Awards as president. As I’ve said many times, our alumni – some 126,000 strong – are the foundation of this University and our greatest ambassadors.

YOUR successes are OUR successes because they speak to the value of a CSU education and the importance of CSU to this community. 

By evening’s end, 214 outstanding graduates will have received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Tonight’s honorees are 12 men and women who bring tremendous distinction to the University as business, nonprofit, and community leaders and public servants.

Through their career achievements and engagement with the University and the community, they have set a standard to which our students and fellow alumni can aspire. They represent the life-changing impact of a Cleveland State University education. Congratulations to them all.


Before I go further, I want to recognize Bernie Moreno, chair of our CSU Board of Trustees, and his wife Bridget, as well as our Foundation Board members who are here tonight. Please stand.

I also want to recognize our Alumni Association Board of Directors who sponsor this event and work so hard to make it successful. Please stand.

And President Emeritus Mike Schwartz and Dr. Joanne Rand Schwartz, please stand and be recognized.


For 53 years, Cleveland State University has provided an exceptional and accessible education to the people of Cleveland and northeast Ohio. Today, the University is nationally and internationally recognized for providing students with a world-class education and a clear pathway to a career.

Our commitment to our students has never been stronger.  Our University -- your University -- is thriving. Let me recap just a few recent highlights.

This fall, we welcomed the largest freshman class in CSU history, with 2,000 first-year students.

And because of the award-winning student success initiatives that we have put in place, they will save time and money as they progress toward their degrees.

With a world-class faculty and dedicated staff to guide their way, our students graduate on time and workforce-ready, thanks to our hands-on brand of Engaged Learning and our exceptional connectivity with the city itself.

Helping to support student success is ENGAGE: The Campaign for Cleveland State University. Last month we celebrated the overwhelmingly successful culmination of our first-ever campaign, which exceeded its $100 million goal by raising $114 million for scholarships and student success programs. And we did it two years ahead of schedule! Our new donor wall in the Student Center pays tribute to our alumni and friends who gave so generously.

Cleveland State’s ever-evolving campus is reinventing itself and reinvigorating the surrounding neighborhood.

Our new Campus International School opened last month. This is the first time CIS has had its own building. It will provide a dynamic learning environment on the CSU campus for Cleveland Metropolitan School students in grades K through 8.

Our new Washkewicz College of Engineering is set to open in early 2018. It will provide an inspiring new home for our nationally ranked engineering programs, complete with state-of-the-art laboratories.

On our Arts Campus there is the new School of Film, Television and Interactive Media under construction on the top floor of the Idea Center at Playhouse Square. It’s the first school of its kind in Ohio, and one of the few between the East Coast and the West Coast, and will uniquely prepare future screenwriters, directors, cinematographers and others for careers in the burgeoning film and media arts industries in Northeast Ohio and beyond.

And I’m very proud to report that according to a recent study by the venerable Brookings Institution, CSU is No. 18 in the U.S. among public universities that fulfill a critical dual mission: providing social mobility AND conducting vital research.

CSU is the only Ohio university on the Brookings list.

We offer equal access to higher education to many low-income students – nearly 11 percent of our total enrollment.

At the same time, our cutting-edge research enterprise encompasses a broad range of fields, from gene regulation . . . to human motion and control . . . to population dynamics.

When it comes to improving lives and expanding knowledge, CSU is proud to be counted among the best of the best. We are providing a pathway for young intellectual capital in Cleveland to learn, grow and thrive. And these students will our distinguished alumni of tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you, and especially tonight’s honorees, for your support and for helping to make CSU the great University that it is.