Remarks by President Ronald M. Berkman at “Healthcare in the Stokes Era and Beyond” Forum



Good morning.

As president of Cleveland State University, I have the pleasure of welcoming all of you to our summit: Healthcare in the Stokes Era and Beyond.

CSU is honored to host this event as part of Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future, a yearlong, community-wide celebration of the legacies of Carl and Louis Stokes.


I’m proud to say that Mayor Stokes and Congressman Stokes were both graduates of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, which of course is part of CSU.

Both of them were great friends of the University.


It’s only fitting that our program today should focus on healthcare – particularly disparities in access to healthcare among ethnic, racial and socioeconomic groups.

Eliminating these disparities is the ultimate goal of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health.

This unique collaboration between two public universities – Northeast Ohio Medical University and Cleveland State University – was formally launched in 2012.

Together, we’re recruiting and training a more diverse healthcare workforce to meet the needs of medically underserved urban communities.

From the very beginning, this collaboration had no greater champion than Louis Stokes, who served as co-chair of the Partnership’s Community Advisory Board.

I was honored to call him a friend.

He was truly a remarkable individual whose inspirational leadership elevated our community and our country.

Shortly before his passing in 2015, Congressman Stokes made his last public appearance here at CSU, just across Euclid Avenue in our new Center for Innovation in Medical Professions.

The occasion was the announcement of a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, which has provided a total of $7.25 million in support of the Partnership.

At the event, a beaming Congressman Stokes said: “This is a great day for Cleveland!”

May we honor the memory of Carl and Louis Stokes by continuing to work toward equal access to quality healthcare for all citizens.


The NEOMED-CSU Partnership has its headquarters in the Center for Innovation in Medical Professions, where the next generation of healthcare professionals is being trained in a state-of-the-art, interprofessional learning environment.

I encourage you to tour the facility after lunch.


The NEOMED-CSU Partnership is a lead program of the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions.

Our special guest today is the Alliance’s namesake, Dr. Louis Sullivan.

We’ll hear from him a bit later.

Thank you for joining us, Dr. Sullivan.


We’re also fortunate to have with us a veritable who’s who of Cleveland’s top healthcare leaders, including:

  • Dr. Toby Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic;
  • Tom Zenty of University Hospitals;
  • Dr. Bernard Boulanger of MetroHealth;
  • and Thomas Strauss of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

Thanks to each of them – and the rest of our distinguished panelists – for sharing their insights with us.

I’m also grateful to my friends Dr. Jay Gershen, President of Northeast Ohio Medical University, and Alex Johnson, President of Cuyahoga Community College, for helping to moderate our discussions today.


I now have the privilege of introducing our first speaker: John Corlett.

Mr. Corlett is the President and Executive Director of The Center for Community Solutions, a nonpartisan think tank specializing in health and socioeconomic issues.

He previously served as Vice President for Government Relations and Community Affairs at MetroHealth and Medicaid Director for the State of Ohio.

He also has led community organizations focused on families, children, behavioral health and women’s health.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome John Corlett.