Remarks by President Ronald M. Berkman at Radiance



Cleveland State University is all about student success and nowhere is this more evident than in Radiance and in ENGAGE: The Campaign for Cleveland State University that we launched at this event two years ago.

Thanks to all of you for being our partners in helping students cross the finish line to graduation

I’d like to acknowledge some special guests.

Chairman Bernie Moreno and the CSU Board of Trustees.

Chairman Nancy McCann and the CSU Foundation Board of Directors.

President Kathy Jennings and the CSU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Our Visiting Committee members.

Former President Michael Schwartz and Dr. Joanne Rand Schwartz.

And finally, our Radiance sponsors. They are listed in your program book and many of their names are on the donor wall outside the ballroom.


When it comes to saying thanks for the incredible success of Radiance, there are no individuals who deserve our gratitude more than Tom Adler and Tim Cosgrove, our co-chairs for the past seven years. Tim and Tom, please join me.

This dynamic duo was the impetus behind the creation of Radiance and year in and year out, they’ve done an exemplary job.

Our students work incredibly hard, juggling academics with jobs and family responsibilities, and often they come so close to their goal of earning a college degree, only to come up short those last few dollars needed for tuition or books or lab fees.

Tom and Tim wanted to help and suggested Radiance -- to increase the scholarship funds we have available … reward students who are working hard and achieving academically …. ease the financial burden on them and their families … keep them in school and on track to graduation … and help them achieve their dreams.

This year, for the fourth consecutive year, we have raised more than $1 million! In fact, we’ve raised $1,325,000!

During their tenure, Tom and Tim have helped raise a grand total of $6.1 million, which funds some 1,900 Radiance scholarships.

Thank you, Tim and Tom.

Radiance is part of our commencement weekend celebration. Saturday, in two ceremonies, some 2,000 students will graduate.

They have been taught by the best – our esteemed faculty – whose talent, dedication and commitment have helped our students reach this milestone.

Two outstanding students are representing the Class of 2017 as Valedictorians -- Joseph Hubach, an honors student who is graduating summa cum laude with bachelor of mechanical engineering degree and Alyse Souza, who is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Please stand.

I’d also like to recognize the individuals who will receive honorary degrees at commencement. William Denihan is an alumnus who has held numerous leadership positions in our city and county, including executive director of Children and Family Services and CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. He will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree.  Dr. Piotr Wilczek, Polish ambassador to the United States, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. Gary Waters, our recently retired and winningest Viking basketball coach, will receive the President’s Medal. And next week at our law commencement, we will award honorary doctor of laws degrees to Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association, alumnus Steve Percy, former chairman/CEO of BP America, and Richard Pogue, former managing partner of Jones Day. Bill Denihan, Steve Percy and Ambassador Wilczek are here tonight. Please stand.


Each year we ask one Radiance scholarship recipient to speak on behalf of their fellow recipients. This year, our speaker is Amanda Posey. Ms. Posey is a junior, majoring in English and Education, who plans to become a teacher. I think you will find her story quite interesting. Please welcome her.


Thank you, Amanda. Radiance is about realizing the promise and we are so happy that CSU is enabling you to realize your promise.

And now, it is time to award the President’s Medal -- Cleveland State’s most prestigious non-academic recognition.

We are joined tonight by several former recipients – Julian Earls, Art Falco, Monte and Usha Ahuja, Don Washkewicz, Steve Minter and Albert Ratner.

This year’s recipient is Rick Chiricosta, chairman, president and CEO of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the oldest and largest health insurer in Ohio, headquartered just a few blocks away on East Ninth Street.

Medical Mutual has supported internships and scholarships for CSU students and has been a strong corporate supporter of Radiance. This year, in addition to its own gold level sponsorship, Medical Mutual helped bring in new sponsors to Radiance, for a total of $250,000.

Under Rick’s leadership, Medical Mutual also has been a partner with CSU in promoting the health of the University and community. In 2014, the company made a $1.4 million gift to CSU to create an all-season tennis facility for use by the men’s and women’s varsity tennis teams, the University community and the public. The Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion is the only indoor facility of its kind in downtown Cleveland.

When we opened the tennis pavilion, I thought it would be fun to challenge Rick to a friendly match as part of the festivities. 

His reputation as an avid tennis player preceded him, although only after he accepted my invitation did I learn that he has been playing tennis since he was 6 years old.

I also learned that he was awarded a tennis scholarship to the University of Toledo, where he was a four-year letter winner on the varsity tennis team.

Needless to say, I did not win that match.

When he’s not playing tennis, Rick finds time to serve as chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation. He also is a member of the Kidney Foundation of Ohio board, the Cuyahoga County Early Childhood Education Partnership Council and the executive committee of the board of United Way of Greater Cleveland.

His son Matt is a graduate of CSU's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and his daughter Nikki is a former assistant coach of the CSU women's tennis team. Both are here tonight, as is Rick’s wife Sheila and daughter Christina.

Rick, you have set an example of civic engagement that is commendable. Cleveland State University and Cleveland itself would not be the same without you. Please join me on stage.

In recognition of your professional and personal achievements and your support, commitment and leadership to Cleveland and Cleveland State University, we are pleased to award you the President’s Medal. Congratulations.


Before we go back to the party, I’ve got one more big announcement. And I’d like past President’s Medal recipients and the co-chairs of our ENGAGE campaign, Monte Ahuja and Don Washkewicz, to join me on stage, as well as Vice President Berinthia LeVine.

Two years ago at Radiance we announced the public phase of ENGAGE: The Campaign for Cleveland State University, with a goal of $100 million to support student success through scholarships and other initiatives. 

It was CSU’s first-ever campaign so we were in unchartered territory. But we had the support of our Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, President’s Cabinet and Academic Deans. In addition, we had a strong campaign cabinet and we had Monte and Don as campaign co-chairs – we couldn’t ask for better leadership in our drive to help more students succeed. Monte and Don, please say a few words.


Indeed, the response to ENGAGE has been overwhelming, with many transformational gifts of $1 million or more. I wish time allowed me to name everyone who has so generously supported ENGAGE.

In September, we will unveil a donor wall recognizing gifts of $25,000 and more.

Thanks to all our gifts, large and small, ENGAGE has surpassed its $100 million goal two years ahead of schedule!

Thank you again for supporting Radiance, ENGAGE and for being here tonight.