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Elina Gertsman receives Guggenheim Fellowship

Fall | Winter 2020

From left: In this 2017 photograph, Elina Gertsman, students and an auditor from one of her classes examine a facsimile of the Luttrell Psalter, a 14th-century illuminated manuscript, at the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Photo by Howard Agresti.

For her adventurous explorations of medieval art, Professor Elina Gertsman has won awards and grants from public and private sources alike, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Medieval Academy of America. But until last fall, she had never applied for a Guggenheim Fellowship—one of the most prestigious honors a scholar, scientist or creative artist can receive.

It came as a shock, Gertsman says, when she succeeded on her first try. This spring, she was among 175 fellows selected by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation from a pool of almost 3,000 candidates. With the foundation’s support, she will devote a sabbatical year to research and writing, beginning in January 2021.

Gertsman, the Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor in Catholic Studies II in the Department of Art History and Art, is “widely acknowledged as one of the leading medievalists in the world today,” says department chair Elizabeth Bolman, the Elsie B. Smith Professor in the Liberal Arts and a former Guggenheim Fellow herself. “But she is more than that. Elina is one of the most creative and innovative scholars in any field of endeavor in the humanities.”

This abstract image appears in “Speculum historiale” (1346), a history of the world by the Dominican friar Vincent de Beauvais. Medieval abstraction is the subject of a book Gertsman plans to complete during her Guggenheim year. Courtesy of the Bibliotheque Municipale de Lyon.

The exceptional breadth of Gertsman’s interests helps account for her prominence. Her research areas include macabre art, the relationship between art and performance, early print culture, emotion in medieval art and the interplay between philosophy, theology and images in late medieval manuscripts. Throughout her career, she says, she has sustained “particular interest in the multiplicity of meanings generated by medieval objects and their multisensory reception.”

Gertsman has pursued these topics in numerous articles and two prize-winning books: The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages: Image, Text, Performance (2010) and Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna (2015). In 2018, with co-author Barbara H. Rosenwein, she published The Middle Ages in 50 Objects, which sheds light on the cultures of the medieval world through detailed examination of artifacts from the renowned collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA). Her next monograph, The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books, will appear in 2021.

In addition, Gertsman has edited or co-edited several anthologies of scholarly papers by colleagues in the United States and Europe, and she is at work on several more. One will be a tribute to Stephen Fliegel, the former Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art at the CMA, with whom she organized the 2016 exhibition Myth and Mystique: Cleveland’s Gothic Table Fountain.

Inspired by medieval iconography, graduate students Benjamin Levy and Reed O’Mara created this woodcut, “Elina Gertsman as a Patron Saint of Editing and Dogs,” in 2019.

Gertsman’s project for her Guggenheim year will build on her collaboration with Vincent Debiais, a medievalist at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Since 2018, through a grant from the French-American Cultural Exchange Foundation, she and Debiais have enlisted other scholars to join them in investigating abstraction in the Middle Ages—a theme largely neglected in the academic literature.

Studies of medieval art, Gertsman notes, commonly focus on the representation of sacred figures and stories. Yet this art is also rich in what we would now call abstract imagery: complex geometric forms, expanses of color, carefully defined empty spaces. Although most scholars have regarded these visual elements as merely decorative, Gertsman argues that abstraction was a “distinctive means of image-making” that evoked transcendent truths about God and the universe. And she seeks to distinguish the medieval conception of abstraction from ideas associated with the abstract art movements of the 20th century.

Even as Gertsman has established an international scholarly reputation, she has also become deeply engaged in her department’s joint doctoral program with the CMA. Like other members of the art history faculty, she brings students into the galleries and the Ingalls Library and Museum Archives. With support from the Mellon Foundation, she has developed and co-taught several courses, including a series on global medieval art, with CMA curators. Emeritus university trustee Joseph Keithley, who, with his wife, Nancy, has made a promised bequest of $15 million to support the joint doctoral program and create an Institute of Art History, has audited three of her classes.

For her excellence in graduate teaching and mentoring, Gertsman has received two John S. Diekhoff Awards from the university. Last year, in another sort of tribute, two of her graduate students, Benjamin Levy and Reed O’Mara, created a woodcut—humorous yet admiring—in which she appears in the guise of a medieval saint.

Goldstein Named Distinguished University Professor

Melvyn C. Goldstein received the medallion of a Distinguished University Professor during this year’s virtual Fall Convocation at the Maltz Performing Arts Center. Photo by Daniel Milner.

Anthropologist Melvyn C. Goldstein, whose monumental writings on Tibet are the product of more than 50 years of fieldwork and archival research, has been awarded Case Western Reserve’s highest faculty honor. He accepted the title of Distinguished University Professor during this year’s Fall Convocation, a virtual event livestreamed from the Maltz Performing Arts Center on Aug. 27.

A member of the CWRU faculty since 1968, Goldstein retains his endowed chair as the John Reynolds Harkness Professor in the Department of Anthropology. He has previously received the university’s Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize (2012) and its Faculty Distinguished Research Award (2016). In 2009, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Goldstein began immersing himself in the language, history and culture of Tibet as a graduate student at the University of Washington. In 1985, he became the first Western social scientist permitted to conduct fieldwork in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Two years later, he published a landmark article on the Tibetan marriage system, “When Brothers Share a Wife,” that soon became standard reading in anthropology courses.

A prolific scholar who doesn’t shy away from massive projects, Goldstein has now written more than 100 articles and almost two dozen books, including Tibetan-English and English-Tibetan dictionaries and a four-volume, 2,800-page History of Modern Tibet, which he completed in 2019. When he travels to Tibet, people sometimes ask Goldstein to pose with them for pictures or to autograph one of his books. Two volumes of the History have been translated into Tibetan so far.

Goldstein’s research encompasses topics such as economic development and social change, aging in cultural context, and biological adaptation to high altitudes. Beyond Tibet, he has lived among pastoral nomads in western Mongolia, studied the impact of modernization on the elderly in eastern China and explored family planning and intergenerational relations in Kathmandu. His wide-ranging pursuits have received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education, as well as from private foundations.

Goldstein’s new title celebrates not only his scholarly achievements, but also his record of extraordinary service to the university. As chair of the anthropology department for 27 years (1975-2002), he oversaw the establishment of one of the world’s first programs in medical anthropology. He has mentored junior faculty members and undergraduates as well as American, Tibetan, Chinese and Mongolian graduate students who came to CWRU to work with him. Each semester, he offers an introductory lecture course on cultural anthropology, drawing from his research on Tibet to illustrate fundamental concepts. The course gives undergraduates “the rare treat of being taught by one of the discipline’s preeminent scholars,” says Professor Janet McGrath, who has chaired the department since 2019.

In nominating Goldstein for a Distinguished University Professorship, McGrath was joined by 11 colleagues from several college departments and the School of Medicine. Their support, she wrote, attests to “the high regard for Professor Goldstein’s work across the CWRU campus.”

art/sci, etc.

Sarah Bagby, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, is part of a new research institute investigating how microbes adapt to a changing climate, and how these adaptations affect climate processes in turn. EMERGE, a collaborative effort by scientists from 14 research universities, is supported by a $12.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Hillel Chiel, professor in the Department of Biology, is a co-principal investigator on a study of how the nervous system controls the movements of animals. Supported by an $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, the five-year project may lead to the development of robots capable of graceful, coordinated motion. Chiel and principal investigator Roger Quinn, the Arthur A. Armington Professor of Engineering, are longtime collaborators in the field of biologically inspired robotics.

Cassi Pittman Claytor, the Climo Junior Professor in the Department of Sociology, is the author of Black Privilege: Modern Middle-Class Blacks with Credentials and Cash to Spend.

Alanna Cooper, the Abba Hillel Silver Chair of Jewish Studies and visiting assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, earned a 2020-21 fellowship from the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Brian Gran, professor in the Department of Sociology, was named a Jefferson Science Fellow by the U.S. Department of State—a rare honor for a social scientist. Administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the program “engages the academic science, technology, engineering and medical communities in U.S. foreign policy and international development.” During his fellowship year, Gran is pursuing his long-standing interest in children’s and human rights.

Justine Howe, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, received a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend to support her book project Muslim Students and the Making of American Islam, 1963–present.

Kevin Inouye, assistant professor in the Department of Theater, is the author of The Screen Combat Handbook.

Jessica Kelley, professor in the Department of Sociology, was named editor-in-chief of The Journal of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, by the Gerontological Society of America.

Kathryn C. Lavelle, the Ellen and Dixon Long Professor in World Affairs in the Department of Political Science, is the author of The Challenges of Multilateralism.

Elizabeth Meckes and Elisabeth Werner, professors in the Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, were selected as 2020–21 Simons Fellows by the Simons Foundation.

Marilyn Sanders Mobley (GRS ’87, English), professor in the Department of English, received the Sojourner Truth Award from George Mason University. In addition, she was elected to a two-year term on the Ohio Humanities Council’s board of directors.

Todd Oakley, professor and chair in the Department of Cognitive Science, is the author of Rhetorical Minds: Meditations on the Cognitive Science of Persuasion.

Alan Rocke, Distinguished University Professor and the Henry Eldridge Bourne Professor Emeritus in the Department of History, was named co-recipient of the Franklin-Lavoisier Prize. Co-sponsored by the Science History Institute and the Fondation de la Maison de la Chimie, the award recognizes “unusually meritorious efforts to preserve and promote the entwined scientific heritage of France and the United States.”

Maddalena Rumor, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Classics, is a 2020–21 fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies. Rumor is spending her fellowship year working on a study of the sharing of medical knowledge between ancient Babylonia and the Greco-Roman world.

Kenneth Singer, the Ambrose Swasey Professor in the Department of Physics, received a 2020 Faculty Distinguished Research Award from the university this spring.

Erkki Somersalo, professor in the Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics, received an honorary doctorate in philosophy from the University of Eastern Finland.

Jonathan Tan, the Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor of Catholic Studies and associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, received the Louisville Institute’s Sabbatical Grant for Researchers.

Thrity Umrigar, Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English, published two children’s books this fall: Binny’s Diwali, illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, and Sugar in Milk, illustrated by Khoa Le.

In Memoriam: D. Keith Robinson

Professor Emeritus D. Keith Robinson, who made lasting contributions to physics research and education at CWRU during 36 years on the faculty, died June 22, at age 87. An on-campus memorial celebration is planned for May 2021.

Born in Truro, Nova Scotia, Robinson received early encouragement from a high school teacher who noticed his aptitude for physics. After earning Bachelor and Master of Science degrees at Dalhousie University in Halifax, he completed his DPhil in physics at Oxford University. In 1960, he joined Brookhaven National Laboratory, where he played a key role, developing computer programs to analyze data produced by bubble chamber experiments at particle accelerators.

In 1966, Robinson was recruited by the Western Reserve University physics department to establish a high energy particle research group. Over the next two decades, using bubble chambers and electronic counters, the CWRU group became a major player in high energy physics research, revealing the properties and composition of dozens of elementary particles and publishing numerous papers.

After the death in 1980 of colleague Philip R. Bevington, Robinson took over the computational methods course for CWRU physics majors. Later, as a co-author, he twice revised Bevington’s influential 1969 textbook, Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences, and added downloadable computer routines useful to students.

During the 1990s, Robinson oversaw the laboratories for introductory physics courses. “He liked to tinker with the apparatus and improve the experiments,” says Diana Driscoll (GRS ’01), who worked as one of his teaching assistants and became lab director after he retired in 2002.

“Professor Robinson was such an uplifting presence, reassuring and friendly,” she adds. “I cannot picture him talking without a smile on his face, especially when he was talking about the CWRU students. He always praised them for how good they were, and pointed out to us how much they had on their plates.”

Robinson is survived by his wife of 55 years, Margaret B. Robinson, Dean Emerita of Undergraduate Studies at CWRU; their children, Gregory K. Robinson and Claire C. Robinson May; his brother, Paul Robinson; and two grandsons, Jonah and Mills May.

Faculty Honored for Teaching and Mentoring

Last spring, several members of the College of Arts and Sciences faculty were among the recipients of Case Western Reserve’s annual teaching and mentoring awards.

Diana Driscoll, instructor and undergraduate lab director in the Department of Physics, received a Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Karen Potter, professor and chair in the Department of Dance, received a John S. Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Teaching.

Eva Kahana, Distinguished University Professor and the Pierce T. and Elizabeth D. Robson Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Sociology, received a John S. Diekhoff Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring.

Andrea Milne, lecturer in the Department of History and SAGES Teaching Fellow, received the J. Bruce Jackson, MD, Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Mentoring. In addition, she won a Writing Resource Center Excellence in Consulting Award.

Gabrielle (Brie) Parkin, lecturer and SAGES Teaching Fellow in the Department of English, received the Richard A. Bloom, MD, Award for Distinguished Teaching in the SAGES Program, a prize established in 2008 by alumnus Richard Bloom (WRC ’74, MED ’79). In addition, Parkin won a SAGES Excellence in Writing Instruction Award.

Cara Byrne (GRS ’17, English), lecturer and SAGES Teaching Fellow in the Department of English, received a Writing Resource Center Excellence in Consulting Award.

New Mentoring Program Advances Diversity

From left: Although the IMPACT program is operating remotely, fourth-year student Aniya Martinez, Associate Professor Lauren Calandruccio, third-year student Jessie Lee and fourth-year student Abigail Simmons briefly met outside the Tinkham Veale University Center earlier this fall. Photo by Matt Shiffler.

Lauren Calandruccio, associate professor in the Communications Sciences Program in the Department of Psychological Sciences, is dedicated to recruiting and preparing minority students for careers in speech-language pathology (SLP) and audiology. This fall marked the beginning of her latest effort to diversify her profession and support students of color: a mentoring program created with a grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

IMPACT—the acronym stands for “Innovative Mentoring and Professional Preparation through Advanced Cultural Training”—grew out of a collaboration between Calandruccio and Jessica Sullivan, assistant professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Hampton University. Five of this year’s participating students are from Case Western Reserve, and five are from Hampton, one of the nation’s most prominent historically Black universities.

The inaugural year’s activities include virtual tours of the University of Pittsburgh and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Nebraska, two leaders in SLP and audiology that strongly support diversity and inclusion. At a series of virtual “family dinners,” the students are interacting with minority researchers and clinicians from across the country.

IMPACT Fellow Aniya Martinez, a fourth-year CWRU student and one of Calandruccio’s advisees, says that before she entered the program, she had never met an African American woman working as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Now, she finds herself in dialogue with minority professionals who can serve as role models. “They talk to us and genuinely want to get to know us,” Martinez says. “They ask for our contact information. They want to help us and mentor us.”

To encourage reflection on the challenges of entering a predominantly white profession and engaging with diverse populations, Calandruccio and Sullivan will devote two of the program’s Zoom sessions to book club discussions about Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk about Race and Mikki Kendall’s Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot. In addition, the students will develop a proposal to ASHA, recommending strategies to increase the proportion of minorities in SLP and audiology.

Finally, to get started on the graduate school admissions process, the students will take a GRE prep course and work with a writing coach as they draft and revise their application essays.

Dean Joy K. Ward says she is excited by the program’s potential to become a model for other departments seeking to prepare minority undergraduates to earn advanced degrees.

“All students benefit from having dedicated and invested mentors,” Ward says. “It is particularly important that underrepresented students find mentors who can inspire them and provide the guidance they need to take the next steps for entry into graduate school. I am delighted to see the IMPACT program address this need in such a creative and collaborative way.”

Performing Arts Reach Audiences in New Ways

From left: For Gary Galbraith’s “Spaces and Places,” Haiyan Chen, a graduate student in dance who was based in China this fall, performed on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Elie Robertshaw, a senior dance and nutrition major, performed in front of “Coastline,” a sculpture by David Black, on the CWRU campus.

With no one else in sight, a young man dances on a dirt path in the Ghanaian countryside. A string ensemble, its members standing several feet apart from each other, plays to an empty hall. From her bedroom in her family home, an actor delivers a monologue about waiting for evacuation orders during this fall’s wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.

Ever since the pandemic began, students and faculty members in the dance, music and theater departments have found it difficult to practice their crafts. But despite the obstacles they face, they have come up with new and ingenious ways to express themselves and connect with audiences.

Professor Gary Galbraith’s latest dance production, for instance, provides an imaginative release from the confinement of COVID-19. Spaces and Places, captured in a 10-minute video, features 14 undergraduate and graduate students performing on three continents. Each segment of the dance occurs outdoors, in settings ranging from Mather Quad to an African grove to a coastline in China. In addition to choreographing the piece, Galbraith served as director and video editor.

His students’ need for interaction led Galbraith to undertake the project. “Once COVID hit, they felt like they were working in a vacuum,” he says. “They were so hungry for something like this.” It turned out that a substantial audience shared that hunger, too. As of Nov. 15, two weeks after Galbraith posted it on YouTube, Spaces and Places had received more than 1,400 views. “I’ve had people tell me that they cried tears of joy watching the video,” he says. (View it online at

The music department filled its November calendar with concerts by limited numbers of students from its symphony and camerata orchestras, Baroque orchestra and chamber ensembles, and symphonic winds. These events, recorded in the Maltz Performing Arts Center and presented virtually through the center’s livestreaming platform, were part of this year’s Silver Hall Concert Series, sponsored by the Harry K. and Emma R. Fox Family Charitable Foundation.

Earlier in the season, the series featured student performances by oboist Dana D’Orlando and violinist Allison Siekmann, co-winners of the annual Joan Terr Ronis Memorial Recital competition. D’Orlando is a junior majoring in biology and music, while Siekmann is a junior music education major.

The theater department’s November offering, 2020 (hindsight), was a montage of personal narratives, mostly written by undergraduate actors who performed them during a live production on Zoom. Professor Shanna Beth McGee, who conceived and directed the show, had issued a call to students across the university, inviting them to describe their experiences during the pandemic. The actors who based their performances on other students’ submissions conferred with the authors as they developed their approach to the material.

Although it was not a conventional theatrical production, 2020 (hindsight) required a stage manager, lighting and sound designers, and a tech week before the show opened. (Ring lights—hoops of LED bulbs—were shipped out to actors in three different time zones.) McGee directed the cast members one by one, helping them convey intensely personal stories into the void of cyberspace. Those stories, she felt, had the potential to give their invisible audience “a little hope in the resilience of young people.” (Watch a video of the production at

Julie Evans contributed reporting to this story.

The College Confers 2020 Alumni Awards

Each year, the College of Arts and Sciences recognizes outstanding alumni for their contributions to their fields and to the lives of others. The winners of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards were honored during this fall’s virtual Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.

Distinguished Undergraduate Alumna

Karen Youdelman (FSM ’65) has devoted her career to special education and support of the hearing impaired, with a focus on teaching speech to children with profound hearing loss.

After graduating from Flora Stone Mather College, where she majored in communication sciences, Youdelman earned a master’s degree in education of the deaf and hard of hearing at Columbia University. She then spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, teaching deaf students and adults and training aspiring teachers at speech clinics and schools. Eventually, she returned to Columbia to obtain a Master of Education in special education instructional practice and a Doctor of Education in special education administration/supervision.

In addition to working directly with children, Youdelman has been active in her field as a researcher, an educational consultant and a university instructor in deaf education and speech-language pathology programs.

Among her leadership positions, Youdelman was elected to a two-year term as president of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) in Washington, D.C. She is a former board member for AG Bell and Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center, and she has served on the College of Arts and Sciences Visiting Committee.

She and her husband, Robert Youdelman (ADL ’63), now live in Richmond, Massachusetts, where she mentors students at Berkshire Community College and volunteers in the state’s Special Education Surrogate Parent Program.

Distinguished Graduate Alumnus

Antony E. Champ (GRS ’63, chemistry) earned his doctorate from Case Institute of Technology and immediately entered the chemical industry as a scientist at Celanese Corp., then one of the country’s major producers of polyester fiber.

After rising through a series of research positions, Champ became involved in other aspects of Celanese’s operations. He managed two production plants and was eventually named vice president of manufacturing. He ventured into textile fibers marketing and the commercialization of new technology. Then, in 1987, Champ became president and CEO of Fiber Industries, an independent company that he and other investors had formed through a leveraged buyout of Celanese’s synthetic fiber assets. Two years later, after the firm was sold to Wellman Industries, Champ retired. But he quickly found a new outlet for his entrepreneurial energies.

Today, Champ and his wife, Edie, are the proprietors of White Hall Vineyards, a working winery in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. They started out in 1992 with 6 acres; today, they have more than 48 acres under cultivation. In a 2008 art/sci interview, Champ mentioned that although he relied on a professional winemaker’s expertise, he liked to keep up with the latest in viticultural research. “It keeps the winemaker from snowing me,” he explained with a smile. “I can outdazzle him with chemistry.”

An emeritus trustee of Case Western Reserve University, Champ established a graduate fellowship fund in 2008 in memory of Professor J. Reid Shelton, his doctoral advisor and a leading rubber chemistry researcher. “He was a consultant for industry, so I think he taught me some practical aspects of business,” Champ recalled. “He knew what industry looks for: results.”

Distinguished Young Alumna

Aishwarya Arjunan (CWR ’10) worked in a genetics lab at the CWRU School of Medicine while pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology. She went on to earn a Master of Science in genetic counseling, a Master of Public Health in human genetics and a certificate in global health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Early in her career, Arjunan provided genetic counseling to couples and families while engaging in research and education about genetic diseases. After completing an internship at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, she relocated to Chicago, where she divided her time between the Norton and Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Today, Arjunan is a clinical product specialist at Myriad Women’s Health, where she manages all clinical aspects (including research, marketing and results reporting) of a genetic test called Foresight Carrier Screen. The test helps identify couples at elevated risk of passing serious inherited conditions to their children.

A past president of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals, Arjunan received the 2018 New Leader Award from the National Society of Genetic Counselors and went on to co-chair the organization’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. She is a core faculty member in the Northwestern University Genetic Counseling Program, where she serves on the admissions committee and as a thesis advisor.

Ever since she graduated from Case Western Reserve, Arjunan has been an Alumni Admission Ambassador, assisting the university in its outreach to prospective students. She also belongs to the Alumni Association’s board of directors and chairs its governance committee.

Distinguished Service Award

For the first time, the Distinguished Service Award highlights the collective achievements of college alumni from a single class

Members of the Class of 1970 attended the university during a time of political and social upheaval, and at a formative period in the history of Case Western Reserve. Many of them participated in the antiwar and civil rights movements. They were among the founders of campus organizations that endure to this day, including the Undergraduate Student Government and The Observer. After they graduated, they went out into the world as some of the university’s most civically engaged alumni.

Through public service, advocacy and activism, members of the Class of 1970 have advanced a variety of causes, from combating domestic violence in the United States to improving conditions for textile workers around the globe. At the same time, they have been exceptionally generous in their service and support for Case Western Reserve. Fifty years after their graduation, the college honors them for all they have done and continue to do to shape the university, their communities and our society.

Photo of Karen Youdelman by Joe Aidonidis. All other photos courtesy of their subjects.

Alumni Notes

Malcolm H. Gissen (ADL ’64), having sold his financial advisory business in San Francisco, has transitioned into working full time “to make California prisons places of rehabilitation.”

Mark Corson (WRC ’70) joined RCR Yachts–Cleveland as a broker. A lifelong boater, he previously held management positions
with Shell, Ernst & Young, and Accenture on six continents.

Edward P. Hemmelgarn (WRC ’76, MGMT ’80), a member of the college’s Visiting Committee, is a trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Gina Gibney (WRC ’79; GRS ’82, theater)—the founder, artistic director and CEO of Gibney, a dance and social justice organization in New York City—announced a $2 million gift from Andrew A. Davis, a trustee of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund. The gift will enable the organization’s resident ensemble, Gibney Dance, to double in size and commission new works.

Roger D. Klein (WRC ’84, MED ’90) is chief medical officer at OmniSeq, a molecular diagnostic laboratory whose products help oncologists provide personalized treatment to their patients.

Kathy Leasure (CWR ’93), a 24-year veteran of the police department in Bay Village, Ohio, was named chief of police this summer.

Marianne Metzger (CWR ’95) is leader of business development efforts for ResinTech, a manufacturer of ion exchange resins for water and wastewater treatment.

Paul Adams (GRS ’00, chemistry), associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arkansas, was designated a National Role Model by Minority Access, Inc., a nonprofit organization that advances educational, research and employment opportunities for underrepresented populations.

Brad Ricca (GRS ‘03, English) is the author of Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman’s Journey into the Heart of Africa.

Thomas Frazier (GRS ’04, clinical psychology) joined the clinical advisory board of Quadrant Biosciences, where he will guide research and clinical acceptance of the first saliva test for autism spectrum disorder.

Aqueelah Jordan (CWR ’04) is chief prosecutor for the city of Cleveland.

Eric P. Carnevale (CWR ’05), a specialist in patent, trademark and copyright law, was named a partner at Lando & Anastasi.

Richard Kolb (GRS ’10, musicology), a lutenist as well as scholar in residence at the New York Continuo Collective, recorded a CD of 17th-century solo works by the French composer Robert Ballard.

Nikhil Krishnan (CWR ’16, MED ’20) received a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a doctorate in physics at the University of Cambridge. Having majored in physics as an undergraduate, Krishnan says that his goal is to “investigate the possibility of using physics to predict and reverse antibiotic resistance through rationally designed, evolutionarily informed therapies.”

Jeremy Secaur (CWR ’97) received a 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics and/or computer science teaching.

Secaur, who earned a Bachelor of Science in astronomy, has taught physics at Elyria High School in Ohio for more than two decades. An advocate of active-learning strategies, he mentors first-year science teachers at his school and conducts both local and national workshops for educators in the STEM fields.

“Teaching is an incredibly complex profession, and it isn’t always easy to know whether the growth we’re working toward as educators is translating into real student success,” Secaur says. “The Presidential Award is confirmation for me that my hard work of continually seeking professional growth has paid off and inspires me to keep on working toward being the best teacher I can be.”

Established by Congress in 1983, the awards program is administered by the National Science Foundation on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Each year, it recognizes teachers from every state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and U.S. territories for distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving STEM education.

School Abbreviations

ADL  Adelbert College
Undergraduates, 1989 and after
GRS School of Graduate Studies
MED School of Medicine
MGMT Weatherhead School of Management
WRC Western Reserve College

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