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Alumnus Norman Henderson shares the gift of opportunity with his alma mater



Norm Henderson, PhD (GRS ’60, ’61, psychology), says serendipity played a critical role in taking him from a modest life in Queens, New York, to a successful academic career. 

old man in graduation gown with woman next to him

Marjorie and Norm Henderson at the Oberlin commencement that marked the start of his retirement. Photo courtesy of Norm Henderson

The chance to test into a more rigorous high school empowered him to become a first-generation college graduate; mentorship in psychology at what’s now Case Western Reserve University led to research on the genetic influences on behavior and teaching—both of which would become career-long passions. And a temporary faculty opening at Oberlin College turned into a 45-year career there.

“Sometimes opportunities present themselves and you can’t let them slide by,” said Henderson, now an emeritus professor of psychology at Oberlin. “Case [Western Reserve] opened so many doors for me—through education, but especially through faculty members who nudged me toward new experiences. Chance comes in a lot, and it’s a question of whether you want to grab the string or not.”

Now, through an unrestricted commitment of $1.2 million, Henderson is handing the strings of opportunity to Joy K. Ward, PhD, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve.

“An unrestricted fund is an invaluable asset,” Ward said. “It gives us the freedom to dream big. The fund will allow us to support our faculty members in a variety of ways that will also benefit students, from catalyzing research and innovation in the classroom, to providing opportunities for travel and interdisciplinary networking.”

The Henderson Family Fund pays tribute to another life-changing chance: Henderson crossing paths with the woman who became his wife, Marjorie Henderson (FSM ’60), through their respective work-study jobs on campus. They married 18 months later and have two daughters and four grandchildren, including Anna Cryan (CWR ’22), now in a CWRU master’s degree program in bioethics and medical humanities.

“I like the idea that [the endowed fund] can go on,” Henderson. “It can continue to make an impact in 50 years, just as my education has done for me.”

“There is a saying that, to perform well, you need to have ability, motivation and opportunity. So many CWRU students have the ability and motivation and are just waiting for an opportunity. That’s what I want to provide.” 

Norm Henderson


The College of Arts and Sciences recognized outstanding alumni for their contributions to their fields and to the lives of others during the 2022 Homecoming celebration in October.

Older man with curly white hair

James “Great Neck” Richman

Distinguished Undergraduate Alumnus

James “Great Neck” Richman (ADL ’72) is a CEO who expanded the family textile business into the global market; an activist who contributes to voter education and Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate; and a guitar-playing philanthropist whose gifts to Case Western Reserve University include a $1 million donation to the Center for Popular Music Studies that he gave with his wife, Elissa, and their family foundation.

“I’ve always tried to do good in the world,” said Richman, a CWRU trustee who also is on the boards of other organizations, including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. 

As an undergraduate, Richman—a native of Great Neck, New York—earned a psychology degree that gave him a better understanding of people and motivations, and the nickname “Great Neck,” which is how he’s still known from the U.S. Capitol to national and New York nonprofits.

Richman joined his family’s Richloom Fabrics soon after graduating. As the company grew, it put more profits into the family foundation, which donates to a range of educational institutions, Jewish organizations, New York charities and others. “I like helping people,” Richman said.



Distinguished Graduate Alumnus

Kent Cartwright, PhD (GRS ’79, English), is such a preeminent Shakespearean scholar that he was selected to produce the annotated 2017 edition of the playwright’s The Comedy of Errors for the internationally acclaimed Arden Shakespeare series.

old man in front of bookshelf

Kent Cartwright Photo by Pamela Cartwright

“It was an honor,” said Cartwright, who still marvels over the play in ways that underscore both Shakespeare’s artistry and his own boundless enthusiasm. “It never ceases to give me a physical thrill,” he said. 

Cartwright spent 35 years teaching at University of Maryland’s main campus, where he is an emeritus professor after a career that included chairing the Department of English. He helped increase support for faculty research, improve conditions for graduate students, launch a center for literary studies and boost the department’s student ranks and curriculum. 

Cartwright’s driving scholarly interest? How literature moves readers and audiences. He has written several books, most recently, Shakespeare and the Comedy of Enchantment (Oxford University Press). He also has served as a trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America and president of the Association of Departments of English, which represents about 700 college and university departments in the United States and Canada.

Distinguished Service Award

Black and white photo of a man

Laurence “Laurie” Rubinow

As chairman of the SBM Charitable Foundation in Manchester, Connecticut, for more than 20 years, Laurence “Laurie” Rubinow, JD (ADL ’66), has played a key role in initiatives to improve the health and well- being of residents—particularly children—across a large swath of the state.

“I grew up with the mantra that it is one’s obligation to give back,” said Rubinow, a Manchester native.

His father was a well-respected judge; his mother was the first woman on several community boards. A lawyer, Rubinow has served on public, private and nonprofit boards. He also was chairman of The Savings Bank of Manchester and its parent, which formed the SBM Charitable Foundation in 2000.

When the bank negotiated a merger in 2003, Rubinow and his colleagues insisted the foundation remain independent “as our legacy to the community.” Today, it makes annual grants of more than $2 million dollars for health, human services, education, housing and the arts.

What gives him the most philanthropic joy? The foundation’s annual scholarships for students to attend colleges and graduate schools, he said, “because education is the key that unlocks any door.”

Distinguished Young Alumna

Astronomer Yvette Cendes, PhD (CWR ’09; GRS ’11, physics), reached two milestones in 2021 that reflect her twin passions for discovery and broadly sharing her knowledge: She and colleagues discovered a black hole that, she said, acted in a way never seen before; and she also became an astronomy consultant for the Guinness Book of World Records at an editor’s request, reviewing and suggesting records for the 2023 edition.

smiling young woman in front of observatory

Yvette Cendes

She called the first, “the greatest discovery of my life,” and the second, “a really neat way to introduce a lot of people to astronomy.”

Cendes is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian—a collaboration between the two institutions. And she’s an avid writer for publications including Scientific American and on social media, where her clear, explanatory “Astronomer here!” posts are read around the world.

The 2021 discovery involved a black hole that emitted a fast-traveling jet of material a full two years after shredding a star. “It’s really exciting not just because it’s the first like this,” Cendes said. “It [also] allows us a new way to test the physics of black holes.”

Distinguished Young Alumna

Young woman in sundress in a field

Tina Saw

As an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve, Tina Saw (CWR ’10) met a campus dental professor who exposed her to a career that became her passion. “I realized this is the kind of profession I want to be in,” she said. “I found myself, my voice and how to help people.”

Today, Saw, DDS, and her husband, Thanh Luu, DDS, have a practice, Elevated Smiles, in Carlsbad, California, and co-founded two dental-product companies to benefit patients and providers.

Their first start-up, Light Solutions Co., is focused on producing cost-effective headlights and eyeglass magnifiers for dental professionals. Their company Oral Genome is developing a technology to quickly analyze saliva to help patients prevent dental diseases.

Saw also is passionate about community service and has helped a man who was homeless and known for his good deeds get a smile makeover that included needed extractions and new teeth. The story was told on the local CBS affiliate.

“When I change a patient’s smile and oral health,” Saw said, “I boost their confidence and help them drive positive changes in their lives.”



“Developments” highlights recent philanthropic support for the College of Arts and Sciences from alumni, friends, corporations and other constituents.

Peter Armentrout (CIT ’75), PhD, the Henry Eyring Presidential Endowed Chair of Chemistry at the University of Utah, created the Dunbar/Armentrout Chemistry Travel Fellowship Fund with a commitment of $100,000. The fund honors the late Robert Dunbar, PhD, who was Armentrout’s chemistry preceptor at Case Western Reserve.

Shirley McKernan created the Gertrude Mann Visiting Writers Fund with a gift of $150,000. Known as “Gert,” Mann (FSM ’51; GRS ’72, education) developed and taught workshops in many venues on memoir writing.

Philip Taylor, PhD, the Perkins Professor Emeritus of Physics, and his wife, Sarah Taylor, created the Philip and Sarah Taylor Graduate Fellowship Award in Physics, which will support a graduate student for the next four years. Philip Taylor, who also is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, mentored more than 50 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows and received the university’s Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize in recognition of his exceptional achievements.

Kimberly Mae Wiefling (GRS ’86, physics) and her husband, Douglas Edward McIntyre, created the Kimberly M. Wiefling Endowed Scholarship Fund to support undergraduate and graduate students, primarily women, studying science.

For more information on these funds or to make your own gift, contact or 216.368.0097

Page last modified: March 17, 2023