It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that Dr. Michael Schwartz, CSU President Emeritus, passed away earlier today at the age of 86. Dr. Schwartz had been receiving home hospice care the past few months, and I know he was grateful for the gift of precious time to spend with family and old friends, including many here at CSU.
Dr. Schwartz served as this University’s fifth president from 2002 until 2009. During his long career in higher education, he impacted many great institutions. As an undergraduate, he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he ultimately earned his Ph.D. in Sociology. He accepted his first faculty position at Indiana University, and in his long career, Dr. Schwartz also served on the faculty of Wayne State University and Florida Atlantic University, where he earned distinction as the Distinguished Teacher of 1971. He later moved to Ohio to take an administrative role at Kent State University, initially in graduate studies and research and then as University President.
In 2002, following a one-year term as interim president of CSU, Dr. Schwartz was appointed CSU’s fifth president. During his eight years as president, his impact on both the physical structure of our campus and the academic learning culture of CSU was immense. A primary goal of his was to bring Viking Pride to the students, faculty, staff members and alumni of CSU. Dr. Schwartz once told me that when he launched his tenure as president, he noticed almost no one on campus wore CSU apparel or expressed much pride in the institution. He made it a personal priority to change that. With every major CSU project, he always wanted the end result to be a growing sense of community pride and expanded enthusiasm for the learning environment.
By the time Dr. Schwartz retired in 2009, CSU had established new admission standards, created its honors program and transformed the look of our campus. New campus buildings and renovated facilities faced out toward Euclid and Chester Avenues and extended to the sidewalks, welcoming in new students and community members alike. The campus gained a new Student Center, Recreation Center and residence halls, all of which created a richer atmosphere for those who studied, worked and lived at CSU.
Dr. Schwartz’s impact on CSU continues to this day and is memorialized in the naming of our Michael Schwartz Library. I know that many CSU faculty, staff members and alumni cherished Dr. Schwartz as a friend and valued his leadership, even long after his tenure as president ended.
On a personal note, Michael and his wife Joanne befriended my husband Jon and me soon after we arrived in Cleveland, and he has been a trusted and steady mentor to me ever since. In recent weeks, when we were no longer able to share long lunches or dinners together, Michael and I settled for phone chats and lengthy text exchanges, often several times a week. He was generous with his support right up until the end. I will forever cherish his kind and generous spirit, his dry sense of humor, his steadfast belief in the power of free speech and his wise approach to mentorship. He has been a true teacher to me.
We will send information about memorial services and celebrations in the weeks to come. For now, I will simply share with you the opening and closing lines of a poem I often think of when someone I love dies. In recent weeks, when our conversations turned to the inevitability of his death, I learned that this was a favorite of Michael’s as well:
"At the rising of the sun and at its going down; We remember them…
…For as long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as we remember them."
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