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Alumni News November 2015

Date Released: 2 November 2015

A Weekend to Remember 

From October 8 – 11 alumni, students and community members travelled from all over the globe to Case Western Reserve University campus in celebration of Homecoming & Reunion weekend 2015. More than 100 events and programs captured time-honored traditions and showcased the innovative teaching and learning taking place at CWRU.

Check out our video and photo collections that caught the action:

We can't wait to see you next year October 13-16, 2016!

Upcoming Events

Nov. 12
6:30 - 9 p.m.
Nov. 15
1:30 - 3 p.m.
Nov. 20
6 - 10 p.m.
Nov. 21
8 p.m.
Dec. 10
6 - 8 p.m.
Contemporary Art
Tour & Reception
Reception in Tapei CWRU Pride
Cosmos for Case
Curtis Stigers
Celebrates Sinatra
Jingle Mingle
Toledo Museum of Art Sherwood Taipei Hotel
Taipei, Taiwain
Linsalata Alumni
Mahaffey Theatre
St. Petersburg
Market Garden
Ohio City

Become part of CWRU history by writing our next fight song

The Case Western Reserve University Campus Spirit Committee is sponsoring a contest for alumni and members of the campus community to write Case Western Reserve’s new fight song.

Participants will write both the lyrics and the melody of the new fight song, which should celebrate CWRU’s mission, vision, values and Spartan pride. The person(s) who submits the winning song will receive $2,000.


  • The song must have two verses, each approximately 15 seconds long 
  • Each verse should be approximately 16 measures
  • Lyrics must celebrate the identity of CWRU: achievements, history, athletics, traditions, spirit, etc.
  • Lyrics should be memorable
  • Melody should be tuneful and singable
  • “Case Western Reserve University” or “C-W-R-U” should appear in the text
  • Author/composer(s) must be affiliated with CWRU

The Campus Spirit Committee is a collaboration of students, faculty and staff who are committed to the celebration of school spirit at Case Western Reserve University. Through the development of intentional programs, assessment and awareness building, this committee is devoted to enhancing the overall experience of CWRU students, both undergraduate and graduate, while seeking to understand what it means to be a CWRU Spartan.

The deadline to enter the contest is Jan. 22. Submissions and questions can be sent to

Yearbooks for Sale!

Retrospect staff are selling yearbooks from their archives. Alumni can find out more information including what years are available by visiting:

Louis Stokes: A Student Remembers

William Edward Kennedy (SAS '17) is a native Clevelander and legacy student (his father is Donald J. Kennedy (LAW ’57)) and is currently enrolled at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Sciences. He plans to attain his master’s of science in social administration specializing in children, youth and families. Kennedy works as a full-time coordinator for a juvenile and family drug court where he concentrates in working with immigrant and refugee youths, adults and families.

Kennedy’s fascination for history and affinity for visiting Cleveland points of interest lead him to the Louis Stokes museum located at Outhwaite Homes, part of the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. This experience, and the one the day after when Stokes visited Kennedy’s class at CWRU, made a profound impact on Kennedy. His story, featured in the Western Reserve Historical Society’s exhibit on Louis Stokes, pays homage to the great man who influenced the Civil Rights Movement in Cleveland, Ohio and United States history. 

His full story: 

I first met Louis Stokes in the fall of 2014, when he presented to our CWRU graduate class on social policy and service delivery. Having discovered that he would be our distinguished guest lecturer, I decided to tour the museum dedicated to his life and legacy the day before his visit.

The Louis Stokes Museum was opened in 2007 and is located in the CMHA Outhwaite Homes, the federal housing project where he lived as a child with his mother and younger brother, Carl B. Stokes, the first black mayor elected in a major American city, Cleveland, in 1967.

Sadly, at lunch hour on a mid-September Friday, one of two days a week the museum is open, I was the only visitor. It took some effort to find the room, and when I did I also had to locate the light switch. Still, as the room gradually glowed to life, a smile came to my face.  

Louis Stokes was nationally renowned for his distinct achievements. Fifteen terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. First black Congressman from Ohio. First African American on the House Appropriations Committee. Founder of the Congressional Black Caucus. And on and on.

But when you enter his museum, you find out what really mattered to the man. A crayon-colored picture of thanks from a neighborhood child. A note of gratitude from a local pastor. A letter of appreciation from an area school. The very personal legacy of the very public politician.

Sure, there were also the accolades, perhaps more local than national, interspersed among family photos, archival videos, and private memorabilia. And as an American jazz enthusiast, my own curiosity was piqued by a few unlabeled and enigmatic awards from The Duke Ellington Society.

And so it was, following his public policy presentation the next day, after seeing the Louis Stokes from the annals of history come to life right before my very eyes, that I mentioned my visit to the museum, and asked him about his connection to Edward Kennedy Ellington, the “Duke.”

He explained that after Ellington passed away in 1974, a treasure trove of his unreleased music and memorabilia was discovered, and eventually made available to the Smithsonian Institution and American public, in part due to his efforts on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

He smiled warmly, said he was pleased I had been to the museum, and continued to answer more course-related questions from the class. But as he was leaving the room that day, he turned and announced, “And to my music friend, you should know that Rick James was my cousin!”

Rick James. The one-of-a-kind funk, soul, doo-wop, rock, and rhythm and blues composer and performer, a generation younger than his congressman cousin, though he had passed a decade earlier, was his direct relation. Now that was a cool connection. Pretty funky. Super-freaky.

We were honored to host Louis Stokes again in the spring of 2015, when he gave a bookend presentation to our same CWRU cohort in a graduate course on macro policy and practice skills. By then in his 90th year, his smile was every bit as heartfelt. And his eyes still glowed.

I approached him in the hall afterward, shook his hand, and patted him on the shoulder, noting, “Hey! It’s Rick James’s cousin!” He laughed and smiled broadly, responding, “I remember you! I remember you!” And for a moment we were both children. And there was just the music.

Louis Stokes touched the lives of millions of Americans. We are all the beneficiaries of his legacy. He was a voice and a vote for the marginalized and disenfranchised. That rare social worker politician. His transition to faculty member at CWRU must have been like a homecoming.

We must also remember that his story, in part, was made possible by positive social policy. He himself recounted personal support from federal housing and the G.I. Bill. He was simply given a fair chance, made the most of it, and fought to make sure others would have that same opportunity.

When Louis Stokes co-taught our class with Professor Gerald Strom, on September 20, 2014, he explained how a bill really becomes a law, with no disrespect to the Schoolhouse Rock! version, and why it matters. He even shared an anecdote about a private meeting with President Nixon.

But I’ll never forget the first thing he said to our class. “Anything you do is not too small, and is more than was there before.” For a weekend social work student in middle adulthood, it validated my presence in the classroom, and confirmed that I still made a difference as a “change agent.”

When he co-taught our class with Professor G. Regina Nixon, on April 11, 2015, he revealed the inner workings of the U.S. House Committees on Appropriations, Rules, and Ways and Means, and cited Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, and Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. as personal heroes.

As an instructor, Louis Stokes was gracious with his time, wisdom, and heart. He was earnest but patient. Self-assured but self-effacing. Accessible and uplifting. Passionate and compassionate. To borrow a phrase from social rights activist Desmond Tutu, he too was a “prisoner of hope.”

When I first met the man, I innocently addressed him as “Mr. Stokes,” unaware that the proper etiquette, even in retirement, was still “Congressman Stokes.” And he had, after all, earned that political honorific, that prestigious prefix, that most reverent, venerable, and illustrious title.

But Louis Stokes was a man of the people. He was fine with “Mr. Stokes.” Or perhaps just “Lou.” And a shared smile was worth more than words. He was a distinguished legislator, an exceptional human being, and yes, Rick James’s cousin. And for two memorable days, he was my teacher.

William Edward Kennedy