Alumni News – October 2020

Reconnect at Virtual Homecoming; Celebrate Alumni Award Recipients and More

To Our Alumni:
We hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As fall ushers in a change of scenery on campus, the Case Western Reserve University community is transforming as well as we face these ever-changing times.
First, as you likely know, former long-time Case Western Reserve dean and faculty member Scott Cowen became the university’s interim president. He was appointed by the Board of Trustees to succeed Barbara R. Snyder, who is now the president of the Association of American Universities. 
This week, we will host the first-ever virtual homecoming and reunion weekend, Thursday, Oct. 8, to Sunday, Oct. 11. Please join us for the many planned virtual experiences that will allow us to celebrate achievements, exchange ideas and reconnect—united in our forced distance. 
We have altered our outstanding lineup of in-person programming for a virtual audience, which enables you to access events to educate, entertain and connect you to Case Western Reserve—from anywhere in the world.
We look forward to welcoming all of you back to campus when it is safe to do so.
—The Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University

Virtual Homecoming 2020

There’s Still Time to Register!

Case Western Reserve University mascot Spartie stands on the Binary Walkway wearing a facemask

In a year that has been anything but “normal,” Case Western Reserve has had to “think beyond the possible” to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. We have tackled the demands of the pandemic head on in our classrooms, residence halls, offices and more—and reimagining homecoming was met with that same determination. 
We have planned dozens of virtual experiences to share our collective pride in our alma mater and the milestones we’ve achieved together. There are many opportunities for you to connect, despite our distance this year—from a discussion on the state of racial justice to a panel on young alumni entrepreneurs, reimagined class reunions and awards ceremonies to a fund run and yoga classes, and so much more.
This year, like many before, let’s come together to celebrate our alma mater. Shine on forever, Case Western Reserve.
See the Schedule and Register Today

Case Western Reserve University to Present 2020 Alumni Awards During Homecoming Weekend

Winners of the Nobel and Kyoto Prizes are among the five outstanding graduates The Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University will recognize for their professional accomplishments, service and overall achievements as part of 2020 Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 8-11.

As part of this year’s virtual festivities, Case Western Reserve’s annual alumni awards ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 9. This year’s event is open to alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends with registration taking place at

This year’s honorees are:

Distinguished Alumni Award

Don Knuth stands in front of the blackboard in a lecture hall

Donald E. Knuth, PhD (CIT ’60; GRS ’60, mathematics; HON ’80)

Knuth is known as the “father of the analysis of algorithms” and is the author of The Art of Computer Programming, often referred to as the “bible” of computer science pedagogy. Knuth created the TeX computer typesetting system, the related METAFONT font definition language and rendering system, and the Computer Modern family of typefaces. His many honors include the Turing Award (1971), the National Medal of Science (1978), the Kyoto Prize (1995), the Turing Lecture (2010) and the Stanford University School of Engineering Hero Award (2011). At Case Western Reserve, he serves as a member of the Case School of Engineering Silicon Valley Think Tank.

Newton D. Baker Distinguished Service Award

A photo of Norma Geller standing by a high back chair in a living room.

Norma Geller (SAS '91)

Dedicated to civil service and social justice throughout Northeast Ohio, Geller’s efforts have made an immeasurable impact in our community—from her years as a volunteer at University Hospitals (UH) and Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital to the lead gift that created the Albert and Norma Geller Hillel Student Center, a community space on the CWRU campus that includes classrooms, lounges and a restaurant. At Case Western Reserve, she serves as a board advocate with the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, created the Geller Designated Professorship in Ovarian Cancer Research at the School of Medicine and established The Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Fund to provide an annual award at graduation to a student who has done significant work in child abuse prevention. Beyond the university, Geller has created cancer patient transportation funds at UH and Cleveland Clinic and developed a Social Justice Fund at B’nai Jeshurun Congregation to work with refugees and those experiencing homelessness and advocate for racial and environmental justice.

Daniel T. Clancy Alumni Service Award

Professional Headshot of Ka-Pi Hoh wearing a black shirt and gold jacket

Ka-Pi Hoh (CIT ’84; GRS ’87, '89, macromolecular science)

Hoh, a business process leader for process mining and director of organizational change management at The Lubrizol Corp., has established the company’s technical presence in China, been actively involved in Lubrizol’s diversity initiatives and is overseeing programs to improve business efficiencies and applying organizational change management to support global initiatives. She is specifically focused on helping women in STEM at Lubrizol and through Case Western Reserve.

Young Alumni Award

Professional Portrait of K. Grace Bell

K. Grace Bell (CWR '10)

Bell is the associate general manager of CareMore Health, a health delivery organization based in California. Bell’s career is focused on increasing her impact on health care and the patients it serves, as well as taking on new challenges to grow her professional skills. She works to realign health care teams to efficiently serve high-risk Medicare and Medicaid patients. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell led an effort to expand services to food-insecure patients, serving more than 73,000 meals in four states. She is a recipient of CWRU’s Presidential Award for Distinguished Service and served three years on the Weatherhead School of Management Alumni Advisory Board.

Professional Achievement Award

Official Portrait of Richard H Thaler

Richard H. Thaler, PhD (ADL ‘67, HON ‘03)

Thaler serves as the Charles R. Walgreen Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics-Booth Graduate School of Business at University of Chicago and as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. A winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 2017, Thaler is credited as one of the “fathers of behavioral economics.” He has authored several books, including the best-sellers Nudge and Misbehaving, appeared in the feature film The Big Short, and has published in many leading academic journals. He is a regular contributor to the Economic View column in The New York Times.

Interim President Scott Cowen Takes Office

headshot of Case Western Reserve University Interim President Scott Cowen

Interim President Scott Cowen took office Oct.1, returning to Case Western Reserve after 16 years leading Tulane University—including navigating the institution through Hurricane Katrina. Read his message to the campus community on his website.

Alumni may remember Interim President Cowen from his 23 years at Weatherhead School of Management, the last 14 as its dean. Under his leadership, the Weatherhead School dramatically redesigned its MBA program and persuaded the late Peter B. Lewis to donate nearly $37 million for the Frank Gehry-designed building that became the school’s new home.  

Cowen, a Case Western Reserve University trustee since 2015, has stepped down from the board to assume the temporary role as interim president. He replaces President Emerita Barbara R. Snyder, who is now the president of the Association of American Universities. Cowen will return to the board after his term as interim president ends. 

Upcoming Events

2021 Startup Competition: What You Need to Know

Wednesday, Oct. 7
6 p.m. EDT

Team members at Case Western Reserve University startup competition pose with an oversized check

The Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship will host a virtual Morgenthaler-Pavey Start-up Competition (MPSC) panel on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m. 

The panel will feature:

  • Ryan Cleary (CWR ‘16), co-founder of FloatMe and second-place winner in the 2020 MPSC
  • Aja Hardy, director of the MPSC gBETA 
  • Scott Shane, Veale Institute Fellow and director of the MPSC. 

Panelists will discuss the university’s premier startup competition, how it helps businesses and how you can apply. 

MPSC is run by gBETA, a program of the nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. The competition is open to any startup that has an undergraduate or graduate student at Case Western Reserve University or a CWRU alum with equity stake in the company. Companies can win up to $25,000 to grow their ventures, and winners are selected with the help of Shane’s entrepreneurial finance class and industry experts. 

Contact Scott Shane ( if you have questions about this competition.

Register for this event online. The panel will also be broadcasted to LinkedIn Live on CWRU Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship's LinkedIn page.

Apply Now

Please visit CWRU LaunchNet's website for more information. Contact Victoria Avi or Bob Sopko if you'd like to set up a meeting. 

Spartans Step Up: Recruiting and Admitting Students During a Pandemic

Thursday, Oct. 8
2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT
CWRU Livestream/Virtual

The Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University continues Spartans Step Up, a series of webcasts focusing on CWRU’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. The eighth installment debuts at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, on Thursday, Oct. 8. 

“Recruiting and Admitting Students During a Pandemic” focuses on how COVID-19 has affected the higher education admission process, as well as potential students and their families, and what lessons have been learned from these extraordinary circumstances. 

Rick Bischoff, vice president for enrollment management at Case Western Reserve University, will moderate an expert panel featuring Case Western Reserve’s Dean of Undergraduate Admission Bob McCullough (CWR ‘96, MGT ‘03) and Director of Undergraduate Admission Chrystal Russell. 

Viewers are invited to submit questions for the panel by registering for the livestream or submitting them during the webcast. Join the CWRU livestream or watch on The Alumni Association's Facebook page.

Register for Spartans Step Up

Digital Futures Conference

Oct. 12–15

Digital Futures conference logo including date Oct. 12-15, 2020

Digital technology is fundamentally changing the competitive landscape. With the onset of COVID-19, so too is an urgency for companies—large and small—to prioritize digital transformation. 

Case Western Reserve University, in partnership with Innovation Research Interchange, will host the second annual Digital Futures Conference Oct. 12-15 as a virtual event. This year’s theme, “Strategy, Culture, and Technology at Work,” will focus on how legacy companies are implementing digital strategies, navigating challenges around talent and culture, and making productive partnerships. It features keynotes, panels, and case studies by the leaders of these legacy companies who struggle with their digital transformation journey.

Sign Up for Digital Futures

“On the Frontline of COVID-19: Potential Pathways of Transmission to Animals”

Wednesday, Oct. 21
5:30 - 7 p.m. EDT

Martin Nweeia in the ocean working with a narwhal

The Alumni Association of Case Western University invites you to an in-depth examination of the research that points to the next wave of COVID-19 victims: our wildlife. From marine mammals to the most endangered primates, new research is identifying risks and practical steps needed to mitigate the spread.

Our panel consists of three experts on wildlife and the impacts of COVID-19: 

  • Martin Nweeia (DEN '84), assistant clinical professor at Case Western Reserve’s School of Dental Medicine, lecturer at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and research scientist at the Smithsonian Institution and Canadian Museum of Nature
  • Oliver Ryder, the Kleberg Endowed Director of Conservation Genetics for San Diego Zoo Global and adjunct professor in the Department of Evolution, Behavior and Ecology at the University of California, San Diego
  • Judy St. Leger, a veterinary pathologist and former vice president of research and science for SeaWorld, and adjunct professor at Cornell University

The virtual event will be moderated by Fady Faddoul, DDS, MSD, chair of the Department of Comprehensive Care at Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine.

Register for the COVID-19 and Wildlife Panel

Think Forum Lecture featuring Martha S. Jones

Thursday, Oct. 22
6 p.m. EDT

Headshot of Johns Hopkins University Professor Martha S. Jones

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. to hear from Martha S. Jones, author, historian and professor at Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how Black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.  

Professor Jones is the author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All (2020) and Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (2018). Her writing frequently appears in other publications, including The Washington Post, The Atlantic, USA Today, Public Books, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Time. In addition, she has collaborated on a variety of museum, film and video productions. 

Given the limitations on mass gatherings, guests are invited to join the lecture remotely.

Learn More and Register for the Event