Three questions with Alumni Association Board President Dean Fazekas

Dean Fazekas

Dean Fazekas (SAS ‘91) has stayed involved with his alma mater since graduation. 

A sex addiction therapist in the Cleveland suburb, Rocky River, he has served in various capacities on the alumni board of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences since 1993, including a 15-year stint as its president. He joined the board of the Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve in 2018 and began his new role as president at the beginning of 2024.

The Alumni Association sat down with Fazekas to learn about his experience at the university, thoughts on alumni engagement and goals for the coming year.

Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

Tell us about your time as a student. 

I started my education at Case Western Reserve in graduate school for social work. 

I looked around at different schools and the Mandel School always ranked up there in the top ten, now nine. People I spoke to locally said, “if you want to study social work, the Mandel School is the place to go.”

My interest was in human sexuality, but they didn't have a formal program on the subject, so I [sought out] field placement at the Center for Human Sexuality in University Circle. Their work was recognized worldwide. It was a masterclass. That really piqued my interest in the work I'm doing today.

There were also great professors at the Mandel School. Because of its reputation, [the school] has been able to attract professors from everywhere.

Why is it important for you to give back?

I think the willingness to give back is in direct relation to one's own experience. The Mandel School’s alumni board was always present at [student] functions and that made me feel welcomed. 

When I was president of the Mandel School alumni board and we planned open houses for prospective students, we would make sure we had two or three alumni board members there to talk to parents as the students went on tours. I [would often] hear back from parents that it was really significant that alumni gave up time on their weekend to participate. That speaks a lot to the school’s culture.

How do you hope to strengthen the connections between alumni, both across the university and around the world?

It’s about relationships, right? We need to continue building those relationships. How can we be of a better service to the chapters? How do we foster those relationships between schools?

I think the university is on a good trajectory with that, with President [Eric W.] Kaler attending special chapter events and alumni board members showing up when they can [to] chapter meetings. 

It would be great if we can get all chapter presidents together so we could talk face to face, and come up with some ideas on how to strengthen engagement.

Last year, we began outreach to alumni boards of the university’s professional schools (law, medicine, engineering, etc.). It's something that we need to continue. I would like to get the presidents of those boards more involved. 

We are one family. We have different goals, we are in different places, but we are one university. Again, it's about relationships. If you have strong relationships, you're going to accomplish a lot, and I'm honored to work with the dedicated individuals who comprise the alumni board.