Commencement 2021

Graduates holding a banner that says, "Congratulations, Graduates!"

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences celebrated the graduation of its Master of Science in Social Administration (MSSA) and Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO) students on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

The ceremony took place on Freiberger Field and was live-streamed for family and friends to watch in real time. Public health considerations due to COVID-19 required attendance be limited to graduates and select faculty and staff assisting with the ceremonies.

The convocation ceremony was pre-recorded and included messages from Interim President Scott Cowen, reflections from convocation speaker Marc H. Morial, and Alumni Association President Aishwarya Arjunan (CWR '10), along with the presentation of Honorary Degrees and the official degree conferrals by the Interim President and Deans.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) presented the Mandel School's commencement address. A lifelong Ohioan, Senator Brown has spent his career fighting for the Dignity of Work—the idea that hard work should pay off for everyone, no matter who you are, where you live or what kind of work you do.

rebroadcast of the Mandel School's diploma ceremony, including all MarchingOrder slides and virtual recognitions, will be available for on-demand viewing beginning June 14. 

View MarchingOrder's Virtual Graduate Recognition 

Watch a short recap of the Graduate Schools' Diploma Ceremonies


2021 Mandel School Student and Faculty Awards

Irene Sogg Gross Award

Alexandria “Lexy” Lattimore

The Irene Sogg Gross Award was established by Milton Gross to honor the memory of his wife, Irene Sogg, a 1940 Mandel School graduate. The award is presented to a member of the graduating class, chosen by their peers, in recognition of outstanding interest and accomplishments in the areas of humanitarian service.

Sylvia and John A. Yankey Community Service Award

Alexandria “Lexy” Lattimore

The Sylvia and John A. Yankey Community Service Award is presented to a graduate who has actively engaged as a volunteer in one or more successful community service activities or projects while a student at the Mandel School. The spirit of the award is to recognize a student who exemplifies Professor Emeritus John A. Yankey's dedication to community service and his desire to strengthen the nonprofit sector. The award brings public attention to the extensive commitment of students to the nonprofit sector, and provides an opportunity to highlight both the student's involvement and the nonprofit organization.

Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Student Award

Aaron Sharpley & Alyssa Wren

The Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Student Award is awarded to a Mandel School student who has done significant work in child abuse prevention. The nominee can be a student who graduated in the August, January or May terms.

Arol Schack Dissertation Award for Outstanding Social Welfare Doctoral Student

Weidi Qin

The Arol Schack Dissertation Award for Outstanding Social Welfare Doctoral Student is awarded to a doctoral candidate who has an approved prospectus.

Dean's Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

Ivan Conard & Tiffany Mims

The Mandel School Dean's Award for Outstanding Student Achievement is presented to a graduate whom faculty feel exhibits academic achievement, exceptional service to the school, and exemplary performance in field education.

Outstanding Field Instructor Award

Melinda Waggoner

The Outstanding Field Instructor Award recognizes one individual for their incredible work, as well as their commitment to students and to the future of the profession. Field instructors are the social workers in the agencies who work without extra pay to help students apply classroom theory to the realities of today's service delivery challenges, develop their professional skills, and grow their identities as professional social workers.

John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Awards

The Outstanding Teacher Awards honor Professor Emeritus John A. Yankey, who was nominated a record number of times as "Outstanding Teacher" in both the MSSA and MNO degree programs for his ability to enlighten, motivate and inspire students. Each award is a testimony to the tremendous talent and commitment of our faculty members.

  • John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Award for Adjunct Teaching

    • Meagan Ray-Novak
  • John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Award for Full-Time Teaching

  • John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Award for the MNO Program

    • Megan Granson

Dean’s Discretionary Awards

The Dean's Discretionary Awards are not issued every year—only when there is a clear individual who shines and embodies the criteria of each of the respective awards.

Distinguished Service Award

Susan Sternad-Basel

The Distinguished Service Award is presented to a social worker for outstanding contributions to the social work profession, the community and the Mandel School.

Grace Longwell Coyle Award

Geneva Johnson

The Grace Longwell Coyle Award honors one of the finest educators in social work history. It is given to a person who embodies the spirit, commitment and innovation shown by Grace Longwell Coyle, whose work in the YWCA provided her with a platform for her exploration of group work. As a result of her scholarly pursuits and sincere dedication, Grace Coyle not only created a discipline, but positioned the Mandel School as the nation’s leading resource in group work theory.

Herman D. Stein Distinguished Social Work Educator

David Biegel

The Herman D. Stein Distinguished Social Work Educator Award is an exceptional award given only when a body of work is deemed significant and a recognized contribution to social work education and the profession, as evidenced by scholarly pursuits, leadership and academic excellence. The award honors Herman D. Stein, Dean Emeritus of the Mandel School, for his life’s work, extraordinary body of knowledge, and commitment to social welfare both in the U.S. and abroad—he was a social work luminary whose work changed the face of international social welfare.

Advocate for Social Justice and Leadership Development Award

Sherrod Brown, U.S. Senator for Ohio

The Advocate for Social Justice and Leadership Development Award is the Mandel School's highest honor, given to a recipient for their many significant contributions to promoting social justice, empowering communities, shaping public policy, informing social change and transforming lives.


CWRU Graduate Awards

Diekhoff Award Nomination

Dana Prince

Each spring, Diekhoff Awards recognize outstanding graduate mentoring and teaching. Up to four Diekhoff Awards are given annually, two for mentoring and two for teaching. Faculty members who receive these awards must have an appointment in a department awarding degrees through the School of Graduate Studies. Nominations are made by graduate students, faculty members and student associations.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Research Award

Tyrone Hamler

The Graduate Student Council's (GSC) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Research Award provides funding to CWRU master's and doctoral students who are conducting research with historically marginalized populations. The grant addresses critical gaps across disciplines in the research and application of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Graduate Student Appreciation Award

Rong Bai

Graduate students are nominated by faculty, staff or students for the School of Graduate Studies' Graduate Student Appreciation Award for their contributions towards improving the campus community and/or the surrounding Cleveland community.

Graduate Student Fellowships

Tyrone Hamler & Hyunjune Lee

Graduate Student Fellowships are awarded to students who are helping advance the Social Justice Institute's mission to create a more just world. Hamler's Fellowship will support the research for his dissertation, "Prevalence and Predictors of Decisional Conflict among Older African Americans with Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease." Lee's Fellowship will support the qualitative study of his multiple-article option, mixed-methods dissertation, "Understanding the Construction of Masculinity and Its Effects on Bullying Perpetration from the Perspective of Adolescent Boys Using an Intersectional Framework."

Marie Haug Award

Devon Jones

The Marie Haug Award is presented annually to graduate students who have shown exemplary performance in their gerontological studies. The award was established in 1990 to honor Dr. Haug’s pioneering work in aging at CWRU, who co-founded the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing's University Center on Aging and Health in 1978.