Commencement 2023

2023 graduates sitting and listening to Dean Voisin speak at commencement 2023 at the Maltz Performing Arts Center

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences celebrated the graduation of its Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Nonprofit Organizations (MNO), and PhD in Social Welfare students on Friday, May 19, 2023!

The Mandel School's diploma ceremony took place at the Maltz Performing Arts Center's Silver Hall at 10 a.m. and the School of Graduate Studies' diploma ceremony (which administers our PhD in Social Welfare degrees) took place at the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center at 2 p.m.

Alumna Amy Main Morgenstern (SAS '80; MGT '88), president of Main Stream Enterprises, delivered the school's diploma ceremony address. Right before she gave her speech, she received the Mandel School’s Distinguished Service Award, an honor given by Dean Voisin for outstanding contributions to the social work profession, the community and the Mandel School.

The Mandel School hosted a reception for its graduates in Noble Commons following the school's diploma ceremony, from 12 to 3 p.m.

This year's convocation ceremony took place at the Veale Center on Wednesday, May 17, at 4 p.m. as a kick-off to the university's first-ever Commencement Week. Convocation featured multiple awards and remarks, as well as an address from commencement speaker Michael Osterholm, an internationally renowned infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota. Immediately prior to convocation, members of the campus community celebrated all graduates during a ‘Clap Out’ as they processed through the Case Quad to the Veale Center.

All of the ceremonies were live-streamed for off-campus viewing again this year.

See how CWRU celebrated Commencement 2023

View photos from the Mandel School's celebration

Mandel School Student & Faculty Commencement Awards

Group of students in regalia outside the Maltz Performing Arts Center

Nominations are held every spring to recognize outstanding Mandel School faculty members and graduating students for their exceptional achievements in the classroom and community. Student and faculty commencement awards are presented during the Mandel School's diploma ceremony in May each year. Congratulations to all of our 2023 award winners!

Mandel School Diploma Ceremony Student Speaker

Sydney Evans

Students nominate one of their classmates to speak as a representative of the current class at the Mandel School's diploma ceremony.

Irene Sogg Gross Award

Sydney Evans

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.

Dean's Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

Anju Kotwani

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.

Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Student Award

Jasmine Myers

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.

Sylvia and John A. Yankey Community Service Award

Sydney Evans

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.

John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Awards

Full-Time: Jessica Wojtalik

MNO: Zulma Zabala

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.

Outstanding Field Instructor Award

Gulnar Feerasta, SAS '16

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 social work profession. These individuals work 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.

Outstanding Field Practicum Organization Awards

Crossroads Hospice and Palliative Care, Magnolia Clubhouse, Project LIFT & St. Herman – FOCUS Cleveland

The Outstanding Field Practicum Organization Awards recognizes organizations that have invested in the growth and development of Mandel School social work students and see the importance of helping students integrate the classroom and practicum learning. Organizations nominated for this award provide a variety of progressively-advancing learning opportunities to continuously support student learning and professional development. 

Dean’s Discretionary Awards

Dean's Award winners with Dean and Alumni Board President

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.

Advocate for Human Rights Award

David Wittkowsky, WRC '85

The Advocate for Human Rights Award is awarded for significant contributions as a leader, role model and creator of opportunities for others.

Distinguished Service Award

Amy Main Morgenstern, SAS '80; MGT '88

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

Graduate Studies Awards

Each spring, faculty and staff are encouraged to nominate students from their department for awards offered through the School of Graduate Studies.

The Graduate Studies awards and department awards, along with the winners of the John S. Diekhoff Awards for Faculty Teaching and Mentoring, the Eva L. Pancoast Memorial Fellowship and the Three-Minute Thesis Competition, are presented at the annual School of Graduate Studies Awards Ceremony.

This year's ceremony was held Wednesday, May 3, at 3 p.m., in the Tinkham Veale University Center Ballroom.

Arol Schack Dissertation Award for Outstanding Social Welfare Doctoral Student

Emily Miller

The PhD in Social Welfare doctoral program's Arol Shack Dissertation Award for Outstanding Social Welfare Doctoral Student was established through donations from friends and alumni of the program along with a matching gift from Gigi Nordquist. The fund honors the many years of work and dedication that Arol Shack devoted to the doctoral program, its students and faculty members as the department assistant.

One to two awards are given each year depending on funds and the number of applications received. Funds are used to support the student’s work on his/her dissertation research. The expectation is that the work funded through this award will be completed by the end of the one-year grant award period. Full-time and part-time students who have an approved prospectus, a dissertation chair and have passed the Qualifying Exam, are eligible to apply. Any dissertation topic is accepted.

A faculty committee reviews the applications for the dissertation award and makes recommendations to the chair of the doctoral program based on the merits of the proposals and the financial needs of the applicant. Formal recognition of the award occurs at the graduate studies awards ceremony each spring.

Emily Miller was selected to receive the 2022–23 Arol Schack Dissertation Award for her dissertation, An Exploration of the Impact of Potentially Traumatic Event Exposure and Social Support on Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Jan. 19, 2023.

Marie Haug Award

Piper Sereno

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

MSW student Piper Sereno was selected to receive the 2023 Marie Haug Award on March 24, 2023. Through her outstanding performance in both coursework and field placements, Sereno has shown a strong commitment to serving older adults and their families and a clear promise of continued contributions to gerontological social work in the future.

Ruth Barber Moon Award

Emily Miller

Richard A. Zdanis Fellowship

Kari O'Donnell