Commencement 2024

Graduates standing at 2024 Commencement in the Maltz

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 17, 2024.

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. A reception was held for our graduates in Noble Commons from 12 to 2 p.m.

Alumna Hannah Griswold (MNO ‘93), a strategic development consultant with over 20 years of experience in fundraising and brand creation, delivered the school's diploma ceremony address.

The university hosted its second annual clap out, convocation and Spartan send-off barbecue on Wednesday, May 15, at 3:30 p.m. Vinton Cerf, Google's vice president and chief internet evangelist who is widely considered one of the “fathers of the internet,” delivered the keynote address.

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

View photos from the Mandel School's diploma ceremony

See how CWRU celebrated Commencement 2024

Mandel School Student & Faculty Commencement Awards

Graduate with her supporters after commencement

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 award winners!

Mandel School Diploma Ceremony Student Speaker

Tia Otoo

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

Harley Rubin

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

Abigail Schultz

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

Erin Grohe

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.

Dean's Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

Kate Guditz

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

Mary Bazie

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 Practicum Organization Award

FrontLine Service

The Outstanding Practicum Organization Award recognizes one organization that has invested in the growth and development of Mandel School social work students and recognizes 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.

John A. Yankey Outstanding Teacher Awards

Full-Time: Elizabeth Bach

Part-Time (Adjunct): Patrick Clifford

MNO: Alexander Campbell

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/MSW 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.

Dean’s Discretionary Awards

Elizabeth Bach accepts her award from Dean Voisin and Adriennie Hatten

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

Distinguished Service Award

Sandra M. Turner, PhD (GRS ’04, social welfare)
Mandel School Visiting Committee Chair & volunteer for four decades

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

Sandra Turner’s service to the Mandel School began four decades ago when she became an adjunct faculty member. In 2017, she retired as Director of EY Assist, America's Talent Team, at Ernst & Young LLP. She is extremely active in her community, having been elected and re-elected as a council member for the Village of Gates Mills, Ohio, for two four-year terms. Turner joined the Mandel School Dean’s Visiting Committee in 2012 and by 2018, she became Visiting Committee Chair. During her leadership, the Committee’s activities have grown exponentially. She was vital to our Scholarship Campaign Committee from 2018–20. She chaired the Recognition Committee for Dean Emeritus Cleve Gilmore and has been integral to all our fundraising efforts while providing important consultation for senior administrative roles within the school. When it came to hiring a new dean back in 2021, she was a key participant in the search process. 

Herman D. Stein Distinguished Social Work Educator Award

Kathleen J. Farkas, PhD (GRS ’84, social welfare)
Associate Professor Emerita

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.

Kathy Farkas is an expert in mental health and substance use among women and older adults. She taught widely across both the master's and doctoral programs and has received three Mentorship Recognition Awards from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) before retiring last year after 35 years of exemplary service to the school. Farkas was the lead for two innovative, grant-funded community programs—the Home Visitor Program and the Women’s Re-entry Network. She has published two books, countless articles, book chapters and essays. With Richard Romaniuk, she developed and led the course “Invisible Groups in a New Poland.” In 2017 and 2020, she was selected as a visiting scholar at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Farkas was also a member of the 2012 delegation for CSWE’s China Collaborative.

Advocate for Social Justice and Leadership Development Award

Stephen H. Hoffman
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation Chairman of the Board

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.

Stephen Hoffman helps advance the wishes of the late Mandel brothers, and is receiving the same award that was established back in 2007 to recognize their varied contributions to the school. He was honored as a social worker and nonprofit leader who has been a true partner and champion for the profession of social work, a sincere advocate for the Mandel School and a distinguished leader across the city of Cleveland. Hoffman uses advocacy, philanthropy and initiative to build trust and welcomes diverse perspectives throughout Cleveland’s human services and arts community.

School of 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 are presented at the annual School of Graduate Studies Awards Ceremony each May. This year's ceremony was held Wednesday, May 1.

John S. Diekhoff Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Nominees

Mark Joseph and Jessica Wojtalik

Established in 1978 in honor of John Diekhoff, the John S. Diekhoff Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring are presented each year to four faculty members who make exemplary contributions to the education and development of graduate students at Case Western Reserve University. Diekhoff served as professor of English, chair of the Department of English, dean of Cleveland College, acting dean of the School of Graduate Studies and vice provost of the university.

Mark Joseph, the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Professor in Community Development and founding director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, and Jessica Wojtalik, assistant professor, were two out of 57 faculty nominated for this award. Read more in the daily.

Marie Haug Award

Kate Guditz & Carlie Shelton

The Marie Haug Award is presented annually to a graduate student(s) 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.

Ruth Barber Moon Award

Nichole Cobb

For her leadership in curriculum development.

Richard A. Zdanis Fellowship &
Graduate Student Appreciation Award

Jeesoo Jeon 

Jeon has an impressive set of work outlined for her dissertation, and we look forward to seeing how her work illuminates changes needed for the field.

Other Awards

Unity Banquet Scholarship Awards

Ayowole Samuel Ajiboye & Sylvia Hernandez

The annual Unity Banquet and Scholarship Dinner celebrates the academic achievements of underrepresented and diverse graduate and undergraduate students at Case Western Reserve University, as well as graduating high school seniors, by awarding thousands of dollars in scholarships each spring. The evening also serves as an opportunity to recognize future students and CWRU community partners.

Ayowole Samuel Ajiboye receives an award on stage

Dr. Dorothy Pijan Student Leadership Awards

Outstanding Community Service Award

Ayowole Samuel Ajiboye

The Student Leadership Awards were created by Dr. Dorothy Pijan in 1986 to recognize and honor CWRU's outstanding undergraduate  and graduate student leaders. Pijan was the director of Thwing Center and Student Activities from 1982–2003. She was a well-respected and nationally-known student union professional with an incredible passion, drive and dedication to student leadership. After her death in 2003, the awards were named in her honor to recognize her many contributions to student life at Case Western Reserve. Over 20 different student leadership awards are presented during an awards ceremony each spring.