Engaging with Our Community

An illustration of two people holding large pots with enormous big circles growing out them like flowers to reflect the university’s collaborative community workIllustration: Brian Stauffer

Community engagement is so central to Case Western Reserve President Eric W. Kaler’s goals for the university that he emphasized the subject in his first campus message—and cited it as one of his top priorities in his inauguration speech.

“We must commit to ... engaging with our Cleveland and East Cleveland neighbors to achieve positive social change,” he declared during that October 2021 address. “All of our futures will rise together.”

This spirit dates back decades for the institutions that constitute Case Western Reserve, from abolitionist activism in the 19th century to the early 20th-century launch of one of the nation’s first university-affiliated schools of social work—thanks in large part to the support and urging of the Greater Cleveland community. Cultivating stronger connections with neighbors is a central part of the university’s strategic plan and is accelerated by the enthusiasm of a new generation of students eager for bridges into a wider world.

“This is important to our students,” said Julian Rogers (MNO ’08), assistant vice president of local government and community relations. “They want to be connected to the places where they are. They want to feel like they’re making a difference, and they want to engage in ways that students may not have necessarily thought about 20 or 30 years ago.”

From collaborations tackling health disparities to initiatives expanding opportunities for local students, here are just a few of the stories unfolding on and beyond our campus.

— Liz Leyden

Illustrations by Brian Stauffer