Praise for Cleveland State University President Ronald M. Berkman echoed through Playhouse Square Sept. 19 in Cleveland during the AJC 2017 Richard H. Adler Community Leadership Award ceremony, where he received the award for change he enacted through connections of respect between diverse communities at CSU. 

“It is a special honor to be among those who have been chosen by this internationally effective organization with historic roots … to share this evening in honor of one of the nation’s great leaders in the field of high education,” said the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., the first recipient of the award in 1996.

Nearly 150 guests gathered in the Outcalt Theatre to celebrate Berkman’s accomplishments, including the record-setting number enrolled in CSU’s freshman class, the $500 million campus renovation, the formation of a film school, the increase in the graduation rate and the creation of a vibrant city campus. 

“Over the years, we’ve learned a little bit about Dick Adler,” said AJC president Michael Cantor. “He was known to ask the question, ‘If we don’t take the responsibility of one another, who will?’”

Adler answered this question by living his values through care, compassion and repairing the world while working as president and CEO of Joseph and Feiss Co. in Cleveland as well as executive vice president of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. 

Cantor said Berkman followed the same values which continued Adler’s legacy through CSU and Cleveland in his initiatives to create an affordable and welcoming college for those who would not have gone on to higher education. 

“What’s happened is that CSU has literally become a real campus,” said Tom Adler, son of Richard Adler, who presented the award. “In part of the reason why it’s the place kids want to go instead of a last resort is terrific.”

Berkman, who will retire as president in 2018 said AJC’s work is “vital to our city, our country and our world.”

 “I applaud the ongoing effort to sow the seeds of tolerance particularly by building bridges among those in our community,” he said. 

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