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CSU, KSU recall Schwartz impact with celebration of life

Members of the Kent State University and Cleveland State University communities gathered Feb. 8 to honor the life of the late Michael Schwartz, former president of both universities, in the Glasscock Family Foundation Ballroom inside the Cleveland State University Ballroom in downtown Cleveland.

Schwartz, who died Jan. 2 at 86 following a long illness, served as the ninth president of Kent State from 1982 to 1991 and the fifth president of Cleveland State from 2002 to 2009, first serving as interim president in 2001. The celebration of life was co-presented by the two universities, according to a news release from Kent State.

Recording artist Ashley Nemeh sings “America the Beautiful.”

Speakers included university presidents, Kent State’s Todd Diacon and Cleveland State’s Laura Bloomberg; William Bowen, a former Cleveland State professor and frequent collaborator with Schwartz; Sonali B. Wilson, general counsel and secretary to the board of trustees of Cleveland State; Timothy J. Cosgrove, former chair of Cleveland State’s board of trustees; and son, Ken Schwartz, who was joined by his sister, Rachel Lynn Jones, and their mother and Schwartz’s wife, Joanne Rand Schwartz.

Kent State University President Todd Diacon holds a framed photo of Schwartz’s presidential portrait, which hangs in the Office of the President at Kent State. The framed photo was presented to the Schwartz family. 

Two Cleveland State professors presented the Schwartz family with a resolution honoring Schwartz, while Diacon presented the family with a framed copy of Schwartz’s presidential portrait that hangs in the Office of the President at Kent State.

In her comments, Bloomberg reflected on her interactions with Schwartz, “fondly remembering” that he “always returned my calls,” the release said. She also spoke of some of his writings, which he wrote about “the conversation of the variety and diversity of ideas” and how that action, facilitated by universities, led to societal progress.

Schwartz’s family, including son Ken Schwartz, wife Joanne Rand Schwartz and daughter Rachel Lynn Jones, attend the program. 

Diacon spoke of Schwartz’s accomplishments during his total 25 years at Kent State.

“So much of what today makes us a beacon of student success, degree completion and research excellence originated with advances implemented during his administration,” Diacon said in the release. “I will miss his wise counsel, great wit and endless humanity.”

At the event, Diacon also recalled his dealings with Schwartz, as well as his “passionate belief” in the power of education.

An undated photograph of Michael Schwartz outside the Kent Student Center.

Diacon ended his remarks by saying, “Long live Cleveland State University, and long live Kent State University. Long live our state’s public universities, community colleges and private colleges. Long live learning for the sake of learning, and long live giving one’s time to make things better for others. This is Michael Schwartz’s world, and we all benefit from living in it,” the release said.

Recording artist Ashley Nemeh also began the event with a rendition of “America the Beautiful.”