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Released on May 22, 2023
Monday Morning Message 5.22.23 The Resilient Class of 2023

“Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” – Nora Ephron 

Yesterday was our 2023 Commencement where we celebrated the accomplishments of one of the most resilient classes to ever graduate from our law school.

Early during their legal education, the world turned upside down.  The pandemic challenged the way we taught and the way they learned. Our graduates were forced to juggle the usual pressures of being a law student with a range of new and unexpected challenges, not of their making.

They adapted and excelled. I have no doubt that the unprecedented challenges they faced will make them even better lawyers and leaders.

The Class of 2023 worked exceptionally hard like most people won’t, so they can change the world in ways that most people can’t.

Our 151 graduates included 115 graduating with a JD degree, 7 with an LLM degree, 24 with a Master of Legal Studies (MLS) degree, and 5 with joint degrees. They came to us from more than 78 colleges and universities across the country and around the world. 

We heard inspiring, powerful remarks from Commencement Speakers Steve Potash ’78 and Loree Potash ’79, the first couple to ever give a commencement address at our law school. We also heard from CSU President Laura Bloomberg, CSU Board Vice-Chair Tim Cosgrove ‘87, Christina O’Brien ’23, President of the Student Bar Association, Camille Pollutro ’23, Class Valedictorian, and Katey Hach ’23, recipient of the Dean’s Learn Law. Live Justice Award, given to a graduating student who shows promise for embracing their new law degree as a force for good. Megan Grantham ’23, an accomplished singer, sang America the Beautiful.

Next week, I’ll share some excerpts from each of their great remarks.

We honored Visiting Professor Matthew Ahn as the SBA Faculty Member of the Year and Jill NatranManager of Administrative Operations, as SBA Staff Member of the Year.  We also honored Adjunct Professor Charles (Spence) Witten with the Judge Richard M. Markus Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year Award. Other adjunct faculty who I saw were Gordon FriedmanJudge John Russo ‘92, and David Valent ’08.

Associate Deans Carolyn Broering-Jacobs and Jonathan Witmer-Rich read the names of each graduate as President Bloomberg and I handed each graduate their diploma. Sarah BeznoskaAssistant Dean for Student and Career Services, assisted us with the awarding of diplomas.

We presented a posthumous award in recognition of the work Josh Ehlers Lee completed before his tragic death after his first year of law school. His friend Gabby Hartstein ’23 accepted it on behalf of Josh’s family. Josh was an engaged member of our CSU|LAW family and made many friends in the short time he was here. We miss him very much.

The other faculty who joined us were Professor Milena Sterio, who was recently honored as CSU Distinguished Professor, the highest honor any university faculty member can receive, and Professors Pam Daiker-Middaugh, Doron Kalir, Claire Robinson May, Karen Mika, Reginald Oh, Kevin O’Neil, John Plecnik, Heidi Gorovitz Robertsonand Professors Emeritus Patricia Falk and David Forte.

Also joining us were Dr. Nigamanth SridharProvost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Sonali WilsonCSU General Counsel and CSU|LAW Leader-in-Residence, Sarah Flannery ’02, Chair of the Board of Visitors, Robin Wilson’96, President of our Law Alumni Association, Kim Bixenstine, CSU|LAW Health Care Law Leader-in-Residence, Jake Wrege, CSU Board Student Trustee, J.D. Candidate 2025, and Albert (Fred) Smith, Vice-President, CSU Faculty Senate.

Special thanks to Jill Natran, Administrative Coordinator, Holli Goodman, Executive Assistant to the Dean, and Elaine Terman, Marketing Director, for leading the planning and execution of our very successful 2023 Commencement.

 Also joining us were many of our distinguished judicial alumni:

Justice Melody Stewart ’88   
Ohio Supreme Court                                                             
Hon. Sean C. Gallagher ‘89
Presiding Judge, 8th District Ohio Court of Appeals
Hon. Mary J. Boyle ‘89
8th District Ohio Court of Appeals
Hon. John J. Russo ‘92
Cuyahoga County Court of Commons Pleas
Hon. Cassandra Collier-Williams ‘90
Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Hon. Deborah M. Turner ‘97
Cuyahoga County Court of Commons Pleas
Hon. W. Mona Scott ‘02
Cleveland Municipal Housing Court
Hon. C. Ellen Connally ‘70
Cleveland Municipal Court (retired)
Magistrate Joanna N. Lopez-Inman ‘10
Magistrate, Cleveland Municipal Court

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

My best,


Lee Fisher
Dean, Cleveland State University College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law

For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.

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