Monday Morning Message 5.18.20 Above and Beyond: Our Staff

Posted 2020-05-18 9:35am

I am unbelievably impressed and grateful for colleagues who have enthusiastically helped with new areas, learned new technology, tracked down answers across campus, moved entire departments (like the entire library!) to remote work overnight, kept in touch with alumni, helped with student questions, and just generally responded to crisis with grace and kindness.” – Sarah Beznoska, Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services 

“Not a day goes by that I don't feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the C|M|LAW community.  It's nice to be appreciated for the work we are accomplishing as a dedicated team during these unprecedented times.” – Marcie Rechner, Student Records Administrator

This weekend, we dropped off a small token of our appreciation to the home of each of our staff, because without our staff, we don’t have a law school. This has been more evident than ever during this Covid-19 pandemic.

The entire continuum of the law school experience- from admissions, to academic support, to financial sustainability, to marketing & communications, to administrative support of faculty and programs, to student records, to student organizations, to events & forums, to building maintenance, to student & faculty research, to our Master of Legal Studies and LL.M. programs, to the administration of final exams, to preparation for the bar exam, to securing externships and employment- is facilitated by our staff who work tirelessly to support our students, faculty, alumni, and visitors.

So this morning, I want to focus on some of the messages of gratitude I’ve recently received about our extraordinary staff who have gone above and beyond.

Messages About Our Staff

Remote Exam Administration Team

I want to recognize our College of Law Remote Exam Administration Team…. Exams at the College of Law are administered and graded anonymously, which required a lot of careful thought, planning, and execution for the process of carrying this out in a remote environment. Administering exams meant bringing together folks from the Law Library, IT, Records, Student Support, and more. Everyone on the team –Layla Davis, Eric Domanski, Jill Natran, Marcie Rechner, Rick Zhang, Professor Lauren Collins, and Associate Dean Carolyn Broering-Jacobs - had to adjust to new technology, anticipate new issues, and remain flexible and calm to best assist students in a stressful time. Associate Dean Broering-Jacobs kept everyone on track, showed true leadership, and worked on the ground answering student questions. This was the epitome of a team effort and indicative of the support that staff consistently provide to each other at the College of Law.”  - Assistant Dean Sarah Beznoska

Sarah Beznoska, Assistant Dean for Student and Career Services

“Assistant Dean of Student Life and Career Services, Sarah Beznoska, has put forth a tremendous outreach effort to reach C|M|LAW students during these past months of remote learning. Sarah is the student's primary contact for career and employment advice and guidance, and she has been working with students to help them navigate the uncertainties of what summer 2020 will bring. This is typically a time for externships, fellowships, and other curriculum-related work opportunities for our students, and many have seen these opportunities rescinded or disappear altogether. She maintains direct connections with Cleveland area employers and has been very transparent in the news she's shared with the C|M|LAW community. Additionally, Sarah is the direct contact for students to seek emergency financial assistance, and has worked with numerous students to submit their applications for this assistance, and has shared the application materials, follow-up, and other required information with the committee to make quick decisions on each situation case by case. Sarah truly works with the concept of students first in the work she does day in and day out. I am continually impressed by her commitment to students, to equity, and to her peers and colleagues---she is a great asset to Cleveland-Marshall and Cleveland State University.” 
– Allison Bolt, Budget Manager

Sarah Beznoska has worked hard with our externs and their supervisors to make sure the current group are able to complete their extern requirements and to make arrangements for summer externships. She has been available day and night, weekdays and weekends.” – Professor Ken Kowalski

Layla Davis, Administrative Secretary

“I want to thank Layla Davis for her exemplary work in helping me with my Criminal Law class this semester.  She agreed to receive electronic submissions of answers to a practice exam from my 55 students and then to forward to me a large sample of those answers.  She was heavily involved in administering final exams, a time-consuming, demanding task.  Ms. Davis always performs whatever tasks are asked of her, even when a professor such as myself asks her for extra help.” – Professor Peter Garlock

“This is a quick note to throw a shout-out to Layla Davis.  Phew.  She helped me. She allowed me to email her directly which calmed me down immediately.”  - Matthew Noonan, Masters of Legal Studies Student

 “Layla’s work really makes such a difference to our students.” – Associate Dean Carolyn Broering-Jacobs

 “Layla is so quick to respond to questions - that come in at all hours - students hardly have time to be anxious.”  
– Assistant Dean Sarah Beznoska 

Nick De Santis, Director of Academic Support

Nick DeSantis and the academic support staff have not missed a beat since the transition happened. I am personally going to be forever grateful for what he does and how available him and his team have been during this time…..He has done so much for me and other students, it truly is hard to put into words how valuable he is during this exact situation…. Nick and Professor Heidi Robertson both have made themselves available beyond normal hours and have made extra study guides and templates to ensure our success. Without the team of Robertson and DeSantis, I am not sure I would have been able to handle the pressures of law school in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. – Wes Gerber, 1L Student

I want to give a shout out to the Academic Support Team, led by Nick DeSantis. As quickly as our faculty shifted their teaching to adjust to a remote environment this semester, our Academic Support Team adjusted to continue to support students who had greater anxiety and new concerns, and who needed the positivity, support, encouragement, and critical remote learning skills that Academic Support provided. Nick and his team are always focused on student success, are available at all times to help students, and are a huge asset to the College of Law.”
 Assistant Dean Sara Beznoska 

Eric Domanski, Systems/Data Administrator and Rick Zhang, Systems/Web Administrator

Eric Domanski has been instrumental in helping me figure out how to send recordings of Zoom classes to my students in Criminal Law.  In addition to responding to emails, Eric arranged a Zoom session with me to resolve a problem I was having on this issue.  Eric has helped to keep my class email list up to date so that I could send recordings and other class materials to the students.  Finally, Eric has taken time to go down to the law building to print out hard copies of final exams that students have submitted electronically, so that I could grade their exams more easily than doing it on a computer screen.

Rick Zhang helped me when during Zoom class sessions, my computer screen would not properly display the pictures and names of class members.  Rick and I held a Zoom meeting that lasted almost an hour to try to resolve this problem.  Rick also assisted me to set up a new class when I was unable to launch a Zoom class that had previously been scheduled.

 During the whole period of remote instruction both Eric and Rick have responded to requests for assistance almost immediately.  It has been very reassuring to someone such as myself who is unfamiliar with technology to know I could count on their technical skills and helpful attitude. I doubt the law school could have functioned without them during this trying period.” – Professor Peter Garlock

Mary Jane McGinty, Director, Bar Exam Preparation

“In this unsettling time for graduating law students, Mary Jane McGinty has gone above and beyond to make sure the graduating students are prepared and informed about the upcoming Bar Exam…. Mary Jane has constantly updated her students with information or date changes about the application process. She is very responsive to any concerns expressed by the graduating students and will track down the answer to any questions you have. Most of all, Mary Jane has made herself available each and every day of distanced learning via Zoom Office Hours. I truly believe she has gone above and beyond during these unprecedented times in the world for law students”. – Joelle Livorse, 3L student 

On behalf of our students, faculty, alumni, and leaders-in-residence -our deep and sincere gratitude to each and every member of our amazing staff. Thank you very much for going above and beyond!

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

If you missed CSU President Harlan Sands’ virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, May 13, you can see it here.

Have a great day. Have a great week.

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

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 My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,


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