CLEVELAND – Cleveland State University has received a $10 million gift from Donald and Pamela Washkewicz, and The Parker Hannifin Foundation.
Donald Washkewicz, who grew up in Garfield Heights and earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from CSU in 1972, is Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of Parker Hannifin Corporation, headquartered in Greater Cleveland.
In recognition of the transformative gift –- equaling the largest-ever in university history and by far the largest for the engineering program -– the CSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the College the Washkewicz College of Engineering at Cleveland State University.
"We are tremendously grateful to Don and Pam Washkewicz and The Parker Hannifin Foundation for their exceptional generosity," said CSU President Ronald M. Berkman.
"The value they assign to integrity, compassion, philanthropy and life-long learning will forever provide a positive example for each of our students. Moreover, CSU historians will view this gift not only as a legacy defined by the Washkewicz name but as 'the' moment of the 21st century when engineering students saw their learning environment at CSU emerge from the past and present to the future."
Long known as Fenn College of Engineering, the engineering program has more than 12,000 living alumni. It traces its origins to 1923 when Fenn College, a small urban commuter college, was founded as part of the Cleveland YMCA's education program and named in honor of Sereno Peck Fenn, who was the longstanding board chair of the YMCA and an early partner in Sherwin-Williams.
The university will continue to honor the Fenn history by renaming the engineering building Fenn Hall. The university will also maintain the Fenn co-op program, which celebrated its 90th anniversary several weeks ago.
Donald Washkewicz said, "Pam and I and our entire family are delighted to provide this gift to Cleveland State and its engineering program. My experience at CSU was so rewarding and I am forever grateful to the university and the people who helped me. At Parker, we have enjoyed a close relationship with the CSU engineering program that has yielded many new opportunities and enabled us to hire many very talented people. My hope is that the additional support we are providing will enable the CSU engineering program to do even more to make engineering a core driver of job growth and economic opportunity in the region."
In addition to his degree from CSU, Washkewicz holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University. He received an honorary doctorate degree in Engineering from Cleveland State in 2004. He also received the 2002 George B. Davis Distinguished Alumnus Award from CSU and Fenn College of Engineering as well as the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.
The gift will facilitate major physical infrastructure improvements to the 1920s-era building previously known as Stilwell Hall, which houses the engineering program and is now being renamed Fenn Hall. The structure was built as the Ohio Motors Building and was renovated in the late 1950s, with patchwork renovation over the past six decades. CSU recently received a $12.7 million state capital appropriation to make structural improvements, but those resources are insufficient to fully transform the building to a state-of-the-art facility.
Proposed renovations include enhancing classroom space, mobility, student and faculty gathering areas and offices, and creating a new entrance from Chester Avenue and East 24th Street. However, the hallmarks of the transformation will be two unique laboratory spaces – a Learning Incubator for Undergraduate Education and a Laboratory for Research and Innovation.
Anette Karlsson, Dean of the College of Engineering, said, "We are committed to developing innovative approaches to curricula, rethinking traditional teaching modes, utilizing e-learning tools, and providing the student with a 'blended' learning experience where we optimize the use of online resources and direct interaction with the professors. We believe our efforts to drive innovation in engineering education will increase the number of CSU graduates while maintaining our recognizable identity of turning out 'Ready-to-Go' Engineers."
The College of Engineering offers B.S., M.S. and Doctor of Engineering degree programs in several engineering fields. Its cooperative education program provides internship opportunities in organizations such as NASA, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and in companies such as Parker Hannifin, Rockwell Automation, GE Lighting, Middough, Keithley, Ford, Lincoln Electric, Sherwin-Williams, FirstEnergy and Lubrizol.
College alumni can be found across the globe working in firms of all sizes and scope, Fortune 500 companies and public agencies. They include CEOs, senior engineers, researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs, professors and authors.
Engineering faculty members are nationally and internationally renowned for their research expertise and accomplishments, attracting external funding from local, state and national agencies, foundations and industry.
The College's recently established Center for STEMM Education brings together the expertise among CSU's colleges of Engineering, Science and Education to encourage innovative science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine education programs, strengthen community partnerships and the K-12 student pipeline, increase grant activity and support promising programs related to STEMM.