Remembering Michael Schwartz

Steve Balch

We recently learned that Michael Schwartz passed away on January 2nd at age 86. Michael held the distinction of being the only member of the National Association of Scholars to have served as president of a public university—two, in fact, Kent State (1982-1991) and Cleveland State (2002-2009). In both positions, he was a strong champion of excellence, replacing open admission with admission requirements at CSU and substantially elevating the bar passage rate of its law school. (An administration building now bears Mike’s name at Kent State, as does the library at CSU.) Mike told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in an interview during the final year of his presidency that his greatest accomplishment at CSU was “giving back the institution its pride”.

Needless to say, having a successful career as a senior academic administrator, no less as a president, is a strange accompaniment to NAS membership. Indeed, Mike actually spent a year on the NAS board. However, he confessed to some discomfort at sitting in a conclave whose general opinion of higher education CEOs was less than flattering. He left the board but never the organization.

Mike may have been the last of that nearly extinct breed of university leaders drawn to their service out of a love of genuine education and the social, economic, and intellectual mobility it promised. He will be missed.

Photo courtesy of Cleveland State University.

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