I am saddened by the loss of CSU President Emeritus John Flower who passed away yesterday at the age of 90. Dr. Flower was Cleveland State's fourth President from 1988 to 1992. He was a world-class musician, a decorated war veteran and a generous supporter of the arts.
More than 20 years ago, Dr. Flower offered CSU an ambitious vision that would lead the University into the next century. That vision set the stage for a new standard in education and paved the way for many groundbreaking initiatives today.
He was among an inspired generation of college officials who recognized great potential in eroding the barriers between town and gown. He reached out to businesses and civic organizations and forged lasting relationships that engaged CSU with the city's many extraordinary amenities.
Dr. Flower became focused on CSU's proximity to PlayhouseSquare. By 1988, he launched an extensive plan to expand the campus westward and draw CSU closer to Cleveland's renowned theater district. By 1990, construction began on the College of Business, the Law Library and West Garage. The development was dubbed the 17th-18th Street Block Project. The final step later fell in place with completion of the College of Urban Affairs building on the edge of PlayhouseSquare.
The realization of Dr. Flower's vision can be seen in many new projects today, with a robust new arts campus emerging in the Theater District. Later this year, CSU's Theater and Dance departments will share performance space in the Allen Theatre alongside the prestigious Cleveland Play House; and the Middough Building will be the new home to CSU's Art and Theater departments. When the facilities open, it will be an artistic and educational collaboration found nowhere else in the nation.
Linking the University to PlayhouseSquare was just one of many ways Dr. Flower sought to connect CSU with the community. As we look back on his legacy, we gain a better understanding of the motto Engaged Learning and what that means to CSU and our mission.
As we continue Dr. Flower's initiatives and follow his dream, we should not lose sight of the gift he bestowed upon this University and the benefit it will continue to have on our community and on our students.
To read Dr. Flower's obituary visit www.csuohio.edu/news/releases/2011/05/14908.html.