5 questions with…Edwin Mayes, CWRU’s new director of first-year experience

When members of the Class of 2016 arrive Sunday, they’ll be greeted by another fresh face on campus: Edwin Mayes, the director of first-year experience, who joined the university just a few months ago.

In his role, which is a new position at Case Western Reserve, Mayes hopes to create a more exciting, engaging first-year experience for students, both socially and academically. This includes developing a first-year advisory council, organizing new programming and collaborating with departments across the university to create a welcoming environment for students.

“We have a lot of great programs here for first-year students, but I think we can build on what we have to make their first year even better,” he said.

Mayes is certainly familiar with meeting (and exceeding) students’ needs; after all, he’s been in higher education for more than 20 years, holding positions ranging from residence hall director to assistant dean of students at schools such as Wittenberg University and University of Michigan. Most recently, he was director of first-year experience at Wright State University.

Now that he’s in Cleveland, his new home after growing up and spending much of his adult life in Dayton, Mayes hopes people will share their favorite things about the city with him—and with the incoming students.

“It should be a very exciting time, having 3,000 additional people on campus during move-in,” he said. “If you work at CWRU, please come out and show the parents and students how friendly and welcoming we can be.”

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
Well, I’m a huge comic book fan, but my favorite superhero has always been Batman—because he doesn’t actually have any superpowers. If he wanted to do something, he worked really hard to get it, and I think that’s the best power you can have: that dedication to work hard toward a goal.

If I had to pick a superpower, I suppose it would be something similar to Batman’s “powers”: being transformative, helping people, doing what’s best for the community. I’d like to be able to transform people’s lives and situations to help them be successful.

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
Honestly, since I moved here in May, I haven’t eaten too many places that don’t exist in other cities, but I really enjoyed Phil the Fire in Beachwood. The chicken and waffles were delicious.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a baseball player. I still play now in a 48-and-over league, and this is the first summer that I have not played baseball regularly probably in 20 years. … I still play with my team out of Cincinnati when they come up to Toledo, and I play in an international world series every year in Florida. I play outfield, and I’m blessed to still be able to run a little bit.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m very proud that I went to Durbin, South Africa, a few years ago. I did leadership training for high school students there and developed an entrepreneurship program. I got involved because I wanted to travel abroad, and I never had. Now, I still keep in contact with the students there through texts and Facebook messages, and it makes the world a little smaller.

Also, I’m also very proud that I have two perfect games in bowling. I’m hoping to get on a league here soon. I’m due for another perfect game soon; I haven’t had [one] in six years. … I play golf too, but haven’t hit anything special in golf—yet.

Professionally, I’m proud to have my master’s and proud to have worked the places I have because you get to see the results of your hard work. Sometimes, you have days where you don’t think people are really listening or growing, and then you see them later in life and you see the difference you make on a day-to-day basis.

I’m very excited to be working at a school like Case Western Reserve. It’s still sinking in a little bit—how impressive it is and all the possibilities of what I can do here.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
How passionate people are about helping students being successful. I can see that in each person I talked with, whether it’s concerns about budget or my position and what am I going to do—they’re very student-focused and very proud of what they do for students, and the students have the same energy about them.

It will be very exciting to have the students back on campus. I’m looking forward to it.