5 questions with…event organizer, arts aficionado Eric Dicken

In his nine years at Case Western Reserve University, Eric Dicken, the senior executive director of Donor Relations, University Events and Presidential Protocol, has organized numerous events and initiatives across campus. From the school year’s beginning—fall convocation—to its end—commencement—Dicken works tirelessly to ensure major campus events go off without a hitch.

Taking on such high-profile events may seem like a daunting task, but Dicken has plenty of practice and knowledge (which he now shares as a presenter at events such as the Academic Event Professionals Conference and The North American Association of Commencement Officers). He grew his talent for event planning as a theater student at Hiram College, where he directed and managed stage productions; he later earned a master’s degree in education from Kent State University and a master of nonprofit organizations from Case Western Reserve.

But as he continues his career outside the theater, he maintains his devotion to the arts: Dicken just wrapped up his 13th year assisting with theater operations for the Cleveland International Film Festival, and he sits on the boards of the Cleveland Arts Prize and Near West Theatre.

Learn more about him.

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
You mean aside from the superpowers I already have, right? The superpower I want most is multilocation—the ability to be present in a number of places at the same moment in time. I would find that incredibly helpful.

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
Cleveland is a great food town, and I have favorites all across the city. My answers depend on the part of town I’m visiting or activity I’m planning. The Flaming Ice Cube downtown offers an all-vegan menu, which provides me unlimited options. I am a huge fan of the variety of exceptional restaurants in my neighborhood, the Gordon Square Arts District. Luxe, Happy Dog, XYZ and Sweet Moses are all near the top of my list.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be in the arts. I learned to play piano in elementary school and enjoyed performing. In college, I majored in English and theater arts. I enjoyed my studies and soon discovered I felt most accomplished working behind the scenes. My experience with directing and stage management gave me a strong foundation for what I currently do at the university.

I’m still connected to the arts through my work as a board member for the Cleveland Arts Prize and Near West Theatre. I make sure to see as many shows, concerts and exhibits as my schedule will permit—hence the desire for multilocation!

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
Personally, I am proud of my relationships. I have amazing people in my life, and I strive to be a good son, brother, uncle, friend and partner.

Professionally, I am proud to be entrusted with the care of many high-profile events at the university. Events like BlueBash, commencement and The Race at Case [the 2004 VP debates] are important milestones and help us convey to a broader audience what a remarkable place Case Western Reserve University truly is. Through my role, I’ve worked with incredible people from outside of the university, including Katie Couric, Aretha Franklin and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, among many other notable guests. I’m also fortunate to work alongside colleagues whose tireless efforts make what we do look easy.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
My role allows me the privilege to work with people all across campus. I think that’s my favorite thing. Case Western Reserve University is unlike any institution of higher education that I have experienced previously as a student or employee. Our diverse population of students and faculty members possesses an uncommon dedication to their fields of study.

And I’m going to bend the rules and list another favorite: Over the years, it has been a pleasure to see firsthand how the generosity of our alumni and friends has created transformative and lasting enhancements to our campus and academics.