CWRU, Siegal College partner to provide adult learning across region

Case Western Reserve University and Siegal College will combine their highly regarded adult education programs into a new initiative to launch this fall: the Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program at Case Western Reserve University.

“This partnership draws on the strengths of each of our institutions and creates a model that gives Northeast Ohio residents even greater opportunities for intellectual engagement and exploration,” President Barbara R. Snyder said. “It carries great potential to enhance our university’s existing continuing education programs, as well as Siegal College’s exceptional offerings in Judaic studies.”

The board of Siegal College, known formally as the Laura and Alvin Siegal College of Judaic Studies, approved the alliance in January after months of discussions among its own stakeholders and representatives of Case Western Reserve. Terri Kline, chair of the Siegal board, emphasized that the arrangement would build upon the college’s deep experience in providing high-quality adult education as well as Case Western Reserve’s stature as one of the nation’s top research universities.

“This partnership will enrich dramatically the landscape of Jewish lifelong learning in Northeast Ohio,” Kline said. “At the same time, it will enable Siegal adult learners to experience a seamless transition. Case Western Reserve will engage current Siegal College faculty, and adult education programs will continue to be offered at the Agnon/Siegal College Building in Beachwood.”

The college bears the name of Laura and Alvin Siegal in honor of the couple’s long and generous support of Jewish education. The Siegals were involved in conversations regarding the new arrangement, and strongly support it.

“This initiative brings together the best elements of two outstanding community programs,” Laura and Alvin Siegal said in a statement. “Siegal College has been a pioneer of Jewish education for decades, and Case Western Reserve’s commitment to the community is well established. We look forward to seeing the exciting initiatives that emerge from this partnership.”

Siegal College Board Chair Terri Kline stewarded Siegal College’s discussions with the university, in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. As part of the effort, Siegal College convened a strategic planning process led by board member Sally H. Wertheim, PhD, a former board chair of the Federation. Wertheim, dean emeritus and professor emeritus at John Carroll University, earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Case Western Reserve. She is very familiar with the campus and its offerings.

“I want to thank Dr. Wertheim and the other leaders who participated in strategic planning,” Kline said. “Their extensive research and analysis gave the board great confidence that this approach represents the best approach for Siegal College at this time.”

While oversight of adult education programs will shift to Case Western Reserve, many classes, lectures and other programs still will be offered at the Agnon/Siegal College building on Shaker Boulevard. This partnership will allow additional programs to be offered within Case Western Reserve’s main University Circle campus and at its Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms in Hunting Valley. The new program will be assisted by an advisory board that includes constituents from Siegal College, the Federation, the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve.

The Office of Continuing Education at Case Western Reserve University has a distinguished history of providing an extensive and diverse range of programs for members of the community. These range from eight-week programs where participants explore topics ranging from literature to geopolitics, scientific advances to social history. The university also offers programs in conjunction with other area cultural institutions, and another initiative, Senior Scholars, that offers lectures and other educational programs. The office is supported by an active volunteer organization, the Association for Continuing Education (ACE) at Case Western Reserve University. Among other activities, it sponsors the ACE/CWRU Book Sale each spring.

“The Jewish community has a strong and valued relationship with Case Western Reserve,” Wertheim said. “This history includes an advisory role in establishing two endowed chairs in Jewish Studies (the Abba Hillel Silver Chair and the Samuel Rosenthal Chair). This new partnership furthers this tradition and commitment to academic excellence.”

Siegal College’s degree programs are being phased out with students completing their courses by June 2012. Kline noted that several other key Siegal College programs and services will continue under Jewish community auspices. These include the Aaron Garber Library, considered the region’s central library for the Jewish community, and Akiva High School, a program that offers area teenagers educational opportunities in Hebrew, Judaic studies and other subjects relevant to Jewish teens. Finally, the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland will assume responsibility for professional development programs provided to local Jewish educators.

“This collaboration with Case Western Reserve creates immediate synergies for continuing education, and also lays a foundation for enriching and expanding Judaic studies more broadly in the decades to come,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. “I commend the Siegal College community for its extensive and thoughtful reflection regarding the best ways to advance the institution’s mission in the 21st century.”