Four years ago Plain Dealer columnist Dick Feagler penned a piece about Elaine “Lainie” Hadden that he was sure she would not like.
It wasn’t because he wrote anything negative about her—just the opposite. Feagler described her as an “angel,” a woman of “vision,” a lady with “class.”
The problem with this approach, Feagler explained, was that Hadden far prefers to pass credit to others. But the truth is, she is someone whose broad contributions to greater Cleveland deserve more accolades than any one organization or group can imagine.
Case Western Reserve is one of the institutions that has benefitted enormously from her engagement and advocacy. She probably won’t think much of this article either, but we can’t help ourselves; she is just that special to this university.
At Wednesday’s convocation, President Barbara R. Snyder presented Hadden with Case Western Reserve’s University Medal, an award the Board of Trustees created to honor “leadership, dedication, and service to the university, to higher education, and to society.”
A member of Case Western Reserve’s Board of Trustees for 27 years, Hadden helped guide the campus during seminal moments of its evolution into one of the nation’s most prominent research universities. While she herself graduated from Vassar College, her late husband, John, had earned his medical degree here. More, she saw the university as a central asset of the larger community. She believes Case Western Reserve’s breakthroughs and intellectual contributions directly benefit all of Northeast Ohio, and she remains one of the institution’s most outspoken advocates.
Her efforts have touched our community in countless other ways. Without Hadden, we would not have the gem of historic theaters that is Playhouse Square. It was Hadden, as leader of the Junior League, who rallied her friends and colleagues to raise $25,000 and literally stop a wrecking ball from leveling the place. (Of course, she gives all of the credit to the public leader of the restoration campaign, Ray Shepardson).
One of her other chief passions is the Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development, a place focused squarely on the emotional development of young people through schooling, parent programs, professional development for educators and more. Hadden has been a member of the center’s board since 1969, and continues active service to this day.
A graduate of Laurel School, Hadden possesses keen curiosity and an indefatigable love of learning. No wonder, then, that she endowed a professorship in child development at our School of Medicine to honor her late husband, a child psychiatrist.
More recently she established the Elaine G. Hadden Distinguished Visiting Author Fund to support presentations by individuals who write the books featured each year as the university’s common reading. This year’s author was William Kamkwamba, who wrote The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.