Look who's coming home for Homecoming

Former Dean Jeffrey Duerk will receive the Lifetime Service Award at the Innovation ShowCASE, in the innovation center he helped create.

On a return to campus in May, Jeffrey Duerk, PhD ’87, visited one of his most visible accomplishments, Sears think[box], where he greeted the staff like old friends. 

The acclaimed innovation center rose during his tenure as dean of the Case School of Engineering. While Duerk is quick to credit a team effort, and heap praise on faculty and alumni who contributed ideas and money, someone had to execute the vision. 

That someone was a dean with a passion for innovation. 

“I was one of those kids who took everything apart,” Duerk recalled, as think[box] stirred to life on a Saturday morning.  “I had a record player, I must have rebuilt it a hundred times.” 

That curiosity and knack for invention followed him into academia, where he earned some 40 patents, mostly for innovations in medical imaging, a science he advanced in campus labs. 

Duerk spent 30 years at Case Western Reserve University as student, professor and dean. He earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering at Case, went on to chair the department, and became dean in 2012. When he left in 2017 to become vice president and provost at the University of Miami, Sears think[box] was open in the Richey Mixon Building and a spirit of innovation was in full bloom. 

“This is singularly special space,” Duerk said, as he looked across the collaboration floor. “It’s not just a physical space. It’s a collaborative and intellectual space. That’s what makes it so special.” 

Much the same can be said about Case School of Engineering, thanks in part to Jeffrey Duerk. He will receive the 2018 Lifetime Service Award from the Case School of Engineering at the Innovation ShowCASE, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, October 12 at think[box]. 

Registration for all Homecoming events is open at www.casealum.org/homecoming2018