New president, new era

Associate Professor Sunniva Collins is excited to lead alumni at a time of change

 Sunniva Collins, MS ’91, PhD ’94, is mindful of her pioneering role as the new president of the Case Alumni Association. She’s only the second women to lead the 134-year-old association—after Susie Nagorney ’76--and the first president to have graduated from the Case School of Engineering, which was created in 1992.

Collins ascended to the presidency of the Board of Directors in July, replacing Marv Schwartz ’68, PhD ’73, who finished his two-year term.

“There’s some transition occurring” within the alumni corps and on campus, said Collins, an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

CWRU Provost Ben Vinson III is now leading a strategic planning process to chart the future course of the university. Collins supports that effort but said her priority as CAA president will be to forward the vision of Dean Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan.

“I’m very excited. I think it’s a great time to be in this role,” she said.

The dean would like to strengthen the school’s research capabilities, and Collins said alumni could help by supporting the maintenance and enhancement of research labs.

She would also like to introduce scholarships for international students, who have become an important part of the student body. Presently, there are no scholarship programs that appeal to Case’s international graduates.

“They’re alumni, too,” Collins said. “And they should be able to participate fully, while they are here and when they leave.”

Collins, a resident of Cleveland Heights, came to the Case School of Engineering in 2013 from Swagelok, where she was a senior research fellow, bringing expertise in advanced manufacturing. An inventor on four patents, she served as President of ASM International in 2014-2015.

In addition to a new president, the June meeting introduced four new board members:

  • · Jessica Palmer ’10, MEM ’11, of Brunswick, Ohio, a project manager for Vitamix
  • · Steve Simmons ’79, MS ’82, of Mullica Hill, NJ, a senior field solution architect for CDW
  • · Carlin Jackson ’15, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the founder and principal consultant at Theo. Wyes David, Ltd
  • · Kenneth A. “Ken” Barker ’70, of Allison Park, PA, former Senior Vice President, Director of Quantitative Analysis and Research for Mellon Equity Associates, LLC

For more information on the Board of Directors go to