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September 16, 2014

A journey through time: 50 years of academic growth

By Jaclyn Seymour

Aerial shot of CSU campusFrom the early 1960s, forest green and white filled the streets of Downtown Cleveland, students came in from the Greater Cleveland Area to one particular destination and the minds of successful men and women scattered the very streets students walk today. On Nov. 30, 1963 Fenn College Trustee Chair, Harry Burnmester, Cleveland State University Trustee Chair, James Nance, Fenn College President G. Brooks Earnest and Cleveland State Trustee Edward Sloan unveiled the sign announcing The Cleveland State University.
Cleveland State was the first public, four-year institution in Cleveland, and Clevelanders wanted to provide their families with higher education, but possibly could not afford to send them away to college with the added expenses of living on campus.

“It’s a rich history,” Regennia Williams, associate professor of History who came to Cleveland State as an undergraduate student in 1977, said.

After negotiations with the former Fenn College, a private institution founded in 1929, it was decided that Fenn College would be the core for the public institution – Cleveland State – that was to open in the Fall of 1965.

Fenn College agreed to remain the name for the school of engineering, preserving the history of the former institution.

“When I hear Fenn I think of engineering,” Williams said. “And education and business and some other things, but mostly engineering. That was part of the agreement, too, that Cleveland State would keep Fenn College as the name for the engineering school here, so that history is preserved.”

Also preserved history from Fenn College was their mascot – the Foxes.

“The Fenn Foxes are also alums of this new university of ours, and they are invited to come back on homecoming weekend, so it’s nice to have the foxes,” Williams said. “By the Fall of 1965, we had the Vikings.”

The current mascot, the Vikings, was voted upon by the student population.
“The foxes are still there as part of the past, but the Vikings are here now as the present and the future,” Williams said.

Cleveland State began with a small enrollment class with the men outnumbering the women three to one.

According to Williams, today that has reversed. Women, on a national level, no matter what type of college, outnumber the men by a slight majority.

But Cleveland State continued to grow dramatically throughout the early years.

“We are in place in 1965 and things are going well, and the enrollment is really increasing dramatically in each of those early years,” Williams said.

Presidents

In February of 1965, Cleveland State Trustees hired Dr. Harry Newburn, former President of the University of Oregon and University of Montana, as a consultant for the development of the master plan for Cleveland State. In August, the board appointed him as Acting President. He served until 1966.

The first president of Cleveland State, not an interim, was Harold Enarson from 1966-72.
“He had a really interesting five years for the ‘60s – the turbulent decade,” Williams explained. “But to his credit, he, the board of trustees and the other members of the leadership team kept things together.”

With everything going on in the city of Cleveland and things all over the country – from the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, the Student Movement to the Freedom of Speech Movement – where all happening right here on Cleveland State grounds.

“It wasn’t just starting in California and then moving to Cleveland,” Williams said. “It seemed to me that Cleveland State students were on the cutting edge of those kinds of activities. That was interesting.”

Williams explained that Cleveland State had protests on campus, like on May 5, 1970, the day after the Kent State University shootings, when the student’s held an Anti-Vietnam War protest, but what Cleveland State did not have was anything resembling the shootings at Kent State.

“That was a wonderful thing,” Williams said. “Still a public institution, but not that level of violence, so we don’t want to leave out any of the movements [in the 1960s] because I think all of them account for the university that we have now.”

By the end of the 1960s, there was a sense of inclusiveness that Williams explained to not have been there where the university began in 1965.

“We made a lot of progressive moves in his [Enarson’s] first five years,” Williams said.
The College of Education was established July 1, 1966, and the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the science building, once a parking lot, happened later that year on Nov. 2.

Also during his term, Mather Hall was rented from the Trinity Cathedral and served as the home of the Social Services/Social Work Department from 1966-98.

The bookstore on campus moved from the first floor of Fenn Tower across Euclid Avenue in the back portion of the Bell Motors building – the front portion was the Undergraduate Library. The library opened in 1971.

Also in 1967, Cleveland State became the first American university to award degrees to graduates of a private college during a special commencement ceremony for the Fenn College graduates.

During Enarson’s term, the creation of Cleveland State University Police was approved by the trustees in April of 1968.

The university then created an Industrial Engineering Department in 1969 which split the Industrial Engineering Department from the Mechanical Engineering. The official name was changed to Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering in 1997.

In 1969, the Cleveland-Marshal Law School was agreed to merge with Cleveland State and the science building was opened for the fall quarter.

President Enarson was also the President during the time when one of the earliest graduate degree programs was offered at Cleveland State. The Master of Science in Physics was established, also, in 1969.

President Enarson left in 1972 to become president of The Ohio State University.
“This was his proving ground – if you can handle Cleveland, you can handle the Buckeyes,” Williams said.

With one interim president in after Enarson, Walter Waetjen became president of the university from 1973-88.

President Waetjen was the president when Williams came here as a freshmen in 1977.

“I grew up with President Waetjen on this campus coming here in 1977,” Williams said.
President Waetjen served the longest term as president for Cleveland State and did some great things for the university, however there were still problems.

“Dr. Waetjen did some really amazing things in the long time that he was here,” Williams said.

The first nursing students were on campus in 1973 and the first Speech and Pathology and Audiology degree program was created in 1974.

Cleveland State first offered a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy in 1975. It was not until 1977 that the Urban Studies degree program was established.

“However, just before he was about to retire, there was some accusations about institutionalized racism,” Williams explained.

President Waetjen and many other people contributed ideas to try and better the moral on campus.

“To the university’s credit, they weathered that storm, as well,” Williams said. “There was students, faculty, staff on [a] committee contributing their thoughts on what CSU could do to improve the climate on campus for all people regardless of race, class, gender -- all the things we say we want to do as a nation for the people who live, work and study in this country.”

Out of all of the accusations and ideas came the hire of the first African American Vice President of Minority Affairs – Raymond Winbush. However, his term was short lived. After one year, he was notified that he was to leave. This sparked protests among the students when he did not return, but an interim vice president was hired – Mary Joyce Green.

Green was a faculty member for years prior, and she worked with others to establish programs for women, like the Women’s Comprehensive Program in 1977, as well as the Women’s Study major.

The university then hired Vice President Dr. Njeri Nuru-Holm. Nuru-Holm served about 20 years and was able to do a lot in her time.

“She was able to do a lot in her time on campus, but it was a painful period,” Williams said. “Is the institution racist, is it not? Is it for white people only or for white guys? But out of all of that came people talking and debating and trying to see what would work for this campus community because this campus is not Ohio State – it’s primarily, still, a commuter campus community, and we need certain programs, projects in place for this particular urban environment.”

“That was the thing that occurred over and over again,” Williams explained. “This idea that this is an urban university. This isn’t a land-grant college out in some rural area, this is a city. This is the heart of downtown Cleveland. So we have to deal with the reality of living in an urban environment, the race riots, and we had to weather that storm in the late 1980s.”

From 1988-92, during the new formation of programs through the racial protests, came the university’s next president, John Flower.

During his term, the music and communications building held their ground-breaking ceremony on July 20, 1988.

Following his term, the university hired the first female president, and the only one in Cleveland State history, Claire Van Ummersen. President Ummersen served from 1993-2001.

“Interesting things happened on her watch as well,” Williams said. “So the growth and expansion of the university continues, we believe people when they say women can, and should be, in leadership roles because she is here, but she had some rough spots along the way.”

Most of the problems she incurred were problems with the server and software that Cleveland State uses for student information, PeopleSoft.

“I don’t think PeopleSoft handled financial aid very well,” Williams explained. “And when there are problems with financial aid, students get very upset.”

Those problems were resolved through a settlement with PeopleSoft to fix the problems, and the students did not have to pay for being inconvenienced.

Also during President Ummersen’s term, Williams explained the expansion of the campus west really progressed for the 17th-18th Street Project that included new buildings for the College of Business and the College of Urban Affairs in 1994.

“She’s working to resolve problems and to work on her vision as a leader – the only female President of the university – and I think she did a great job,” Williams said. “You got to weigh all the stuff in the balance, but I think when we look at the total picture, there were many great things that were accomplished on her watch.”

When she finished her term in 2001, President Michael Schwartz came to office from 2002-09.

“He was another very effective President on this campus,” Williams said. “I remember that when President Schwartz was the chief executive of this university, there was such a sense of our place in the community.”

There seemed to be more of a push for traditional college-aged students without pushing out the traditional Cleveland State student with the average age being 25.

“Recognizing that CSU students do a lot, other things going on in their lives and still being the commuter college,” Williams explained. “People who come to Cleveland State because they want to be here, not because they got accepted at Kent State but they couldn’t get the money for the dorms so they ended up at Cleveland State, but people who come to Cleveland State because they want to be here for all kinds of reasons. We had a better sense of that happening when President Schwartz was in office.”

Also in his term, in 2005, the Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland State sign an agreement to join doctoral programs in Applied Bio-medical Engineering, Clinical-Bioanalytical Chemistry and Regulatory Biology.

By 2009, President Ronald Berkman has entered into office. President Berkman remains in office today.

On Sept. 1, 2009, the Cleveland YMCA building became Heritage Hall and was remodeled as dormitory space for international students.

In 2010, the student center that students eat, study and congregate together today opened on Spet. 8. Also during his term, the College of Business was renamed to Monte Ahuja College of Business.

In June of 2014, the Mandel Foundation created The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Honors College.

Students have come from all over the world to attend Cleveland State.

According to Williams, among the approximately 120,000 alumni from Cleveland State, they have come from all 50 states in the United States, Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands and 60 other countries.

“A majority of those alumns are still here, living in Ohio,” Williams explained. “But there are people who are living all over the world. I think that is the difference Cleveland State has made in the lives of not just people in Cleveland, but people from all over the country and all over the world.”