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Oct. 06, 2014

Berkman highlights past, leaves future vague

University recognizes faculty, staff for their achievements

By Jaclyn Seymour

“Cleveland State University Established 1964” hung tall above center stage in a forest green banner above a wooden table displaying nine plaques awaiting the hands of the distinguished facility.

Wrapped around the table sat four distinguished faculty on the left side of the stage and four faculty on the right side, all awaiting their plaque of honor.

Four green banners hung off the balcony on the left side of the stage, naming four of the colleges homed to Cleveland State.

The five remaining colleges hung in identical banners off the balcony on the right side of the stage.

The sea of shirts and ties and skirts and heels filled the Waetjen Auditorium in the Music and Communication building.

Students with their book bags strapped over both shoulders sprinkled in the mix of well-dressed individuals.

Deirdre M. Mageean, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, welcomed everyone in attendance and began to introduce the members on stage Thursday, Oct. 2 shortly after 11:30 a.m.
Thus began Cleveland State’s President Ronald M. Berkman’s sixth State of the University Address.

Eight faculty and staff were honored and awarded for a variety of things such as service, teaching and research.

The anticipated ninth and final award, the Dr. Jennie S. Hwang Award for Faculty Excellence, went to Joanne Goodwell, professor in the College of Education and Human Services, because of her excellence in teaching, research and service to the university.

Mageean’s use of humor early in the ceremony brought a light tone in the silent auditorium.
She began to rattle off Aimin Zhou’s many accomplishments by saying, “we all know what that is…” jokingly insinuating that everyone in attendance would know of his discoveries in RNase L research.

After the roaring applause that concluded the award portion, Mageean welcomed Berkman to the podium.
Berkman stood tall, well, given that he is already a very tall man, as he began his speech by, once again, recognizing the faculty on the stage behind him and special guests in the audience.

He said that the convocation ceremony gives him a chance to talk about the future of the university, but the majority of his speech was regarding accomplishments of the past year.

He mentioned how Cleveland State is ranked one of the best universities in the country, the donations raised from multiple foundations and the growth of Cleveland State aesthetically and by population.
Berkman noted that Cleveland State welcomed 1,600 first-year students, making it the second largest freshman class Cleveland State has seen since 2000.

“[Cleveland State is] truly a destination for highly talented and academically strong students from this region and around the globe, and one of the things that makes it a destination and a desire is the extraordinarily talented faculty and staff,” Berkman said.

This became apparent during the Green Turns Gold Homecoming weekend when Cleveland State welcomed back distinguished alumni from all over the world. Since 1964, contrary to what people may think about Cleveland State being “back-up” choice for students, the school has been turning out successful alumni since the beginning.

Finally, Berkman touched on is one that is first in the minds of many students — tuition and the costs associated with college.

According to Berkman, about half of Cleveland State students received the maximum Pell Award.

“The challenge of cost for our students is an extraordinary challenge for our students,” Berkman said. “[The Pell Grant maximum] means that with the student’s circumstances, they have an expected family contribution to that students education of zero.”

Cleveland State has the highest level of Pell Award recipients in the state of Ohio, Berkman said.
Berkman made a joke of the atrociously high amount of financial aid Cleveland State has award to students — $159,400,000 in the 2013-14 school year — by saying “I know many of you out there are probably wondering ‘where’s mine?”

With the multiple programs Cleveland State has implemented, like the 2 percent tuition rebate and the $200 book scholarship given to students successfully completing 30 credit hours in good academic standing in one year, Berkman said if this continues to go forward, students will save an average of $6-8,000.

If you are senior status like myself, you are probably thinking “where was this when I began here?”
To close the convocation ceremony, Berkman said with enthusiasm in his voice, “It’s a great time to be a Viking!”

**Editor's Note: There was a spelling error in the quote (third pargaraph from the end) said by President Ronald Berkman regarding the crowd wondering "where is mine?" when referring to financial aid. The correction has been made on this online version. It was found after the story went to print.