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Feb. 23, 2015

Trustees approve Mather renovation contract

By Melanie Morris

Updates to construction and enrollment increases dominated the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 21.

One major decision finalized at this meeting involves the renovation of the historic Mather Mansion. Although plans have already been in the making for the project, this meeting granted authorization to the university administration to enter into a contract with the lowest bidder.

The 105-year-old mansion, originally home to millionaire Samuel Mather, was listed in 1973 on the National Register of Historic Places; Cleveland’s first building to receive the honor. Despite the age, the building was well built and is still very much intact.

“Given the mansion’s designation as a historic site and an Ohio landmark, we should do what we can to preserve its status and make the space available to the campus and to the public,” said Joseph Han, assistant vice president of the Department of Facilities and Safety.

Previous attempts to transform Mather Mansion into a boutique hotel failed due to unsuccessful financing, but the significance and beauty of the building encouraged university administration to find a way to utilize the space.

The design portion of the makeover has already begun and construction will ensue next month. Improvements to meet building and safety codes are required, and other repairs include a new roof and upgrades to the heating and air conditioninMather Mansiong systems.

“To students, the renovations may seem like a lot of money,” said Allie Dumski, president of the Student Government Association. “However, the long-term value of this investment is extremely beneficial. It is much better for the building to be put to use than to sit empty.”

The Alumni Association, which used to be located in the mansion, and the English as a Second Language program will be moved into the new building. Many factors came into play when determining which programs to relocate, including program needs, timing, proximity and the building/program fit.

Other uses for the space include meetings, events and even weddings. According to Han, the renovation will be completed and the building will be occupied by the fall of this year.

The board that came to this decision consists of nine trustees, a secretary to the board, two faculty representatives and two student representatives. They will meet six times this school year to discuss how best to fulfill the goals established in the University Mission Statement.

The board acts as the governing body in all policy matters of the university. Only the trustees have voting power, but the student representatives have speaking rights and have seen their opinions taken into consideration.

“The board is very receptive to student input and I do feel that our voice is heard through the student seats,” Dumski said.

Also during the Jan. 21 meeting, the trustees agreed to change the name of the new building being built across from the student center. The word “health” was changed to “medical” to reflect Cleveland State’s partnership with the Northeast Ohio Medical University, so the name is now the Center for Innovation and Medical Professions.

The trustees also extended the lease of the sculpture “The Politician: A Toy,” located since 2008 on the corner of East 18th Street and Chester Avenue. The sculpture will now remain on campus through Aug. 31, 2017.

Finally, Craig Boise, dean of the College of Law, presented information to the task force regarding targeting transfer and international students to increase enrollment. He said the area’s community colleges, which provide most of the university’s transfer students, have seen a drop in enrollment.

“Targeting international and transfer students only adds to our diverse student population, creating a unique learning environment for students,” Dumski said.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on March 31.