view of hallway in art building

Photo Courtesy of Cleveland State Marketing Department

President Berkman, whose contract is now extended to 2019, spoke at the new Cneter for Innovations of Medical Professions building dedication on Wednesday, Sept. 2.


October 6, 2015

Board of Trustees extends CSU president's contract to 2019

By Sara Liptak

The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees announced Sept. 17 that the contract of Cleveland State President Ronald M. Berkman has been extended to July 1, 2019.

Berkman, who was hired as president on July 1, 2009, originally had a contract that would have expired in 2014.

In 2013, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees extended his contract to 2017. Now, with a second contract extension, he will have served as the university president for a total of 10 years.

Rob Spademan, chief marketing officer at Cleveland State, said the board of trustees determined Berkman’s contract extension during a June 2015 meeting.

“This [his extension] becomes very personal for him, and I think he was thinking about this [his contract] long before that [the June meeting],” Spademan said. “Folks on the board were informally discussing what his plans are as well.”

Berkman’s starting annual salary in 2009 was $400,000, and after his first contract extension, he was making $430,000 annually.

With the most recent contract extension to 2019, Berkman will be making an annual base salary of $450,000, according to John Soder of University Marketing.

The annual report by The Chronicle of Higher Education from 2013-14 reported Ohio public university presidents earned more than the national median of $428,250 a year.

Berkman receives a $60,000 retention bonus every year, according to Soder.

Additionally, the board of trustees each year votes on a performance bonus of 15 to 25 percent to add to Berkman’s annual base salary. In 2013 when Berkman’s base salary was $430,000, he was given a 25 percent bonus, equalling $107,500.

According to Soder, every year since Berkman has been president, he has received the maximum bonus of 25 percent.

Under the new contract, Berkman’s two bonuses are still applicable.

In comparison, Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey became president in 2011. In 2014, her contract was extended three years. Mazey’s base salary is $394,000, $34,250 below the national median.

Other Ohio public institutions such as the University of Akron, Kent State University and Ohio State University presidents all began their positions on July 1, 2014. Both Akron and Kent’s presidents earn a base salary of $450,000 a year, according to the annual report.

Spademan said Berkman’s contract extension is the result of several factors.
“First, the board is obviously very happy with his leadership here,” Spademan said. “So when you have a leader who’s doing great things, as a board member, you’re going to want to talk him into staying longer.”

“Second, it’s his life and his career,” Spademan continued. “He felt there was still more to do here [at the university], and there’s still more in him and more to do to be able to continue a few more years.”

When asked about Berkman’s contract ending in 2019 and how it will affect the 2020 Project, which is an action plan to focus the future direction of of university by the year 2020, Spademan said that it’s much more than a certain day, month and year to put focus on the plan.

“The 2020 Project is not so much about that on Jan.1 2020, we flip a switch and some magic dome goes over the university,” Spademan said. “It’s really about the notion that higher education is changing dramatically right now on all levels, and there are pressures from all around. We ought to take a look at where we’re headed and get in front of those challenges and opportunities for our students to reshape the university for another century.”

Berkman has said he will leave Cleveland State University in 2019 at the age of 72.

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