February 9, 2016

Board of Trustees convenes for first meeting of spring

By Carissa Woytach

The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees convened for their first meeting of the spring semester Thursday, Jan. 28 in the Weinberg Board Room on the fourth floor of the Wolstein Center’s Gerald H. Gordon Conference Pavilion.

The meeting began at 8 a.m. with reports from Trustee Chairman Robert Rawson and Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman, which was followed by discussions of various agenda topics.

James Bennett, chief of staff and special advisor to the president, gave the Board an update on the Path to 2020 project. The project was created to address concerns with the affordability of college, including working under the Governor’s task force on the cost of education, and Cleveland State’s Faculty Senate’s request to address administrative cost.

The program that received the most focus from the Board was the “mission, vision and values,” an almost rebranding of the university’s mission statement by developing a new action plan to better serve and inspire the Cleveland State community. Both students and faculty will be involved in this on-going process.

According to President Berkman, Cleveland State will be in a better position than other universities to present to the task force this summer, given the effective targeting of inefficiencies that the Path to 2020 project has done.

As part of the Governor’s task force on higher education, the Board is required to pass their resolution by July 29th, and Cleveland State is already ahead of schedule — starting the Path to 2020 a year before the state mandate required it.

After Bennett’s 2020 presentation, Thomas Adler, Trustee Development officer, presented a report highlighting the fundraising and campaign progress since the start of the new year. Striving for a balanced budget going into the next fiscal year, the fundraising campaign is working to grow the concept of philanthropy within Cleveland State. They are also working to benefit Radiance, which provides student scholarships, with its invitation beginning in March.

Dr. Anton Komar, Director of the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease (GRHD), then gave a presentation on the work that the center does, as well as its ranking compared to other area genetics programs.

GRHD was established in 2008 in response to an Ohio department of education plan that identified biomedical science as one of Cleveland State’s signature programs. The center focuses its efforts in cancer research, chromosome biology in relation to reproductive health, RNA biology research in viral infections and diseases, cellular signaling and the chemistry of small molecules in blood clotting. Their faculty consists of nine biologists, five chemists and one physicist, all with doctoral degrees from high-profile universities including Harvard, Rockefeller and UC Berkeley.

“In the past two decades, the number of diseases with known molecular mechanisms increased substantially,” Komar said. “So that gave many researchers an opportunity to develop new therapies.”

The majority of the research at GRHD is done by graduate and undergraduate students, whose prowess has ranked the center on a national level, on par with centers with double the manpower and funding.

While the meeting continued on, the last major point on the agenda were the presentations from Academic Affairs.

The Board discussed in length the presentation made by Career Services of their new user interface during the Academic Affairs’ timeslot.

The Career Services presentation went through the steps that a potential employer would have to take to have a listing on the newly renovated website, as well as ways that said employers could gain resumes and student information from the center.

Ernest Yarbrough, associate vice president of student affairs, spoke on the importance of the new system, which hopes to better connect students and employers to one another. The rebranding was meant to increase the number of internship and co-op opportunities available to students, something that Cleveland State ranks low in nationally. According to Trustee Dan Moore, this is because students spend more time community, taking care of family members and working for pay, than what other universities’ students do.

To get more students’ resumes in the database — and to prospective employers — Career Services started a campaign with a prize incentive to entice more students to upload their resumes. This campaign was successful, according to Karen Lieske, senior talent development manager. By using existing student accounts that are automatically created using information from PeopleSoft, the center was able to enhance their user experience and mobilize students to upload their resumes and begin connecting with internships, co-ops and employers.

“The message that we had to get out to students was that this is there [and] encourage them to use it, Lieske said. “So we started a campaign — which also included a contest — and [between] Jan. 7 and Jan. 26 we’ve had 28 percent of our login since the start. Our numbers have really increased.”

While the campaign was successful in getting resumes uploaded onto the site, with 452 uploaded in just 19 days, the renovation of the website did receive some criticism from board members. Their main concern was that the interface was not quick enough to allow Cleveland State students to compete with those from surrounding colleges.

“I’ve got to impress to you that you’ve got to engage employers in a millisecond,” Trustee June Taylor said. “The interface that you have there, just my opinion, it doesn’t entice the students to upload, and it doesn’t say to an employer, or more importantly, an alumni, ‘hire from CSU.’ You’re interface should be a little bit different and not as vanilla because you want to speak to the employer with a sense of urgency. This seems kind of rich, but it seems time consuming.”

Both financial and student affairs gave updates from their Jan. 20 meetings, followed by a closed executive session.

The next Trustees meeting is Wednesday, March 2, where further updates to the Path to 2020, as well as other department affairs will be discussed.


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