October 13, 2016

CSU’s President Berkman holds first ‘editorial board meeting’

President Ronald M. Berkman explored a number of topics ranging in an open discussion with senior staff of three of the university’s student publications on Sept. 21.

Held in the President’s Conference Room in the Parker Hannifin Administration Center, the discussion covered topics from President Berkman’s goals for the year, lines of communication between students and administrative staff, contract negotiations, financial aid and where he sees Cleveland State University in five to 10 years.

Berkman said that his luncheons with students will continue this semester. Twice a semester, he plans on hosting his President’s Luncheons with 25 students chosen randomly from the mix of those who applied to be a part of the luncheons. The lunches give students a direct line of communication with him. He said that a good number of students in the past have attended and that they came forth with interesting ideas.

The president said he plans on going to one SGA meeting a semester. In the past, Berkman said that he has hosted town hall meetings on CSU’s campus as a way to create an open conversation between students and himself. Turnouts were poor during the three years when the sessions took place once per semester. He said he is open to trying to hold these town hall meetings on campus again if it is of student interest.

“Ultimately the most powerful and potentially effective voice in making change at a state-wide level is you,” he said. “When we go in there, it’s our job to go in there. And when you go in there, it’s your passion. I encourage you and other students to get your voices heard and organized.”

Financial aid and tuition costs were also covered in the discussion. He said as contract negotiations approach there will likely be no tuition increases by the next bi-annual budget, something he views as a positive for students. He said that it would be better if there was no tuition increase along with more money from the government.

“We just now have gotten back to the 2008 [level] – the pre-recession level,” Berkman said. “It’s taken us eight years to get back to where we were in 2008 in terms of what we were getting from funding.”

Even still, Cleveland State is 25 percent behind the national average in state funding.

Berkman referred to statistics regarding need-based funding in Ohio in relation to other Midwestern states as well as New York state, based on information put together by Mayor Frank G. Jackson and his organization, The Higher Education Compact.

“If you looked at financial aid by the state level and you actually took the aggregate amount of need-based financial aid that each of these states provide…and divide it by the number of students in the system, how much money would be devoted to each student as a mechanism to measure the level of need-based financial aid?” he asked.

Berkman listed the amount of money that each student would receive in various states based off of this formula. The money students would receive in the following states amounts to: Indiana, $870; Illinois, $710; New York, $1045; and Pennsylvania, $840; Ohio, $165.

Despite this, Berkman said he remains hopeful about Cleveland State’s future. In his five to 10 year goals, Berkman emphasized that he would like to be able to find the means to help more students attend CSU and be successful in their education.

The president said he also hopes to see the International School come to fruition as well as the partnership between Playhouse Square and Cleveland State to continue to flourish. He said he would like Playhouse Square to be the site of the film school to enhance the relationship, provide professional production spaces and facilities and bring more students across the campus border on 17th Street.

Berkman said he would like to see campus life continue to grow and become even more vibrant. He has experienced – and has heard similar experiences from alumni – the campus “feel” and sense of community. He sees Cleveland State as a vital resource for the city of Cleveland.

“Our hope is that what we are doing here…will have a positive impact for the neighborhoods around Cleveland State University,” he said.


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