October 13, 2016

President Berkman addresses financial concerns

Cleveland State President Ronald Berkman spoke to the Board of Trustees at their first meeting of the fall semester on the increasing concerns that students and parents have on student loan debt.

President Berkman began the presentation by focusing on a study done by both Google and the New York Times, which asked people what the unemployment rates were for 25- to 34-year-olds who graduated from four-year college.

The study showed that the unemployment rate for that group is 2.4 percent, but the general perception is the unemployment rate for the group is somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.

Berkman said that Ohio is falling behind the rest of the country when it comes to helping people attain a college degree. He presented data from the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland which showed Ohio ranking 36th in the country in total attainment of an associate’s degree.

According to the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland, college enrollment was down 1 percent, and the state of Ohio is expecting a 7 percent decline in high school graduates from 2020 to 2028.

Berkman went on to show that while tuition has increased, the amount of money a student can receive from the Pell Grant has stayed the same. The need-based Pell Grant for low-income undergraduates and certain post-baccalaureate students is to promote access to post-secondary institutions, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The president also spoke highly of the students and graduates of Cleveland State University by citing two reports. The first, by LendEDU.com, indicated Cleveland State had the second lowest average student loan debt among four-year public universities in the state. Cleveland State students had an average loan debt of $27,563, according to the 2015 LendEDu.com report . Only Ohio State students had lower debt.

The second report, courtesy of the Brookings Institute, ranked Cleveland State third in the state of Ohio in loan repayment rate.

This presentation led to a lively discussion among board members about what Cleveland State University can do to raise enrollment numbers and to help potential students pay for college. The board also appointed five Cleveland-area Community Trustees.

The new members are Robyn Gordon, a Cleveland State alumna and the director of the operations Directorate at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Len Komorowski, CEO of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena, Linda McHugh, chief human research officer at the Cleveland Clinic, David Reynolds, senior vice president of Key Private Bank, and Joseph Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. They will serve as non-voting advisors to the Board for the next two years.

The Board approved a new hiring policy for faculty, administrative faculty, executive, professional and classified staff. The new policy will help widen the candidate base by posting all open positions before hiring, although the university can forego this process.

The meeting wrapped up with Dr. Jianping Zhu, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs updating the board on investing in faculty, finding more co-op and internship opportunities and lowering textbook costs for students.

The Board of Trustees will have their next meeting in the Weinberg  Boardroom on the fourth floor of the Wolstein Center at 8 a.m. on Nov. 30.


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