December 13, 2016

Board of Trustees focuses on progress, student success

By Dan Menningen

The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees met in the Weinberg Board Room for the second time during the fall semester to discuss the how the students are able to attend college, their success and the future of the university.

Building off of last Board of Trustee’s meeting theme of student loan debt, the focus of the meeting was ways students fund their education. Cindy L. Skruppa, Ph.D., vice president of Enrollment Services at Cleveland State, stressed the importance of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Students fill out a FAFSA to determine if they are eligible to receive federal funding, grants or special loans for college based on household income. In the 2015-2016 academic year, 17,406 FAFSAs were received from students of Cleveland State, a slight increase from the 2014-2015 total of 17,389.

Skruppa noted that 73 percent of students received some form of financial aid, then showed a pie chart that showed how students paid for higher education. According to the data presented in the meeting, 10,995 of the 28,081 students who attend Cleveland State pay for school with loans

She went on to highlight the financial aid given to undergraduate students, stating that 72 percent of undergrads receive financial aid while 39 percent of undergrads receive that aid from the Pell Grant. Only 58 percent of students who qualify for the Pell Grant receive the maximum amount of aid, $5,775 per year.

The Pell Grant provides need-based funding to low-income undergraduate and some post baccalaureate students to promote access to post-secondary education, according to the U.S. Department of Education website. To apply for the Pell Grant, a student has to fill out a FAFSA.

E. Boyd Yarbrough, Ph.D., vice president of Student Affairs, presented information on the future of housing on campus as it relates to student success. With the growth of students on campus the university is looking into building new dorms and parking.

According to Yarbrough, the university is considering adding between 750-1,000 student beds along with parking to support the increase in housing. The two preferred locations for new housing and parking would be Krenzler Field and the adjoining softball field or the site of the Wolstein Center.

Krenzler Field and the softball field would be relocated to accommodate the new housing and parking facilities. In the case of the Wolsten Center, the building would be torn down and a new smaller arena would be built along with the new housing and parking unit. The new arena would be a 5,000-8,000 seat arena, about half of the capacity of the current Wolstein Center, which holds 13,610.

The presentation ended with Peter Meiksins, Ph.D vice provost of Academic Affairs, discussing the initiatives that the university is taking for student success. Meiksins focused on the obstacles that the university overcame by having four-credit hour classes, encouraging students to withdraw from classes that they were struggling in and using checklists instead of degree maps. All of these obstacles were seen as main reasons that students were needing more than four years to complete an undergraduate degree, so change had to take place. Cleveland State changed its curriculum to a three-credit hour norm with students needing 120 total credit hours to graduate. They also began doing semester-by-semester degree maps to guarantee that students would complete classes that would qualify as prerequisite classes for their majors and began multi-term registration and waiting lists for students.

Since the changes, according to Meiksins, freshman retention is steadily rising from 64.8 percent in fall 2011 to 70.9 percent in fall 2015. The six-year graduation rates for first-time, full-time freshman improved from 26 percent for the fall of 2002 class to 39 percent in for the fall class of 2009.

President Berkman explained to the board that the new format of the State of the University address was more successful by putting it on YouTube instead of holding it live for the students.  The 12 minute address was dubbed a success because all or part of the address received more than 10,000 views on social media compared to previous addresses which were seen only by people in the room.

The Board decided that the university will be closed for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. This is the fourth year in a row the board has approved the closing.






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