September 1, 2016

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

Welcome back to Cleveland State University! This was truly a remarkable summer in Cleveland, amid a historic Republican National Convention, an unprecedented comeback by the Cavaliers to win the city's first professional sports title in 52 years, dramatic reboots for Public Square and other parts of town and international media attention that cast our resurgent metropolis in a new light.

I'm happy to report that CSU was fully caught up in the excitement. During the RNC, for instance, we held several well-attended events on campus, including our very first salon-style TEDx event, which explored "21st Century Democracy." Our students, faculty and staff were interviewed by dozens of national and international media outlets, and our social media channels enjoyed record-setting engagement. To top it all off, during a live broadcast from East Fourth Street on the final day of the convention, NBC's "Today" show featured Magnus and the CSU Cheer Team.

Put it this way: When you see Al Roker in a Vikings helmet on national television, you just know CSU is on a roll. Read on for more news of note. . . .

New Faces and New Positions

Please join me in welcoming a few new faces to CSU – and congratulating some familiar faces in new roles:

Bernie Moreno, president of the Bernie Moreno Companies, is the new chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, having previously served ably as vice chair. His vision and enthusiasm are tremendous assets to the University, and I look forward to working with him to advance CSU's mission and reputation. Ohio Governor John Kasich also has appointed two new board members: Todd Davidson, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, and Deborah Vesy, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation.

Roland Anglin, Ph.D., dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, is a highly respected authority on community economic development, with more than 25 years of experience spanning the academic, philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. Prior to his arrival at CSU, he served as senior advisor to the chancellor and director of the Joseph C. Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies at Rutgers University-Newark.

Marius Boboc, Ed.D, vice provost for academic planning, previously served as chair of the Department of Curriculum and Foundations in the College of Education and Human Services and as CSU's director of learning assessment. An expert in curriculum design and learning outcomes, he has published widely in areas such as inquiry-based learning, online education and teacher development. He has been with CSU since 2002.

Timothy Gaspar, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, is an expert in nursing education, research and health policy. He has advised and collaborated with a wide range of organizations, including higher education institutions, health-care providers and nursing accreditation/review organizations. He served as dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Toledo from 2008 to 2015, and as dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Winona State University in Minnesota from 1995 to 2008.

Lee Fisher, interim dean of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, comes to us with a wealth of experience in public, private, nonprofit and academic sectors. He served as lieutenant governor of Ohio from 2007 to 2011, and as attorney general of Ohio from 1991 to 1995. He most recently was president and CEO of CEOs for Cities.

Stephanie McHenry, promoted to senior vice president of business affairs and finance, will continue to lead CSU's efforts to promote efficiency and financial stability while pursuing academic excellence and student success. Before joining our leadership team five years ago, she was the regional president for the Urban Partnership Bank and served on the CSU Board of Trustees.

Jianping Zhu, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, previously served in this role on an interim basis. Prior to that, he was dean of CSU's College of Graduate Studies. He came here in 2012 from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he was chair of the mathematics department.

Speaking of new faces, this fall also brings the largest freshman class in CSU history as well as 73 new faculty members to campus. Welcome aboard, one and all!

Path to 2020 Update

Introduced one year ago, our Path to 2020 program has made great strides toward assessing CSU's current position and leveraging the University's strengths to prepare new foundations for CSU's future success.

As part of this process, CSU submitted a report last month to Chancellor John Carey of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, detailing our efficiency review in response to the recommendations of the Ohio Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency in Higher Education. Among the highlights:

  • CSU has launched or completed actions on 100 percent of the requirements of the Ohio Task Force and House Bill 64.
  • Since 2011, CSU has improved overall productivity by more than 17 percent in undergraduate degrees awarded, while six-year graduation rates have increased by 30 percent.
  • CSU has established specific five-year goals for generating redeployable resources of $11.5 million to benefit students. These funds will be targeted specifically at increasing academic quality and reducing costs to students and their families.

I encourage you to review the executive summary or the full report for yourself.

Kudos Corner

▩ In recognition of our strong commitment to economic engagement, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has designated CSU as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University. The IEP designation highlights CSU's success with regard to promoting workforce development, entrepreneurship and technology transfer, as well as our impact on community development and revival. The APLU noted CSU's focus on connecting students' academic work with career objectives, community priorities and the economy, while also promoting research and education programs with significant community and economic benefits.

▩ The APLU also has named CSU as one of five national finalists for the Project Degree Completion Award, in light of our forward-thinking student success initiatives. The award recognizes innovative approaches for improving retention and degree completion. The winner will be announced in November.

▩ The CSU Police Department has received national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). CSU is one of fewer than 70 colleges and universities across the United States – and only four in Ohio – to earn CALEA accreditation, the industry standard for professional excellence in law enforcement. Congratulations to Associate Vice President of Administration and Operations Joseph Han, Chief of Police Gary Lewis and the entire CSU Police Department on this well-deserved recognition for the outstanding work that they do to keep our campus community safe.

Remembering Dr. Michael Williams

The passing of Michael Williams, Ph.D., on July 12 was a sad blow not only to our CSU family, but to the community at large. CSU’s close ties to our hometown are central to our urban university’s identity. Dr. Williams embodied those ties.

Hailed as a tireless ambassador for the University and as a man of many interests and prodigious gifts that he openly shared, Dr. Williams was the director of our Black Studies Program. He was instrumental in launching the bachelor’s degree in Black Studies at CSU.

Empathy was his calling card. Dr. Williams radiated genuine concern for the community, for his colleagues and especially for the many students he challenged, inspired and mentored. He will be greatly missed.

CSU is planning a memorial event for Dr. Williams. Details will be announced soon.

I'll have more news to share in the coming weeks and months. For now, let me leave you with a couple of upcoming events to mark on your calendars.

Homecoming is set to deliver a full week of fun for Vikings past and present, from Saturday, September 24, through Saturday, October 1. The festivities will include our ever-popular Homecoming Parade and VikeFest, the Distinguished Alumni Awards and the pre-season debut of CSU's new men's lacrosse team. Check out the complete Homecoming schedule here.

Our third annual TEDxClevelandStateUniversity is booked for Friday, October 21, in Waetjen Auditorium. The theme is "Reality Shifts: Are You Ready?" Speakers include Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Connie Schultz, MetroHealth President and CEO Akram Boutros and Library of Congress General Counsel Elizabeth Pugh, among others. Tickets go on sale Thursday, September 8. More information is available here.

Best wishes for a successful fall semester. It's great to have you back on campus, and I hope the new academic year is off to a wonderful start for all of you.


Ronald M. Berkman

Cleveland State University


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