August 21, 2012
I want to thank all of the University staff members who have worked hard this summer to implement a wide range of new services, develop new campus facilities and help our students begin an exciting new academic year. Welcome to our returning faculty and new faculty colleagues who will call CSU home beginning this semester.
I know you share the enthusiasm for our mission and for the goal of continuing the University's upward trajectory. As I have moved around the community this summer, there is truly a heightened awareness that something special is occurring on and around the CSU campus and a growing recognition of the critical role of CSU for the city, county, region and state.
Our national interests, and particularly the interests of Ohio, are connected to producing more bachelor's degrees recipients. An editorial by Chancellor Jim Petro in Sunday's Plain Dealer addresses this need. He writes: "The number of adults in Ohio with a bachelor's degree remains in the bottom quarter of the nation. While 31 percent of adults in the United States have a bachelor's degree, that number drops to 26 percent in Ohio." Higher education is the only bridge from the old economic paradigm to the new economic model.
Our goal is to provide a pathway for every student who wants to earn a bachelors degree and has the needed tools to be successful. To achieve this goal will require active engagement from faculty and staff. From all I have garnered in my three years at CSU, our faculty and staff provide an extraordinary experience for our students. I have talked with many students and families of students who have transferred to CSU or taken courses at CSU, who say that their classroom experience has been equal to or better than their experiences at universities that are considered more prestigious. I thank the faculty for giving us this recognition.
Our students also give high marks to the administration and staff support they receive. There are still challenges in certain areas, but we are actively looking to find fair and effective solutions.
There will continue to be significant changes at CSU. Demolition of Viking Hall will commence this semester and construction of a $45 million Center for Innovations in Health Professions will commence. Work will continue on the North Campus. Student demand to live in the residence halls this year reached an all-time high, with all facilities sold out well before the start of classes. Stillwell Hall, the home of the Fenn College of Engineering, will receive a $13 million makeover with funds provided by the state. The Campus International School, which has doubled in size to meet the demand for admission, has moved into the Cole Center. The renovation of the Union Building at1836 Euclid is nearly complete, preserving an historic structure and providing a temporary home for the NEOMED campus and permanent new facility for administrative units currently leasing space in the Keith Building.
On Saturday we will formally welcome the largest and best prepared freshman class in the University's history. Approximately 1,550 freshmen will begin their college experience at Freshman Convocation. This year's freshman call surpasses last year's class by approximately 250 students. In two years (Fall 2010-2012), freshman enrollments have increased by 26 percent. Incremental but important advances in retention and graduation were recorded for the classes of 2010 and 2011. This year CSU received one of the largest percentage ¬increases in applications for admissions, growing by 16.6 percent.
The entire CSU community, which includes our Board of Trustees and Foundation Board of Directors, has made these advances possible. I am very appreciative of their commitment and support in helping this University to grow and flourish.
Please join me for the President's Picnic Thursday, Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center Plaza and for the Convocation on Oct. 4th in Waetjen Auditorium at noon, when we will recognize distinguished faculty and staff.
I'm looking forward to another great year at Cleveland State. Thanks again for all of your support. It's a great time to be a Viking!
Ronald M. Berkman
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