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CSU President Receives Laudatory Annual Performance Review

Trustees recognize President Harlan Sands for leadership during pandemic and advances in enrollment, academics, student success, finance

CLEVELAND (July 27, 2021) – Citing his “exemplary performance” and leadership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a host of other accomplishments, the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees unanimously approved a decidedly positive annual review for CSU President Harlan Sands.

Under the board’s bylaws, the executive committee is required to conduct an annual review of the president’s performance based on jointly established goals tied to the university’s strategic plan. This year, the committee invited all voting members of the board to participate.

“Harlan’s performance over the last year has been nothing short of outstanding,” said David Reynolds, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees. “Throughout the pandemic, the university has adapted and found new ways to meet the needs of our students with our unique brand of engaged learning, while expanding CSU’s transformational reach. That’s due in large part to Harlan’s leadership.”

“This review is a strong statement about the great work of our community of supporters, scholars and university leaders, who make us who we are and help us transform lives every day,” Sands said. “I also want to thank our Board of Trustees for their continued confidence, support and counsel, and I look forward to continue to work together with them to advance our collective vision for CSU.”

The board cited a number of accomplishments under Sands’ leadership the last year including:

  • Accelerating positive, institution-wide momentum in academic quality, research and student success enhancements;
  • Improving CSU’s financial stability:
  • Delivery of CSU 2.0 – a blueprint for future growth – developed in collaboration with faculty and supported by the Faculty Senate;
  • Recognition for leadership in setting on-campus COVID-19 health protocols that ensured the health and safety of the CSU community;
  • Through prudent measures, ending FY21 with a balanced budget and no use of financial reserves;
  • Presenting a 2-year FY22-23 balanced budget that includes investments in CSU 2.0;
  • Strategic investment of CARES funding in student success initiatives resulting in increased 6-year graduation rates and higher first-year student retention;
  • Successful recruitment of 33 new faculty;
  • Implementation of innovative strategies to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on enrollment;
  • Securing $20 million investment from JobsOhio to create a talent pipeline and fuel growth in post-pandemic careers, emerging technologies, life sciences and data-intensive fields;

As a result of his performance, the board voted to award Sands a full performance bonus as outlined in his employment contract. Reynolds noted that trustees had voted to extend a bonus to Sands last year, but he declined citing the financial uncertainty facing the university in the coming year.

The board also approved goals for Sands for FY22 that encompass strategies for promoting and accelerating CSU’s growth as a leading urban research university, strengthening the university’s financial stability, advancing student success and increasing CSU’s diversity and inclusion efforts.



About Cleveland State University

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for Engaged Learning. With nearly 16,000 students, ten colleges and schools and more than 175 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2021 as one of America’s best universities by U.S. News & World Report, including the #1 public university in Ohio for social mobility. Find more information at