News & Announcements

Ronald M. Berkman Announces Plan to Retire as President of Cleveland State University

Tenure Marked by Transformation of University and Improvements in Student Success

CSU President Ronald M. Berkman

Cleveland State University President Ronald M. Berkman today announced his decision to retire from the presidency in June of 2018. Berkman, 70, is CSU’s sixth president and has served in that role since 2009. The University will mount a national search for his replacement beginning next month.

“It’s been one of the great honors of my career to lead CSU during an amazing period of progress,” said Berkman. “Thanks to the faculty, staff, trustees and donors, and to the Cleveland community that has embraced us, we’ve brought ‘engaged learning’ to life.  In so many ways, CSU is a different university than it was in 2009.”

“It’s hard to overstate the impact Ron has had on CSU during his tenure,” said Bernie Moreno, chair of CSU’s Board of Trustees. “He has led the transformation of the University across every dimension, from his focus on student success, to the many innovative community partnerships he’s created, to the remaking of the campus and his extraordinary success attracting philanthropy. We will miss having him as president, but we also owe him a huge debt of gratitude for putting us in position to attract a great candidate to succeed him.”

Moreno said Berkman approached him to propose the transition plan earlier this year. He added that the Board of Trustees is grateful that Berkman has given them ample time to find his successor, that he’s agreed to be available to help the new president and that he’ll be returning to CSU to teach following a one-year sabbatical.

A number of new initiatives that Berkman has undertaken will impact CSU in the years to come. In light of that, Berkman told Trustees he believed that the timing of the transition would help the new president get off to a good start.

“We’ve just successfully completed a number of major efforts, including our first capital campaign, and will soon be launching some large, multi-year projects that would be better to hand off early rather than in midstream,” Berkman added.

The search for CSU’s next president will begin in July. The Board will form a Search Committee, chaired by Moreno, that will include members of the University community as well as the community at large.  The board also plans to engage one of the leading national executive search firms. Moreno believes the search will attract highly qualified candidates, thanks to the progress made under Berkman’s leadership.

“Ron has created tremendous momentum during his tenure as president, and the highly successful capital campaign he led has added even more,” said Moreno. “We want to do everything we can to maintain that momentum for the ongoing benefit of the University.”

Accomplishments under Berkman’s leadership include:

Student Success
  • Affordability: CSU has implemented a number of initiatives that have reduced the cost of earning an undergraduate degree by more than $3,350 annually.  CSU’s average student loan debt is the second lowest among Ohio public universities, more than $1,800 less than the state average.
  • Multi-term registration: CSU is the first state university in Ohio to offer multi-term registration, allowing students to plan and schedule courses for fall, spring and summer terms at the same time and ensuring access to required courses.
  • Adjusted tuition band: CSU has expanded its tuition band to 18 credit hours per semester, which allows students to take up to 18 credit hours without incurring additional charges.
  • Innovation: CSU was awarded a 2015 Excellence and Innovation Award in the category of Student Success and College Completion given by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).
  • Recruitment: 2016 saw the largest freshman class with 1,900 first-year students and increases in GPA and ACT scores.
  • Graduation rates: Increased 60%
  • Brookings Institution Ranking: In 2017, CSU was ranked 18th in the nation and number one in Ohio by the Brookings Institution for improving social mobility and generating impactful research.
  • Additional awards, accreditations and national rankings: CSU’s number one rank in research growth over the last decade; winner of the AASCU national innovation award; finalist for the APLU national innovation award and accreditation as a Carnegie Engaged institution
$500 Million Campus Transformation
  • Student housing: 1,000 students living on campus
  • Center for Innovation in Medical Professions: The new CIMP building houses the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), the CSU Health and Wellness Clinic, Speech and Hearing Clinic, Audiology labs, Nursing labs, and Occupational Therapy/ Physical Therapy (OT/PT) training rooms, as well as Distance Learning rooms, meetings rooms, lounge and quiet study areas, and associated faculty offices.
  • Washkewicz College of Engineering: A 100,000-square-foot addition providing students and faculty with state-of-the-art labs, learning spaces, classrooms, motion and control lab and makers’ space with the latest prototyping and fabrication technology.
  • Film School: CSU is the first university in Ohio to have a film, TV and interactive media school to uniquely prepare students for careers in the field. Created with a $7.5 million capital appropriation from the state, the school will also further the development of Cleveland as a center of media production.
  • Jack Joseph & Morton Mandel Honors College: The honors program was elevated to college status on receipt of a gift from the Mandel Foundation.  Renamed in honor of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel, the college became CSU’s ninth and moved into renovated space in the main classroom building.
  • Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion: A $1.4 million donation from Medical Mutual enabled Cleveland State University to become the first, and only, Horizon League school with indoor tennis facilities on campus.
  • Completed additional buildings: The new Student Center and Julka Hall College of Education and School of Nursing buildings, begun during Michael Schwartz’s tenure at the University, were also completed.
  • Engage: The Campaign for Cleveland State:  CSU’s first capital campaign reached its $100 million goal two years ahead of schedule, providing funds needed for scholarships and initiatives that enable student success.
  • Fundraising: Doubled the University endowment, personally raised over $60 million
  • Ahuja gift: Secured a $10M gift from alumnus Monte Ahuja, the largest in CSU history to that point, naming the business college the Monte Ahuja College of Business.
  • Washkewicz gift: Secured a $10M gift from Don Washkewicz and a matching $10M gift from the Parker Hannifin Foundation, together the largest in CSU history. The gift allows for the renovation and 100,000 square feet expansion of the engineering college, which will open in 2018 as the Washkewicz College of Engineering. 
Engaged Learning Partnerships
  • Playhouse Square: The original scope and vision of the theatre program’s move into Playhouse Square was expanded into a new CSU Arts Campus, which now includes the departments of theatre, dance and art. The program allows students to learn from professionals at the second largest performing arts complex in the nation.  The Department of Theatre and Dance performs in Playhouse Square’s Allen Theatre Complex, home to three state-of-the art stages: the 514-seat Allen Theatre, the 334-seat Outcalt Theatre, and the 150-seat Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre (“The Helen”). The Campus also features a retail location for CSU art galleries on Euclid Avenue.
  • Northeast Ohio Medical University: CSU joined forces with NEOMED to create a dual-campus medical program for training general physicians to serve the health care needs of inner city populations. A $7.25M grant from The Cleveland Foundation helps fund the program.
  • Cleveland Metropolitan School District: CSU has established an “education park” that encompasses two Cleveland Metropolitan School District schools on the CSU campus: MC2STEM High School and Campus International School.
  • Partnerships and collaborations: Ongoing enhanced relationships and support from University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, and Metro hospitals; St. Vincent Charity Hospital research collaboration (engineering) behavioral health initiative and several Internet Of Things (IOT) initiatives, including the Governor’s request to build center of excellence in IT at CSU and collaboration with Case Western Reserve University on IOT as well as a growing inventory of projects.


About Ronald M. Berkman

Prior to his arrival at CSU, Dr. Berkman held various leadership positions at Florida International University (FIU), including Provost, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs as well as Executive Dean of an interdisciplinary College with accredited Colleges of Nursing, Health Sciences, Public Health, Social Work and Policy and Management.

Dr. Berkman came to FIU from the City University of New York (CUNY), where he developed partnerships among city, state and federal government agencies as well as nongovernmental organizations as Dean of Urban Affairs. He also served as Dean of Academic Affairs and Founding Dean of CUNY’s first School of Public Affairs, located at Baruch College.

Dr. Berkman received his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has taught at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, the University of California at Berkeley, Brooklyn College, the CUNY Graduate Center, New York University and the University of Puerto Rico.

Dr. Berkman is chair of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, a consortium of the state’s 14 public universities. He also serves on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.


About Cleveland State University

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution that provides a dynamic setting for Engaged Learning. With an enrollment of more than 17,000 students, 10 colleges and schools and more than 175 academic programs, CSU was again chosen for 2017 as one of America’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report. Find more information at, on Facebook and by following @CLE_State.