State of the University 2023

State of the University 2023

State of the University 2023 - We are

On October 5, 2023, President Laura Bloomberg presented the State of the University address. These remarks covered many of the University's accomplishments in the last year and also addressed challenges facing higher education in the years to come. 


President Bloomberg's State of the University Address

(presented as prepared)

Hello, I’m Laura Bloomberg, president of Cleveland State University. Thank you for joining me today.

It’s been almost a year since I was formally invested as the eighth president of Cleveland State University. I spoke to you then about our successes as an urban research university and our opportunities for growth. I will use this time today to share how far we have come in the last year and our trajectory into the years ahead.

I’d like to acknowledge the administrative leaders who hold the primary responsibility for driving and supporting work across the entire university. 

I am grateful to them everyday for their remarkable dedication to our mission, to each other, and to all of you. Members of the senior leadership team, please stand and be recognized. 

Shortly after the start of this calendar year, we unveiled a new brand identity for Cleveland State. Today, I’d like to share with you one of the videos that launched this branding. For some of you, this will be very familiar, and for those of you who haven’t seen it or haven’t seen it recently, it’s a strong illustration of how we have described ourselves for the past ten months. Let’s take a look.

State of the University 2023This campaign has received positive responses from prospective students, their families, and our alumni. They often remark that they appreciate the emphasis on members of our community. We are, after all, a university of compelling individual stories that knit together into a beautiful tapestry of access, determination, and success. And as a strong element of this campaign, we have featured several current students and graduates in online ads, in print and even featured in signage across our campus.

Since this campaign began in January, our digital ads have been shown 18 million times and have guided 60,000 unique visitors to our website. From these ads, we have seen a nearly 85% increase in the number of requests for applications and more information about our university. And later this fall, we will be expanding the campaign, so you will soon see new CSU billboards and TV spots, among our other marketing.

The tagline — “We are Cleveland State University” — is the underlying framework of this campaign, and for me it has also become the framework for defining our lives together at CSU. You’ll see me invoke this line frequently in presentations around the region and in messages to the CSU community. As part of a marketing campaign, the tagline speaks to our history, our students, and our impact. It shares how our alumni have succeeded after earning their degrees and why students today choose to enroll at CSU.

As a message we share with each other, “We are Cleveland State” takes on new meaning. It serves as a rallying cry among members of our faculty who, in the past three years, have adapted to new methods of learning for a resilient student population who endured and persevered through global interruptions in the flow of their education.

“We are Cleveland State” is a response to those who wonder why they should pursue a degree when they can enter the workforce tomorrow. 

“We are Cleveland State” was the spirit underlying our responses to many a worried parent dropping off their first-year students at our residence halls with tears in their eyes.

“We are Cleveland State” is a clarion call to build and sustain a learning community that contains and supports all of us.  

Here are some of the many, many ways we have shown the world what “We are Cleveland State” means over the past year…

We are explorers

Our purpose as explorers is a part of our University’s foundation. As a public research university, members of our faculty plumb the unknown depths of their disciplines and make remarkable discoveries at an incredible pace. 

In fact, two of our newest faculty members have been recognized by the National Institutes of Health for their promising research. Dr. Jackson Taylor in Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences is studying the effects of aging on the epigenome and how this may impact treatment of age-related diseases. Dr. Junior Gonzales in the Department of Chemistry is researching the multiplex imaging of cranial nerves to help us better detect tropical diseases. Both of these faculty members are recipients of NIH Pathway to Independence Awards — the first ever CSU faculty to receive this distinction given to postdoctoral researchers beginning their academic careers.

Our alumni are a critical part of our research contributions as well. Justin Flaherty, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Physics from CSU, had the opportunity to make an expedition to the Antarctic for his Ph.D. research with The Ohio State University. Once there, he studied ultra-high energy neutrinos from extra-galactic sources — research which could help us learn more about the universe and the forces that govern it.

Earlier this year, CSU joined a regional research group — including partners at Case Western Reserve University, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and several others — that received a $1 million “Engines” planning grant from the National Science Foundation. The big idea here is that CSU and our partners will conduct research into methods of sustainable manufacturing with a particular focus on Northeast Ohio industries and how they can reuse manufacturing byproducts in future cycles. This planning grant enables us to compete for additional awards from the NSF in 2025, which could bring as much as $160 million to the region over 10 years. The history of Northeast Ohio is rooted in our ability to “make stuff.” This multi-partner research initiative will leverage that rich history to build a strong economic future in next generation innovative production.

Recently, Drs. Daniel Munther and Shawn Ryan from our Department of Mathematics and Statistics, along with Dr. Chandra Kothapalli in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, received a nearly $500,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fund their research into food safety. Despite control measures put in place to improve the safety of poultry consumed in the United States, these measures aren’t effectively reducing illness rates or preventing new pathogens. The big idea here is that these researchers — these explorers — will develop predictive modeling for pathogen transfer rates to reduce contamination in a manner that will keep us all healthier and safer. 

We know that these research innovations and discoveries are happening — and will continue to happen — even as the higher education ecosystem is changing in Ohio and across the United States. In the past ten years, we have witnessed a precipitous drop in the number of college-bound students. In undergraduate enrollment alone, the country has seen a decline of 17% from 2012 to 2022. That is three million fewer students over a ten-year period. That rate of decline holds true for Ohio and for CSU. This is our sobering reality.

Rather than earn a degree on top of their high school diploma, many potential students are shying away from colleges and universities. Many have financial barriers before they even enroll, and they see the cost of an education as too daunting. Others feel they can gain the experience they need to advance in their chosen career field while on the job, not in the classroom.

And more students than ever are finding alternative methods to attend classes. A study last year by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that nearly 50% of the surveyed high school graduates were attending classes on YouTube. 

It does us no good to ignore these trends when we have an opportunity to lean into them; to adapt and thrive in new and innovative ways.

This fall, we welcomed nearly 4,000 new students across all our programs. Although we fell short of our goal for first-time, full-time students, we are seeing promising growth in certain areas. For instance, online programs are in demand, and international students continue to show strong interest in coming to CSU. New students are eager to move into our residence halls and have an on-campus experience. To accommodate this demand, we have doubled the number of on-campus beds in the last two years.

Of course, enrollment is only part of the story. We are also closely monitoring the retention and persistence of our students and determining how we can best support them year to year. We have seen improvement in first-to-second-year retention rates, especially among certain student populations — including students with higher need for financial assistance and the students coming to CSU from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

As of this semester, we are a university of slightly more than 14,000 total students. With this level of enrollment, nearly 15% lower than in 2018, our financial circumstances do not look like they once did. And I expect those financial issues may very well compound in the years ahead.

And so, whether we chose this path or not, we will become intrepid explorers of the unknown frontier of higher education over the next decade. Educators are smart people. We will figure this out, but it will not be easy, and it will likely not be without pain.

To that end, and as many of you know, this summer, we began developing a plan for Organizational Resilience and Financial Stability. The need for this plan became very apparent after our enrollment and financial projections for the next five years indicated we likely will face consequential budget deficits and a continued decline in enrollment, particularly among first-time, full-time students.

It is important to remember that these are projections, not predictions, and they do not account for our intervention today. Together, we can adapt and collaborate on strategies to combat these challenges.

With these projections in mind, we established core principles that would guide this plan, which, in summary, prioritized an inclusive decision-making process that kept CSU true to our mission and dedicated to the success of our students.

To assist in the development of this plan, I asked members of our faculty and staff, along with administrators, to form an Organizational Resilience/Financial Stability planning group. I tasked this planning group with two goals. First, to develop a list of potential strategies for reducing university expenses in the near-, mid-, and long-term. And second, to create a similar list of ways we could explore expanding existing revenue streams or creating new ones. 

I asked this group to think big. To propose new, innovative methods of educating students, reaching new student markets, and expanding the presence of CSU in Northeast Ohio and beyond. The group was given access to data regarding our overall budgets and financial position, enrollment trends and projections, and other aspects of the University. 

The timeline for creating this plan — which included starting this process after the start of the fiscal year — is admittedly imperfect, and sometimes the group asked for data that was difficult to produce. As we know, outdated and disconnected data systems are another challenge we face. And yet, the working group gave us a remarkably helpful framework for pushing forward.

We invited all of you to participate in this process by providing input and feedback in an online forum. I want to thank you for your ideas and your questions. The Organizational Resilience planning group reviewed this forum, and your suggestions informed the group’s report, which I received a few weeks ago.

In parallel with the planning group’s work, I asked all senior leaders to review their departmental budgets to identify budget savings we can act on now. Some of you were heavily involved in that process. You know it was painful and difficult.

So, now that we’ve finalized this year’s budget, we turn immediately to considering the adjustments that will be necessary to ensure a balanced budget for the next academic year and the one after that.  The recommendations of the Organizational Resilience group and your online input are invaluable in guiding that effort.

As I told the OR/FS group when I met with them: this process — and how I firmly believe we must approach it — reminds me of the old adage: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Resilient organizations plan for the long term, and we all want CSU to go far.

To the members of the Organizational Resilience/Financial Stability planning group, including chairs Dean Andrew Kersten, Vice President Julie Rehm, and Chief of Staff Patty Franklin, thank you. I recognize that this is challenging work…

But it can also be exciting, bold work to envision the future of CSU and think creatively about the function and mission of higher educational institutions in the years to come. 

Over the past few months, I have thought often of a New York Times article from June of this year, which looks back at medical innovations made in the face of a horrific global pandemic. Writer David Wallace-Wells refers to the past several years as an “unprecedented watershed of medical innovation.” When writing about the timeline for the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, he said, “Drug-development timelines in previous history had swallowed whole decades; experts warned not to expect a resolution for years. But the mRNA sequence of the first shot was designed in a weekend, and the finished vaccines arrived within months, an accelerated timeline that saved perhaps several million American lives and tens of millions worldwide.”

Times of challenge can also be times of incredible invention — and disruptive innovation. And that is not exclusive to the world of medicine. As higher education faces challenges of its own, I believe we will see incredible innovation as well. 

Fortunately, we have already been designing and implementing innovative programs and initiatives to support the next generations of students.

We are disruptive innovators

Faculty across all our colleges, with the support of Provost Nigamanth Sridhar and the Academic Affairs team, have been looking at what exactly an undergraduate student should know and be able to do by the time they graduate with a degree from CSU. This means examining the structure of our core curriculum, which a group of faculty have been hard at work on. After meeting with many other universities who are engaged in similar work, this group has developed a proposal that emphasizes an inquiry framework, giving students the opportunity to intellectually engage with the core curriculum in a manner that sparks their curiosity. 

We are also looking at defining new ways to disrupt traditional degree pathways in a manner that better prepares graduates for a future world of work and civic life. Faculty have been developing new integrated degrees, which bring together the coursework from two existing programs, resulting in a new form of academic experience that prepares our students for the world of work or advanced studies in their field. Proposed degrees include, for example, “Business & Engineering,” “Ethics & Computer Science,” and “Psychology & Design.” These integrated degrees are working their way through the faculty curriculum approval process with a planned launch for Fall 2024.

Thank you to both groups for advancing these innovative initiatives.

In addition to academics, we are reframing how we approach student life and wellbeing at CSU. At the start of the fall semester, I announced the formation of a new Division of Student Belonging and Success.

Research has shown that students who feel a sense of connectedness to their college or university are more likely to remain enrolled, to perform well in their classes, to engage with their peers, and ultimately to graduate. Students form this sense of connectedness by building relationships with other students as well as faculty and staff members. We can contribute to this connectedness by persistently demonstrating to our students that their success and wellbeing are important to us. 

The goal of the Division of Student Belonging and Success is to give every student at CSU a clear pathway for connectedness. Whether it is with their advisor, mentor, or graduation success coach; whether they belong to a student organization, club, or affinity group; if they are a student-athlete, a musician, or a performer; whether they engage with us online, live on campus or commute to CSU each day, EACH student will have a way to build the bonds that will keep them engaged and help support them when they need it.

This division brings together many student support services at CSU. Some of these services had been a part of the former Division of Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, while others were formerly situated in divisions relating to enrollment management and academic affairs. 

These offices do an impressive job of addressing many areas of student need. They focus on health and wellness, multicultural engagement, supporting our under-represented student populations, career development, and so much more. By bringing them all together to explore their synergies, commit to common goals, innovate and align resources, I believe we will refine our approach to supporting our students, helping them persist through their academic programs and meet their goals.

Please join me in recognizing Dr. Tachelle Banks as our inaugural Vice President of this consequential new division. 

As we consider wellbeing and success, not only for our students but for all of us as members of this very diverse CSU community, I firmly believe we must ensure our work is grounded in the core principles of justice, equity, and inclusion. We have long known that learning communities are most likely to thrive when they are diverse; we learn best in community, and we learn most when that community explores and sometimes challenges assumptions that may be rooted in our own generational or racial or gender or political identities. CSU welcomes and encourages that level of diversity. We must also encourage and embody a level of equity and belonging that enables everyone in our diverse community to thrive.    Next week, I will announce the launch of a new President’s Equity Roundtable that will articulate promising equity practices that are — or should be — underway on campus; and will establish accountability metrics for monitoring our success.

In follow-up to the unveiling of our multi-year campus master plan, we are also now innovating on our campus itself as we design spaces with an eye toward wellbeing, connection and hospitality for all of us.

In addition to substantially expanding seating and dining options in the Viking Marketplace on the second floor of the Student Center, CSU is now home to a new full-service Starbucks, Chick fil A, and Barrio, providing new and in-demand dining options for our campus community. The Viking Longship food truck is also available for those who prefer to relax in newly furnished outdoor spaces.

And just last week, we opened the Viking Public House on the ground floor of the Administration Center. With easy access from Euclid Avenue, the Public House provides a sit-down restaurant option for guests on campus, family visiting their students, or any of us — students, faculty, and staff — looking for a wood-fired pizza or a place to socialize at the end of a long day or before taking in a show in Playhouse Square. The Public House will be open until 11 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays.

As I mention all of these new options on our campus, I want to recognize Associate Vice President for Hospitality and Campus Services Nick Vande Velde, Dining General Manager Joe Ettinger, and the entire Viking Food Company Team for their work transforming the way we gather and share meals together on campus.

While our internal efforts are aimed at further developing a strong and resilient campus community, we also have a catalytic impact on our region.

We are catalysts of change

Thanks to an economic impact study conducted by the independent research firm Lightcast, we can measure exactly how we contributed to Northeast Ohio in 2022. 

For instance, we know that visitors to our campus brought in $1 million last year — and that was before we substantially expanded our dining options.

We also know that functions of the University, like our Small Business Development Center, provide the support to businesses that might otherwise not be in operation. Those businesses contributed an estimated $22.6 million to the regional economy last year.

When you add up all the indicators Lightcast measured, CSU had a total impact of $3 billion on the region in 2022. That’s the equivalent of CSU supporting over 36,000 jobs — one out of every 63 jobs in Northeast Ohio.

The study also looked at how different groups benefit from investments made in CSU. Students, through their investment of tuition dollars and other spending, see a return of $6.80 for every dollar they invested. That’s equal to a 20% rate of return. The stock market’s 30-year average return is only 10.5%.

Taxpayers see an equal rate of return, also 6.8 to 1. 

And from a social perspective — since research shows that college graduates make healthier lifestyle choices, see lower rates of criminal activity, and rely less on income assistance — society gains $19.10 for every dollar invested in CSU. 

That’s a significant benefit to not just our students, but to the city of Cleveland and the surrounding counties.

The economic impact study also considered the major role that our alumni play. When assessing their economic impact, Lightcast reported that they have an impact of $2.6 billion, meaning our alumni support the equivalent of 32,000 jobs. Considering the high rate of in-state retention for alumni — higher than any other public university in the state — it’s clear that we drive economic change and success in the region on a large scale.

CSU is also making change on an individual scale. This year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Cleveland includes quite a few Vikings. Jared Anderson and Sandor Gyerman were recognized for their marketing firm andor, which they began developing during their second year at CSU. 

The list also includes Cameron Tolbert, founder of the healthy snack and beverage company Native Ingredients; Reilly Berk, CEO of Berk Enterprises; Nichole Davis, founder and president of Wayfair Patient Advocates; Samira Malone, executive director of the Cleveland Tree Coalition; and Selina Pagan, co-executive director of the Young Latino Network. 

While financial impact can be quantified, let’s not forget those members of our community who are change agents on a more personal level. 

Brittany Barron, associate general counsel for CSU, was named one of Crain’s Cleveland Business’s 40 Under Forty — recognizing Brittany for her impressive accomplishments in the legal field.

When Cleveland Clinic wanted to strengthen their relationships with the communities they serve, they turned to Vickie Eaton Johnson, who earned her master’s in public administration from CSU and is currently a Ph.D. student in our urban studies and public affairs program. Only a few weeks ago, Vickie was named to the Clinic’s senior management team as Chief Community Officer and will continue her work in bringing meaningful change to the neighborhoods where Clinic patients live.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced its 2023 History Teachers of the Year over the summer, and we were thrilled to learn that Ohio’s winner was Marilyn Orseno, a teacher at North Royalton High School and a CSU Viking. Marilyn not only earned her master’s degree in history from CSU, but she is also currently working toward her Ph.D. in our Urban Education program. 

Congratulations to each of you on receiving such honors for your remarkable work.

Project UNITE — which is the Urban Network to Inspire Teaching Excellence — is a part of the Levin College of Public Affairs and Education and has received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to further promote effective teaching in urban schools. I’m proud that CSU was one of only eight organizations to receive this funding, and we earned the highest score among all of the recipients. With the $3.4 million we have received, we will provide teaching residencies for student teachers, as well as additional resources and professional development. Congratulations to the team of faculty whose work led to this prestigious grant.

Even as we experience success and amplify our roles as explorers, innovators, and change agents, we remain grounded in our mission as THE urban, regional public research university for Northeast Ohio. At CSU, we provide the environment necessary for authentic learning and growth for our students. We serve as a major employer in Greater Cleveland, and we continue in our responsibility as neighbors in downtown Cleveland.

We are living well together, on our campus, in our city.

We are stewards

We ARE stewards of this time and place.

U.S. News and World Report continues to highlight CSU for its excellence in graduate programs. Our programs in Urban Policy and Local Government Management are number one in the state, and the latest reports also applaud our programs in public affairs, chemistry, education, engineering and law. U.S. News also gave high rankings to our online programs in nursing, business and education.

We received Silver Status from the organization Military Friendly for the services we offer our veteran and military-connected students to support their degree completion.

Our faculty have secured $32.6 million in grant funding over the past year alone; and contributed $3.5 million in indirect cost recovery to the University.  

This summer, CSU received a landmark grant of nearly $3.5 million from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Foundation to support the Mandel Continuing Scholars Program, where students from Tri-C looking to transfer to CSU can continue their educations in the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Honors College. Thanks to this additional funding, we are making it possible for even more high-performing and motivated students from Tri-C to transition seamlessly to CSU to complete their education.

Our stewardship of institutional excellence of course extends into our athletics program. In the fall 2022 and spring 2023 seasons, our athletics programs had arguably their best year ever. Our student-athletes completed their 32nd and 33rd straight semesters with a department GPA of over 3.0. In fact, our student athletes had an 88% graduation success rate last year.

Our teams reached new heights and brought to campus some of the largest crowds ever. Men’s soccer claimed their first Horizon League Regular Season Championship and earned their spot in the NCAA Tournament.

And women’s basketball also reached the NCAA tournament following their third Horizon League Tournament Title and a program record 30-win season that included a 16-game streak. During that season, women’s basketball coach Chris Kielsmeier recorded his 500th career victory as well.

And Coach Daniyal Robinson in his first year as head coach for men’s basketball set a CSU record for most wins recorded by a first-year coach. 

And before the spring season was out, Sabrina Coffman from our Biomedical Engineering master’s program won the Horizon League individual title for women’s golf — the first in our athletic program’s history. Sabrina ended her collegiate career as the Women’s Horizon League Golfer of the Year.

This year, we have 395 student athletes participating across our 19 sports teams and hailing from 21 countries. They are scholars who not only make time for their sport on top of their studies, they also represent CSU in the community.

They do us proud. Please join me in showing them our appreciation.

Our staff are also doing a tremendous job of creating an environment where students can thrive and be well prepared for the next phase of their lives. CSU became the first public university to offer free exam prep to all undergraduate students, thanks to the Office of Career Development and Exploration. CSU students who plan on taking graduate admission exams — including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, and MCAT — no longer need to worry about the costs of study materials. Since the Kaplan All Access program launched last year, we estimate that students have saved over $400,000 on test prep expenses.

This fall, Career Development and Exploration extended the program even further, now including all of our alumni as well. We are the first — and only — university in the country to offer this benefit to our alumni. 

As stewards, we also have a duty to our physical plant and our location within downtown Cleveland. In recent weeks, the President’s Office partnered with the Office of Sustainability on social media to highlight some of the sustainability efforts we have on campus. We talked about things everyone can do every day to make a difference, like avoiding single-use plastic water bottles, using public transit or rideshare programs, printing less, or being more mindful of the items we throw in the trash when we could be recycling.

We also posted an impressive statistic that I want to reiterate today. Conversions from steam to natural gas as an energy source by our partners, along with our strategic purchase of renewable energy credits, have helped achieve a net reduction of our greenhouse gas emissions by 34% in the past 10 years.

And thanks to our collective efforts to follow sustainability best practices, between 2015 and 2022 we sent 33% less waste to landfills. 

These are tremendous efforts for the sake of our University at all levels. And I know these examples are only a sampling of what we are doing.

To each of you — to the faculty, staff members, students, alumni, and friends who contribute to our mission — I thank you.

Great institutions endure over generations. It’s a very long relay race run by many, many scholars and dedicated leaders in their time. Now is our time, and in this time, we have accomplished things that wouldn’t have been possible even five or ten years ago. We have reached milestones together…

Milestones like the 15th anniversary of the Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease. GRHD is conducting scientific research that is groundbreaking and making national headlines and will continue to do so.  Since its inception 15 years ago, GRHD has secured over $50 million in external research funding.

The CSU Poetry Center recently celebrated 60 years of its operation, first as a community outreach center and then a non-profit independent press. Director Caryl Pagel describes the Poetry Center as “run by a group of book-loving weirdos with clear eyes and full hearts.” 

Over these past six decades, the Poetry Center has published over 200 collections of poetry, prose and translations. They’ve welcomed hundreds of visiting writers to Cleveland State, and their publications have won numerous awards and accolades, including best book of poetry by The New York Times in 2020.

In 1923, the Cleveland YMCA School of Technology, formed under the leadership of YMCA board president and Sherwin Williams Vice President Sereno Peck Fenn, offered its first bachelor’s degree courses to expand access to higher education for people in Cleveland. By 1929, the school was renamed Fenn College, and 35 years later, Cleveland State University grew from the foundation of Fenn College.

This fall, we have been celebrating this centennial and our Fenn alumni, and we will continue to do so later this year. We want to recognize and memorialize the legacy of Fenn College.

And it won’t be long before we’re celebrating another anniversary. 2024 will be the 60th anniversary of CSU.

We are Vikings

We celebrate, commemorate and remember, because we are a community. 

Sadly, at times, we grieve the loss of members of our community. In the past year, it feels as though we have lost more members of our community than seems fair. We have lost some to the passage of time and sweet old age, and others we have lost unexpectedly to sudden illness, car accidents and gun violence. I have spoken with — and held the hands of — far too many grieving parents, spouses and loved ones. I am sure that many of you have, too. We remember each of these community members for their contributions to this place.

In speaking about the death of individuals who have had a profound impact on her, Maya Angelou once wrote, “When I find myself filling with rage over the loss of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions should be focused on what I learned or what I have yet to learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?”

We honor students and colleagues who have died when we endeavor to remember and embody the best of them in our own actions. And so many of you have shared your stories with me of those special people at CSU whom you remember. This came up over the summer as I began hosting monthly lunches with small groups of staff members in the President’s Office. 

I had expected that these lunches would be fun ways for groups of us to get to know more about each other in a casual, laid-back setting, and that has happened. We have learned about each other’s lives outside of CSU, our families and personal interests. But you have also shared incredible stories of why CSU means so much to you and the people at CSU — living and dead — who have impacted you most. After hearing these stories of remarkable dedication to this place, it comes as no surprise to me that Forbes reported that we are among the best employers in Ohio, largely based on survey data from our employees.  So many of you care so deeply about this university — and about each other. You inspire me.

Part of building a rewarding workplace and a strong learning community is strengthening our lines of communication. Over the past year, I’ve been working to share more of my thoughts with you about CSU and many of our impressive programs through CSU Matters. In this newsletter and monthly video series, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with longtime faculty members, visit with student performers, meet the young children who are being educated by CSU student teachers, and so much more.

This academic year, I want to expand these lines of communication further, especially as we navigate the financial headwinds in front of us. We will continue our current methods of communication and explore new options in the coming year.

We also want everyone at CSU to understand our institutional priorities and the progress we’re making. Our Board-approved priorities and a summary of our accomplishments from last year are now available online for anyone who would like to read about our progress in the 2022-23 academic year. 

And our goals for the 2023-24 academic year were approved by the CSU Board of Trustees at their September meeting. The senior leadership team and I are working diligently on these seven approved goals, categorized into three strategic commitments that are drawn directly from CSU 2.0 — differentiating on student success, achieving distinction as a leading public urban research university, and ensuring financial resilience and a strong campus community. Along with each of these goals, we have identified specific actions and success measures that we will monitor throughout the year.

As the higher education landscape adapts in response to global events and in anticipation of Gen Z and then Gen Alpha students coming of college age, we will leverage this uncharted territory for new opportunities.

We will innovate upon tried and true formulas to hone them and to disrupt them, when needed, to better serve our students.

We will strengthen the civic fabric and spur the growth of our region, its industry, and its economy.

We will be the keepers of this University in our time, committed to our mission and to the fundamental value of the urban public research university that we are. 

We are Vikings. Together, we will celebrate 60 years of CSU and envision what is possible in the next 60 years. 

Together, we are Cleveland State University.

Thank you.

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