Dear CSU Community,
The wellbeing and academic success of our students are our highest priorities. With that uppermost in mind, I share with you the launch of a new Division of Student Belonging and Success at CSU that realigns several existing programs and initiatives to create greater synergy among these efforts and contribute substantially to the ability of our students to thrive, no matter who they are, where they are from or where they are headed. As we have worked over the past several months to conceptualize the purpose, role and function of this new division, I have often thought of this insight from social science researcher and storyteller Brené Brown:
“One of the biggest surprises in our research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.”
Our new Division of Student Belonging and Success is designed mainly around the growing body of research linking a college student’s sense of identity and belonging to their academic success and timely graduation. Specifically, there is mounting evidence, particularly post-pandemic, that a student’s sense of attachment to sub-groups of fellow students within a larger university is an essential prerequisite to academic success, effective professional skill attainment and development of personal and interpersonal agency as young adults.
This is particularly true—and perhaps particularly challenging—on a campus like ours where many students live on campus, and a larger group of students commute to campus and often struggle to build connections with collegiate peers outside of their classes. Realigning critical programs under this new division will enable us to focus more effectively and efficiently on cohort-based support for all our students.
The Division of Student Belonging and Success will include the following existing program
|LGBTQ+ Student Services
Lift Up Vikes! Resource Center and Food Pantry
Living Learning Communities
The Mareyjoyce Green Women's Center
The Pratt Center
Sullivan-Deckard Scholarship Program
Veteran and Military Success Center
The transition of some of these programs will take place over the next several weeks, and we expect the Division of Student Belonging and Success to be fully operational by the end of October.
I have asked Dr. Tachelle Banks to serve as our inaugural Vice President of Student Belonging and Success, and I am delighted that she has agreed to step into this consequential role, starting September 1. Professor Banks is a dedicated long-time CSU academic and administrative leader who has recently served as a Presidential Faculty Fellow on the President’s Senior Leadership Team. Tachelle is a professor of Special Education and over many years has served CSU as Associate Chief Diversity Office, Chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Associate Dean of Faculty in the former College of Education and Human Services. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies from Ohio University, her Master of Education from Kent State University and her Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education from Kent State University. Most importantly, Tachelle has demonstrated remarkable dedication to the wellbeing of our students, and I believe she is uniquely well positioned to lead this new division.
We will share additional details on the creation of this new division in the coming weeks. For now, please join me in celebrating Tachelle and our staff members who are coming together under thenew banner of Student Belonging and Success. Together, we will ensure that all our students have the opportunity to be healthy, connected and engaged in our campus community.
Together, we are Cleveland State University.
Laura Bloomberg, Ph.D.