Greetings. This is my third newsletter since becoming President and I hope they are proving informative. As most of you have probably heard me say, one of my top priorities as President is to enhance communications among members of the CSU community and this newsletter is part of my personal effort to do so.
As always, there has been a lot happening around CSU since I last wrote. Here are a few of the highlights:
Spring Commencement, a high point on any university’s calendar, will be celebrated May 15 at the Wolstein Center. More than 1,700 students are eligible to participate, including 20 Ph.D. candidates. Co-valedictorians have been named. They are:
Three honorary degree recipients, one of whom is traveling here from South Africa, are being recognized. Dr. Jonathan D. Jansen, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State South Africa, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Higher Education Administration degree. James A. Thomas, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of Thomas Property Group, LLC of Los Angeles and an alumnus of Cleveland Marshall School of Law, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. And from our own faculty, Professor Emeritus William R. Martin, Ph.D., will receive a distinguished emeritus faculty Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Three major campus construction projects are nearing completion, and all promise to be vibrant, new additions to the CSU environment.
Opening this month is the Education Building, an architecturally stunning campus centerpiece. I urge everyone to tour this beautiful new building, which was designed with no right angles. The School of Nursing will be housed in part of the Education Building.
Keenly anticipated by nearly everyone, the long-awaited Student Center will make its debut in June, when the bookstore is scheduled to open. Other operations, including food services, will open on a staggered basis over the summer, with the building fully operational by the beginning of the fall semester. This building too is a gorgeous addition, not only to our campus but to downtown Cleveland. Its importance cannot be overstated: the Student Center will become the hub of campus life, the nexus where all of us – students, faculty and staff – come together to form a community.
Finally, the residence halls at Euclid Commons are on schedule and will be ready for occupancy by the beginning of the fall semester. On-campus housing is also important to building a sense of community and Euclid Commons fills a longtime void at CSU. Judging by the reaction of students, the dorms definitely are meeting a demand – more than 97 percent of available rooms have been reserved for fall.
Significant progress continues to be made toward establishing a public K-12 school on campus in conjunction with the Cleveland Schools. The concept was approved in agreements reached with the Cleveland Municipal School District and the Cleveland Teachers Union. These were important steps that will allow the development of the innovative school to continue in cooperation with CMSD and CTU. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, I strongly believe a first-rate K-12 school on campus will help attract faculty and other professionals downtown, and will be a valuable proving ground for the teachers we are training. The initial location of the school will be at the First United Methodist Church, E. 30th St. and Euclid Ave. It will open in August starting with K-2, reaching K-12 in 2015-2016.
CSU has established a new program called Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran (SERV), which is designed to assist military veterans make the transition from soldier to civilian and student, a difficult adjustment for some. SERV will offer classes specifically designed for veterans to help them through their critical first year of college. Support also will be available for veterans with previous college experience facing transfer credit issues.
Studies have shown that the single biggest reason civilians enlist in the military is in anticipation of the educational benefits that await them when they complete their service. In reality, however, very few veterans – less that 10 percent – take full advantage of the benefits available to them. CSU researched the reasons why that figure is so low, and designed SERV to address these specific issues. SERV has been featured on “The American Veteran,” a TV program produced by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
We are also honored that CSU was selected by the Pat Tillman Foundation as a new partner in the Tillman Military Scholarship Program, which provides educational scholarships for veterans, service members and their families.
As part of the regularly scheduled Student Government elections in April, students were asked to vote in a referendum on the question of establishing an inter-collegiate football program at CSU. The results were, to say the least, ambiguous.
The notion of CSU football was wildly popular, with students supporting it by a margin of 1,214 to 553. But when asked if they would be willing to pay a fee for the privilege of having a team, students said no by a vote of 977 to 780. But when given a range of fees from which to choose, they agreed, by a vote of 913 to 847, to pay the smaller of the two to have football on campus. Needless to say, we are continuing to examine the results. I will keep you informed of developments.
Allow me to offer my belated congratulations to the Vikings for winning the 2010 Speedway Horizon League Women’s Basketball Championship in March and NCAA tourney play, where we faced and fell to highly-ranked Notre Dame in South Bend. All of CSU is proud of you.
I would also like to recognize the many contributions Lee Reed made in his time at CSU as Athletic Director and wish him well in his new position as AD at Georgetown. We have appointed John Parry, former Athletic Director of Butler University, to act as Interim Athletic Director, while a national search is conducted.
U.S. News and World Report has named CSU one of America’s Best Colleges. Only 234 universities made the list, putting Cleveland State in distinguished company.
There is much to be excited about here at CSU. I believe we are entering a dynamic period of growth, both as an academic institution and as a major contributor to Cleveland’s renaissance. Together, we can make history.
Ronald M. Berkman