It's not often that a university names half a dozen new senior leaders in one semester. So I am particularly excited about a new team of very talented individuals who will bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our campus.
Already up and running are vice president for Business Affairs and Finance, Stephanie McHenry and former U.S. Senator George Voinovich, senior fellow at the Levin College of Urban Affairs. Both are dynamic individuals with diverse and distinguished backgrounds, bringing to CSU a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Starting this summer will be Carmen Brown, vice president of Enrollment Services and Berinthia LeVine, vice president of Advancement. These women have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in their respective fields and each will enrich the University.
On the academic side, Craig Boise will become the new dean at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and Sajit Zachariah will lead the College of Education and Human Services. Both are vibrant academics with the energy and expertise to enhance the University.
There have been many physical changes to the University in the past two years, but as the new construction subsides, CSU's transformation will continue from within, including academics, student success and research. The foundation and talent is in place for us to reach even greater heights.
I am encouraged to report that CSU's early recruitment efforts are showing strong results. To date, freshman applications are up 13 percent over this time last year, and we have admitted 10 percent more applicants.
More significantly, the academic credentials of newly admitted freshmen are above last year's results for this same time. The success is driven in part by CSU's Freshmen Scholars Program - an innovative recruitment tool developed to attract more academically competitive students. Under the program, CSU provides $3,000 in renewable scholarships for incoming freshmen who bring a 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of at least 23.
The program was expanded this year to $5,100 for those same students who also live in the University's residence halls.
April 2 marked CSU's first-ever Spring Open House, when the University opened its doors to more than 1,400 alumni, prospective students and members of the community to experience the many great things happening on our campus. Turnout and feedback exceeded all of our expectations.
Each college hosted informational sessions and held sample lectures. The Theater, Music and Dance Department provided special performances in the Student Center, and there were a myriad of informative sessions that included picking a major, financial aid, career planning, degree completion and academic advising.
Attendees planned their day to suit their individual tastes, and the Recreation Center even provided day care for little ones not yet focused on college. In all, more than 300 CSU faculty, staff and students helped make this event a success. Congratulations to all involved for your careful planning and hard work.
The new budget planning process is forcing us to make many difficult decisions in all aspects of the University. This week, Athletics announced that Cleveland State's baseball program will end at the conclusion of this season.
While the team has had a long and proud history, maintaining baseball in Northeast Ohio has become increasingly cost prohibitive. CSU has been without its own facilities and has resorted to playing in Avon, more than 20 miles from campus. I certainly understand the disappointment felt by the players, coaches and alumni who have honored this program and made it an important part of this University and of their own lives.
This has been a thrilling and dynamic year at Cleveland State, filled with success and achievement. But as we face new challenges from state budget cuts, it is important to remain mindful of the notion that the strength of any university lies with its people – creative, energetic, hard-working people invested in our common mission.
I see that quality in CSU everyday in our faculty and staff - and most importantly in the faces of our students whose lives we help shape. For me, spring commencement highlights the significance of our work and reminds us in a very tangible way the importance of the University's mission to this region.
The year's spring commencement celebrates our success with honorary degrees for some very prestigious individuals from throughout Northeast Ohio who have direct ties to Cleveland State.
They include Dr. Leonard Trawick, one of Ohio's preeminent poets and teachers, who taught English at CSU from 1969 to 1998; Chairman and CEO of Fairmount Minerals, William E. Conway; international businessman Anthony Yuan Tai Yen, who was instrumental in bringing international trade to Cleveland; the first African-American female judge in Ohio, the Honorable Lillian W. Burke; and Edna Shalala, a Cleveland-Marshall graduate who practiced law until the age of 90.
I look forward to honoring these individuals this weekend, and want to thank you all for your commitment and dedication to making this an outstanding year at Cleveland State University.