In December 2020, Cleveland State University announced a bold initiative: a 2-for-1 tuition deal to incoming students who maintain a certain GPA through their first semester of study.
For an urban public institution whose enrollment and retention numbers have been better than most before and during the pandemic, it was an intriguing strategy but one that foreshadowed something bigger:
Cleveland State said it wants to grow its enrollment by 4,500 students and boost its faculty by 200 members over the next four years.
Dubbed CSU 2.0, the university is planning to pour huge investments into research, while creating new programs and partnerships in an effort to become more focused and more attractive.
“CSU 2.0 is a bold, forward-thinking, aspirational vision for our future,” President Harlan Sands said. “This is about growth, not retrenchment. We’ve set ambitious, achievable goals. We’ll be serving more students, distinguishing ourselves as a leading urban public research institution, and expanding our role as an anchor institution in the region to better serve and support greater Cleveland.”
Along with the three core missions of CSU 2.0 mentioned by Sands is another in its quest to boost faculty numbers and raise enrollment to 20,000 by 2025: building financial strength. Cleveland State’s new “resource allocation model” will garner input from deans and vice presidents as it looks to reduce overall costs and boost private funding.
“Thanks to the progress we’ve made, we’re in a sound financial position, but there are still opportunities for efficiency,” Sands said. “These cost-savings measures will allow us to invest in what’s important – student support, new faculty and more competitive salaries for faculty and staff.”
So, what are its plans
Sands doesn’t sugarcoat the importance of students in CSU’s four-year equation.
“They are the core of our mission,” he says. “We have an opportunity to create a national brand for CSU as having the best price-value proposition in higher education.”
Cleveland State’s tuition and room and board are each around $11,000. Nearly 70% of its students receive need-based aid, but only 7% have that aid fully met, according to data given to U.S. News & World Report. So, one of CSU’s top priorities is to provide more aid, promising in the new plan to pour $1 million each year into those packages.
More than 90% of students don’t live in university-provided residential housing, which can be challenging to building a thriving campus. Cleveland State will try to double its current pool of 1,500 by 2025.
Providing key supports are also in the plans, as Sands and his team work to offer “cradle to career” workforce paths for students, while developing an Office of Career Development and Exploration that will help seek out paid internships and co-op program opportunities.
“It’s all about helping students graduate and move on to successful careers,” Sands said.
Research is the real key
Student success is just one variable in the visionary plans laid out by Cleveland State, which ranks as the No. 1 public state university in Ohio for social and economic mobililty. Sands said a renewed focus on research and faculty also will be crucial to achieving its goals.
By adding 200 positions in emerging fields such as healthcare, data analytics, manufacturing and applied social sciences, the university will be better positioned to serve those on campus and in communities in the future.
CSU said it plans to:
- “Increase external research funding from $30 million to $50 million by 2025.
- Invest $25 million in faculty start-ups, lab infrastructure and seed funding.
- Build on its City Management & Policy Program, while turning its center for Gene Regulation Health and Disease into a premier biomedical research center.
- Reduce its number of colleges from eight to six while placing a stronger focus on its College of Health Professions, College of Urban Affairs, Social Sciences and Education; and College of Arts and Sciences.”
- Double the number of certificates and graduates in 19 STEM-related fields and create an Urban Public Health Institute through a $20 million investment from the state of Ohio.
“As an urban public research university, we will always be about serving our community,” Sands said. “It’s now time to become a beacon institution, where we attract investment and the best and brightest individuals from around the region, nation and world.”