President Sands highlights the year’s accomplishments in the annual “State of the University Address”

By: Maggie Phillips

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After a year of unprecedented challenges, Cleveland State University premiered its annual State of the University Address on Thursday, Oct. 29. The video highlights the accomplishments made throughout the last academic year. During the address, President Harlan Sands spoke on these accomplishments along with future goals for the coming year. 

First and foremost, Sands began by addressing the university’s response to the pandemic. He applauded the efforts students, faculty, and staff have taken to stay safe, claiming our infection rate is lower than what would be expected of our university. 

“Our plan is working: enrollments are rock steady, retention rates are up, students are staying engaged, and to date, our on-campus COVID infection rate has been slightly less than expected, and is generally lower than what we have seen across other higher learning institutions in the state,” said Sands.

He then pointed out academic accomplishments, mainly the hiring of 33 new full-time faculty in the areas of biomedical research, data analytics and cybersecurity, and applied social sciences. 

In terms of student support during the pandemic, Sands mentioned various funds and services distributed by the university to aid students facing hardships. The Lift Up Vikes! program expanded its food pantry and distributed around $6 million in emergency grants to existing students. In addition to more monetary aid, Sands claimed the university is providing over 800 laptops and 230 hotspots for students in need. Also mentioned was the 2-for-1 Tuition Promise for freshmen students and the expansion of success coaching and counseling services.

Sands ended by speaking of CSU’s accomplishments by boasting enrollment numbers and national rankings. 

“Our overall enrollment remains at over 16,000 students –and is within 1.8% of last fall’s enrollment. An incredible achievement given national and regional trends where enrollments are down between 5 and 20%,” said Sands.“CSU was ranked 119th for social mobility, up from 134 last year and we remain the #1 public university in Ohio among ‘Top Performers on Social Mobility.’”

Pivoting to the future, Sands laid out some of the goals the university plans on accomplishing in the next year. This consisted of preparing for the recommendations by the CSU 2.0 task forces, additional faculty recruiting, expanding student success coaching, and further investment in student financial aid. Also mentioned was a list of specific initiatives related to advancing inclusion and diversity at the university.

Overall, an important theme of this year’s address was CSU’s continued role in providing affordable, public education to the Cleveland and Northeast Ohio community. 

Sands stated, “As civic, public sector, and business leaders in Cleveland continue to assess the economic, social, fiscal, and health impacts of the pandemic, it is increasingly clear that high quality, affordable public education will play a defining role in our collective future.”

While the State of the University certainly laid out some of the overarching goals for CSU’s next year, there was no mention of the important Spring 2021 updates sent to students in an email earlier last week. This email provided five very important changes to the current and spring semester- none of which were mentioned during the State of the University:

  1. The current schedule for fall 2020 will remain as is. 
  2. There will be a pass/fail grading option for this semester, with a link to further details.
  3. The university plans on offering 44% of classes in-person next semester.
  4. Spring break will be moved to Jan. 9-16.
  5. Wednesday, Mar. 10, and Thursday, Apr. 8 will be designated “reading days” where classes will be canceled. 

Despite many of the goals for next year lacking specific details, Sands emphasized remaining dedicated to serving the regional community and combating racism and discrimination as priorities for the coming year.