By Connor Mahon
CSU 2.0, a five year plan for the future of the university, was unveiled in a Facebook Live on March 26. Today, we are taking a closer look at the first of four themes that make up the ambitious plan, to unpack what it all means for you, the student. The theme, “Seek Distinction as a Leading Public Urban Research University,” consists of four priorities.
Priority 1: Strengthen our Faculty
Cleveland State joins Ohio State University, who recently made headlines for defying national trends and planning to add faculty rather than remove them. This contrasts with Ohio University, Wright State, and many more in the state and nationally who have resorted to firing faculty in response to COVID-19 related budget deficits.
The report says, “we will enrich the full-time faculty by 200 new and replacement appointments over the next five years, bringing our faculty strength from 500 to between 600 and 625.”
Of note is the wording “new and replacement appointments,” which seems to indicate that 75-100 of these new faculty members will be replacing existing professors. Whether this intends to replace adjunct or part time positions with full time faculty, or redistribute positions from low enrollment programs to more in-demand areas remains to be seen.
Target areas were identified in the report as “health and biomedical science, data analytics, cybersecurity, smart and sustainable manufacturing, computer science, information science, and applied social sciences.”
Priority 2: Invest in Research
Pairing with the previous goal, CSU will increase annual research spending from $30 million to $50 million annually. This will be done through the recruitment of new faculty with “high promise of research productivity,” meaning they will bring with them or attract grants and other funding from beyond the university. CSU also plans to “invest $20 million over the next five years to recruit faculty, fund faculty startups and research lab infrastructure, and provide seed funding.”
This serves students in a variety of ways. Indirectly, increased research productivity is a significant factor in determining university ranking, and will enhance the university’s overall reputation. In the long term, CSU’s enhanced reputation will be reflected in the prestige associated with a CSU degree.
More directly, investments in research will likely mean more opportunities for students to get involved. This may work in tandem with Theme 2, Priority 5 of the report, which promises “to make at least one paid internship or co-op experience available to every CSU student who wants one,” by funding paid research assistant positions.
Priority 3: Realign our Colleges
An academic college refers to a division of the university organized around a subject area. The academic college your program belongs to influences the administrators responsible for it, your graduation requirements, some scholarship and funding opportunities, and the advisors available to you.
Currently, CSU has eight colleges, not including the College of Graduate Studies. In the CSU 2.0 proposal, this number is reduced to six. Unchanged are the College of Engineering and College of Law.
The Honors College is said to be “expanded,” with no more details available at this time. The College of Business will adopt a few more programs from other colleges, but is otherwise unchanged.
The biggest changes come from reconfiguring the College of Sciences and Health Professions, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Education and Human Services, and Levin College of Urban Affairs. A more streamlined College of Health Professions will be established, as will an “enhanced” Levin College of Urban Affairs, Social Sciences, and Education. Finally, a “newly configured” College of Arts & Sciences will hold a diverse set of remaining programs.
Details on college realignment from the CSU 2.0 report.
The motivation for this change is to reduce the number of deans, associate deans, and administrative support staff required to run those branches of the university. At its best, the elimination of high administrative salaries means this money can be redistributed to support other areas. This will be further explored in a future article covering Theme 4, about the university’s finances.
At its worst, this can result in advisors stretched much too thin and thrown into unfamiliar waters, and a change in graduation requirements that may impact some students. However, the timeline for this has not been established, so graduating students should not worry about any last minute requirement changes.
Priority 4: Build World-Class Programs
Tying in the previous priorities surrounding faculty recruitment and research, CSU “will build 2-3 world-class, ranked programs in fields like data analytics/data science, computer sciences and information systems, and smart/sustainable manufacturing by bringing together resources from Health, Engineering, Business and Law.” Students in these programs can expect new faculty, research opportunities, and community partnerships.