CSU President Ronald Berkman
As Cleveland State University welcomes its largest-ever Freshman class, it is also preparing for the departure of President Ronald Berkman.
Earlier this year, Berkman announced that he'd be retiring at the end of June, 2018, marking the end of a nine-year tenure during which Cleveland's city university witnessed enormous physical and capital growth. The continued growth in class size is perhaps the easiest indicator of the school's success and rising popularity. With 2,000 incoming Freshman, CSU has seen growth in class size for 10 consecutive years.
"It has been a period of tremendous momentum," CSU Marketing Director Rob Spademan told Scene. "As we search for a new President, we're looking for someone to continue that record of success: someone who will connect our students with career opportunities at the corporations, institutions and non-profits in the area; someone who will bring innovative thinking and ideas that turn into real programs; and someone who can react and respond to the changes and disruptions in higher education models."
Spademan said that right now, the Alabama-based search firm Wheless Partners is gathering information. Through public forums, one-on-one interviews, and conversations with faculty, staff and students the search firm will craft an official "job description" based on the community's priorities.
In mid-September, Wheless will present the 22-member presidential search committee
— led by CSU's board chair Bernie Moreno — with their findings. Interviews will take place through the fall and winter.
"We're hoping to announce the next president of Cleveland State University in early 2018," Spademan said.
Spademan said he is expecting an impressive slate of applicants that may include university presidents, CEOs, and politicians.
"The university's in a great place," Spademan said. "This is going to be a great job for somebody. It's not a situation where a leader has to come in and stop the bleeding. We're well-positioned in the community and we have a treasure trove of relationships, many of them created by President Berkman."
Spademan cited, as just one example, the 12 members of the Cleveland Orchestra who teach and tutor students in CSU's music program. "They're not going to drive four hours to Athens to give a one hour trumpet lesson and then drive back to Cleveland," he said. "We have tremendous benefits because of our location."
CSU's next president ought to be as excited by the city's resurgence as the students are, Spademan said, mentioning that the university has seen an influx of Freshman who picked CSU because of the Cavs or other amenities downtown, "in the same that kids go to Ohio State because of the football team. Spademan said both the city and the university are "on a roll," and he's confident that the firm and the committee will find an energetic leader to take the reins.