Cleveland State Commissions Five Task Forces to Develop Recommendations

Cleveland - Cleveland State University President Harlan M. Sands Monday announced the creation of five distinct Task Forces – one each for Academics, Administration, Diversity/Inclusion, Athletics, and Growth/Innovation – to reimagine the university’s future and put it on a path to become “CSU 2.0.” 

Members of the Task Forces include an interdisciplinary cross-section of faculty, staff and students, as well as distinguished advisors from the community and academia.

President Sands' full message to the school is below:

To our campus community:

Now that we have taken major strides together on a plan to repopulate our campus this fall, and made some difficult initial decisions to stabilize our campus financials, it is time to move ahead with our process to come up with a thoughtful, actionable plan that will help us emerge from this pandemic a stronger and more focused institution – an institution that is true to our beliefs and core values, and fully ready to meet the future needs of our students, our city, and the region.

If there is one thing we’ve learned these past few months, it is that our CSU community will pull together in a time of great need to deliver on our “Engaged Learning” promise. Faced with a world-wide public health crisis, we demonstrated our ability to stay connected, successfully moving our coursework online, our workforce to home offices, and our many support services to virtual networks. Now, armed with what we have learned about our new environment, ourselves, and the changing needs of our society around us, we are ready to apply this knowledge to our future – a reimagined future – as part of our “CSU 2.0” initiative.

Over the past weeks, following up on the work of our initial CSU 2.0 Task Force, we have been in dialogue with a wide cross-section of University trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, and students, all of whom are ready, willing, and excited to participate in the next phase of our process.

Today we are commissioning 5 distinct Task Forces – one each for Academics, Administration, Diversity/Inclusion, Athletics, and Growth/Innovation – to prioritize and hone in on more specific recommendations that will further refine our future strategic priorities, teaching and learning pedagogies, alignment of resources, and investments. Over the next four months, these teams will work collectively and independently to reimagine the CSU of today and make recommendations that will put us on a path to the CSU we will be tomorrow.

For Academics, Provost Zhu has already been working with faculty senate leadership to set up a process to review the alignment of our colleges, school and departments to identify efficiencies, assess faculty workloads and incentives, examine course scheduling and class size protocols, and maximize multidisciplinary connectivity. This work will roll up to the Academic Task Force, to be chaired jointly by Provost Zhu and new Faculty Senate President Bob Krebs. Both will be assisted by former Northeastern University President Richard Freeland, who led Northeastern through a 10-year period of growth, innovation, and faculty partnership.

To review campus-wide administrative support functions, I have asked Michael Biehl, our Senior VP for Finance and Administration, and Jeanell Hughes, our Chief Talent Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer to lead our effort. The Administration Task Force will conduct an assessment of organizational structure and campus support services and recommend a set of reforms and changes to improve performance/service, and reduce costs.

Dr. Ronnie Dunn, CSU’s Interim Chief Diversity Officer and Peggy Zone Fisher, CEO of The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio will co-lead the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, which will work closely with the already-established President’s Diversity Council. This group is charged with recommending those actions that will most impact how we conduct ourselves across campus, how we advance, support and promote our diverse faculty and staff and effectively increase their ranks, and how we support and educate our students.

The Growth and Innovation Task Force will be led by Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Health Care Strategy Dr. Forrest Faison. This group will examine how to best identify opportunities where CSU can invest and grow. Initially, they will focus on strategic growth initiatives in research, engineering, and the sciences, health education to support Cleveland and the region as a health destination and technology hub, adult learning and online opportunities, and workforce needs.

Finally, a review of Athletics will be directed by Athletic Director Scott Garrett with the assistance of former University of Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden, a recent contributor and trusted advisor to CSU Athletics who has a strong track record of success.

To ensure that our 5 Task Forces are working in unison and cross-pollinating ideas, I will engage regularly and directly with Task Force leadership. I also expect our Task Forces to freely reach out for subject matter expertise and other advice within our CSU and larger constituent communities, as needed. As I have stressed from the outset, this is meant to be an inclusive and iterative exercise, and we will continue to engage as deeply and widely as we can to ensure no voice goes unheard.

As our work moves forward, we will keep you informed through our bi-weekly live Town Halls, a soon-to-be-activated CSU 2.0 web page, and communications through our established faculty, staff, and student groups.

I have asked for each Task Force to make final recommendations by November 16.

Moving forward, I am confident we will come out of this stronger and even more ready to serve our students, partner with our community, and build our future together.

Harlan M. Sands


Cleveland State University

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