Legacy of Leadership
It’s no surprise that student success has been at the heart of Ronald M. Berkman’s presidency. The son of a working-class family who juggled jobs with his classes and studying and saw higher education as a means to a better life, he strongly identified with CSU students from the start.
“I’m one of them,” says Dr. Berkman of CSU’s 17,000-plus student body. “I understand the challenges they face because I faced them myself. The proudest days of my presidency are commencement – shaking the hands of graduates as they walk across stage, seeing the joy on their faces and knowing that CSU helped them achieve their dream of a college degree.”
Providing vision and leadership to help students graduate in a timely manner with the knowledge and skills needed for career success and raising scholarship funds to support students on their educational journey have been top priorities throughout his presidency. And he’s succeeded admirably.
Now, after nine years at CSU’s helm, he will retire June 1.
“The opportunity to lead CSU is, without question, the most rewarding experience of my 40-plus-year academic career,” he says. “It has been an honor to serve as president during an amazing period of progress.”
Bernie Moreno, chair of CSU’s Board of Trustees, says, “It’s hard to overstate the impact Ron has had on CSU. He has led the transformation of the University across every dimension, from his focus on student success, to the many innovative community partnerships he’s created, to the remaking of the campus and his extraordinary success attracting philanthropy. CSU has never occupied a better position than it does today and is poised to reach even greater heights, thanks to his outstanding leadership.”
Faculty, staff, students and the community saluted and thanked Dr. Berkman for his service at an on-campus reception in April. The event included a tribute video, proclamations from the city and county, a key to the city, the unveiling of his presidential portrait and the naming of the Main Classroom Building as Ronald Berkman Hall.
The president, whose passion for cities and expertise in urban affairs helped attract him to Cleveland and CSU, will continue to reside in the area. Following a one-year sabbatical, he will return to the University as a faculty member.
“I could not be more proud of all we have accomplished together during my tenure,” he says. “Without CSU, a huge percentage of young people in this area would not have access to higher education and would not experience its transformative power.
“I came to CSU to support the continued growth and evolution of this University –— increasing its academic quality and reputation, building up research and philanthropy, growing and modernizing the physical campus, and creating partnerships to boost the city and the region,” he adds. “I believe we have succeeded and that the University is positioned to continue the progress we have collectively achieved.”
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