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University unveils blueprint for the future: CSU 2.0

Cleveland State University has unveiled an aggressive, growth-oriented plan for emerging from the global pandemic a stronger, more-focused institution – one that is at once true to the university’s core values, and at the same time, meeting future needs of students, our city and the entire Northeast Ohio region head-on.

The plan – CSU 2.0 – sets a goal of 4,500 additional students and 200 new faculty members over the next four years. It outlines multi-million-dollar investments in research, faculty positions and initiatives to advance student success, develop new programs and create new partnerships, built upon the university’s extensive campus-wide planning and consultation which took place in 2018 and 2019. 

Engaged Learning, Emerging Blueprint

Faced with a worldwide public health crisis, CSU demonstrated an ability to stay connected by successfully moving coursework online, pivoting the workforce into home offices and migrating many student, faculty and staff support services to virtual networks. 

Back on campus at the start of Fall 2021, and bucking the national trend of declining college enrollment, the university’s overall undergraduate and graduate enrollment increased about 1% over last year. Notably, students enrolled in graduate studies soared by more than 20% to 4,352 students, and we welcomed 1,834 new freshmen to campus, which is a 5% increase from last year. 

The university’s transformational international outreach program, CSU Global, helped deliver an additional 900 students from overseas, who came to CSU for graduate studies, mostly in high-demand STEM or business-technology fields like computer science and information systems.

Now, armed with what has been gleaned about our new environment – as well as the ever-changing needs of our society-at-large – CSU stands eager to actively reimagine our future. 

With university leaders in dialogue with a robust cross-section of CSU trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students, and the community, all are ready, willing and excited to participate in the next phase of the 2.0 process: Implementation.

CSU 2.0: Moving Forward Together 

Last year, CSU commissioned five distinct task forces – one each for Academics, Administration, Athletics, Diversity and Inclusion and Growth/Innovation – to prioritize and hone in on more specific recommendations that will further refine future strategic priorities, teaching and learning pedagogies, alignment of resources and investments. 

Also, during that time, the university engaged all members of our campus community in a thorough and comprehensive process designed to capture the essence of who we are and how we will build upon it to achieve our collective aspirations. What we learned from that experience became part of our blueprint.

CSU 2.0 is built on four themes – setting the university apart for student success and engaged learning, distinction as a leading public research university, strengthening our role as an anchor institution/becoming a “beacon” institution, and building financial strength. 

Differentiating on Student Success and Engaged Learning 

Part of CSU 2.0 endeavors a total of 20,000 students enrolled at the university by 2025, drawn in part by the first set of initiatives above. But sustaining and retaining that student body is every bit as important. 

Through CSU 2.0, students will see greater “cradle to career” support systems in place, through reinvented advising and career development options; in addressing disparities in student outcomes and achievement gaps for minority students; and with investment in needs-based scholarships for said populations – as well as a doubling of residential opportunities for students.

There will also be pre-enrollment, summer enrichment and career prep initiatives; an expansion of current college prep programs; and partnering with faculty to revitalize and streamline curricula and degree pathways. All will help to join student and workforce needs together. 

Seeking Distinction as a Leading Public Urban Research University 

Of the 200 new faculty hires by 2025, the university is focused on making strategic appointments in health, smart manufacturing, applied social sciences and data analytics – centering on diversity and inclusion in both hiring and professional development. Investment in research is also in the cards for CSU, with a dramatic increase in funding from $30 million to $50 million annually by 2025. This will be accompanied by high-promise research productivity, faculty start-ups, research lab infrastructure, and seed funding. The creation of a new Urban Public Health Institute – supported by a $1 million research fund – to address challenges related to community health concerns, will accompany that investment.

There will also be a realignment of the colleges reflecting CSU’s core strengths by Fall 2022: new colleges inclusive of arts and sciences; health and health professions; urban affairs, communication, education and sociology/criminology; as well as enhanced offerings at the Monte Ahuja College of Business. 

Building world-class programs around emerging job markets, innovation and key future programs round out this part of the plan. This allows for greater offerings in health, engineering and business for data analytics, as well as science and smart and sustainable manufacturing. CSU will also grow the Center for Gene Regulation Health & Disease into a premiere biomedical research center and build upon our highly ranked City Management & Policy program.

Strengthening Our Anchor Mission and Becoming a Beacon Institution

With an emphasis on workforce development, building out degree programs will help to meet emerging needs – particularly regional ones with a social, cultural and economic focus. A new strategic marketing, recruitment and enrollment plan will match that energy with a push to fortify enrollment.

Leveraging $20 million of investment capital from JobsOhio will help establish that goal, through founding of the Urban Public Health Institute and a doubling of certifications and degrees in 19 STEM-related fields. Part of the Cleveland Innovation District, which will bring 20,000 jobs to Northeast Ohio, CSU will provide the qualified talent. 

Strengthening our resolve as a beacon institution, CSU is committed to increasing both public and private partnerships – working with key partners, including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, and University Hospitals.  

Building Financial Strength and Strengthening the Campus Community

CSU will reduce expenses by streamlining and consolidating services and processes; redesigning internal financial models and incentivizing growth. The savings will be reinvested in new faculty and staff hires, academic programs and student support services. In addition, a major fundraising campaign is being explored.

These four tenets comprise one symbiotic relationship, with sights on creating a post-pandemic CSU “Campus of the Future,” well integrated, positioned and connected with downtown Cleveland to benefit all of Northeast Ohio.

Learn more about the CSU 2.0 growth plan at

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Cleveland State University Alumni Association
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