Dean's Newsletter

Volume 13, Issue 4

Volume 13, Issue 4

"I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so ...
What can I but enumerate old themes?"
—W.B. Yeats

I ended my last CLASS Directions with the statement that CSU's trajectory is upward and that our Golden Years are still ahead of us. In the last few months of my deanship, I remain utterly convinced that this is true. At the same time, this does not mean that there will not be bumps on the road to that Golden Age—bumps like university budget shortfalls. Those of us who have been around CSU for a while recognize "budget shortfall" as an "old theme," a theme to which, unfortunately, we must again return. While the coming of spring is a time of hope and renewal, it is also, at CSU, the time for the university leadership to turn its thoughts to next year's permanent budget. And what we find is a significant (multi-million dollar) gap between expected revenue and expected expenses. We have seen this before in different contexts. This time the main culprit seems to be CSU's falling enrollments, particularly on the graduate level. I will hasten to add that this is not simply a CSU problem, but it's a nationwide problem as the numbers of high school graduates continue to decline (especially in the Northeast and Midwest) and a red-hot economy has recalled a record number of older potential students back to full-time work.

The university leadership is now busy crafting plans to address the multi-million dollar gap for AY 19-20. Basically, the gap can be addressed by either increasing revenue or decreasing expenses, or a combination of both. President Sands has said on many occasions that he prefers the former over the latter. Just in the past week or so we have heard, for example, of new agreements with Tri-C and Lorain County Community College to create stronger pipelines between these two institutions and CSU, increasing the number of transfer students coming onto our campus. Next week there will be another important announcement of an initiative that will help increase university revenues. The university has also been hard at work creating specific strategies to increase the retention rates of continuing students, particularly those from minority populations. The larger the number of students we can retain (and graduate!), the better it will be not only for our budget but also, obviously, for our successful students.

As I mentioned earlier, CSU graduate enrollments are particularly weak. This year the total graduate-level SCH at CSU were down 5% in the fall of 18 and down 6% in the spring of 19. (Trends in CLASS graduate enrollments were generally in line with the university's.) However, the President has pointed out that these declines reinforce a multi-year trend, and he has asked the deans to make a special effort to reverse them. As a result, we are asking Graduate Directors in CLASS programs to make special efforts to process graduate applications quickly, to contact potential students with incomplete graduate applications and urge them to complete their dossiers, and to reach out to newly admitted students as well as continuing students who have not yet enrolled and invite them to enroll. I believe that the heroic efforts of our Graduate Directors are bearing fruit, and I encourage them to continue.

But efforts to increase graduate enrollments should not be confined just to our Graduate Program Directors. All faculty can help us in this effort. Faculty who are teaching graduate courses, for example, can encourage continuing students in their classes not to wait to enroll again for the fall of 19. Faculty who are teaching advanced undergraduate courses (in all departments or schools that have graduate programs) can encourage their best students to consider graduate education in CLASS. They should particularly point out the advantages of our 4 + 1 programs, in which students can complete both a B.A. and an M.A. in five years. Current 4 + 1 programs can be found in Communication and Political Science (MAGI). A Spanish 4 + 1 program is on its way. In addition, the School of Social Work offers a special fast track (Full-time Advanced Standing Program) in the BSW/MSW programs. By making these special efforts and increasing graduate enrollments, faculty can take positive steps to assure that the "expense reduction" side of our budget balancing efforts is held to a minimum.  I hope that you'll consider doing so.

I want to welcome the CSU Writing Center back to the college. We are delighted that Director Mary McDonald and her important operation, which employs the talents of many CLASS graduate assistants, is now again running under the auspices of the Department of English. Previously it had been run directly out of the Provost's Office. Thanks to Vice Provost Peter Meiksins for helping to facilitate this move. We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership. Welcome back, Mary!

CLASS faculty continue to be active in grant seeking. We just received word that fourteen of our colleagues were awarded FSI (Faculty Scholarship Initiative) Awards. They are: Patty Stoddard-Dare, Joel Lieske, Carol Olszewski, Kelly Wrenhaven, Cigdem Slankard, Rachel Carnell, Qian Li, Anne Berry, José Sola, Abed Tayyara, Tom Humphrey, Meghan Novisky, Miyuki Tedor, and Bill Kosteas. Congratulations to all these award winners!

I also want to congratulate Cathleen Lewandowski and her colleagues in the School of Social Work. The School has been notified that its two major programs, the BSW and MSW programs, have been officially reaccredited by the Council on Social Work Education for the next eight years. This is a major accomplishment!

Spring semesters are always packed with interesting and exciting college events. I want to remind you of a few.  Cheryl Bracken will moderate a faculty panel (Wendy Regoeczi, Tom Humphrey, and Celeste Collins) entitled "Violence and Society: Examining the Impact of Violence on our Lives," on March 29th. If you like Beethoven, Jeffrey Siegel's informative Keyboard Conversations series will continue with a performance on March 31st, and the Department of Music will continue to offer a full range of exciting concerts. For example, Birch Browning's Cleveland Winds will perform on April 7th, and the CSU Chorale will perform on April 10th at Trinity Cathedral. 

The American premier of a new Greek play, The Tree of Oedipus, directed by Michael Mauldin, will take place from April 4th through April 14th in the Helen Lab Theatre in Playhouse Square. The play retells the story of Oedipus and is based on ancient Greek tragedies written by Sophocles. Moreover, in conjunction with the Cleveland International Film Festival, the School of Film & Media Arts will host a conversation with filmmaker and Shaker Heights native Jamie Babbit on April 6th.

On April 9th, we will have our 10th annual "Ways of Knowing" Lectures. This year, Barbara Hoffman and Guowei Jian will share the results of the research they conducted while on professional leave last year. And on April 10th, Allyson Robichaud will deliver a lecture on "Respect for Nature" for the annual Cleveland Humanities Festival. Finally, Qian Li's exhibition of Chinese art, "Neither East Nor West," will continue in the Galleries at CSU until April 13th.

Finally, I want to highlight the 27th Conference on Spanish in the U.S., which will take place on the CSU campus from April 4th through April 6th. This conference, organized by Antonio Medina-Rivera, will bring together scores of Spanish language experts from around the country to explore the important role played by Spanish in our country.

Come to think of it: the vitality and productivity of CLASS faculty, staff, and students is yet another "old theme" that has appeared frequently in these newsletters. I never get tired of it!

Best wishes,