Meet Dr. Laura Bloomberg, CSU’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs
Dr. Laura Bloomberg started her role on Sept. 1 as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Cleveland State University.
As she describes her role, the “provost is a person who looks at the academic functioning of the university as a whole.” This includes teaching, hiring, support of faculty, scholarly work and research initiatives and academic degree programs.
Originally from Minnesota and formerly a professor and dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Bloomberg has been adjusting well to CSU and enjoying all the city has to offer.
“Part of me thought I would never leave Minnesota, I love Minneapolis, I love Minnesota, it’s where my husband and I both have family there,” she said. “But this place, CSU and the city of Cleveland, pulled us away from Minnesota and I’m really happy to be here.”
She shared her appreciation for the art scene visible in Playhouse Square, all the Cleveland museums, public art and the music in the city. She worried about losing the bike paths and park systems her former home of Minneapolis had to offer until she discovered the thriving Cleveland Metroparks.
Her approach to her professional career in academics comes from raising two children, now a doctor and a lawyer, and their journey to receive an education.
“Their journey really shaped my belief that access to education is denied to far too many people and in my professional career, part of what drives me and what inspires me is access to education,” Bloomberg said. “We all should have access to education.”
The provost also spent some time as a special education teacher where she gained interest in accessibility policy and public policy in general.
“My two career paths have always been along the lines of learning systems and education and public policy and how we create policies to enable all of us to live full, healthy, fulfilling lives,” she said.
Coming to Cleveland State during the first semester back on campus amidst a global pandemic has led to challenges with learning names and faces of people all masked up and the greater challenge of making decisions to keep the community safe.
“I can tell you I’m very supportive of the decisions we’ve made,” Bloomberg shared on the university’s handling of COVID-19. “And I can also tell you just on a personal level, I am very supportive of people being vaccinated.”
The approach to these decisions has been finding the best ways to increase vaccinations and promote safety on campus. One recent discussion Bloomberg was a part of was the decision to go with a peer-to-peer education campaign in place of a vaccine mandate.
“If there is still the opportunity to change hearts and minds, to educate people, to help people get comfortable with the vaccine, we should take every opportunity to do that,” the provost said of the decision.
In the first meeting of the fall semester, the Faculty Senate broke with the administration in support of a mandate. The university planned on revisiting the discussion of a mandate on Oct. 19, but the update was delayed as they collected more data in an ongoing survey.
“I have not heard any person say they are opposed to ever having a vaccine mandate,” Bloomberg said. “What I hear and I say it myself, I don’t think it’s the best plan at this point in time, but if we get to that point, we get to that point and that’s what we need more data to find out.”
As provost and senior vice president of academic affairs, one of Bloomberg’s main focuses at Cleveland State is the planning and implementation of the grand CSU 2.0 plan.
“There are some key things in there that we’re prioritizing: one is the realignment of our colleges as listed in CSU 2.0,” she said.
With this realignment also comes naming of the leadership to take over each new college and a timeline for when they will go live.
“There are other parts of CSU 2.0 that are very important,” Bloomberg continued. “We say we want to be an anchor and a beacon institution. What does that mean in terms of our partnerships with the community, our engagement around equity principles.”
In what she hopes to achieve during her time at CSU, Bloomberg discussed advancing equity, justice and inclusion at the university which she believes is already on this path.
“When we have students who can be here who didn’t think they had a chance to get a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree or a PhD,” she said, “we will have made an impact on society.