CSU faculty discuss “strong headwinds” faced by the university
Discussion of Cleveland State's lack of funds and the new, state-imposed intellectual diversity center established by Ohio Senate Bill 117 dominated the first meeting this semester of the CSU faculty senate, Sept. 13.
Faculty Senate President Dr. Anup Kumar began the meeting by discussing the University’s financial troubles, which he referred to as one of the many “strong headwinds” CSU is facing. He said that the funding problem has occurred because of decreasing enrollment, which he said was due to a combination of cost burdens, increasing expenditures and a lack of awareness about the university in Greater Cleveland.
Later in the meeting, CSU President Laura Bloomberg, Ph.D. reported on what she called the “Organizational Resilience and Financial Stability plan.” The plan, which was created over the summer by a group led by CSU administrators, made “recommendations for cost savings, belt tightening and investment in growth.” Bloomberg said that the recommendations will “guide what we need to do in the next fiscal year.”
Senate Bill 117 was also another focus discussion. The bill, which was partially added into the state budget, gave $2 million to CSU in order to launch a Center for Civics, Culture and Society focused on “historical ideas, traditions, and texts that have shaped the American constitutional order and society.” The sponsor of SB117, Republican state Sen. Jerry Cirino, is also sponsoring a similar piece of legislation titled SB83. SB83 seeks to place several restrictions on Ohio’s public universities, including restricting diversity, equity and inclusion programs, prohibiting universities from endorsing or commenting on “controversies or controversial beliefs or policies” and banning staff from striking. SB83 was condemned last year by CSU’s faculty senate and student government.
According to both Bloomberg and Kumar, the university was not consulted about the center before it was signed into the state budget. Bloomberg said that, due to the absence of consultation, the University requested that Governor Mike DeWine remove the center from the budget. The request was denied.
Kumar shared his concerns at the state ignoring CSU's decision-making process.
“[The state] could create a research center and have a lot of research fellows,” said Kumar. “But to teach students, you have to come through our process, which is the [university curriculum committee] and the faculty senate.”
Bloomberg said she had established a working group tasked with looking at interpreting SB117 and making recommendations for next steps “in order to fully comply with the new law, while concurrently recognizing the value CSU places on shared governance in faculty decision making.”
Issues with campus housing was also on the agenda. Student Government Association President Kayland Morris said that the back gates at The Edge are not fully latching, causing a security concern. Kumar added that the back gates were not latching when he was helping students move in three weeks ago and that he had brought it to the attention of Resident Life.
The next faculty senate meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7.