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Cleveland State president emphasizes education for the future; includes multicultural diversity

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent


Cleveland State University President Dr. Ronald M. Berkman is enthusiastic about the quality of education, advancing partnerships between the institution and the city’s business and cultural institutions.

Cleveland State University President Dr. Ronald M. Berkman addresses The City Club.


Speaking at The City Club of Cleveland on Jan. 29, 2010, Dr. Berkman said Cleveland faces the same challenges as most urban cities and the university’s mission should reflect the needs of its students. “Access without excellence serves no one at the end,” he said, emphasizing Cleveland State’s mission should reflect the needs of its students and cultivate a sustainable workforce for the city.


“Graduates leave Cleveland because they do not see a future here,” he said, adding: retention of diverse educated workers is necessary to overcome the myriad of challenges faced by the city.


He announced a new collaboration with Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Pharmacy (NEOUCOM) that will prepare students for medical and pharmacy careers focused on urban health issues.


Berkman said the disparity in income between postgraduates and those with GEDs is startling, and the nation is expected to suffer a workforce shortage of 15 million in the next decade because two-thirds of future jobs will require an advanced degree. This disparity, he added, affects African-American and Latinos more than non-Latino white students.


Fifty percent of Cleveland State students are first-time college attendees in their families and Berkman said the University is ready to provide a support system that recognizes the challenges many non-traditional students face and is committed to attracting diverse students.


Another unique program in the works is a K-12 school on university campus—it “will provide a real life lab for teachers of tomorrow with a unique learning environment,” said Berkman, while motivating city residents to stay and raise their children in the urban environment. “The key to social restoration rests in the ability to retain young people,” said Berkman.


Cleveland State’s Education program is widely hailed and Berkman proudly announced the University has been awarded a second year of UTeach, a White House training program that develops a new generation of highly qualified math and science teachers.


Cleveland State is one of only 20 universities around the nation to be granted a second year. Sally Pellegrin, a UTeach participant who received her MEd from the institution, was awarded the 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching by President Barack Obama.


Pellegrin teaches fifth and sixth grade science at Clara E. Westropp School in the Cleveland Municipal School District. She has been teaching for nearly 20 years, with more than 15 years of service at her current school. “For me, it all really began at Cleveland State,” said Pellegrin.


Njeri Nuru-Holm, Ph.D., Vice President for Institutional Diversity at Cleveland State University, said the university is committed to diversity in its student body, staff, and faculty. In recent years, it has expanded its multicultural programs, which include a month long series on Latino awareness and many educational programs held within the Latino community.


“In post-event assessments, we were told we need to be in the community,” said Dr. Nuru-Holm, and added, despite logistical concerns the University hosts programs at local schools and organizations so they can be accessible.


She credits Roberto Chávez, Coordinator Multicultural Programming and Retention, for enhancing the quality of the program, which features art of local Latino artists at Cleveland State.





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