Scholarships remain safe in the face of funding cuts and an uncertain future

Gov. Mike DeWine announced funding cuts on May 6 to universities and colleges in the state of Ohio to offset a loss of tax revenue resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cuts will total $76.7 million through the end of the fiscal year on June 30, part of $110 million in total cuts, across the 37 schools. Cleveland State University will lose $3,015,894 in funding this fiscal year, according to data provided by the state.

Randy Deike, senior vice president of enrollment services and student success at Cleveland State, said that while furloughs, layoffs and cutting positions remain possibilities, cutting scholarships is “not even on the table.”

“I can say that’s not even a consideration,” Deike said. “We’ve committed to students.”

“I will say I think we are positioned well,” he said, “positioned better than some other institutions that don’t have the kinds of resources or aren’t thinking in the ways that we are.”

Cleveland State’s senior leadership team is surrounded by uncertainty, but Deike says it would prefer to have some on-campus presence come fall. Whether that will be possible remains unclear.

“It’s very unlikely, I think, to be exactly like it was before the pandemic,” he said. “I think it’s really likely that there’ll be a hybrid kind of model where there will be some on campus and courses still online.”

Deike made it clear that no decisions have been made yet, and the team is putting plans in place for multiple scenarios.

Businesses in Ohio will gradually reopen in the weeks to come, and the outcome of that decision will be the first indicator of what may be in store for the beginning of the new school year. For now, Cleveland State leaders are working to ensure their readiness for whatever comes next.

Pass/Fail option will take pressure off of students during stressful times

Cleveland State University Provost Jianping Zhu announced in an email to all students that the university would offer a Pass/Fail option for the Spring 2020 semester to reduce students’ stress as they adjust to the new learning conditions and changes to daily life.

The Spring 2020 COVID-19 Semester Grading Basis Request is a provision that came as the result of a task force that included the university’s president and provost. Based on feedback from faculty and students, the task force concluded that the Pass/Fail option would be in the best interest of the students.

Anup Kumar, Ph.D., professor and adviser in the School of Communication, said that the decision was not made over concerns regarding the switch to online learning.

“It was not primarily because the online teaching environment was not conducive to doing [well], it was primarily based on things happening in their own families,” Kumar said. “Losing jobs, people being sick — there were other kinds of circumstances that were hindering their progress.”

“In that kind of a situation this was to lower the anxiety,” he said.

The university encourages students to talk the decision through with an adviser before submitting the request. Taking a course as a Pass/Fail may not be the right decision depending on a student’s GPA and course grade.

“It’s a prudent decision based on maintaining your GPA,” Kumar said. “The most important criteria should be: ‘Am I maintaining my GPA by doing this, or improving it?’”

More information, including frequently asked questions and a list of classes that are not eligible, is available at csuohio.edu/coronavirus-update.

The deadline to submit the Spring 2020 COVID-19 Semester Grading Basis Request on CampusNet is April 24.

Vikes Vote program will spur civic engagement among CSU students

Cleveland State University’s Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) is committed to teaching students about the importance of voting and providing them with non-partisan information to guide their decision making. To raise civic engagement, the OCE will introduce a new curriculum called Vikes Vote to Introduction to University Life (ASC 101) in the Fall 2020 semester.

Developed by Program Coordinator Anita Ruf-Young, Vikes Vote will target first year students with the goal of creating lasting habits which will benefit them and their communities. People are much more likely to be life-long civically engaged citizens when they get involved during high school or college, according to Ruf-Young.

“They’re much more likely to vote for the rest of their lives, be politically active for the rest of their lives,” Ruf-Young said. “If you don’t catch them now, they’re much less likely to actually exercise their right to vote.”

Upon the completion of the Vikes Vote program, Introduction to University Life students will be given voter registration cards if they wish to register. The curriculum also covers many ways to be civically engaged besides voting, such as volunteering for campaigns or going door to door for the 2020 census.

The Office of Civic Engagement has already registered or updated almost 700 Cleveland State students and faculty through voter registration tables and, once Vikes Vote rolls out in more than 50 Introduction to University Life sections in the fall, Ruf-Young says she expects that number to continue to grow.

“I want them to vote,” she said. “I want them to be active in our community and in the political process, because that’s something that affects us all.”

The OCE is also trying to reach students on Twitter, where they will find information about registration deadlines, absentee ballots, and non-partisan information on candidates and issues. To learn more, follow @CSUcivic.

Cleveland Federal Reserve donates more than 300 laptops to CSU

In response to a request by Cleveland State University President Harlan Sands, the Cleveland Federal Reserve donated 348 used laptops to Cleveland State on March 16 to assist students with online instruction while they learn from home during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cleveland Federal Reserve replaces its employees’ laptops every three years, during which time they are subject to everyday use. The used laptops are usually discarded, but that does not mean they cannot be of further use to a student in need. Brian Williams, vice president of Information Technology at the Cleveland Federal Reserve, said donating the laptops aligned with the bank’s mission.

“The Fed’s mission is to help the public to some degree,” Williams said. “Typically, we would destroy most of that equipment or resell it, but in this case, we wanted to help the community.”

Thomas Zmozynski, Cleveland Federal Reserve manager of IT, added that this was not a common gesture for the bank.

“I’ve been with the bank for quite a long time and it’s rare that the bank would do something like that,” Zmozynski said. “I think that the situation required it. Because of the extraordinary circumstances, the bank responded.”

Cleveland State will be responsible for installing operating systems on the laptops and distributing them to students in need. With the help from the Cleveland Federal Reserve, they will have made it possible for 348 more students to continue their education during the coronavirus crisis.

New study will investigate infant mortality in Cleveland

To gain insight into one of the most troubling health issues facing black families in Ohio, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) has granted Research Incentive funding to Cleveland State University to conduct a study on black infant mortality.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, black infants in the United States die at twice the rate of white infants. In Cleveland, however, black infants are dying at triple the rate.

Attempting to address this area of concern, the ODHE sent a request for proposals. Roland Anglin Ph.D., dean and professor of the College of Urban Affairs, said the request for proposal (RFP) provided the chance to work with Dr. Gregory Hall, co-director of the NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health, which the two had been looking for.

“Dr. Hall and I had been discussing ways to collaborate, and the RFP seemed like a great way for us to start that collaboration,” Anglin said. “So we proposed a project, which is really a research and demonstration project, in that we are going to look at some of the social determinants in African-American mortality, but we are also working with a very, very innovative local partner, Birthing Beautiful Communities.”

Birthing Beautiful Communities have a survival rate of 98.9% with the mothers it has helped in the past through innovative mechanisms of identifying key stressors. Hall brought the organization on board to be a valuable partner.

“We recognized that not one of us could do all of it, but it was a total effort,” Anglin said, “which is very indicative of what CSU is all about. It’s about breaking down silos and becoming an anchor institution that can serve the community and also do good research.”

Cleveland State received $982,322 in grant money for Survive and Thrive – A New Future for African American Babies on Jan. 29. That money will go toward training community health workers and doulas to assess stress and assess the environment around the 150 Ohio mothers in the study.

 The grant will also cover the development of an app to be used in the collection of data during the study, as well as a resource toolkit for the mothers that includes transportation access, housing and job placement, and trauma therapy.

Birthing Beautiful Communities will carry out the intervention itself and the implementation of the app, so that Cleveland State may evaluate the progress and outcomes of the study.

“It’s going to have a national impact just because the issue is so complex and we’ve looked at it for many, many years and wondered how to make a difference,” Anglin said.

Heather Rice Ph.D., assistant professor of the College of Nursing, will join Anglin and Hall as the third principle investigator on the research team.

“I also think it’s going to be making an impact for Cleveland State’s role in the community and Cleveland,” Anglin continued, “because here you have three really different units of the university collaborating to make sure that we make a difference in the Cleveland community in a very difficult problem.”

Dr. Hall said the goal for Survive and Thrive – A New Future for African American Babies is to contact the first mother by June 1.

CSU’s Golden Z Club meets at MedWish

Cleveland State University’s Golden Z Club had its first volunteer event at MedWish International on East 31st Street on Feb. 15 to sort and pack donated medical supplies to ship to people in need around the world.

The Golden Z Club, new to Cleveland State this semester, is an affiliate of the Zonta Club of Cleveland, one of Zonta International’s 1,200 clubs focused on empowering women through service and advocacy. The name “Zonta” comes from a Native-American word for honest and trustworthy.

The Golden Z Club joined with members of its Cleveland affiliate to blend service and networking for its first volunteer event. One participant was Sarojini Rao who has been with the Zonta Club of Cleveland for 24 years.

“This is one of our volunteer projects that has an international aspect to it,” Rao said. “We are a global organization in 60 different countries, so we like to do both an international [service project] and our local service project with the Renee Jones Empowerment Center.”

The Renee Jones Empowerment Center, based in Cleveland, works with survivors of sex trafficking and sexual assault.

Golden Z Club president Sandra Haswani said she has a broader mission for Golden Z than the international organization’s purpose of advancing women’s rights and giving women the resources and support to reach their full potential.

“Our mission is to inform students and raise their awareness about the different types of inequalities that are there,” said Haswani, 21, “including health disparities, gender inequality, women’s inequality and all that— so that they’ll be able to connect more with their community and be able to serve them in a better way.”

Vice president of the Golden Z Club, Sara Assaf, echoed Haswani’s stance on the larger issue of inequality, and said that racial, socioeconomic and gender inequality are all of equal importance to The Golden Z Club.

“We just wanted to give students an opportunity to volunteer within the community and expand our horizons,” said Assaf, 21. “This is nice way to make a difference.”

MedWish International, with the help of volunteers like The Golden Z Club, has been collecting and distributing medical surplus here in Cleveland to provide humanitarian aid to people in need all over the world for 25 years.

‘Crooked River Contrasts’ exhibit visits CSU

Bill Barrow, head of special collections at the Michael Schwartz Library, said on Jan. 30 that the Cuyahoga River is Cleveland’s most important historic feature and the reason for the city’s location, as he discussed the Crooked River Contrasts exhibit on the library’s first floor.

The Crooked River Contrast exhibit, created by Cuyahoga50 with the help of West Creak Conservancy and a group of local photographers and materials from Cleveland Memory Project, has been displayed at 15 locations throughout Northeastern Ohio.

During the last year the display appeared at the Cuyahoga Community College art gallery, Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Cleveland Metroparks West Creek Reservation.

The contrast referenced in the title of the exhibit compares the importance of the river in Cleveland history against its national reputation as a polluted, fire-ravaged catalyst to a national reclamation movement.

Barrow emphasized the river’s role in the development of the area.

“I would argue that [Cleveland] could have been anywhere along the lake,” Barrow said. “We’re here because of the Cuyahoga River, and specifically because of the portage.”

Barrow also said the river had national importance. He noted that at one time the Cuyahoga River served as a treaty line dictating what parts of the country were open for exploration.

“In a way you could almost argue [the Cuyahoga River] was the western boundary of the United States,” he said.

The river continues to be a dividing line to this day. According to Barrow, Clevelanders’ east-versus-west mentality traces back to the river being very difficult to cross.

The river became more famous nationally after the Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969, but Barrow says that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary at the time and river fires were common occurances.

“When people come to us wanting a picture of the Cuyahoga River Fire, all we can give them is one from some other year that was more dramatic,” he said.

“The fire was so ordinary, the fact that it happened, nobody even bothered taking a picture of it.”

Whether people remember the Cuyahoga River for its geographical significance or one of its many fires, Barrow said he hopes through the Crooked River Contrasts exhibit it will be remembered as integral to the origin and development of the city of Cleveland.

The Year of the Nurse honors Nightingale’s legacy

The World Health Organization (WHO) has proclaimed 2020 to be the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale.

The aim of the Year of the Nurse is to celebrate the work of nurses, highlight the challenging conditions in which they work, and to advocate for continued investment in the field of nursing.

Florence Nightingale is considered the founder of modern nursing, and her legacy made the 200th anniversary of her birth the perfect time to recognize nurses, noted WHO, as the organization looks back at the last two centuries in nursing and how far the field has come.

Dr. Timothy Gaspar, professor and dean at Cleveland State University’s School of Nursing, emphasized the importance of Nightingale’s legacy and impact on how nurses approach healthcare.

“She introduced the issue of community health nursing,” Gaspar said. “If something happened and you had a need, the public health nurse is on call to serve somebody. Public health nurses were primary care deliverers in many counties and rural areas.”

“The kind of work they do is critical to the life and safety of whoever comes through that door,” Gaspar said.

Gaspar noted the nature of nursing goes far beyond medical treatment, all thanks to Nightingale and the way she revolutionized her field.

“You make a really significant impact,” he said. “Not just physically, but emotionally. Nurses care for people in all situations. Nurses help people through their most difficult times.”

Nurses and midwives make up almost half of the global health workforce, but despite their large number we are still experiencing a global shortage of nurses according to the World Health Organization.

By WHO’s estimate, the world will need another 9 million nurses by 2030 to achieve universal health coverage.

Regan Appelgate, senior nursing student at Cleveland State and president of the Multicultural Association of Nursing Students, MANS, said she feels that the Year of the Nurse is not all just about celebration, but also improving the nursing profession and examining how nurses feel within the profession.

“For a long time we’ve been recognized,” said Appelgate, 23. “However, I think in that dialogue we focus on how great nurses are, but we fail to ask them how they feel about their job. I think that there’s a lot of things that should be addressed in nursing that could make it a better profession.”

Even with its imperfections, Appelgate said she still loves nursing because it gives her the opportunity to combine her knack for sciences and people skills to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

“I want to have an impact,” she explained. “I wanted to be part of something more than just going to a cubicle from nine to five.”

Nightingale’s theories on nursing, including how the environment around a patient can affect their health, have been a part of Appelgate’s education as a nursing student, and she believes — if Florence Nightingale could be here today — she would still see room for improvement in a field that has already come so far during the last 200 years.

“I think about what Florence Nightingale would think of what she would see today,” she said. “There would definitely be things she would want to change. Those are the things we want to focus on in the Year of the Nurse, like taking care of our nurses. How can we make nursing even better for nurses?”

From celebrating nurses to honoring Nightingale’s legacy by taking better care of the people who take care of communities, the Year of the Nurse is about giving thanks while looking toward the future of the profession.

“Their legacy lives on through us,” Gaspar said. “Without nurses, many of us would be gone and so would their legacy.”

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