Building Great Places to Work

August 7. 2014

Winner Spotlight: Cleveland State University

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August 7. 2014

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public urban research university that provides a dynamic setting for engaged learning. With an enrollment of more than 17,500 students, eight colleges and more than 200 academic programs, CSU was again chosen in 2014 as one of America's Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

Cleveland State would not be where it is today without its diverse, enthusiastic and motivated staff. Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland, there is excitement in the air with record-setting freshman classes, a $500 million campus makeover and countless academic achievements; it’s also no surprise that CSU is a three-time winner of the NorthCoast 99 Award.

We got the chance to explore this vibrant campus and talk with employees about why they love working for Cleveland State and how the campus and downtown Cleveland have come together to create a best-in-class urban university.

It’s all about diversity and culture at Cleveland State

“It is truly an honor to be recognized as one of the top places to work in northeast Ohio. We are committed to attracting, retaining and motivating top talent, and the NorthCoast 99 recognition really validates that,” says Denise Mutti, Manager of Labor Relations.

What sets CSU apart from other organizations is its emphasis on diversity. At CSU, diversity is really a reflection of the diversity of Cleveland in general. Mutti goes on to say how important diversity truly is at CSU.

“We have a president’s council on diversity, which provides advice and recommendations on all aspects of diversity at the university. CSU is committed to advancing diversity, and our diverse community is really one of our greatest strengths.”

“We have become successful in knowing how to manage and navigate what is increasingly a diverse, urbanized, global society. So our students really come here and take part in a multicultural urban environment that prepares them for that kind of success,” says Bryon White, Vice President of University Engagement. “When they leave here, they begin to make a difference, not just with a job, but as participants with others in creating a better society, which is what our students really desire to do.”

Jamie Vega, Academic Advisor, goes on to express how Engaged Learning has created well-rounded students who will have tremendous impact in the region and in the world.

“Here, our philosophy is Engaged Learning. So we look for opportunities to do that for our students, whether it’s through internships, studying abroad or anything that takes learning outside of the classroom” says Vega. “Cleveland State also does a phenomenal job of embracing and celebrating diversity.”

One thing ran true throughout our time at Cleveland State: diversity is the key to success.

“If you look at the diversity of our population in terms of race and ethnicity, students and international students and the background and geographic places where students come from, Cleveland State is arguably the most diverse university in Ohio and one of the most diverse in the country,” says White. “That includes our senior management staff, staff overall and our faculty, so it’s really a rewarding and unique environment, not only for students who attend here, but for those of us who really have the privilege of working here as well.”

Cleveland State is Cleveland

If you ask any employee or student at CSU, they will tell you how much CSU has really integrated itself with Cleveland to become one. Over the last few years, CSU has undergone a $500 million renovation, including a new Student Center, a new Recreation Center and new residence halls -- not to mention more ideas for shopping and retailers to come to the campus.

“CSU and Cleveland have grown together. Both are overnight sensations- 30 years in the making. We have become a college of choice, not only in the immediate Cuyahoga County area, but across Ohio,” says Ned Hill, Dean of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. “We are diverse in every dimension: ethnicity, race, sex, international origin, intellectual interest. A university has to be diverse because that’s where ideas come from.”

CSU is constantly changing. Right now they are still transitioning to be a bit more residential.  And right now, they are anchoring one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city.

“Our professional careers as faculty members are made better by engaging in this community. We are changing this city one graduate at a time,” says Hill.

Employees are beyond excited to see the growth and transformation Cleveland and CSU have gone through over the last few years.

“I have seen a tremendous amount of growth in the last 10 years at Cleveland State and I hope that this is just the beginning of where we are heading. We have done a lot to embrace Cleveland as a whole. We feel that there is a strong partnership between the city and the university and I would hope that would continue to grow and flourish,” says Vega.

Working at CSU is not about you, but about the students

Mutti has been an employee of CSU for 12 years as well as a graduate school alumna and has a great deal of pride in being associated with Cleveland State. Over the last several years, she has witnessed the school’s transformation as well as a renewed sense of spirit and commitment.

“Being a part of this great organization for so long has let me really understand what CSU’s top priorities, which are:

  • Student success is always #1
  • We empower our employees to be problem solvers and to openly share ideas regarding process and program improvements
  • We communicate to our employees that we are committed to attracting, retaining and motivating top talent by providing stretch assignments and other professional development opportunities

“What’s really rewarding about my job is I feel like I am having an impact on not only the university and our students, which is important, but also the city as a whole. And in doing so, I think we are really reinventing urban higher education as a national model,” says White. “What Cleveland State has really done over its 50 years is the idea of connecting with the city, and tying our fate and the fate of the city to the region, and really riding the momentum that has been built within the region. It has been great being a part of something bigger than just what happens on campus, to feel like you are really contributing to what happens throughout the city and the region, and even nationally.”

Katy Marshall, Admissions Counselor at Cleveland State, couldn’t have said it any better when talking about working for CSU.

“I love working here for two reasons. First, our people and our community here are amazing. We are all such a diverse group of people but we all come together for a common goal, which is student success. Second, I love working here because of the location. I may be a little biased but I think Cleveland is the best city in the world. Being able to work here, and come here every day and really live and breathe the city is great, and Cleveland State and the city of Cleveland are such great partners, because Cleveland State is Cleveland.”

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