Cleveland State University
Cleveland, Ohio
Oct 13, 2017
Executive Administration Jobs
Presidents & Chancellors
Institution Type
Four-Year Institution


Cleveland State University

The Board of Trustees of Cleveland State University invites nominations, inquiries and applications for the role of President, Cleveland State University.

As the Chief Executive Officer of Cleveland State University, the President is responsible for the executive management of its operations. The President must be capable of reimagining higher education for a public urban university in the 21st century and be passionate about positioning CSU as a best-in-class institution. The next President of CSU will have the opportunity to impact Cleveland for the next 30 years.

About Cleveland State University

Founded in 1964, Cleveland State University is a public research institution with 17,000-plus students, 10 colleges and schools and more than 175 academic programs.

Today, the University encompasses:

  • The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
  • The College of Education and Human Services
  • The College of Graduate Studies
  • The College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
  • The College of Sciences and Health Professions
  • The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Honors College
  • The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs
  • The Monte Ahuja College of Business
  • The Washkewicz College of Engineering
  • The School of Nursing

These academic units offer programs leading to Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral degrees.

CSU has received national recognition for innovative programs that help students save time and save money while earning a degree. Multi-term registration allows students to plan an entire academic year in advance. With demand-driven enrollment, students are notified of openings in courses at full capacity as soon as spots become available. And with CSU’s adjusted tuition band, students can take up to six three-credit-hour courses per semester at the same cost as four courses.

These measures are saving time and saving money for CSU students, who graduate with the second-lowest student debt among graduates of Ohio public four-year institutions, according to The Institute for College Access & Success. CSU students also have the second-lowest student default rate in Ohio among publics, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

Year after year, CSU is listed among America’s best universities by U.S. News & World Report, which also consistently includes CSU programs in business, health sciences, urban affairs and other disciplines among the finest in the nation in its Best Graduate Schools rankings.

CSU students graduate with the hands-on experience they need to thrive in rewarding careers. The secret of their success? It is called Engaged Learning, and it combines higher education and real-world experience to create one-of-a-kind opportunities. CSU delivers 3,000+ co-ops and internships – more than any other Ohio public university – at nearly every major corporation and organization in Cleveland and beyond, connecting students with invaluable opportunities in technology, manufacturing, health care, finance, education, and other industries.

Deeply woven into the fabric of Northeast Ohio, CSU has cultivated a wide variety of partnerships with neighboring institutions across the region, benefitting the campus community as well as the community at large. In collaboration with Northeast Ohio Medical University, CSU is preparing a more diverse workforce of health professionals to address the unmet health-care needs of urban neighborhoods. Together with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, CSU has developed an Education Park that is challenging young students from kindergarten through high school with an International Baccalaureate curriculum at Campus International School and a rigorous secondary education focusing on science, technology, engineering and math at MC2STEM High School. Created in partnership with Playhouse Square and Cleveland Playhouse, the CSU Arts Campus allows theatre and dance students to hone their craft amid the largest performing arts center outside New York City – and soon will be home to CSU’s new School of Film & Media Arts, the first of its kind in Ohio. Opportunities abound to expand partnerships with world-class organizations in Cleveland.

A $500 million architectural reboot has reinvigorated CSU’s 85-acre campus in downtown Cleveland, complete with new buildings and inviting spaces that reflect and embrace the excitement of the urban landscape. Among them are the Center for Innovation in Medical Professions, designed to embrace an interprofessional approach to health-care education, and a 100,000-square-foot addition to the Washkewicz College of Engineering that will include classrooms, labs and a state-of-the-art makerspace.

The revitalization evident across the CSU campus is having a dynamic ripple effect and sparking neighborhood development in and around Cleveland’s bustling Campus District, including new residential complexes and retail spaces.

CSU’s combination of cutting-edge scholarship, academics, career readiness and educational innovation in a vibrant and engaged community on an upward trajectory highlights why the University is now considered a leading urban research university.


About the Community

Cleveland’s story is one of industry, innovation and resilience that is characterized by risk-taking, artistry and grit passed on through generations. What began in 1796 is today a dynamic city enjoying a revitalization fueled by more than $16.7 billion worth of public and private development.

As President of CSU, you would be uniquely positioned to make a significant difference in the future of a community on the rise. Already making big leaps forward, Cleveland is poised to foster the best and brightest minds of the next generation, setting the path for innovations in technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, education and entrepreneurship. It is a city where public, private and civic partnerships are highly valued and necessary to bolster community initiatives, as proven through incredible collaboration and support during the 2016 Republican National Convention. This position gives you the opportunity to integrate CSU even further into this community network and play a large role in the region’s rise.

Cleveland is full of local pride, motivation, determination and a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-do-it attitude. And Cleveland State University is right in the middle of it all. As CSU’s next President, you will be immersed in an environment where career achievement is perfectly paired with an unexpected and stellar quality of life.

Cleveland is one of the largest cities in the Midwest and is nationally recognized for its excellence in higher education, healthcare and arts and culture. CSU’s hometown is the 32nd largest metro area in the U.S., with more than 2 million residents – nearly 400,000 of which are living in the city of Cleveland itself. Stretching along the shore of Lake Erie, the Northeast Ohio region spans 18 counties with close to four million residents building their lives in diverse urban, suburban and rural communities.

Area residents benefit from great schools and neighborhoods, a low cost of living, a reliable network of public transportation and short commutes. Ethnic diversity and an array of proud, storied cultures give Cleveland its unique personality. Our region embraces nearly 120 ethnic groups that speak more than 60 languages, as well as historic neighborhoods thick with cultural influence such as Little Italy and Slavic Village, where the old world meets the new.

A remarkable abundance of cultural and recreational resources punctuate Cleveland’s unique position as a “big small city,” with the assets and amenities that can be found in larger metro areas but at more affordable prices and in a more navigable footprint.

What kind of amenities are we talking about? For starters, there’s the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, set against the backdrop of the vast and beautiful Lake Erie. We have three professional sports teams located downtown: MLB’s Cleveland Indians, NFL’s Cleveland Browns, and NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. Just next door to the CSU campus is Playhouse Square, the largest performing arts center in the nation outside of New York City, where you’ll find newly renovated theaters packed with musical performances and Broadway hits, including national tour openers. Nearby is University Circle, where you can visit the spectacular (and free) Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the Western Reserve Historical Society’s Cleveland History Center – all within steps of one another. One of the top orchestras in the world – The Cleveland Orchestra – plays just down the street at Severance Hall.

Speaking of art, the dishes prepared by Cleveland’s cadre of award-winning and nationally recognized chefs are works of creative genius as well. Throughout the city, inspired culinary minds are sharing exciting and inventive dishes that pay homage to the city’s ethnic heritage.

Did you know Cleveland’s nickname is Forest City? There’s a reason for that. The city is surrounded by greenspace and has an array of outdoor activities that are extremely rare in a city of its size. The award-winning Cleveland Metroparks has been named one of the best park districts in the U.S., complete with an extensive system of nature preserves that span 23,000 acres and include more than 300 miles of walking, biking and bridle trails as well as numerous picnic areas, nature education centers and golf courses. The region also includes the nationally acclaimed Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and the 32,500-acre Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

But of course, it can’t be all play all the time. Clevelanders know nothing is free and everything is earned—that’s why the city is chock full of hard-working, bright minds. In fact, 60 percent of all U.S. Fortune 500 companies are located in the region, including General Electric, Parker Hannifin and Progressive Insurance. Northeast Ohio boasts $226 billion in gross regional product, making us the 16th largest economic region in the nation. The city also is home to the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, one of the top-ranked hospitals in the nation, and The Cleveland Foundation, a widely recognized nonprofit organization and the first community foundation in the United States. A vast network of support organizations for entrepreneurs fosters a healthy start-up scene, with education, industry, investment and research institutions all working together to create nothing short of magic.

And Cleveland is just getting better. From 2014 to 2015, Cleveland gained 23,000 jobs, its largest year-over-year job growth since 1997 and the fourth highest gain in the nation. In addition, Cleveland ranked eighth nationally in a 2016 study that ranked cities across the nation on their ability to attract millennial professionals.

To set the stage for the next generation, Cleveland is committed to education, particularly in the urban core. CSU is a partner in the Higher Education Compact for Greater Cleveland. Launched in 2011 by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson with the support of civic leaders, educators, and college and university presidents, the compact seeks to increase college readiness, access and success for Cleveland students. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the nonprofit organization Say Yes to Education have begun laying the groundwork for a partnership that would provide free college tuition for all district graduates, starting in 2019.

For all of these reasons and more, Men's Journal ranks Cleveland as one of the "50 Best Places to Live." The city is also No. 12 on Travel + Leisure’s list of “America’s Most Cultured Cities.” The accolades continue to come in for this city situated on the crooked Cuyahoga River.

Be a part of the next “It” city, and find out why people love to call Cleveland their home.

Greater Cleveland Partnership – Talent That Fuels Growth

Position Overview

The President is appointed by and reports directly to the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees. In this role, the President is responsible for providing transformative leadership, focus and strategic vision for CSU, in collaboration with the Board.

The President administers and orchestrates all operations and programs of the institution. The President provides executive oversight in continuing the expansion of student success, academic research and other institutional initiatives, identifies and effectively communicates appropriate goals and objectives for the University and successfully leads the planning and implementation processes to include various constituencies. The President develops and implements plans and policies to ensure that the University remains in compliance with accreditation requirements. The President ensures proper administration of the financial affairs of the University, actively working with the Board and executive team to ensure that the institution acquires the necessary public and private resources for successful achievement of the University’s goals and objectives and engages in fundraising activities that increase the University’s endowment.

Additionally, the President is expected to fully support and help bring to fruition the University’s Strategic Plan.

President Role Specifications

The Board seeks an individual with demonstrated leadership and administrative abilities who can shape, articulate and implement the dynamic mission of a large public university, along with knowledge of and/or experience with the business operations of large and comprehensive organizations. It is desirable that the President hold an earned doctorate or terminal professional degree, along with an appropriate blend of experiences, including executive/academic leadership at the highest levels. Nontraditional candidates will be considered.

Excellence in the following areas will be important to the success of the next President of CSU:


  • The President will fully commit to the concept of a student-centered institution, with a strong student orientation and a dedication to preparing students for success in a global environment.
  • Specific accomplishments related to the academic and job placement success of minority students are highly desirable.
  • The President will foster growth in student enrollment, student retention rates, academic programs and elevation of the academic profile of incoming students, in cooperation with the Faculty Senate within a shared governance environment.


  • The President will welcome the opportunity to represent the work of a diverse, talented, world-class faculty.
  • The President will bring a passion for building partnerships with faculty to ensure the University’s success.
  • The President will possess an understanding of tenure and promotion, along with the skill and discernment to nominate members of the faculty and administration and make recommendations to the Board for the award of tenure for faculty members.


  • The President will participate in all major hires made at CSU and will inspire institutional accountability, efficiency, fiscal responsibility and the ethical and effective performance of all leaders and divisions in the University.


  • The President will foster and champion a diverse student, faculty and staff population, and encourage cultural diversity throughout the institution’s curriculum, activities and community involvement.


  • The President will reimagine higher education from the inside out, and position CSU as a best-in-class urban institution nationally and among the top Ohio public universities.


  • The President will showcase nationally and internationally recognized research by the current faculty and will develop the faculty to further enhance CSU’s prominence as a research leader among Ohio universities.


  • The President will provide for the proper administration and oversight of the operations of the Department of Athletics and ensure that the University’s intercollegiate athletic programs and activities adhere to the highest standards of integrity as well as the rules and requirements of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.


  • The President will possess the financial acumen required to manage a financially complex institution and ensure proper administration of the financial affairs of the University.


  • The President will provide visionary leadership for fundraising efforts, oversee successful capital campaigns and work in collaboration with institutional advancement to oversee growth of a giving and donor development program.
  • Experience facilitating public/private partnerships to achieve fundraising objectives is desirable.
  • The President will encourage personal philanthropy across the institution and develop the fundraising and leadership capacities of academic deans and other leaders throughout the organization.


  • The President will advance and fortify alliances with business, industry, government, arts, academia and community groups and inspire commitment in CSU alumni to participate in the life and future of the University.
  • The President will ensure that the University is a leader in urban, metro area and regional economic development and will help to establish, direct and maintain excellent community relations.


  • The President should have an understanding of the governmental and legislative process and possess the skills to successfully navigate a political system to ensure that legislative goals on the state and federal levels are identified and met.

Desired Leadership Attributes

The successful President will embody:

  • Leadership that inspires and elevates others
  • A strong moral compass, unquestioned integrity and high ethical standards
  • A passion for the campus community and the community at large
  • The perseverance to dig into the academic challenges of the institution and to create innovative solutions collaboratively
  • The wisdom to make sound judgments in a complex environment
  • Excellent listening skills for building consensus and excellent communication skills to convey the CSU mission and vision to internal and external constituencies
  • A charismatic presence and magnetic personality that commands the respect of academics as well as leaders in government, business, the nonprofit sector and the arts

Key Attractors

Key points the organization believes will be strong attractors to top candidates

  • This is a career-defining opportunity. The successful candidate will serve as President of a financially sound, expanding, nationally prominent higher education institution and position Cleveland State University among the nation’s preeminent urban public universities.
  • The President will enjoy a seat at the table in one of the most important and respected leadership roles in Cleveland, serving among an influential group of individuals who lead, inspire and uplift the community.
  • The President will take hold of unparalleled opportunities to build a legacy of significance by providing leadership in knowledge creation, workforce creation, economic development and community partnership leading to elevation of both CSU and the city.
  • The President will find a clear pathway and distinct opportunity to steer CSU to the leading edge of creativity and innovation in student success, academic excellence, public/private partnership, alumni participation and championship athletics.
  • The President will discover an environment where lifestyle, community impact, professional satisfaction and career significance merge in an ideal role and locale. This region represents a center of world-class education, healthcare, cultural amenities, professional sports and more. Family members of all ages will find here the elements that contribute to a safe and enjoyable lifestyle.

Cleveland State University is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in employment and education. No person at the university will be denied opportunity for employment or education or be subject to discrimination in any project, program, or activity because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability, disabled veteran, Vietnam era veteran or other protected veteran status.

The search committee invites applications, nominations, and expressions of interest.

Should you wish to participate in the search as a candidate, please submit a letter of interest and curriculum vitae to: 

For more information or to discuss this position, contact:

Mike J.R. Wheless, Senior Partner & Division President

Lisa J. Marks, Senior Partner & Chief Operations Officer

Leyla Kayi, Senior Search Consultant


Wheless Partners | The Catalyst for Extraordinary Leadership

New York | Atlanta | Houston | Birmingham | Dallas/Fort Worth | Washington DC | Denver | Phoenix | Minneapolis

Wheless Partners has resolved thousands of Executive and Management searches for clients across the US and internationally to include Board of Directors, Chancellor, President, Chief Executive, Chief Officers, and other executive, senior and mid-level management roles on behalf of internationally known and Fortune 50 organizations, mid-size corporations, advancing small enterprises, foundations, governmental agencies, and non-profit organizations.





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