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Outside photograph of Cleveland State University campus

Cleveland State University is eyeing some big goals in the post-pandemic world.

President Harlan Sands outlined the university's plans in a Facebook Live presentation to the campus community on Friday, March 26. "Emerging from Pandemic: A Blueprint for CSU 2.0" is based on the findings of several task force groups convened last July.

The "blueprint" covers four specific areas, per a release: setting the university apart for student success/engaged learning; earning distinction as a leading public research university; strengthening its role as an anchor institution/becoming a "beacon" institution; and building financial strength.

It includes a call to boost total enrollment to 20,000 students by 2025. Officials said that would be about 4,500 additional students. The university reportedly had about 12,000 full-time students last fall, a 2% drop from the previous year. That rate is similar to the combined loss in enrollment felt by all sectors of higher education nationwide amid the pandemic.

The plan to enroll more students includes upping international enrollment in its "CSU Global" program, expanding online offerings, and adding more students through a recently announced JobsOhio partnership. The university plans to double its graduates in 19 STEM-related degree tracks as part of the collaboration.

Sands said that while the institution will offer more certificate and workforce education programs, nothing will top bachelor's, master's and professional degrees when it comes to shifting "cycles of poverty and wealth disparities."

"These are still the differentiators in the emerging workforce," he said in the presentation. "It's what we do and it's what we do best."

Sands said the university plans to add 200 new faculty members by 2025, too. He added the university would "walk the talk" when it comes to diversity and inclusion in hiring practices. Hiring will be made strategically in areas such as health, smart manufacturing, applied social sciences and data analytics, officials noted in the release.

CSU wants to bump up external research funding to $50 million over the next four years, along with investing $20 million in "faculty startups, lab infrastructure and seed funding." It also plans to realign some of its colleges, reducing the number from eight to six, and develop new programs.

Additional initiatives in the wide-reaching road map include increasing student financial aid, increasing the amount of students living in residence halls to 3,000, and creating a capital campaign to up private giving.

Sands' presentation included an "aspirational slide," using renderings to show what a possible campus transformation could someday look like with changes to Rhodes Tower and other buildings.

"Transformation is a cumulative thing," he said. "It's about programs, but it's about our campus. We want to draw folks in. We'll be looking for public-private partnerships to go ahead and expand our campus and come up with exciting concepts."

In other news, Sands also used Friday's announcement to say that recently confirmed Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge will be the university's commencement speaker during its graduation event May 15 at Progressive Field. Fudge is an alumnae of CSU's Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.