CLEVELAND — The Cleveland State University Board of Trustees and President Harlan M. Sands have agreed to part ways over differences regarding how the university should be led, the board announced during a meeting on Tuesday morning.
The board of trustees announced the decision during a meeting Tuesday. Watch it in the media player below:
It was a sudden turn for the university and Sands, which in 2021 announced a contract extension for the president through June 2026. In a release sent to the media at the time, Sands said he was "deeply committed" to the university.
“Harlan has done an outstanding job leading the university over the last three years,” David Gunning, chair of the CSU Board of Trustees, said in 2021. “He has guided us through one of the most challenging times in our history, while leading the development of CSU 2.0 – our visionary plan for the future. The extension ensures that the president is here to oversee the implementation of that bold plan.”
Implementation of that bold plan will now be overseen by someone else.
In public statements, all parties sounded amicable.
“The Board recognizes that CSU has made significant advances during Sands’ tenure and is on solid footing,” said David Reynolds, board chairman. “Over time, however, it has become clear that this simply is not a good match for either party going forward. We thank President Sands for his contributions to CSU during his tenure and wish him well.”
News 5 has reached out to Cleveland State for comment from Sands, as well as for additional details about the university's separation agreement.
In a statement released by the university, Sands called his time as president a "defining experience."
“The opportunity to serve our faculty, staff and students during the last four years – given all that we have faced together in these unprecedented times – has been the highlight and defining experience of my 20-plus year academic career,” said Sands. “What we accomplished together to keep our campus safe during a pandemic, grow enrollments, develop and implement groundbreaking student success initiatives, build partnerships, expand our faculty and bring new investors on board is a credit to the great work that you have done to make CSU what it is today.
The board named Dr. Laura Bloomberg, CSU's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs since September 2021, as the eighth president of Cleveland State University. Sands will remain available to facilitate a transition through June 24.
“At the same time, we are very pleased that in Dr. Bloomberg we have an energetic, dynamic and highly qualified academic leader already within our ranks who is exceedingly prepared to lead this university as it emerges from a very challenging period. During her relatively brief tenure at CSU, she has quickly demonstrated her ability to work well with faculty and students, as well as excellent external relations and fund-raising skills," Reynolds said.
In the news release, Bloomberg said, “Since moving to Cleveland last summer my husband Jon and I have been warmly welcomed and we have come to feel very much at home in this community as we transplant our Midwestern roots. I have been inspired by the fundamental strengths and resiliency of both the community and this university, and I look forward to a very exciting future together.”
Before joining Cleveland State University, Bloomberg served as professor and dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Under her leadership, the Humphrey School achieved and sustained a Top 10 U.S. News & World Report ranking for public affairs schools.
Bloomberg holds a doctorate degree in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in psychometrics and educational psychology from Cornell University, and a bachelor's degree in special education from St. Cloud St. University.
She and her husband Jon, an environmental attorney, are the parents of two adult children, Elisabeth and Andrew, according to her bio on Cleveland State University’s website.
The contract for Sands that CSU announced in 2021 allowed for Sands to become a tenured professor in the Marshall College of Law after his time as president.
On campus Tuesday many like recent graduate Nick Buccieri were surprised by the news.
"Definitely shocking," Buccieri said. "I'm hoping no bad news comes out of it, I'm hoping it was, you know, everything in good faith because he seemed like a really good representation of the university."
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