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Harlan Sands To Fill Berkman’s Role as CSU President

Cleveland State University named Harlan Sands as the school’s seventh president Monday.

His tenure will begin July 1 following the retirement of current President Ronald Berkman, who has been in the role for nine years.

Sands has had a nearly two-decade career in higher education, serving in various academic and administrative roles. He currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a position he’s held since 2017.

“In the face of challenges to federal funding, challenges to state funding, downward pressure on tuition, having someone at the top that really can understand how the resources get allocated and what the decision points are is really critical,” Sands said of his background in university finances.

In 2014, he was brought in to restructure the administrative and financial operations of the University of Louisville after a series of thefts and embezzlements. Prior to that, he oversaw the budget, enrollment and student support operations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a provost.

After serving largely at universities in mid-size to large cities across the country, Sands said he has seen the unique challenges they face in providing access to a more diverse population.

“We have a commitment to all of the students that we bring in that we’re going to get them through and we’ve got to figure out what those wrap around services are, the ones that we need to invest in so that those students can feel confident that they’re getting the support they need,” he said.

Sands added he wants all 17,000 CSU students to have a personalized experience at the school and he intends to focus on ways to create that during his tenure.

Before entering the world of higher education, Sands served for 10 years in the U.S. Navy.

He holds degrees from The Wharton School, George Washington University, and George Mason University.

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