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Dr. Ronald Berkman Headshot

Why Cleveland, Ohio Is Making Headlines

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Forbes recently included Cleveland among the 15 U.S. cities with emerging downtowns. The New York Post said, "Cleveland is seeing a revival." Fortune Magazine went so far as to call Cleveland a "new Brooklyn," comparing three of our trendiest neighborhoods to Williamsburg.

I appreciated Cleveland State student Evan Schultz's reaction to this label: "I think that Cleveland more or less wants to be its own kind of place. I don't think they want to be another Brooklyn ... They just want to be Cleveland."

Make no mistake: Cleveland wants to be a different Cleveland. Even the most ardent Cleveland naysayers no longer deny that there's a renaissance emanating from downtown. This is a city that is reinventing and reimaging for the future.

I believe this renaissance is occurring in large part because of our city's existing strong foundation: an industry base in health care -- including some of our nation's best hospitals -- and advanced manufacturing; a vibrant arts and culture scene; and the presence of many large companies, such as KeyBank, Sherwin-Williams, Lubrizol, and Progressive, headquartered in Northeast Ohio.

It's projected that between 2011 and 2022, there will be 150,000 new jobs in Cleveland. That means that in 2022, employment in Cleveland will be at a 20-year high with an estimated 2.57 million workers.

Cleveland is uniquely positioned for significant economic growth. It is an exciting time for all of us to be in Cleveland, particularly for an urban institution like Cleveland State.

But what role do we play in our city's transformation? We are an active and engaged partner.

Partnership is our chosen path to engagement. The University partners with a distinct purpose: to strengthen our city and our communities, and, in doing so, create unparalleled opportunities for our students.

One of our partners, Parker Hannifin, is itself a case study in reinvention. In recent years, the biomechanics and engineering technology company has begun to apply decades of knowledge to a wholly new area of study: human motion and control.

In July 2013, Parker Hannifin funded the creation of a Laboratory for Human Motion and Control at Cleveland State, where three of our renowned engineering faculty -- Antonie van Bogert, Hanz Richter, and Dan Simon -- are focused on assistive technology. In collaboration with Parker Hannifin, these faculty members are developing a prosthetic leg that emulates the gait of an able-bodied person. Their hope is to create a prosthesis that can react in the same way as muscles in a normal limb.

The laboratory space features a large, state-of-the-art treadmill which has the capacity to provide a detailed X-ray-like picture of muscle function. This powerful technology is breaking new ground in sophisticated analytics of motion control -- right here on our campus. The laboratory is a tremendous learning environment for our students, who are on the frontlines of revolutionary research that has a direct application. This experience is invaluable.

Another such partner is PlayhouseSquare, the second largest performing arts center in the United States. Cleveland State created an Arts Campus in PlayhouseSquare, bringing together our theatre, dance, and art departments in a central hub. Students pursuing their passion for the arts have an unprecedented opportunity to do so alongside seasoned professionals at the Allen Theatre, which boasts three state-of-the-art performance venues.

I could also point to the Partnership for Urban Health, a collaborative effort between Cleveland State and Northeast Ohio Medical University. We believe that in order to meet the critical healthcare needs within our urban communities, we need to better train our future physicians in the communities they will one day serve. Through this partnership, Cleveland State students have a direct pathway to medical school beginning as early as their undergraduate sophomore year.

We are fortunate to have many, many partners in Northeast Ohio.

Now, more than ever before, urban institutions like Cleveland State must turn outward. We must be worthy partners and good neighbors in order to provide essential learning opportunities to our students. I believe this is what defines Cleveland State University -- our ability to work with and engage with our city.

We are an urban university that is in and of the thriving city of Cleveland. It is impossible to point to where the university ends and the city begins -- and that's how we want it to be.