Get to know President Harlan M. Sands


Harlan M. Sands was appointed by the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees to serve as the University’s seventh President, effective June 1, 2018.

Harlan_M_Sands_portraitSands is a highly regarded and widely respected higher education leader with extensive experience at urban research universities. He has a proven track record of advancing academic excellence, empowering faculty, championing research and aligning strategies and operations to meet the emerging needs of higher education in the 21st century. He brings 30+ years of experience as a higher education thought leader, academic administrator, business process transformer, teacher and student advocate.

Sands came to CSU from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Vice Dean of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer. Among his responsibilities were overseeing and administering divisions of finance/administration, budget, human resources, information technology, communications/marketing, internal audit/compliance, facilities and research data services.

At the University of Louisville, where he served as Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, he strengthened financial reporting structures, attracted more than $100 million in new investments for student facilities and business services, managed and directed more than $200 million in capital projects, simplified business processes and integrated university operations.

During his seven-plus years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Sands served as Vice Provost for Administration and Quality Improvement. As the Chief Operating Officer for the Provost, he was responsible for all academic IT operations, institutional research and analysis, enrollment management, student affairs and finance/budget, and led efforts to create new revenue streams, add important facilities and restructure administrative processes.

Sands also previously held several positions at Florida International University, including Executive Director of the FIU Applied Research Center, Associate Vice President for Research and Associate Dean of the College of Health and Urban Affairs, where he had a faculty appointment in the Department of Criminal Justice.

Prior to his career in higher education, Sands practiced law as an assistant public defender in Miami, where he litigated over 50 trials in state and county court representing indigent clients.

He also served on active duty for more than a decade in the U.S. Navy, including service as a surface warfare officer on the USS Guam (LPH-9) and several tours of duty as an intelligence officer. He received two Naval Commendation Medals during Operation Desert Storm and was a Department of Defense bone marrow donor.

He holds a B.S. in Economics (Finance) from The Wharton School, an M.B.A. with a major in Finance from George Washington University and a J.D. from George Mason University.

Sands is a native of Wantagh, N.Y. He and his wife, Lynn, have two sons, Samson (16) and A.J. (14). 

CSU President Harlan M. Sands

Mailing Address

Office of the President
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue | AC 302
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214 


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