The enrollment increase is above budget projections but below the 5-percent goal set by the administration.
By RON COLE
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Aug. 26 has been circled on Terrence Bailey's calendar for three months -- the first day of fall semester classes at Youngstown State University.
"When I heard the teachers were going to maybe go on strike up here, I thought, 'Oh, geez, I can't believe that,'" Bailey, 18, of Boardman, said Monday afternoon as he hurried across campus to his freshman English class.
"Well, I'm just glad they got all that straightened out and we can get on with things."
YSU opened the fall semester Monday with 12,601 students, up 3.1 percent from the 12,221 the first day last fall.
Enrollment won't be official for two weeks, and YSU officials said the numbers are expected to fluctuate. But, if the numbers hold up, it would be the second consecutive fall enrollment increase at YSU and only the third since 1990.
"The figures are very encouraging," said Walt Ulbricht, YSU executive director of marketing and communications.
The count is higher than the 12,100 projected in YSU's general fund budget but less than the 5-percent target set by President David Sweet.
University officials feared that the threat of strikes by YSU's classified staff and faculty unions could be a drag on enrollment. The strikes could have jeopardized the start of fall classes.
Ulbricht said he doesn't know if the labor situation affected enrollment. "It's very hard to speculate," he said.
The classified union settled its contract 12 days ago, and the faculty contract received final approval Friday from YSU trustees.
Rhetoric about the strike left some students uncertain and forced some to make alternative plans.
"I know one of my friends, she just enrolled over in Pennsylvania just because she was afraid that there was going to be a big strike here," YSU sophomore Linda Constantine, 20, said Tuesday outside the campus bookstore.
"Even when it got settled, she decided just to go there anyway. I don't know if she'll come back."
Most students, however, say that while talk of a strike made them nervous, it didn't change their plans.
"Sure, it was kind of scary there for a little bit," junior Shawn DeGregio said Tuesday while eating a slice of pizza in the student center.
"But I was already registered here. We'd already paid the tuition and everything, so I was locked in. I figured it'd get settled."