YSU Leaders bemoan state's college fund system

The faculty union president is miffed by what he calls a violation of the press blackout on contract negotiations.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ohio needs to change the way it funds public universities and quit punishing schools that offer mostly bachelor's degree-level courses, Youngstown State University President David Sweet says.
That's one of the solutions to the continued funding woes of universities such as YSU, which serve mostly undergraduate students, he said.
Sweet and Terry Ondreyka, YSU's chief financial officer, briefed YSU trustees Thursday afternoon on the state's latest allocations for universities.
Under the plan approved by the Ohio Board of Regents this week, eight of the state's 13 four-year public universities would lose money. YSU's loss amounts to $2.7 million.
Sweet pointed out that most of the losers are schools that mostly serve students seeking associate and bachelor's degrees, including YSU, Central State, Shawnee State and Miami University.
Under the state's funding formula, universities get more funds for students enrolled in graduate and doctoral programs, he said.
Contract-talks flap
Meanwhile, the head of YSU's faculty union is taking Sweet and Ondreyka to task for what he says is a violation of the mutually agreed press blackout during contract negotiations.
"The negotiating team is very upset," said Dr. John Russo, union president.
Russo said he was particularly miffed with a half-page advertisement Sweet took out in Thursday's edition of The Jambar, YSU's student paper. In the ad, Sweet talks about faculty compensation and hiring levels, which Russo said violates the press blackout.
The union and administration resume negotiations Monday, and Russo said the comments in the press will be the first topic of discussion.
Contracts for the faculty and classified-staff unions expire in August.
Options for action
At Thursday's trustees meeting, Sweet said he's working with the Inter University Council to try to "level out" the regents' allocations.
The IUC is made up of the presidents of Ohio's public universities. Sweet is vice chairman of the group. He said the IUC will soon convene a meeting of university fiscal officers to discuss the allocations.
Ondreyka also said YSU plans to ask the regents to declare an "exceptional circumstance," which under law could allow the reduced funding levels to be restored.
"This is a process that's going to play out over the next several weeks and months," Sweet said.
In the meantime, Sweet and Ondreyka are trying to devise ways to slice the university's budget by $2.7 million. Trustees will meet July 30 to discuss the options.

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