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Finalists for YSU presidency must be questioned closely



Published: Sun, December 20, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

In April 2007, during a visit to the Mahoning Valley, Chancellor of Higher Education Eric Fingerhut couched his vision for Youngstown State University in the following terms: The region needs to be very clear about what is required to drive its economy and on how higher education should focus its attention to meet that demand.

That vision should form the basis of the conversation the community will have with the four finalists for president of Youngstown State: Cynthia Anderson, vice president for student affairs at YSU; C. Jack Maynard, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Indiana State University; Cheryl J. Norton, president of Southern Connecticut State University; and, Aaron Podolefsky, president of the University of Central Missouri.

The finalists were recommended to the board of trustees by a screening committee, and campus interviews with all four will be conducted in mid-January. A successor to Dr. David Sweet, who is retiring on June 30, will be named in February or early March.

So, why should Fingerhut’s view of the world of higher education be taken seriously? Because he’s calling the shots with regard to Ohio’s public colleges and universities — with the full support of Gov. Ted Strickland. The governor made it clear in his state of the state address in March 2007 that institutions of higher learning must become key players in Ohio’s drive to compete in the global economy, and the chancellor, building on that foundation, said that each institution must not only justify its existence, but must have a clearly defined mission and identify areas of excellence.

The status quo is not an acceptable strategy.

Scott Schulick, president of YSU’s board of trustees, said last week that the four finalists were given copies of the master plan for higher education in Ohio and have shown an understanding of it. That’s good, because when Anderson, Maynard, Norton and Podolefsky meet with members of the campus community and the Valley community at large, they will be expected to discuss in detail how they intend to meet the goals set forth by the chancellor against the backdrop of the reality that is YSU.

Open admission

The urban university has an open admission policy which means anyone with a high school diploma or a general education diploma can attend. That presents a myriad of problems, foremost of which is the need to provide freshmen with remediation courses in the basics, especially math and English.

To address that, the state has created the Eastern Gateway Community College, which is intended to take in students who aren’t ready for the academic vigors of a four-year institution. EGCC began offering courses this year and as it expands its offerings more students will be directed away from YSU. That means a loss of enrollment and, by extension, a loss of revenue.

Fingerhut is of the opinion that YSU should be spending its time developing centers of excellence that would set it apart from all the other institutions in the state.

The finalists for the top job at YSU should be prepared to describe the role of an open admission university in an economically hard-hit region like the Mahoning Valley.

And, they should also be prepared to talk about the cost of attending YSU. The prospect of another 3.5 percent tuition increase will not sit well with the university’s primary stakeholders — tuition-paying students.

Does the higher education community, which happily takes bonuses and pay increases, understand what’s happening on Main Street, where it is getting harder to pay the bills? We’d like to hear the four finalists for president speak to that.


Comments

1ysualum299(11 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

I'm worried about some of the candidates before they interview. A few minutes on the web reveals that one has been released from Central Missouri (possibly for his treatment of athletics) and another is involved in serious labor relation difficulties at Southern Connecticut. I didn't see this information in their applications.

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2rae(22 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Anderson should not be even a finalist. She is light weight and a game player who was a typing teacher. If there is not a strong applicant in this group, YSU should advertise again. YSU deserves a new president who has not be a pawn and a player in the labor dissent at YSU. Anderson has a lot of baggage in that area and should not be given further consideration. She is very quick to give the unions whatever they want and then pals with them.

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3TheLostPatrol(756 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

No one that lives beyond the boundaries of Fifth Avenue, The Wick Oval, Freeway Service Road, and Front Street care a hoot about who is the next President of YSU. Only the kiss a$$e$ that want a cushy job after Sweet leaves is interested in the process. Has the Vindy ever published an article that showed the "sitting" YSU President outside of Downtown Youngstown and YSU, aside from Liberty (where he resides)? Has anyone ever seen him in Poland, Boardman, Canfield, Austintown, attending a local program such as at Canfield HS, Austintown HS, etc? I rest my case, and I think I can honestly say that I speak for alot of others that really don't care if YSU hires a Professional Boxing Kangaroo that could be the WBC 2nd rated Middle-weight contender or a professional golfer that has a hooker in fifty states.

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4ysualum299(11 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

YSU is vital to this community as is the choice of the next president. However, the search does not seem to be off to a good start.

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5Tigerlily(492 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

It would be interesting if the "Vindy" (whatever that word means) would do a research report on all of the candidates, so that the public itself is informed on these candidates.

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6ysualum299(11 comments)posted 4 years, 10 months ago

Tigerlily makes an excellent suggestion. the more light that can be shined on this subject the better. also, should candidates be brought in at a considerable expense to all involved if it's obvious they can't get the job? Is there a point to doing this?

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