Diversity remains a priority at YSU, official says

By Harold Gwin

The director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity said YSU’s Affirmative Action Plan offers a more accurate picture.

YOUNGSTOWN — The number of faculty, professional/administrative and classified employees at Youngstown State University rose by 32 between Dec. 31, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2008, and most of that growth was in the number of Caucasian employees.

A report by the YSU Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity showed that total employment rose from 1,152 to 1,184 over that one-year time span.

The number of minority employees rose by seven, while the number of Caucasian employees went up by 25.

“I think this report can be misleading,” said Yulanda McCarty-Harris, director of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the university.

It’s just a one-day snapshot, year-to-year, and doesn’t reflect changes that may have occurred during that time span, she said.

“There’s always a need for concern,” but the snapshot report presented to the YSU Board of Trustees may not be an accurate depiction of what is actually happening on campus, she said.

There were a number of early retirements, hiring of replacements and other changes during the course of the year that caused the employee ratios to fluctuate at any given point in time, she explained.

She said she had hoped for more promotional opportunities for minorities than actually developed.

Still, McCarty-Harris said a more accurate picture of employee diversity can be found by examining the university’s Affirmative Action Plan.

It provides a more detailed breakdown of employee staffing at every level of the institution, allowing the university to pinpoint areas where there may be few or no minority or female employees and devise action plans in an effort to increase that representation.

The Affirmative Action Plan states that the document represents the institution’s commitment to eliminate barriers to equal opportunity in its work force, therefore reflecting its overall commitment to diversity.

About 17 percent of YSU’s current 13,000 students are minorities. Among the faculty, professional/administrative and classified ranks, the number is about 15 percent.

“If you look at the overall scope of what we are doing at YSU, I think we are moving in the right direction,” McCarty-Harris said. “While the focus tends to be on numbers, if you look at [the] overall strategic plan of the university, diversity is clearly a priority that continues to be woven into the fabric of this institution — as evidenced by the creation of the Diversity Leadership Celebration.”

David C. Sweet, YSU president, has repeatedly made it clear that increasing campus diversity continues to be one of his primary goals.

YSU drew praise from the Higher Learning Commission of the North central Association of Colleges and Schools during the university’s reaccreditation process a year ago. The reaccreditation visitation team was impressed with the improvement in YSU’s numbers over the past decade, McCarty-Harris said at the time.

Looking at just the faculty, just under 8 percent of that employee group were minorities in fall 2008. That number climbed to nearly 12 percent in fall 2007 and now stands at about 18 percent.

The university will have its second annual Diversity Leadership Recognition Celebration, sponsored by KeyBank, at 6 p.m. April 2 at Mr. Anthony’s, 7440 South Ave, Boardman.

Honorees will be the Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II, Judith Ann Stanger and Kathleen Johnson in the Community Leadership category; Sylvia J. Imler, Joseph L. Mosca and Brian P. Wells in the Campus Leadership category; and Phaneendra K. Kolli, Wilson Okello and Domonique Price in the Leader of Tomorrow category.

Luke Visconti, partner and co-founder of DiversityInc., will be the keynote speaker.

Tickets are $30 and can be reserved by calling (330) 941-3497 or 941-3370. Proceeds benefit a scholarship fund.

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