By Bertram de Souza
To hear Youngstown State University’s administration tell it, the $4,500 bonuses that 400 or so employees will receive are justified because they played such an important role in the institution recording its highest enrollment in seven years.
Indeed, this is the second year in a row they received bonuses tied to student numbers. In 2008, the largess amounted to $1,125 each.
So, who are these individuals who persuaded high school grads and others to come to YSU?
Were they members of the faculty touting the academic prowess of the urban, open admissions institution and holding out the promise of high-paying jobs upon graduation? No, they weren’t.
Were they administrative staffers whose responsibilities include recruitment and other student-related programs? No.
The beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded gift are members of the Association of Classified Employees.
But the administration, led by President Dr. David Sweet, and the board of trustees must believe that they are extremely valuable to the university, or else they would not have agreed to bonuses in the midst of an national economic recession.
Such dedication to the well-being of YSU deserves to be rewarded — and recognized.
On the university’s Web site there’s a link to Classified Civil Service Job Classifications. The jobs are listed in alphabetical order.
It’s easy to be sarcastic about the role such employees played in the enrollment sweepstakes, considering the jobs they have.
For instance, what pitch would a Secretary 2 make to a prospective college student? (The sarcastic headline reflects the reality that members of ACE have little or nothing to do with enrollment.)
This isn’t just the opinion of a columnist who has long questioned the expenditure of taxpayer dollars by the public sector, including governments at all levels.
Consider the following e-mail sent within the past week:
“Did you know that members of the ACE union at YSU are going to get a bonus ... because (enrollment) is up? What’s this going to cost? With the economy in the crapper and tuition on the rise this stinks! This group of people have (absolutely) NOTHING to do with the increase of enrollment either!
“I’m sure there is nothing anyone can do but (embarrassment may) keep them in check next time!”
So, what are some of the other job classifications?
Air quality technician has a certain intriguing quality to it in the context of recruitment. Consider this sales pitch: Come to Youngstown State, the air in our buildings smells like fresh mountain dew.
Then there’s the Inventory Control Specialist Supervisor. It’s such an officious sounding title that any high school grad would be impressed just meeting the individual.
Or, how about the Employee Benefits Coordinator?
“So, what do you do in your job?” asks the prospective student.
“I make sure that members of the classified service get all the benefits they’re entitled to.”
“Who pays for the benefits?”
“You do. That’s why I’m out here making sure our enrollment increases. You know we’ll get a bonus if there’s an increase.”
The bottom line is this: Justifying the bonuses by touting the work done by members of ACE on the enrollment is ridiculous.
It should be pointed out that the other unions representing the faculty, administrative staff and police also rolled the administration and trustees.
Money, money, money
Take the faculty, please! For the 2008-09 school year, there was a 2.5 percent increase in base salary and a bonus, which resulted in a full professor, for instance, receiving $1,800 that was added to the base.
Then, a member of the faculty union hired before June 1, 2008, received a longevity increase of $50 for each year of service. Thus, a faculty member with 30 years received $1,500 — that also was added to the base salary.
At least the ACE bonuses aren’t rolled into the base salary. That should make students who were hit with a tuition and fee increase feel much better.