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Is YSU’s prez tough enough?



Published: Sun, August 22, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Not to rain on Youngstown State University President Cynthia Anderson’s parade, but her first State of the University address last week was a missed opportunity. To be sure, there were a lot of kumbaya moments, as in “I have over 1,400 wonderful colleagues across the campus who are dedicated, committed and share a passion for YSU; plus 92,000 alums,” but the one word that was missing from the approximately 2,700-word speech was sacrifice.

Perhaps Anderson, whose ties to YSU span three decades, wanted her first address to the administrators, faculty and staff to be positive and upbeat. However, to ignore the 800-pound gorilla sitting on her lap is to ignore today’s reality of higher education in Ohio.

State government is bracing for a fiscal tsunami next year, with the possible loss of $8 billion in revenue, which means that across-the-board cuts in funding are inevitable. In the current biennium budget, higher education was spared major reductions in appropriations, but that gravy train won’t be around next year.

Which is why the new president of YSU should have tackled the issue of the upcoming labor negotiations with the unions head on. In her speech, Anderson did touch on the economic challenges ahead when she said, “Please know that it is a new day. It would be no matter who was standing before you today. Business as usual is just not possible. We, as an institution, cannot afford to do things the way they have always been done if we are to successfully compete with other institutions of higher learning in the 21st century.”

Direct appeal

It’s unfortunate that Anderson did not take that a step further with a direct appeal to her “colleagues.” Here’s what she should have said:

“My friends, your current contracts will be expiring next year and just so there’s no misunderstanding when negotiations begin, I will be asking for sacrifices from each of you. In the last contract, the university was so generous, it was criminal. The pay raises, the bonuses, the benefit packages have left a bitter taste in the mouths of our stakeholders, the students and their parents. To add insult to injury, we raised the tuition and fees to meet our expenses.”

The three-year contracts with the faculty, classified employees, professional staff and the administrators is costing YSU millions of dollars. Details of the largess have been widely publicized. And every time there is mention of the bonuses that the classified employees have received, for instance, the public reaction becomes all the more negative.

Indeed, the new president’s own contract has caused some consternation because of the current economic turmoil locally and on the state and national levels.

Her salary has skyrocketed from $142,256, when she was vice president for student affairs, to $350,000. In the second year of her three-year contract, Anderson will earn $375,000; in the third year, $400,000.

She also gets a vehicle from the university, professional dues, travel, entertainment and relocation expenses.

YSU is renovating the Pollock House on Wick Avenue to become the president’s residence.

It should be clear by now that university employees have not felt the pain of the economic recession and certainly haven’t had to sacrifice the way private- sector taxpayers are doing.

Thus, their days of wine and roses must come to an end.

The compensation package that the board of trustees approved for Anderson should not be viewed as precedent setting.

For her part, the president must be willing to play hardball with members of her university family — even as she rakes in the dough.

Tuition increase?

The money from Columbus is drying up and before the trustees give any thought to increasing tuition, they should demonstrate a willingness to act in the best interest of the stakeholders by cutting expenses.

There can be no sacred cows.

It may even be necessary to ask the employees for concessions — something that past presidents and boards of trustees have been reluctant to do. They have this ridiculous idea that if they don’t keep giving in to the demands of the employees, they’ll be an exodus of good faculty and administrators.

There won’t be. Jobs in higher education are hard to come by these days.


Comments

1rae(22 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Amen, amen, amen! With the valley in an upsurg of jobs, industrial investment and national attention, it is important for YSU to show some backbone and leadersip in controlling its costs and the perception that its unions get anything they want. President Anderson's history of being comfy with the unions will have to end now. She needs to be direct and unequivocal - the public money trough is drying up. Also, will YSU incur the cost of Dr. Anderson's partner living expenses with her housing allowance and will the public incur the cost of him living with her at Pollock House? I am sure these costs are covered for a spouse, but are they allowed for a live-in boyfriend?

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2northsideperson(365 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Rae, if the whole house is provided, then the cost of a domestic partner would be the same as if she had a husband, and less than if she had a full family. Certainly the salary is enough to cover it.

It's tough to negotiate a contract three years out. What was negotiated last time didn't foresee what would happen to the economy during the contracts, and they sure look generous!

YSU took a lot from the non-teaching union in 2005. Some of it was given back in 2008, but the enrollment bonuses were over-the-top. I wonder how much they'll get this year?

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3grand4dad(193 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Bertram I think you missed the boat on this one. You should have been more aggresive in chastising the Board of Trustees for their overly generous contract deal with Dr. Anderson. By ttheir actions, they set the tone for the upcoming negotiations. How can anyone expect the President to get tough with the unions after herself being the recipient of such largess? But at least she did set a good example by giving back part of her salary to fund student scholarships.

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4dancinmoses(66 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Don't forget that the current prez was in on those previous negotiations, along w/the trustees. If you read the other blogs, she has also been extremely generous to her 'friends' - rehiring retires at more $$$ than when they worked the first time around. Maybe Bertram should have jumped ship from where is is now to where he could be at ysu like one of his former colleagues from the vindy who is now the spokesperson for ysu, then he would be so bitter about the money. Or maybe he is just bitter because his live in/girlfriend left before the big increases, as he frames it. Public sector EARNS their money, why is there so much jealousy? Live and let live people. If it is so good there, why not try and get a job @ysu or any other state job? Stop the bi#$%&in and suck it up and get a job there.

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5mrosem14(4 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Could YSU shave some expenses? Of course they could; everyone could. But this article fails to mention that despite of tuition increases, YSU is still the least expensive state university in Ohio. It also fails to mention that Dr. Anderson has worked incredibly hard to get where she is, and that she deeply cares about the university. Her pay and benefits are well deserved. Isn't the point to go to school, work hard, and get an awesome job? Dr. Anderson has done that; let's focus on improving ourselves rather than complaining about others' success.

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6bobhogue(102 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

@mrosem14: Amen! Perfectly stated.

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7rae(22 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I am sure that all the faculty and staff feel Dr. Anderson's salary and benefits are well deserved. At the bargaining table, they'll be telling the YSU administration and its rubber stamp Board of Trustees how much they deserve the pay increases, salary equity adjustments and pay incentives they are demanding. The enrollment bonuses that the ACE members received the last three years are criminal, just like their president who negotiated them with Dr. Anderson.

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8dancinmoses(66 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I find it hard to believe that the ACE leader acted alone. Don't they have a Admin. side that was present too? Why always blame labor, the BoT & admin. were there too, right? Keep trashing the little guy, putting a spin out there that she is the saviour - she was part of that group. I guess this is how they sell papers and ruin lives, let's trash labor.
This area needs more organized labor not less. Let's not break the back of the hand that's fed you and your ancestors.

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9deuces2(2 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

There were problems on BOTH sides, union & admin. Now there is new admin leadership and new ACE leadership. Let's hope each side shows respect for the other and they both work to restore credibilty to this process with ethical behavior instead of the shady tactics used by the last group.

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10dancinmoses(66 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

You forget that the NEW admin. WAS part of the past ADMIN. How will it be different? They are going down the same path.......unfair labor practices, oh, unless you are some of the few chosen ones (those who are the new pres. friends, you know those retire/rehire people.......those that are friends w/trustees AND management, brown nosers?

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