Youngstown State University’s Board of Trustees has picked one of the university’s own as the next YSU president.
The board voted today to name Cynthia Anderson, long-time vice president for student affairs, as the seventh and first woman president of the university.
She will succeed David C. Sweet who is retiring June 30 after serving 10 years as university president.
Anderson, 59, grew up in nearby Fowler and has basically called Youngstown State University her academic home since she was a student here in the early 1970s.
She did spend some time earning a master’s degree at Ohio State and securing a doctorate from the University of Akron, but she’s been teaching at YSU since 1979. She still teaches, working in some class time around her schedule as vice president for student affairs, a job she’s held since 1995.
“I’ve never been interested in leaving YSU,” she said.
Those who know her say she is Youngstown State University — through and through — and she has publicly said the university needs to return to an atmosphere where the campus considers itself one family.
She is clearly popular.
Even before she chose to seek the president’s seat, there were members of the campus community circulating petitions on her behalf. An organizer of that campaign said Anderson cares about everyone she meets, especially the students. Others say she has a knack for listening to what others have to say and describe her as “a people person.”
She views herself as “a collaborative leader” who doesn’t make decisions in a vacuum.
Anderson firmly believes that students should be the university’s number one priority, pointing out that they are the business of Youngstown State University. Greater recruiting efforts targeting those as young as sixth and seventh grade need to be implemented to encourage area students to pursue their college careers here, she said.
Greater efforts are also required to work with students on a one-to-one basis to encourage early collegiate successes that make them want to continue that pursuit, Anderson said.
She has also called for the university community to make internal repairs to relationships, a specific reference to past labor disputes that pitted unionized employees against the administration.
Anderson said the regional business community needs to work hand-in-hand with the university to help determine what courses of study should be offered. Expanding partnerships with business and community organizations will strengthen the university’s link with the community, enabling it to provide leadership and educated individuals to foster economic development, she said.
That community engagement should also provide internships and other work opportunities for YSU students, she said.
Being designated as an urban research university under Ohio’s 10-year strategic plan for higher education is a matter that still requires some definition, but it could prove to be the icing on the cake to YSU’s reputation as a teaching institution, she said.
Anderson has promised to have a leadership team in place and be ready to go so she can hit the ground running when she takes over the university’s presidential duties in July.