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At YSU, greed is celebrated

Published: Sun, June 27, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

They should have scattered rose petals in his path as he walked off the campus of Youngstown State University Friday. For, after 10 years as president of YSU, Dr. David Sweet departed with this inspiring message to administrators, faculty and staff:

Don’t apologize for your greed.

As has been detailed in this space several times over the years, the labor contracts that Sweet urged the board of trustees to approve were generous to a fault — considering the economic recession that has resulted in double-digit unemployment rates, concessions and givebacks by private sector workers and an uncertain future for many working families.

But, the president’s generosity is understandable — seeing as how well he fared financially during his tenure at YSU.

The details of his contract have been widely publicized, but here’s something new for the taxpayers to chew on:


David Sweet is retiring from YSU — his official last day is Wednesday, but he left Friday and is using three days of vacation this week — with a severance check for $100,596. That’s right: $100,000-plus. To put that in perspective: The median family income in 2008 in Mahoning County was $40,508.

Sweet’s sweet deal reflects the 400 hours of sick leave he did not take during his tenure, and the 267.57 hours of unused vacation time. The hourly rate used to calculate his severance is $150.69.

Before any of you cynical readers question the sick leave claim, consider this: The university paid $3,000 for Sweet to be enrolled in the Cleveland Clinic Executive Health Program. In other words, he had the best and brightest in the field of medicine poking and prodding to ensure that he was in the pink.

In addition, YSU paid $5,380 for annual membership in the Youngstown Country Club — so he could take a whiff of the good life when the pressure of the job got to be too much. And there was the $1,500 annual membership in the Youngstown Club and $5,225 for Regional Chamber membership.

Yes, retirement from the public sector gives meaning to the song “Money, Money, Money” by the group Abba.

The editorial on this page about the secrecy surrounding the public pension system in Ohio is further evidence of the greed that is an integral part of public sector employment.

News of Dr. Sweet’s severance comes at the same time as details of the latest giveaway to employees were made public Friday by The Vindicator.

Indeed, members of the Association of Classified Employees who were harshly criticized in this space last week because of the $2,000 bonuses they will be receiving as a result of YSU’s enrollment increase, were quick to point out the deal for the 170 employees — administrators and professional staff — not covered by a union.

These employees received a 4.25 percent pay raise effective next Thursday, plus a $1,200 “adjustment” that is to be added to their base pay rates.

The package will cost $731,000.

It is similar to the three-year contract for the faculty.

For the 2008-09 school year, there was a 2.5 percent increase in faculty base salary. But that’s not all. By rank, there was a bonus, which resulted in a full professor, for instance, receiving $1,800 that was added to the base salary.

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.

Huge raise

By some calculations, the entire first-year package resulted in an 8 percent increase for veteran professors.

In the next two years of the contract, faculty members are receiving increases of 3.5 percent to their new base salaries.

All the unions made out like bandits.

Thus spins Youngstown State University’s wheel of fortune.

As for the retiring Dr. Sweet, his final annual salary was $244,145, plus he received combined housing and car allowances of $69,258, for a total of $313,403.

His pension will be based on the average of the three highest years of salary. It has been estimated that he will pull in $200,000 a year, plus full medical benefits.

All together now. “Money, Money, Money ...”


1tired_but_true(1 comment)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Amazing. Part time professors haven't had a raise in a decade but they account for half of the actual teaching that goes on there. Guess why, they are not unionized and by state law are not allowed to unionize. Ever heard of any other profession that was barred from joining a union by law. Just another way YSU finds loopholes to pay ridiculous salaries to the upper echelons but keeps the base of its staff beat down. Sounds like YSU is a political party, not a university.

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2Photoman(1248 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

The university setting has been, and remains, one of political infighting and money grabbing. Students, parents and we the people pay the price for all of this....

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3mrblue(1175 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

It seems that when tuition goes up raises are given. The students are getting raked over the coals and they can't do anything about it. So long Mr. Sweet, you greedy ***####.

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4WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

I can't say much about Dr. Sweet, whom I don't know. However, as I've mentioned in other posts, there are individuals working at YSU who don't even ATTEMPT to veil their personal greed. It's disgusting and disheartening. The worst part is these people never even mention or seem to think much about those who pay their salaries - THE STUDENTS!

What about adding value to what the students are getting? What about service to them? Can we make YSU a service- and quality-oriented institution and stop looking at just what we can get for ourselves monetarily?

We need to give Dr. Anderson a chance to respond to these questions and make YSU a great place to go to school AND a great place to work. Time will tell if she is up to the challenge.

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5ytown1(398 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago


when it is OK to increase tuition's every chance you can, then hand out raises, when the rest of the private sector jobs are lucky to keep their jobs let alone get a raise during these economic conditions we find ourselves?

Who is the Moron Now?

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6TB(1167 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the moron is the person who took the private sector job. Maybe the moron is the person that placed his or her faith in the fact that big business would somehow take care of them. Maybe the moron is the person willing to work more for less, giving back pension rights, health care coverage, salary, vacation time, sick leave. Maybe the moron is the worker who won't stand up for himself and realize that he has value beyond a paycheck and beyond his productivity, used by someone else to profit.

YSU has to remain competitive with other institutions. If you want college graduates to receive the best education and go on to greater successes post-college, then someone has to pay.

College is not for everyone unfortunately. As someone who attended with the aid of scholarships and student loans, I worked hard to put myself through college (including the work I did before I got there to ensure I would receive scholarship money.)

While colleges do have a responsibility to the students, the overriding responsibility is to the actual education being received, otherwise the diploma is just a scrap of paper.

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7Stan(9923 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Yep, this was a sweet deal ! The road to riches entails finding tolerant people willing to shell out the MOOLAH !

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8repeaters(314 comments)posted 6 years, 1 month ago

Yes Bertram, you and the Vindicator are singing your favorite, 'It's the same old song' by the Four Tops. Remember how you guys ENDORSE every levy for education that comes down the pike and then complain when it goes for wages and benefits? Well Bertram, It's the same old song!!!!!!!!

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9tookie(64 comments)posted 6 years ago

Interesting to all this is that Dr. Anderson, who's never run a college or university, will be starting out at a salary higher than Dr. Sweet's. It never ends.

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10AlwaysRight(2 comments)posted 6 years ago

Will somebody give Bertram a raise., LOL,
Bertram is underpaid and under appreciated so he wants the
rest of the valley to be in his shape. (Misery loves company) ROFLMAO.
Betram, don't hate, congratulate! In case the Vindy,
doesn't know this, we live in a global economy. We are
competing against almost the entire world.
One of the institutions that helps us compete and win is
the University. YSU has and continues to produce successful competitors
in almost every field you can think of, from students going to
work at Microsoft to students being employed at Nasa. Ysu produces
scientists, and engineers. YSU helps sculp savy Business majors.
Some of the most talented musicians, and artists on the scene today
were made at YSU.

So should the administrators, the faculty, the staff at YSU be well paid?
Of course they should. YSU is helping to produce today's and tomorrow's, educators,
businessmen, scientists, engineers, information technologists, artists, healthcare
workers,etc. If you want high quality product you have to pay for it.
It takes high quality administrators, faculty and staff to make YSU work.
YSU produces success stories because it employs competent people at all levels.
And those competent people deserve to be paid for the work they do.

Poor Bertram Desouza. He should be cheering YSU on. He should be
using YSU as a beacon of hope for the valley. YSU should be on his list
of good places to work in Youngstown. Something for some of the aspiring young
people to look forward to. It is an example of a successful organization that
produces a high quality result. And its in Youngstown!!!! Instead of
hating , Betram should be congratualting. But like the grinch,ebenezer scrooge he's bitter and deeply confused.

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11tkytown(43 comments)posted 6 years ago

Years ago no one wanted to go in to education because of low starting wages and putting up with (raising) other people's offspring. Everyone wanted to go in to business and make money and buy stocks. Well the trend has turned, education seems recession proof, while the private sector continues to give back and lose economic ground, educators (like the turtle and the hair) continue to plod forward.

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12crl(18 comments)posted 6 years ago

AlwaysRight, you are right that YSU is a wonderful institution and one that all of us in this valley should be proud of. And you're right that the administrators, faculty and staff should be well paid. But YSU is a public institution and the public has every right to question what is going on there. And unfortunately, there are too many things going on there that are not right. There is immense waste especially in the form of excessive salaries. Totally inept management that if not put in check soon could be the undoing of this 'beacon of hope for the valley".

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13TB(1167 comments)posted 6 years ago

What makes it totally inept? Enrollment is up. The number of grads is up. It sounds like they're doing a pretty good job to me.

Please define excessive. What should someone working at a college make? What information do you have to support this?

They are partially publicly funded.

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14AlwaysRight(2 comments)posted 6 years ago


Sometimes its a matter of having access to enough information.

I've had an opportunity to sit in on more than a few commencements at YSU. I've seen thousands of YSU graduates unleashed into society with skillsets that run the full gamit. Many, many YSU graduates compete and win at a global level. Considering the cost of the YSU tuition and the quality of graduate that comes out of YSU, I would say that the valley is getting more bang for the buck.

I'm always stunned to hear the accomplishments, achievements, goals and aspirations of the YSU graduates and Alumni. One would never think that coming from our small hometown University, that we would see world class mathematicians. But that's just what I found out recently. After learning that YSU's mathematics department has been competing and taking the prize in national and international events. Wow, world class mathematicians from YSU!

I can't say much about waste at YSU, but I am familiar with YSU results, measured by the quality of YSU graduates that I've interacted with.

Also crl, have you seen some of the resumes and vitae of some of the professionals and faculty at YSU?

The valley is very fortunate to have such high caliber and accomplished individuals
from prestigious institution from all over the world that have decided to make their homes in the valley and to make contributions to the educational process at YSU. There are some extremely accomplished professors, administrators, and staff working at YSU. We're fortunate to have them, and whatever we're paying them, its a fair trade for some of the graduates that I'm aware of.

Sure YSU is a public institution, but I don't think there is an automatic connection between being public and poorly paid. To the contrary we should all hope that our public institutions strive for excellence in public service. YSU strives for excellence,and that excellence comes at a cost.

I think that based on the tuition YSU charges and contribution to society that the average YSU graduate makes, we get far more excellence than we pay for.

Before being too critical of how much money is being made at YSU, perhaps you should look at the contributions that are being made nationally and internationally by YSU graduates. Perhaps you should look at the resumes and vitae of the world class professors, administrators, and staff for that matter.

The point is Bertram is singing the wrong song, in the wrong key, at the wrong time. YSU is a success story of the valley. It should be celebrated as so. YSU graduates individuals that go on to be success stories that have national and international positive impact. They should be celebrated as so.

Bertram attacking the good guys is just plain
ole 'batty'

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15UrbanWolff(10 comments)posted 6 years ago

In order to hire the best faculty and administrators - who are being pursued by other post-secondary institutions daily - YSU has to pay a competitive wage to keep faculty and administrative staff at the University.

Dr. Sweet (whom I don't know) was only a Dean at Cleveland State University prior to his appointment as President of YSU. Dr. Cyndy Anderson has been VP for Student Affairs since 1995, and was Assistant Provost for Academic Planning in the early 1990s under former Provost Jim Scanlon.

I would say that Dr. Anderson's administrative experience would be comparable to Dr. Sweet's prior to his appointment at YSU.

As a YSU graduate and former employee of YSU, I am proud of my alma mater. It provided me the skills and background needed to further my education at one of the top public research universities in North America. YSU is a great institution, but as with so many other things in the Valley, the perception exists that anything anywhere else is better than what we have here.

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16Jake(112 comments)posted 6 years ago

Bertram rightly decries the compensation levels of public employees yet he openly defends a President who is expanding these public sector jobs at unprecedented rates while the private sector continues to suffer.

Perhaps he should make up his mind.

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17crl(18 comments)posted 6 years ago

Yes, AlwaysRIght, I have seen the resumes and vitae of faculty and staff at YSU. I agree with you that we are fortunate to have many talented faculty and staff and we produce high caliber graduates. I also agree that there shouldn't be an automatic connection between being public and being poorly paid. And I agree with you that the faculty and staff should be well paid. But not ridiculously overpaid. There is a list circulating on campus of the yearly salaries of some ACE members. Many administrative assistants are now making $60,000 - $70,000+ while the assistant and associate directors who supervise them are making much less. Some staff in computer services are over $100,000 and the nurse in Student Health is at $90,000+. (And this does not include their big enrollment bonuses.) For the most part, these are positions that don't require a degree. But check YSU's website and see they are advertising for a Research Scientist at less than $45,000. A bachelor's degree is required but they prefer someone with a Master's or PhD. How crazy is that? The salary scales are so out of line now due to the last ACE contract. All those responsible for negotiating that contract are inept.

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18northsideperson(366 comments)posted 6 years ago

How many of those highly-paid employees have been with the university in the same position for 15-20-25-more years? New hire wages are not going to match the wages of long-term employees.

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