At YSU, greed is celebrated

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 ...”

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.