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YSU’s future is bleak

Published: Sun, November 28, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

“I see tuition is due to rise. Didn’t you warn/foresee that not long ago after the raises?”

So wrote Robert B. Gardner, a financial adviser with The Bennett/Gardner Group of Canfield, in reaction to last week’s revelation that Youngstown State University is in such dire straits that every division will have to slash spending 8.5 percent and that a tuition increase — again — is inevitable.

While Gardner’s recollection of a previous column is accurate, the fact of the matter is that forecasting a tuition increase was easy, given the fact the previous administration under President David Sweet virtually gave away the store to the unions representing the faculty, classified employees and professional staff.

To add insult to injury, members of the Association of Classified Employees union not only pocketed hefty raises — compared with what private sector workers have received during the national economic recession — but got bonuses.

This writer has focused on the giveaway of taxpayer dollars ad nauseam in the hope that it would force the decision makers on campus to reassess their spending priorities.

It didn’t.

To pay for the university’s profligate spending, the cost of attending YSU went up for the 2009-10 academic year, and again for the 2010-11 year.

Now, notice has been served that another tuition increase is coming.

On the ropes

Anyone who has followed the financial course higher education has taken in recent years will not be surprised that YSU is on the ropes. The 12 other public universities and colleges are in the same boat, though not necessarily in the same state of desperation.

And things are going to get worse before — if they ever? — get better. That’s because state government must fill a hole in its next biennium budget of between $4 billion and $8 billion.

The hole can be filled by either increasing revenue, decreasing spending or a combination of both.

But the man who will take over as governor on Jan.1, Republican John Kasich, has made it clear that there will be no tax increase and that the biennium budget will be balanced by taking the ax to just about every item in the spending blueprint.

That means education, both kindergarten through high school and universities and colleges, will have to compete with criminal justice, especially prisons, social service agencies and all the rest for the limited state dollars.

Kasich, who ran on a platform of curbing government’s spendthrift ways, is undaunted by the sky-is-falling cries from university presidents, boards of trustees and other interested parties. He is adamant that sacrifice will be required of all. There won’t be an exceptions.

Given that, university presidents are seeking a removal of the cap on tuition increases imposed several years ago.

If the Republican governor and the Republican controlled Ohio House and Senate agree next year, the major beneficiaries will be the top institutions, led by Ohio State. That’s because there is such a demand for admission — given the value of the degrees earned — students are willing to pay top dollar.

The same can’t be said for Youngs-town State University, where the admission standards are a high school diploma or a General Education Diploma. As a result, the open admission, urban institution takes in students who run the gamut academically and economically.


So, when there’s talk of raising tuition, the reality is that YSU could easily price itself out of the market it serves.

Therein lies the dilemma for the university: While the major institutions would not object to state funding being cut so long as they can raise tuition without any restrictions, the minors will suffer greatly.

YSU’s future is bleak. President Cynthia Anderson’s demand that all divisions slash spending by 8.5 percent is a good start to addressing the financial challenges. But the savings won’t cover the loss of revenue and the increased operating costs resulting from the pay raises and other financial rewards for employees.

Even a tuition increase — at YSU it will have to be moderate — won’t generate enough revenue.

So, what can Dr. Anderson and the board of trustees do? Either get the unions to agree to cuts in wages and benefits, or develop a furlough plan, as Ohio University has done.


1southsidedave(5189 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Maybe if we cut the exorbitant salaries of the upper-level executives, the University will have some excess cash and not need to raise tuition.

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2ytown1(398 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

No Dave, cuts need to be across the board along with those bonuses based on student enrollment.

I have one better, when enrollment drops they all have to give back the bonuses as it will be their fault due to the high cost of tuition.

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3grand4dad(218 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Agree with you ytown1. This crap needs to stop at all levels, exorbitant management raises and totally out of control salaries for union workers. Time for Prez Anderson and board of trustees to get tough.

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4Traveler(606 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

They need to look to the future and think about more online class think how much they could save by doing half the class online.

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5Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Just stop all sports and teach and study
More money is spent on sports than school

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6piak(508 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Is the university in danger of closing? Are courses going to be drastically cut back? All this will become apparent as the picture clears.

The concept of the traditional university may have to be considerabley modified. The online-university concept may be one viable possibility, at least worth seriously looking into. Certainly, the "Campus Life" will be changed considerably. Some of the structures built at great cost would become expendable "white elephants".

As far as the sports programs go, they too would undergo a vast change. Perhaps we won't have a large number of teams; limitation to only football and basketball at varsity level and thus intramural sports might disappear.

No matter what form a college education will take, with higher tuition rates, fewer opportunities will be available to obtain that education. Consider that some graduates in the School of Arts & Sciences are earning degrees which are not likely to result immediate employment. Indeed, when I attended school, we were told then that we might change our careers three or four times during our working careers. I know of recent graduates who obtained BA and BS degrees who are now learning fields they did not think of while they were at YSU.

The looming financial crisis in the field of higher education will have a big impact on students and the community at large.

Perhaps some scholar will be willing to undertake a detailed study of "how did we get into this dilemma". From such a study, if it is impartial, there's going to be a whole lot of blame to go around.

Perhaps such a study, if undertaken, would also benefit elementary and secondary education as well. Some similarities will surely be found. Would that the study be done independently of any public financing. This way what's left of the finances of YSU won't be lost.

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7HaydenThomas(208 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Yet another entity that unions have destroyed. Giving ACE those bonuses based on enrollment was the icing on the cake. Whoever agreed to that giveaway should be immediately hung up by their thumbs and forced to watch countless hours of YSU women's basketball. Got plenty of money for football coaches and unions that have nothing to do with enrollment, but need to extort yet another tuition increase from those footing the bill.

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8VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

We have all lived the good life for so long that over spending and excessive wages became acceptable. We now are faced with huge debt everywhere we turn and a government bent on driving all of us to our early graves. We have to put a stop to this. With our declining household income, I am not in a position to pay out to each and every hand that asks for more. This has got to stop. We have to become responsible or we will all go bankrupt.

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9piak(508 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Cutting salaries will be only the beginning.
Almost everyone posting about this topic sees the necessary solution (or should it be solutions?).

But it may not be all that must be done. Before a meat-axe is taken to demolish YSU, what's needed is a FREE, IMPARTIAL and ACTED ON STUDY. And it needs to be done now. Free, because squandering money on studies where most of the problems are obvious is dumb. Impartial, because although it needs co-operation from the university's administration, it can't be written by them alone. Acted on, because studies have been made on many community problems, recommendations sent to the interested parties and inevitably, they get side-tracked and the situation worsens.

The clock is running.

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10bartender123(27 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago


Bonus; Cost cutting measures;

It was President Cyndy Anderson’s idea about the Enrollment. Let’s see how many of her supporters that signed the Petition “Anderson for President” are going to feel when the layoffs start. Ha, Ha, Ha!, my belly is aching, You guys got suckered, didn’t you IT-Mike Caldwell-$111,000. OH! That’s right; the agreement was to hire your son!

Let’s starting cutting IT staff, many make $75,000 up & over $100,000 plus benefits. Some are so bored that they teach classes (Mark Welton-$109,000) during their regular shift collecting even more STUDENT MONEY! Some (Frank Betsa-$76,000+) read employees emails or watch online TV like in Network Services. Bring in the Geek Squad! I’m sure they would work for $30,000 a year with no benefits.

Quit hiring all these retirees that are double dipping. Examples, Human Resources hiring Diane Scahetti this just happen last week, so called budget crunch right Neil McNally Budget Director. Human Resources Kathy Ferguson, President Cyndy Anderson’s good friend Donna Wainio at $82,000 + benefits. The last two put a hurting on the healthcare budget, Didn’t Yous? Lets not forget the former Mayor Dan Mamula instructing young minds in Political Science, he knows a lot about politics, can you say Ron Chordas. All while collecting a pension from PERS.

Its time to give Strollo his walking papers. I mean look, he hired the football coach at $250,000 plus about a 1 million dollars in additional salary & benefits for his assistant coaches. I was no fan of Heacock but this move is indefensible. All the Athletic programs are one failure after another, right Elaine Jacobs. Right Elaine, you’re the one involved in the Overtime cover-up.

Vindy, do a public records request and an investigative report on the facts above. It will sell papers……………….

Quoting ESPN - “C’mon Man”

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11dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Bartender you sound like you know/hear a lot! Shameful how it is probably true! I used to hold a high opinion of that place but it seems that the mentatility of a few power hungry higher ups has destroyed a gem that used to shine in this valley. I say those people are darn lucky they have a union to protect them when you have such unethical administrators. Let's see them be the first to take a pay cut and make sacrifices before they go picking on the little guys.

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12Traveler(606 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

When pay cuts are done they should be across the board not just for those at the bottom. How many times do you read those at the lower end getting laid off or furloughed and those at the top getting bonuses

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13dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

HonestAbe talks about slashing positions, why do they bring back those people that Bartender talks about at such high salaries? How about slashing the higher ups. Really, how many administrators does it take to run that place? Surely NOT as many as they are paying - especially the gang in Todd. Years ago, I think it was back in the coffelt or humphry eras when there was only a few big shots. Now each big shot has to have his/her own big shot. Just don't get it, Offer early retirement and get rid of the high salaries. Bring in some NEW, YOUNG blood, don't keep hiring the old folks who go back making 10 x more than when they left and get all their old parts fixed at the cost of $$$$$$ so then everyone has to pay for their old carcasses. Fair? Looks like only if you live in Todd and have a connection to those who in todd do you get the 'perks'.

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14JAB(41 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

I suggest that YSU eliminates unnecessary waste. Start with the termination of Leo Jennings (A Convicted Felon) consulting fees for his writing. Not cost effective...

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15FindThe_Truth(4 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey bartender123,

Question do you know what yellow journalism is?
Second do you know what slander is?
I would look both up, because its apparent you have no idea..........

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16crl(18 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Can anyone explain to me why these people are being hired back? Don't these jobs have to be advertised?

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17FindThe_Truth(4 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago


Libel, not slander, excuse me.

Bet you feel good about catching that slip-up don't you?

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18FindThe_Truth(4 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

And yet you based your argument with nothing but hear-say. I can as easily say, (though not true) that you censoredship are in charge of the world drug trade, just because i said that, does it make it true? Now look a bartender123,does anything he/she say without proof, true? Hmmmmmm :)

Salaries, yes, that if cited correctly maybe true.

Theses ridiculous stories, are doubtful, and most likely fictitious because of a disgruntled employee.

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19dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I would doubt that person (frmr president) would be commenting here. He surely has better things to do than read this crap - vicious, mean comments. Tell me what you know of the IT folks, where is it written they are upstanding folks in the community? As an outsider, my take is that it's the strategy to take down 'union' people, make them the villians and take the spotlight away from the real problem - ADMINISTRATION AND Bd. of Trustees and the incompetence that busts out of todd hall.

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20YSUisYoungstown(2 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I spent the last days marveling at the discourse presented here. Let's get back to the original argument: will/should YSU exist? Is it a bad business? Many say universities should operate "like a business." While not exactly true, if one considers YSU a business, what is it's product? No one has said anything about YSU's graduates. Is that because they are as good as, if not better, than any in the country? Examples of the validity of this statement are everywhere if one just looks. Most engineering students already have jobs waiting only for their graduation in Spring. In addition, the "product" is produced more reasonably than those at "major institutions." [How much of the term "major" stems from the level of an institution's tuition] YSU's tuition is typically the second lowest in the State [are people mistaking inexpensive for cheap/worthless?], and if one includes the amount of scholarships available, the cost to the average student is by far less than any other state institution. Why shouldn't YSU have at least the same tuition as Akron, Toledo, or Cleveland State? For years, the state legislature has decided to decrease its investment in YSU and YSU has been running lean also for years [relative to other institutions] regardless of what has been said here. If the decrease in state investment continues, what other recourse is there but to raise tuition as all the other state schools will do. After YSU raises tuition it will still be the most cost effective institution in the State. If not the graduates, what does make YSU a "minor institution? Perhaps it's the perception of YSU created by such statements as those seen here. We certainly seem to be our own worse enemy. My fear is that because of discourse like this, YSU will not raise tuition enough to continue producing the best "product" it can. Why condemn the "major" source of economic growth and pride in Youngstown?

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21bobhogue(102 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

@YSUisYoungstown: Amen!

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22dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree, why is bad publicity, like vindy, always tainting the view of the gem here in this valley. I think EVERYONE there helps to make it a fine institiution of higher learning. Plenty are mean spirited and jealous and want to demean the employees and their ability to earn a very decent wage. Can't anyone be happy and just let people be? Why always be sticking your nose where it don't belong people? Live and let live!!!!!

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23dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

How do YOU know ALL people opposed the former leader? I just don't believe that, probably ALL will oppose the current leaders when they start getting concessions. I don't see where Bartender is picking on the little guy, he's just calling it as he sees/hears it. Look at the wages those IT folks get...............certainly overpaid from what I have heared. Nothing here seems to be about honesty, just mean, jealous comments

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24puck(4 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Wow, it's not only the IT folks making a good living. Here are some "Administrative Assistant" salaries:
Bonita Harris $66K
Julia Lloyd $64K
Christine Domhoff (former ACE pres) $72K
Richard Sweany $79K

That's some big money for glorified secretaries. It looks to me that the above mentioned concessions are long overdue!!!

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25bartender123(27 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

HonestAbe, Changesneedednow,
I find it humorous who you think I am. The fact is I work among you everyday. I laugh how your clique congregates at Arby’s and order a number 5 to go, so read the middle. You guys are self-destructing, APAS will gain what you LOSE.

Let’s look at some other outrageous salaries;

Holly Jacob $136 K
Jack Fahey $135 K
Troy Cross $110 K
Paul Kobulicky 110 K
Cindy Miller $83 K
Steve Lucivjansky $81 K
Kathy Bouquet $80 K
Jim Hanek $80 K
Mary Slaven (current Exec. Comm.) $79 K
Evaline Abram-Diroll $76 K
Matt Novotny $75 K
Danny O’Connell $74 K
Elaine Jacob $73 K
Susan Vagas $72 K
Linda Cucitrone (current Exec. Comm.) $67 K
Jacqueline Mazzocca $67 K
Tina Wientz $67 K
Rhonda Lucivjanksy $65 K
Mary Lou DeLuco (current Exec. Comm.) $63 K
Marilyn Butler $63 K
Brian Brennan (current ACE President) $62 K
Charlene Yusko (current ACE VP) $61 K
Steve Katros (current Exec. Comm.) $60 K
Gary Snyder $60 K
Margo Bailey $59 K
Patty O’Shaughnessy (current Exec. Comm.) $59 K

Salary stated above are from the previous fiscal year. Check the Jambar Website or Maag Library. Add a minimum 4% more for to reflect current salary.

No money for student raises. Cut their hours. Parking and Tuition going up, up and away.

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26puck(4 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

I'd imagine there are more assistants on campus, and I'm sure in some eyes their salaries are justified. However, as a future IT professional, in my eyes the IT department is being unjustly singled out as being overpaid. I'm confident that their skill level is a catalyst for their wage. The same may be true for your past co-workers.

I guess it makes more sence for people to set their sights on the work or education that are rewarded with higher wages rather than criticize those that already earn them.

Now back to the topic of this article. I disagree with Bertram, YSU is a great place and I'm sure Dr. Anderson will be able to deal with all the adversities in front of her.

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27YSUisYoungstown(2 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Just a few questions:

1. Does anyone think these positions don't exist at Akron, Toledo, or Cleveland?

2. Does anyone believe that the compensation at these institutions is less for the equivalent position?

3. Does anyone believe that expressing these negative and non-productive attitudes towards YSU doesn't affect its (YSU's) ability to attract students and funding and that that doesn't affect the vitality of this community?

Again, we are our own worse enemy!

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28hellokitty(161 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Bertram,, why are you such a hateful little weasel? You certainly suck from the teat of the public trough, now don't you?

Or is Jain no longer supporting your large ass from her YSU PERS pension?

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29Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

VINDYAK "We now are faced with huge debt everywhere we turn and a government bent on driving all of us to our early graves. We have to put a stop to this. With our declining household income, I am not in a position to pay out to each and every hand that asks for more. This has got to stop. We have to become responsible or we will all go bankrupt." - - - - - - - --Bingo ! We are becoming a third world nation thanks to the financial titans (globalists ) that run the show.

The only thing I would add to that VINDYAK is that our nation is already bankrupt.

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30coolershot(1 comment)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

too many employees doing outside activties on there computers making 40,000 a year while working while people in this valley starving get rid of people cheating the system and see how they like the tough unemplyment world instead of being bigger than life and screwing other people universitycan save plenty enough money turn these people in n o w

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31ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

In reply to comment #43:

A property sale has two parts, the transfer of the land by deed and a replat if the land is being split from a larger lot.

I purchased some land on the north side from my neighbor, and since it was split off of his lot we needed a replat. So I hired a surveyor to take the land in question from his lot and add it to mine. I filed the replat with the county and thought that was that. Well the next tax bill comes in and now shows that both my neighbor and me are listed as owners of my lot. So I call the county and find out that I had not properly filed the deed with the recorders office, and would have to do that for my neighbor's name to be taken off the tax bill.

So I would have to surmise that in the Cassese situation, he either sold a parcel of land to YSU or purchased a parcel from them, and the deed has not been properly filed yet.

But please do not let this perfectly logical explanation stand in the way of your conspiracy theories.

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32youngstown3301(1 comment)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

is bartender123 right? did president anderson actually create the enrollment incentive? didn't she tell the vindy she had nothing to do with it?

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33Jake(112 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

Looks like the unions are going to do to YSU what they did the local economy - kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

The majority of American workers are NOT unionized. I realize that's a shock to folks who know nothing about the world outside of Mahoning County, but it's true.

The majority of America has a better economy, too. It's not an accident. You can't price your labor above the market and expect to remain competitive. Sadly, that lesson continues to be lost on many area residents.

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34starofesther(168 comments)posted 5 years, 6 months ago

They have things that are a waste I was registering for classes and worker were just sitting around talking...doing nothing even in some other departments.....

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