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YSU prez mugs the faculty

Published: Sun, August 28, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Make no mistake about it, the president of Youngstown State University, Dr. Cynthia Anderson, is the administration. So when the faculty members bemoan the fact that the administration isn’t being fair in contract negotiations and isn’t showing them the respect they deserve, they’re talking about Anderson.

Yes, the former vice president of student affairs who brought tears of joy to so many on campus when she was named president, has turned out to be the slayer of the faculty dragon.

The decision Thursday night by the executive committee of the union — the YSU chapter of the Ohio Education Association — not to take the membership out on strike Friday morning should be seen as a feather in the president’s cap. Why? Because throughout the contract talks, Anderson remained so firm in her position that the university would not give away the store the way it had three years ago, that even her most ardent supporters for the presidency were taken aback. After all, the unions on campus thought they were getting a pushover in the executive suite — someone who was one of them, whose roots at YSU go all the way back to her days as a student.

Union spin

The YSU-OEA tried the tug-at-the-heartstrings approach in spinning why the executive committee decided not to hit the bricks.

“Just as the students stood up for us, we are now standing up for the students,” said Dr. Sherry Linkon, union spokeswoman and co-director of the Center for Working Class Studies. “Continuing to work will release financial aid for the students and ensure that the fall semester will start on time.”

(Look closely and you’ll find a tear- stain here.)

Classes will begin Monday. Because of the collapse of the contract talks, federal financial aid for those attending YSU had been withheld by the administration — on the advice of a U.S. Department of Education official in Chicago.

Linkon said that executive committee members, who met after the final- and-best offer from the administration was voted down by the membership Thursday evening, did not want the students to suffer any further financial hardship.

But here’s an explanation for why the strike was called off that has more credence than the “We’re doing it for the students” explanation: Anderson mugged the faculty and now the YSU/OEA is trying to find a little sugar to add to the bitter pill they will have to swallow by seeking to return to the bargaining table. Remember, they had insisted all long that a strike was the best bargaining chip they had. What happened?

The vote on the final-and-best offer from the administration contains the answer. Despite Linkon’s insistence that it was rejected by a “pretty substantial majority,” sources say there was an approximately 40-vote margin. In other words, a goodly number of faculty members were willing to accept what the administration had put on the table.

Had a substantial majority voted against the offer, the faculty would be on the streets today with pickets.

Since she has been president, Anderson has shown a willingness to stand up to the university community — as when she refused to repudiate the new state collective bargaining law, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 5. The unions on campus wanted her to join them in urging a no vote on SB 5 in the Nov. 8 referendum, but she refused to take a position.

Greatest challenge

By any measure, the contract talks with the faculty union have been her greatest challenge to date, and she has demonstrated that she will not be cowed by personal attacks or threats of a strike. Her salary and benefits have been the target of criticism and she has been confronted with the idea of “shared sacrifice.”

The president must know the people of the Mahoning Valley will not take kindly to her and other high level administrators dodging the bullet that everyone else must bite.

She has correctly judged that there is limited public sympathy for those who work at Youngstown State University. The last three-year contract was a boondoggle that exacerbated the institution’s financial difficulties.

Now it’s time to pay the piper — and Anderson is calling the tune.

Her tough stance against the YSU-OEA is a signal to the other unions on campus: Brace yourselves.


1AtownAugie(873 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Didya notice? Walk by the statue on campus of Dr. Jones -- a smile has appeared. And if you look reeaally close, he's giving a thumbs-up. His statue is made of bronze. But I suspect one reason for his smile is admiration of Dr. Anderson's brass pair.

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2RustOnMyBelt(172 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Because so many residents and non-residents have such a VERY low opinion of the city of Youngstown, they cannot imagine that YSU could be a wonderful institution of higher learning. Right here in our very midst is a beautiful campus with colleges of business,music,engineering (among others) that are ,elsewhere ,held in the highest regard.It is not just a 13th grade for locals who want degrees but cannot get into anywhere else to attend. There are students there from India,China,Europe,Latin America and Africa who come to this country because we have a great educational system that they cannot get at home.In order to keep attracting all students from everywhere,I believe we must be willing to pay for the caliber of instructors who can deliver the education they all expect to receive from just such a University.We are all very fortunate to have YSU in the city. I cannot imagine life here without it. What other truly stand-out attraction to our area exists? Thank goodness we have such a place. We should all rally to keep this top-notch campus high on our list of priorities. Once we lower the bar, we all suffer. When all employees there take home less pay ( even if it is due to paying out more for benefits) we see less expendable income spent at markets,restaurants,theaters,locally-owned stores,festivals,etc. Many of these places owned by neighbors,friends and close relatives of ours. Once we lower the bar to match the level other sectors have dropped to because of excessive spending on our wars and the inability of politicians to require heavy dis-incentives or taxes on so called "American" goods brought back into this country we have lost a very important battle for all Americans.Youngstown is ,right now, on the front line of that battle. I know it, you know it and King John in Columbus' friends on Wall Street know it.

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3Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think anyone can claim a victory in this battle just yet. Cuts and added contributions should be the same for every single employee if times are as hard as the university would like us to believe.

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4Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I am disgusted by the bravado and accolades DeSouza has spread at Dr. Anderson's feet here, as if she were a conquering queen with a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. The divide and conquer mentality might go over well with Tea Party types who will destroy the fabric of our society and return us to a lawless, ramshackle country of wage slavery. But at a institute of higher education, that sort of behavior is the complete opposite of what is required of leadership. A president and her board of trustees should be reasonable people, leading by example, setting a tone by which others are encouraged and want to follow. Instead, this president and this board has appeared in the public eye as bullies and scolds. They have attacked both faculty and students by unnecessarily devaluing and demoralizing their employees, and by holding student financial aid hostage in a nasty game of politics. The Tea Party types that frequent these pages may see that as leadership. But it will only bring ruin to this university, this city, and this country. I fear for us all.

A teacher once said this: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

It is ironic that they strung up a teacher back then, too.

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5valleyred(1103 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

A 40 vote margin using the 2010 faculty numbers of 414 total faculty would equate to a 227-187 vote, or a 55%-45% margin.... Hardly substantial in my eyes.

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6YSU2(17 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry. Don't buy it. Anderson is no saint in the city. She used the kids as a pawn in this ugly game and it backed fired on her and her administration and now she crying the crocodile tears because she can't take the heat.

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7republicanRick(1700 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Tigerlilly always thinks management, and not her union hostage holders, should "act reasonable". Her union cohorts are always the good ones and their demands honorable and well earned.

Luckily her old, outdated thinking is gradually giving way to an enlightened and responsible way of doing business.

Tigerlilly, come out of the oppressed 1930's thinking and enjoy the new world that is dawning on you.

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8ytown1234(11 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations Bertram on such a well done article. We all know Bertram was not a fan of Dr. Anderson when she was hired, but he clearly understands that Dr. Anderson has led YSU for one year with a steady hand and is big enought to acknowledge that. Dr. Anderson is doing what so many said couldn't be done by an insider. It's just what YSU needs...

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9jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Bertram needs controversy. Once again he talks nonsense about two groups and stokes the fire of adversity between them so that he can maintain his employment. To the management of the Vindicator--I suggest considering a merger with the Warren newspaper, go regional, and reduce staff by eliminating his position. While you are at it, such a merger would be an excellent time to dump Will and Thomas.

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10WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

@YSU2, RustOnMyBelt, TigerLily

The vast majority of the public out here is very pleased at this outcome because it reflects truth, honesty, integrity, honor and traditional American values. The University did not make threats or intimidate or advance cry-baby stories to try to get sympathy or try to destroy the process because they weren't getting their way. The faculty did these things. And all of us out here in reality see that truth. It is self evident, like this:

If all the professors are so highly skilled writers, teachers and knowledge conveyors- if they are all so intellectually evolved and capable, then why can they not convince even a small group of people their worth without resorting to threats, intimidation and trying to drag the University to a halt?

See? The truth is self-evident. Thank you President Anderson, Board of Trustees and People of Ohio. Keep strong for SB5 and we will rid the State of these ridiculous union problems for good.


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11Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Why thank you William Swinger for speaking on behalf of the vast majority. And when did they elect you to do that?

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12Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

And likewise, to your statement about why highly skilled writers, teachers and knowledge conveyors could not convince a small group of people of their worth?

It's because that small group of people never had it in mind that they would listen. The board of trustees clearly had this planned many many months ago. perhaps a year or more ago even. It was evident in their talking points and by rote public relations. It was evident in their scolding and pompous public address.

They will be watched closely for a long time to come.

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13YSU2(17 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Billyswinger - Taking a page out of Kasich book and jamming a poor proposal down the faculty throats will not work. It will go down in flames just like SB5.

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14Citizensforjustice(13 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Bertram states: "By any measure, the contract talks with the faculty union have been her greatest challenge to date, and she has demonstrated that she will not be cowed by personal attacks or threats of a strike. Her salary and benefits have been the target of criticism and she has been confronted with the idea of “shared sacrifice.”

What personal attacks has she taken? A call for her to share in the sacrifice is a personal attack? Oh, booo hooo. She hasn't shown any leadership in this matter but she has been mean spirited throughout the process. She has just said I'll take my money, get the retirement benefit and make all the faculty pay for it. She has made no shared sacrifice, but she gets a newly renovated mansion from the Board as a gift at the student and faculty expense as a result of her toughness. Way to go!

And isn't it funny how quickly Bertram changes his tune...one week he's stating the faculty will reject the FF report and vote to strike and when that backfires and the faculty agree to accept the concessions Bertram is claiming that the faculty aren't for the students? The only group that has shown any concern for the students is the faculty as has not been demonstrated by the administration, or as Bertram states, Anderson (she is the administration).

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15300(573 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Were there really "tears of joy" when she was hired?

I have no connection to YSU, other than geographical, but I remember reading the CVs of the finalists. She was arguably the least qualified, and nowhere near the most. Her background is more consistent with a dean of a branch campus than it is with president of at a main campus.

Irrespective of how she's handled the faculty, I still can't believe that she was hired as president at YSU, especially considering that she's apparently never been anywhere else.

If YSU intends to be anything more than a commuter college, they should take their search committees seriously. It's not a local school system where the gym teacher becomes assistant principal, then principal, then superintendent. It's supposed to be a university.

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16dancinmoses(68 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Anderson could go down as the WORST president yet. Totally NOT qualified for the job, again, she's the puppet (needs a makeover) who is pulling the strings? Bd. of Trust., that's who, Scott S. When is the president going to give back? She's taking the money and running - thanks to the Kasick appointed trustees. And where is Harry on all of this? Quiet, why? Make the administration give back, they all got big raises and CONTINUE to get big raises while the rest of you give back and bow to them. Very disappointed that they didn't strike,but in the end the faculty DO care about the students, unlike the administration. There is NO family there like anderson is always claiming, 'we are a family'. Yeah, family alright, she's the wicked step-mother of this mess.....

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17grizzlyinohio(2 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

A more unprofessional commentary on union-administration negotiations, I have NEVER seen. This newspaper editors are clearly just a bunch of shills for the Kasich administration. To be sure, once SB 5 is repealed, YSU will shutdown. Make no mistake: the faculty ARE the university.

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18maeby12(9 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Bertram please retire soon or write a novel. Your penchant for fictionalizing is disgusting. Why do you think this is over? The faculty did what they had to do so students could recieve the money they needed. Period. BTW, you should have someone proof your column.

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19Westsider(269 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Fortunately or unfortunately - this is what President Anderson had to do. She is pulled in different directions. Since she came from faculty through administration - I am sure both constituencies thought they had a friend in Tod Hall. However, her responsibilities exceed allegiances to any group except the Board of Trustees who hired her. These are uncertain financial times. If we expect more people to earn college degrees - we cannot continually increase the amount the students and their families must pay to do so. We are teetering dangerously close to returning to the times when a college education was available only to the wealthy. With only a few thousands saved for retirement and healthcare premiums and co-pays that exceed one fourth of my annual income - I cannot afford to subsidize cadillac plans for anyone. Vote YES on SB 5!!

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20Citizensforjustice(13 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

A college education becomes less affordable because of the presidents and administrations of our colleges. These administrations squeeze out the faculty and staff and pile on the workload to them while they add new assistants and associates to their ranks. No one ever takes a pay cut or reduction of benefit in the administration. That's why we have the little guy known as the faculty and staff.

The state needs to appropriately tax the businesses to contribute to the educational institutions and put the "state" funding back in the meaning of the "state" universities. The tragedy is that businesses don't want to pay their fair share for society.

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21walter_sobchak(2634 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

300 has it correct in the above post. When Dr. Anderson was appointed and introduced at a news conference, the staff from YSU crowded the room and were giddy with excitement. You didn't have to be a brain surgeon to recognize that the staff thought it would be easy pickings since she was "one of them". No way did her C.V. match up against the other finalists for the experience for the job except in one area. But, the role of the college president has changed drastically over the last 30 years or so. The president's #1 job responsibility is to bring money into the facility. Both in pure donations and in research. Whether you like Pres. Sweet or not, he brought in the dough! And, since Dr. Anderson had good ties with community and business people, she was the perfect fit for the job, in that respect. I posted at the time that it would be very interesting to see what she would be like when the first union negotiation came about because it was obvious that the unions had had their way for the last decade or so. Well, she turned out to be a tough cookie and now the unionistas aren't quite giddy anymore

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22Valleyvoter(21 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I am not seeing this as quite the victory it may appear to the university. This in fact may be the faculty playing the best hand they have. As it stands, they are working under the terms of the old contract, which only has the 1.5% health co-pay. There is NO incentive for them to move to a concessionary contract. I think they will drag this out, negotiating just enough to keep them working under the old deal. Let's see how long it takes the administration to realize the union is stalling them.

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23davetionary(1 comment)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

This valley deserves so much better than this paper, to the extent that it's no longer ha-ha funny. Anytime hard-working and honest people are flogged by a smug guy like Bertram who can just sit back comfortably and watch the sparks fly, I cringe. But hey, its an opinion page. Nobody ever said it was a rational opinion page.

I'm not a fan of Bert's work or nauseating criticism at some of the finest people I know. Come on, now. This opinion skates by on a mostly insubstantial argument that amounts to this: "Faculty sympathy for their students' financial distress is false and a ploy."

That oozes cynicism. It's dishonest. I canceled my subscription earlier this month. There are many I know who are doing the same. Who knew that Bertram DeSouza would be the slayer to the Vindicator's dragon?

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24jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

note to Valleyvoter.....

the faculty union is holding out until the results for SB-5 are known....smart move on their part....if SB-5 is approved by the voters, the faculty can then settle with their current contract.....if SB-5 is defeated by the voters, the faculty can go on strike.....either way they gave themselves options to work with by approving and then withdrawing the decision to strike....antiunionists might do well to remember that union activity in a variety of ways built the USA and I include the union activity of the revolutionists against England....

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25jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


you, like most narrow minded antiunionists, missed the point...the central idea of any union is to organize for their best interests....at the time of the revolution, the best interests of the minority that provided the leadership pointed towards UNIONIZING the 13 colonies.....

you are not to bad on your reading, however, your level of comprehension leaves something to be desired....

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26jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


a union by any other name is a union....a shared interest in maintaining their position is the common denominator....

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27jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago


now you are making some progress in your understanding of "union...."

moving on to your question about YSU part timers are underpaid....

I know that many part-time faculty are given a fancy title--"adjunct faculty" and this--in my experience--is a code for underpaid....

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28Aptenodytes(8 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

Finally, someone asks a relevant question. The part time faculty at YSU aren't unionized. How many years (decades) since part time faculty received a 1 CENT raise???

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29AtownAugie(873 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

And the "Linkon-Russo Debacle" continues....

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30Aptenodytes(8 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

I must have failed to state the obvious. The reason part-time faculty have been underpaid is precisely because they don't have union representation. I don't think any appeals to the BOT will secure any "merit based" raises for even a penny! And I'm quite confident the same appeal to the governor would fall on deaf ears. The decades-long stagnant wages that characterize PT faculty compensation would be what all public employees would have to look forward to if SB5 passes.

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31chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 4 years, 9 months ago

The YSU OEA doesn't have the strength to weather a strike and executive committee knows it. All they can do is talk a good game. Russo calls the university administration liars, while his wife Linkon says they didn't strike for the kids. I contend that if the OEA went out on strike last Friday, its members would have lost more money that the $10,000, including inflation, Russo stated and the students would have changed their allegiance in a heartbeat.

A mere publicity stunt by the OEA who is more concerned with its own pocketbook and the union prinicples arguably being threatened by SB5.

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