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What sacrifice at YSU?



Published: Sun, October 30, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


The Youngstown State University business-size envelope was addressed (handwritten) thusly:

Youngstown Vindicator

Attn: Betrum (Editorial)

Vindicator Square

Youngstown OH 44502

No, it wasn’t the misspelling of the name that prompted a double-take, but rather, the absence of the sender’s name.

Indeed, even the contents of the envelope were puzzling — at first glance: A copy of the Oct. 20 edition of The Jambar, the student newspaper — with no note attached.

On further examination, however, it became clear that the front-page graphic with the headline, “Administrative and Faculty Salaries by College,” was meant to convey the sender’s sentiments. He or she wanted this writer to take note of the fact that the top brass at YSU are living even higher off the hog (paid for by the taxpayers) than the faculty, who have come under harsh criticism in this space for the salaries and benefits they pocket.

What’s disappointing is that the individual who sent the copy of the newspaper could not have anticipated this writer’s reaction to YSU President Cynthia Anderson’s latest initiative in dealing with a projected $7 million budget deficit.

Anderson, who has been at the helm since July 2010, announced recently that she and her Cabinet were each taking six furlough days this year, and that she wanted other supervisory employees to do the same. This was reported on the front page of the Oct. 21 edition of The Vindicator.

“We are now asking all 220 professional/administrative exempt employees to follow our lead and to voluntarily make a similar sacrifice,” the president wrote in a memo to employees.

Sacrifice?

Two words in the memo made today’s column a no-brainer: voluntarily and sacrifice. Against the backdrop of an anticipated $7 million budget deficit and a bleak prospect of state funding for higher education remaining at its current level, Anderson should have brought the hammer down.

First, she should have imposed an across-the-board cut of at least 20 percent in salaries of all the employees who aren’t covered by contracts. (Why 20 percent? Because it has a nice ring to it.) Then, she should have sent a letter to all the unions on campus, including those representing the faculty and classified employees that just signed three-year pacts, to let them know what she and members of her cabinet are doing to deal with the budget crisis.

Although faculty members insist that they are sacrificing mightily under the new contract, the reality (from a private sector standpoint) is that they’re still faring much better than the poor souls who are paying the tab.

In the third year of the contract, these put-upon public employees will receive a 2 percent pay raise. Can any of them spell “R-E-C-E-S-S-I-O-N”?

This should have been the year of givebacks, in addition to concessions. Everyone on campus, from the president on down, should have given back a significant portion of their salaries and benefits because most of the operating budget is gobbled up by employee costs.

Rising costs

The Sept. 25 column in this space headlined, “Higher ed at what cost?”, laid out the challenges students and parents are facing with the ever-increasing price tag for attending college.

Here’s what the Jambar salary graphic showed for top brass:

President — Anderson, 349,999.92.

Cabinet members — Ikram Khawaja, $184,278.96; Jack Fahey, $139,999.99; Holly Jacobs, $135,672. 96; Ron Strollo, $131,766; Mike Hrishenko, $116,248.08; Yulanda McCarty-Harris, $95,562.96; Shannon Tirone, $94,999.92.

Deans — Martin Abraham, $179,451.12; Betty Jo Licata, $170,924.88; Bryan DePoy, $142,458.96; Shearle Furnish, $143,872.08; Joseph Mosca, $142,458.96; Mary Lou Dipillo, $133,999.92;

The student newspaper also gave the average faculty salaries by college: $108,153.39 for Beeghly College of Education; $84,867.03 for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; $81,903.08, Bitonte College of Health and Human Sciences; $81,667.16, Williamson College of Business Administration; $81,647.66 for College of Fine and Performing Arts; and, $80,658.67 for College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

No, the folks on the hill aren’t going to starve if they have to give up 20 percent of their annual salaries.


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