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Anderson: YSU is adjusting to ‘the new normal’

Published: Tue, August 21, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.



By Denise Dick



The last time President Cynthia E. Anderson delivered a State of the University address, Youngstown State University was poised for a semester of record enrollment.

Two years later, YSU is bracing for a second- consecutive year of declining enrollment and the drop in revenue that comes with it.

That couples with reductions in state funding.

“Today, with that state support significantly reduced, enrollment becomes vital to an institution’s budget health,” Anderson told the crowd Monday of student, faculty, staff and administrators in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center. “And adding to that challenge is the fact that enrollment in higher education, as we all know, can be quite volatile, very cyclical and impacted mostly by factors outside the control of any particular university or college.”

Universities are expected to generate more of their own resources and Anderson called that “the new normal.”

There isn’t a single reason enrollment drops or rises, she said, but since 2008, the number of graduating high-school students in YSU’s primary recruitment area has decreased 10 percent. That trend is expected to continue for two or three more years.

“The local economy, especially for individuals without college degrees, appears to be improving,” the YSU president said.

Some of that is attributable to the emerging shale industry.

“Many individuals are seeking training for jobs — as opposed to education — and I want to emphasize that Youngstown State University is in the business of education — not training, and unless someone directs me otherwise, we will not be changing from that mission,” Anderson said, eliciting applause from the audience.

Many people are seeking training for jobs in the shale industry. “The result is a significant decline in adult learners seeking higher education at YSU and elsewhere,” she said.

To combat the enrollment drop, YSU has expanded its marketing and advertising budget and implemented a program designed to identify and help students who are at risk academically, Anderson said.

YSU also must find ways to partner rather than compete with Eastern Gateway Community College and distinguish the mission of the two institutions, she said.

Classes started Monday at EGCC’s Valley Center in the Plaza Building downtown.

“We are aware of the importance of enrollment, and we are taking steps to address that challenge,” the YSU president said. “Bottom line, our enrollment will be down, and we will have a loss of revenue due to that enrollment drop.”

She believes, however, that it’s a temporary decline.

To deal with lower revenue, the university hasn’t filled more than 100 jobs left vacant through retirements. Tuition was raised this year, and employee contracts include no pay increases this year. Anderson, in fact, did not give a university address in 2011 because of protracted labor talks.

“So budgetary challenges still remain, and we will likely have to take some very difficult steps to address our challenges,” Anderson said.

Amid the challenges, though, YSU continues to move forward, she said.

Last week, a $70 million project was announced of a National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute which involves YSU and is expected to create and restore manufacturing jobs in the Mahoning Valley.

Last year, the university added five new degree programs, saw its Williamson College Business Administration named an Ohio Center of Excellence in Cultural and Societal Transformation, the Natural Gas and Water Resources Institute was established and the YSU Research Foundation was created.


1getitright13(12 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Knightcap - YSU has the lowest tuition of any four year state institution in Ohio including fees.

The Cost of books is not determined by the university it's determined by the publishers and students in 2012 are offered several alternatives other than buying them. They can rent, buy, get them out of the library, borrow, etc.

Extra Credit card fees are also pretty standard across the board with almost everywhere now-a-days as well, it's just that some places choose to hide it while others do not. You go out to eat, you're paying an extra fee, and if you're not, your server is paying for it out of their tips for that credit card you used. Things like this are pretty standard practice.

YSU's curriculum is pretty streamlined in the degree process and to remain accredited by a regional accrediting body, which is what makes ANY degree from any reputable institution of higher education worth anything the classes student's are taking, yes, ALL of the classes they are taking are required by someone much higher up the chain than YSU, the State of Ohio, or the Federal Government.

The reason anyone takes longer than 4 years to graduate is because they came in from high school with bad test scores or low grades and had to take remedial courses or because they spent their time in college not focused, not going to class, and doing poorly. That is not the institution's fault - it's the students and shame one anyone who blames a school because someone failed. They chose not to learn and failed on their own. Finding a tutor, a study group, and some hard work and dedication allows anyone to graduate in four years.

Money that is ear-marked for certain things, such as renovations, building additions, etc. cannot be moved into other budgets simply because someone feels like it's necessary. YSU is not the only state university in Ohio that is struggling. They all are. Do some research into how the operation of Higher Education works and make an educated statement rather than spouting out ideas that have no bearing on what is actually happening.

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2rex(65 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

When enrollment was up, YSU employees all got bonuses. Now that enrollment is down a similar percentage I assume the employees will be willing to take a comparable pay cut.

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3DwightK(1537 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

If it's true that the university is spending 4 million dollars to renovate a property they should have their heads examined.

I thought smart people worked there.

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4rex(65 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

gdog4766 - Where can I get copies of those contracts showing pay cuts?

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5getitright13(12 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

That $4 Million everyone keeps talking about that the University should have used elsewhere was from a grant. You don't just get to spend grant money however you want to or please. DO SOME RESEARCH.

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6getitright13(12 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

buckeyeinstitute.org lists salaries for all state employees, Rex. It's not a cut in their salary specifically. The employees did not take raises, and are now paying for health care and other benefits that they did not pay for before. So their salaries stayed the same, and now they pay for fringe benefits that they didn't pay for before. This was all public knowledge and published in the newspapers over the course of the last year when it all happened.

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7rex(65 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

When enrollment was up, there were bonuses. There should comparable pay cut when enrollment is down. It is only right.

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8southsidedave(5199 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Although education is a non-profit entity, the industry still faces the same problems as for-profit companies.

Education is under fire due to Federal and State budget decreases coupled with declining enrollments; you do the math.

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9GeorgeSands(16 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Tuition is up, but book costs break the bank. I don't know why students and universities put up with ithese outrageous fees. For example, I paid $140 for a used text. That is highway robbery. In fact, I spent over 530 for books, and that doesn't include the book for my writing class.

Tuition charges ought to include online textbooks which would be made available when students register for classes. Universites would have to buy licences for these textbooks. The price of the text, because it is paperless, ought to be considerably lower and therefore more affordable for students.

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10mrblue(1175 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Some very good points (for and against) have been raised. I still say that higher education is too expensive. Too many fees erode a students ability to pay. Most likely another tuition increase is on the way.

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11Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree that the books are a rip off and always have been and that doesn't make it right. I also agree that there are too many courses that do not apply to a major. Gym classes at a college level for someone majoring in say accounting? There are online schools that don't stick it to you as bad with all the classes. Oh and the grant money issue used for renovations ETC. Where do you suppose that money comes form? Some grants are collected through taxes and redistributed in the form of a grant.

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