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YSU starts new year in state of flux



Published: Sun, August 11, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


As he settles into the office of president of Youngstown State University in Tod Hall, Dr. Randy Dunn may find truth in these words of wisdom: “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.”

Dunn wished to succeed Dr. Cynthia Anderson as head of the urban, open-admission public university, and his wish came true when the board of trustees offered him a three-year contract, starting July 15. He’s being paid $375,000 and will receive increases in the second and third years. Prior to coming to Youngstown State, Dunn was president of Murray State University in Kentucky for almost seven years. He previously was superintendent of education for the state of Illinois.

Although he has been on campus for about a month, next week’s start of the 2013-14 academic year promises to be his baptism by fire.

Bitter truth

For starters, the president will have to chart a course that takes into consideration this bitter truth: The decline in enrollment that began in the fall of 2011 is continuing and shows no sign of ending. That means the university’s operating budget will keep shrinking for the foreseeable future.

The enrollment trend line tells the story: 15,194 students in the fall of 2010; 14,541 in 2011; 13,813 in the fall of 2012; 12,966 in the spring 2013 semester.

This fall, there could be more than 500 fewer students on campus compared with a year ago. That’s a huge chunk of money lost.

Earlier this year, the board of trustees voted to raise tuition by 2.43 percent for Ohio residents, 2.74 percent for nonresident undergraduate students who live in the region, and 1.69 percent for nonresident undergrads.

Resident graduate students are shelling out 3 percent more, while nonresidents who live in the region are paying 3.23 percent more.

But if the trustees think they can continue picking students’ pockets to make up for the loss of state funding and tuition income due to the enrollment decline, they have another thing coming.

Word out of Columbus is that tuition increases have been capped at 2 percent.

That certainly isn’t good news for YSU, which will be losing even more money from the state as a result of the new funding formula for Ohio’s public universities and colleges.

Indeed, the news gets worse. Before the state’s biennium budget was passed by Republicans in the General Assembly and signed into law by Republican Gov. John Kasich, university officials were anticipating a bump in state funding in the second year of the two-year budget.

Now, there are rumblings that YSU could get less money than it would have under the old funding formula.

That’s some of what Dr. Dunn faces as he begins his presidency.

But before he can sit back and take stock of the university’s dwindling fortunes, he will have to deal with another issue that has the potential of causing great upheaval on campus.

Tension

Contract negotiations with the faculty union will be tense given that the current pact was not employee friendly. The three-year labor agreement contained no pay raises for 2011-12 and 2012-13, and a 2 percent raise for 2013-14.

Oldtimers contend it was the first time in at least 40 years that faculty did not receive an increase in the first year of a contract.

It is also noteworthy that it was Dr. Anderson, named president because of her long association with YSU as a member of the faculty and staff, who forced the unions to accept pay freezes for the first two years.

She quickly became persona non grata among many faculty members.

The new president has inherited this ill will toward the university. He won’t have the luxury of a honeymoon with union leaders.

That may be a blessing because he is going to have to deliver the bad news early: There’s no money for a pay raise in the first year of the contract, and the second and third years will be lean.

Dunn was involved in contract negotiations during his tenure as superintendent of education in Illinois. Perhaps he learned a thing or two that could be applied to the talks with the faculty union.

The board of trustees will be hard pressed to agree to any pay raises in light of the fact that tuition has been increased five years in a row.

President Dunn will soon be put to the test.


Comments

1valleypolitics(88 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

How many times can you write the same column? And for as many times as you have, nothing has changed.

Someone new might write about the Port Authority losing an opportunity to bring hundreds of new high tech jobs to the area. (Heads should be rolling over this complete F___ Up over there.)

That has relevance to your story Bert, do you understand why? Those people, with those new jobs, could have afforded to send their kids to YSU.

The staff at YSU is not the problem, you sir not understanding the real issues, and not exposing the dolts running things around here (not just the Oakhill crowd), have caused this Valley more harm than good.

With as many times as you regurgitate the same stories over and over, why does the Vindicator keep you on?

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2chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

I have often wondered why Dr. Anderson left after only 3 years as President. The faculty's childish attitude toward her makes perfect sense. Thanks for the insight Bertram.

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3Seriouslee(108 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Ugh. Here we go again. Just in time for negotiations, the same Ol' DeSouza line. The new funding formula is not a secret nor a surprise, so why didn't leadership prepare for it? How could they have been expecting a "bump" from the formula? Instead of always blaming those awful greedy employees for the university's woes, try finding out: a.) Do these woes actually exist and what really caused them? b.) How is it that YSU goes from balancing the budget to a big shortfall just in time for negotiations? Note three new executive positions created in the past six months with average $140K salaries, athletic fields constructed without all of the funding in place, a generally incompetent BOT. And on what basis do we get that Dr. A had a terrible time with faculty?

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4papa1(677 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

every time students turn around at ysu they're being hit with increases in tuition. yes, it happens everywhere. but all things being equal where would a young person rather go to college, ysu or ohio state? this is a crisis in America. in essence students graduate from college with essentially what amounts to a thirty year mortgage. it's insane.

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5DwightK(1266 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Raising tuition at YSU will just drive students away. They'll choose other schools, other fields or attend trade schools. If faculty members need a raise they can always find part time work during the breaks. That's what everyone else does when they need more money and have spare time.

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6Spiderlegs(141 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

The half truths in this editorial are amazing and even irresponsible. We have all known for some time that YSU is affected by demographic declines in the Valley, and he once again fails to mention that YSU remains the lowest priced comprehensive university in Ohio. The $70 million investment in the 3-D printing initiative and Siemens' $440 million in-kind grant suggest some key people foresee a different outcome for YSU than the one prophesied here. I guess it depends on whether you see the glass half empty or half full. Those looking to the future of YSU take note: You don't want Bertram on any of your advisory committees--he just doesn't get it.

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7Jgb20(4 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

YSU's tuition is pretty similar to OSU's actually. The big noticeable difference is in living expenses on campus.

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8Jgb20(4 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

This article says changing demographics will lead to lower enrollment in Ohio schools. This doesn't explain the rapid decline for YSU, but it is something to keep in mind while planning for the future.

http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2...

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9kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

What I would be interested in knowing is how YSU's enrollment stats the last several years (declines) compare with those of Kent State Trumbull?

It seems to me, comparing the two, Kent has a number of advantages over YSU: Number One: Safer Campus- When was the last time you heard of a mugging or murder in Cortland? Number Two: Convenient Parking. No having to worry about parking decks, permits, etc. All open- park wherever you like.

Of course, it's possible that Y.S.U may offer more than the Trumbull Campus. I suppose it depends on your major. But I know, if I, as a parent, were looking to find a University for my son or daughter- I would pick Kent anytime because of the safety factor. The YSU campus has had several highly publicized shootings the last several years one of them resulting in the death of a Black student. Everytime something like that happens- it has a depressing effect on enrollment stats- people get scared away.

Also, comparing YSU to the main Kent Campus (only 40 minutes away)- when was the last time there was any highly publicized gun play in Kent? Seems to me it was May 4th, 1970 (44 years ago) with the death of four student demonstrators at the hands of the National Guard- and, of course, in one sense, their killing was not unprovoked- throwing rocks at armed soldiers has never seemed a wise policy to me (as the Middle East illustrates almost daily). It's not as if they were shot at a party or walking from a parking deck to class by a street thug.

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10kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

What I would be interested in knowing is how YSU's enrollment stats the last several years (declines) compare with those of Kent State Trumbull?

It seems to me, comparing the two, Kent has a number of advantages over YSU: Number One: Safer Campus- When was the last time you heard of a mugging or murder in Champion? Number Two: Convenient Parking. No having to worry about parking decks, permits, etc. All open- park wherever you like.

Of course, it's possible that Y.S.U may offer more than the Trumbull Campus. I suppose it depends on your major. But I know, if I, as a parent, were looking to find a University for my son or daughter- I would pick Kent anytime because of the safety factor. The YSU campus has had several highly publicized shootings the last several years one of them resulting in the death of a Black student. Everytime something like that happens- it has a depressing effect on enrollment stats- people get scared away.

Also, comparing YSU to the main Kent Campus (only 40 minutes away)- when was the last time there was any highly publicized gun play in Kent? Seems to me it was May 4th, 1970 (44 years ago) with the death of four student demonstrators at the hands of the National Guard- and, of course, in one sense, their killing was not unprovoked- throwing rocks at armed soldiers has never seemed a wise policy to me (as the Middle East illustrates almost daily). It's not as if they were shot at a party or walking from a parking deck to class by a street thug.

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11kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Posted twice by mistake- 2nd is correct.

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12kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Re: Comment One: "You, sir (referring to B.D.) have caused this Valley more harm than good".

You, sir, (referring to V. P.) assign more power to Bert de Souza than he actually has. He writes a Newspaper Column! That's all. The real problem in the Mahoning Valley lies in the fact that a single organization- The Democrat Machine- monopolizes most of the power- and who's to blame for that?

Answer: Not Bert de Souza or the Vindicator, but The Voters- We Idiots in the Polling Booths who mindlessly vote for the same corrupt Morons (the Davey Betras Gang) year in and year out. We're getting exactly what we deserve.

P.S. As far as the fiscal troubles at Y.S.U.- many of them are attributable to the "Gang" in charge up there- the Unions- whose understanding of fiscal reality (declining enrollment) is about as astute as an inchworms.

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13kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Y.S.U. doesn't exist in a cocoon hermetically sealed from the rest of Youngstown. Any type of crime that happens on the North Side close to the University is going to effect the way people see the University- Good or Bad place to go to school or send one's children- and, for that matter, the overall perception of Youngstown matters greatly. Youngstown, we shouldn't forget, has a Crime Index twice the national average and people are going to think of that when making higher education choices- of deciding for or against YOUNGSTOWN State University.

By the way, I guess my geography is bad, but I always thought Wick Park was directly adjacent to Y.S.U.-not "far off campus"- as suggested by someone on this thread.

Also, I spent a little time re-reading the 400 or so posts I've made over the past year- I went over them carefully- with a fine tooth comb- and...They Smell Just Fine.

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14kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Talking about "stench"- the worst stench- coming from fabricated or distorted news coverage- occurred when NBC News (sic) (parent company to the Vindy's own WFMJ) came out with the "edited"- if you want to call it that- Zimmerman 911 Tape in which they left out the Dispatchers question (Was he white, black or Hispanic?) and just had Zimmerman saying "He's Black" (after he had just finished saying: "It looks like he's up to no good.")

Later, when Fox News held their feet to the fire, NBC apologized and said: "It was just a mistake."

Yeah, right! That's exactly the kind of Left Wing Bias and Baloney that makes Conservatives want to throw up. Stench! Good word.

P.S. Whenever I watch mainstream media- especially MS-NBC- I always have a plastic bucket next to me- in case I have to throw up. Stench! Good word- really applies...

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15mrosem14(4 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

... Police in riot gear had to come to Kent to shut down a block party because underage students were throwing things at the police, fighting, rioting, and catching stuff on fire in the street not even 2 years ago. Kent also (like many campuses, I'll concede, and they've worked hard to provide support to victims) has a sexual assault issue, especially assaults related to partying.

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16kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Granted, any large University (or even a smaller private College) is going to have some of the issues you bring up- especially when testosterone gets mixed with alcohol (I wonder what the stats are for dry institutes of higher learning like Grove City and, I believe, Westminster? Would be interesting to compare?)

Many of these kids are away from parental control and a supervised High School setting for the first time and they "cut loose". Very understandable- though not condonable.

The point I was trying to make in my post was that criminal activity on the North Side- and anywhere in Youngstown- drive by's, drug related killings, muggings, burglaries etc.- are going to impact on the way Youngstown State University is perceived. And Youngstown, is perceived as a violent dangerous place in a way that Kent- or for that matter- Akron, isn't. (Closest parallel might be a place like Cleveland State which, I'm not sure, but may be in a pretty rough part of that city).

I don't live in the City of Youngstown, but, like most of us, I drink water supplied by that city, and the quality of life for everyone in the region is affected by what takes place in that city. One major example: spill-over Crime from the South Side into Boardman is becoming an increasingly serious problem.

Youngstown is the County Seat which, for better or worse, has an enormous impact on the quality of life for everyone in the Region- including University students on the Y.S.U. campus. There's an Elephant in all those Suburban Living Rooms out there that nobody want's to acknowledge- it's called Youngstown, Ohio.

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17OHIO462(1 comment)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

@Kurtw, Definitely right that the crime around the Youngstown area has a negative impact on YSU. For such a small city, Youngstown has a crime rate that is out of control. Personally, that would definitely factor into my decision.

Kent is a rural campus so there isn't much opportunity for crime, but there is a lot of on-campus crime with students (sexual assualt, unruly students partying, etc). Every campus has it. Akron and Cleveland State are nowhere near being paralell to YSU's situation. Especially Cleveland State, considering the campus is brand new, the surrounding neighborhood is not as bad as YSU's North Side and is actually improving (filled with Tri-C and St. Vincent's) and not to mention it's located in a booming Downtown. CSU's enrollment is actually hitting record high numbers, the academic statistics of the school have boosted greatly, and students are being shut-out of on-campus housing because they cannot get the new housing up fast enough for the demand. YSU needs to figure out how CSU is doing it and construct a model of their own that is tailored to Youngstown. It just isn't attractive to students from outside of the Valley.

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18handymandave(518 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

Keep raising the tuition that should encourage enrollment. Oh and the fact that you aren't getting a job anytime soon with that degree should also help enrollment.

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19OhReally1(4 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

As a former, and current YSU student, I can tell you exactly why I've taken breaks from my education there, tried other schools, and ultimately ended up back at YSU. I'm sure some of these reasons are why enrollment is down.
1. The advisement in my major is terrible. I was advised to take classes I did not even need, this happened more than once because the classes I needed weren't offered that semester, so let's just stick a student in a class even though her elective credit requirements are fulfilled already. Then I had to drop the classes, which affected my completion rate, which affects my ability to receive funding. Also, putting me on academic probation for completion put me in a position where the same advisor was required to make and authorize my schedule for the following semester and did the EXACT SAME THING. Good riddance, Break time.

2. I transfered to OSU but the class sizes were much larger than I thought they would be and I decided I did prefer YSU's class sizes and campus size.

3. Fast forward to debating on how to finish my education and what I started. I felt increasing anxiety when making the decision whether or not to continue my education at YSU. And here I am, back at YSU this semester as a part time student because now that I am done with GER classes, I am in my core curriculum for my major, yet not all of the courses are offered every semester. So, I am forced to wait until next semester to have a full time schedule because the classes I need are not even offered right now. I'm sure this type of situation is partly responsible for the decreasing enrollment. Why should I have to wait to finish my degree because the class I need is only offered once a year, at one time. Who is to say there won't be a scheduling conflict next semester with that class, and another? Which means I will have to wait ANOTHER semester to take the class! Which now has delayed my education an entire year because even though tuition keeps increasing, they still can't afford to offer an upper division class more than once per year. As a student this is truly my biggest issue with YSU. We don't need more food places or a smoothie stand. We need CLASSES available more than once a year. Surely that should be able to be fit into the budget somewhere, isn't that what school is all about anyway? HAHA

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20kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

I didn't know that about Cleveland State, actually in better shape than Y.S.U.

Y.S.U. is being dragged down by its surroundings. As I said, Youngstown, Ohio. is the Elephant in the Living Room that nobody wants to acknowledge.

Poor Randy Dunn, I was just about to say I felt sorry for him taking on a thankless job, then I remembered he was pulling in 400 G's plus perks to fail. I fail all the time and I don't make that kind of money- nowhere near. What I have to do is go out and learn to fail more lucratively- maybe I should become a Teacher!

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21kurtw(876 comments)posted 1 year, 2 months ago

OhReally's comment is very revealing- gives you some idea of the obstacles students can face furthering their education. Problems of that kind may relate to declining enrollment.

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