Anderson: Colleague's death reinforced decision to retire

By Denise Dick


Youngstown State University President Cynthia E. Anderson isn’t concerned that as the first woman and first alumna appointed to the post she also served the shortest term.

“I doesn’t concern me in the least,” she said. “I don’t consider my term just three years at YSU.”

When she was hired at the university in 1979 after teaching about five years at Westerville South High School near Columbus, Anderson knew she wanted to build her career and retire from the university.

Anderson, who grew up in Fowler Township, became YSU’s seventh president in July 2010 and will retire June 30, giving her three years at the university helm. Seven years is the average for university presidents nationally.

“I was not an individual who was going to use the job to enhance my career,” Anderson, 62, said.

The YSU presidency wasn’t a stepping- stone for her to move on to another institution.

She said that when she was appointed, she knew and communicated with the board of trustees that she would be in the position until either 2013 or 2015.

Though the changes thus far in the state retirement system won’t affect her, she worries about the uncertainty, the changes yet to come.

The death of close friend, Phil Ginnetti, last June also helped move her to retire after three rather than five years. Ginnetti, who had served as YSU’s dean of the Beeghly College of Education, left YSU in 2010 to become provost at Edinboro University.

“I had spoken to this wonderful man a few hours before he died,” she said.

In preparing to deliver his eulogy, ––Anderson began to think about time. Ginnetti was a year younger than Anderson.

She decided she wanted to do something else while she had the energy and her health.

After she leaves office, Anderson likely will remain active in community organizations until she and her husband move to Nevada full time. That likely will be within a year, Anderson said. The couple owns a home there.

She may look for a position in higher education there, perhaps something part time.

Though her tenure was short, the president says she’s proud of what she and her cabinet were able to accomplish.

“It’s not about the length of time, but what’s done in that length of time,” Anderson said.

She pointed to a strategic plan to guide the university into 2020, a budgeting process that rewards departments or colleges launching new initiatives, implementing an online and distance learning program, renovating academic buildings and beginning to build a veterans’ center as some of those accomplishments.

The labor negotiations in 2011, while contentious at times, didn’t factor into her retirement decision, Anderson said.

She said she remains on good terms with people involved.

Anderson has worked as an instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor at YSU. In 1995, she was appointed vice president for student affairs, a position she kept until becoming president.

She hopes whomever is named to the post after her remains accessible both to the campus and to the community and keeps students the university’s focus.

“If I had to do it all over again, I absolutely would do it,” Anderson said.

The only thing she would do differently is going out on campus more often to find out what’s going on, and on what people are working.

“Since 1979, what could I possibly have to complain about in my career?” she said.

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