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YSU faces uncertain future

Published: Sun, February 10, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

If there was any doubt about the importance of selecting just the right person to succeed Dr. Cynthia Anderson as president of Youngstown State University, two developments last week framed the significance of the search. Anderson has announced she will retire July 1.

First, YSU experienced another decrease in enrollment — a 5.3 percent drop this spring semester compared with spring 2012. Given that the student population has been trending downwards for the past several semesters, a turnabout isn’t expected any time soon.

Second, Gov. John Kasich’s proposed higher education budget does not bode well for Youngstown State. Kasich has eliminated the historical set asides that greatly benefitted open admission, urban institutions like YSU.

Instead, the governor is emphasizing performance.

For instance, 50 percent of the allocation for Ohio’s public universities is dedicated to degree completion. State dollars will be awarded according to the number of students who actually complete a degree. The governor is also for pushing bachelor’s degrees to be earned in four years, instead of the current six-year average.

Small increases

Kasich’s budget includes total general revenue fund appropriations of over $2.3 billion in each fiscal year for higher education. The State Share of Instruction (SSI), which is the primary line item in the Board of Regents’ budget that provides operating support to the public institutions of higher education, increases by $33 million (1.9 percent) in fiscal year 2014, to $1.78 billion, and by $34 million (1.9 percent) in FY 2015, to $1.82 billion.

“The SSI appropriation increase is in recognition of the meaningful work accomplished by the university community in making Ohio a national leader in performance-based higher education funding,” Tom Keen, director of the Office of Budget and Management, said in his testimony before the House Finance Committee.

But the bad news for Youngstown State has to do with the Kasich administration’s view that higher education in Ohio should be affordable for students and families.

The proposed higher-ed budget limits in-state, undergraduate tuition and general fee increases to no more than 2 percent over what the institution charged in the previous academic year, or 2 percent of the statewide average cost — whichever is greater.

Why is that bad news? Because with the continuing decrease in enrollment, YSU, which already is confronting fiscal challenges, will be losing tuition revenue. In the past, it was able to make up the shortfall by raising tuition and fees by at least 3 percent a year. It did so for the past four years.

But with the new restrictions in the governor’s budget, the board of trustees will have to take a hard look at employee costs, the major expense in its operating budget.

Contract talks with the two major bargaining units on campus, one representing the faculty and the other the classified employees, will occur next year. The faculty, in particular, will be demanding a pay raise in light of the concessions the union made in the current contract.

Thus, the importance of the presidential search.

YSU needs an individual who can earn the respect and trust of the teaching staff. Although Anderson was homegrown — she came up through the ranks at YSU — labor negotiations were contentious. Her successor must be a person who understands the mentality of the higher education community — which is quite different from the rest of the world.

YSU does not need someone in the twilight of his or her career.


It has been suggested that trustees not rush to judgment and, instead, take their time finding an individual with strong academic credentials. The next president must not only have the support of the university community, but must be able to articulate a vision for YSU.

Four months does not seem to be long enough for a thorough search.

The board of trustees should ask Anderson to stay on as interim president after July 1 to ensure continuity and avoid disruptions in the university’s operation.

Given her publicly expressed affection for YSU, there’s no doubt the president would be willing to postpone her departure until her successor is found.


1Letstryagain(201 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The next President of YSU will not have the support of the YSU community. He or She will need to earn the support of the YSU community. Everyone will find something they don't llike about the new President, but his efforts will allow him/her to overcome the objection.

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2Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

They will simply hire another talking head like they did when they hired Anderson, their puppet. No amount of time given to them to search will achieve any other result besides the one the trustees already have decided on. YSU administration is good at putting on shows like this.

As for you, DeSouza, what exactly do you mean when you make generalized statements about college faculty seeing things differently from the rest of the world? I mean, really. Let your biases and prejudices fly openly any more than you already do, and people will start to think you have some kind of an agenda. hahahaha

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3Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Also, here's a clue on how YSU can still make up budget shortfall. YSU is still the cheapest school in the state. If they raise their tuition 2 per cent of the average statewide cost, they will probably have a surplus. Doh!

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4kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The problem with places like YSU is that they are in the business of "shipping coals to New Castle". We don't need more college graduates- we already have enough people with sheepskins who can't find work.

What we need is better vocational training. There is a huge shortage of qualified people in the skilled trades. Companies all across the country report they can't find machinists, welders, pipe fitters, etc. to meet the current (and growing) demand.

Bertram is absolutely correct in his statement: "the mentality of the higher education community is...quite different from the rest of the world". People in the "Groves of Academe" typically are elitists. Their view is that a rounded education consists of exposing their students to something called "culture" i.e. events that took place in ancient Greece 25 Centuries ago.

It's nice to know those kinds of things but with the proliferation of knowledge today(much of it free) there's no need for anyone to pay for it at a public University.

What students want, more than anything, are Life Skills, skills that will enable them to go out and make a living. And, in that department, places like YSU suffer a competitive disadvantage to Community Colleges, Technical Institutes, etc. that can give people a viable skill in just a year or two.

P.S. Talking about access to "higher culture" being freely available, I just watched a fascinating documentary on PBS about ancient Egyptian Chariot Building, last night I saw a BBC presentation about Shakespeare. Also, I can go online, and get all the information I want for the cost of a broadband connection. The bottom line: I can satisfy my intellectual curiosity to my hearts content and I don't have to sponsor a bow-tied elite to do so.

But, if I want to learn how to weld two pieces of metal together, or how to maintain a steam boiler- I can't do that on my own- I need a trained instructors to show me.

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5Spiderlegs(160 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Let's keep in mind that these days state funds are only about 20% of YSU revenues. (I don't know the exact number.) Tigerlily is also correct: Bertram has never recognized that YSU is one of the cheapest four-year degrees in Ohio, and if this article is accurate, YSU would not be bound by the 2% cap. I think the real issue here is regional campuses like KSU-Trumbull. The regional subsidy has been taken away, and these schools have to stand on their own merit now rather than hid under the skirts of their main campuses. However, I question the governor's efforts to reduce graduation from six to four years. This effort really hurts places like YSU, which has a large part-time commuter population. We need to quit thinking that all college students are like those at OSU and Kent.

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6kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

For: tigerlilly
Re: "YSU administration is good at putting on shows..."

That's right they are. I call it a "Dog and Pony Show", the whole elaborate search for exactly the "right" candidate to head Y.S.U.

Nobody, unless you find a miracle worker, is going to reverse the downward trend in enrollment because that trend is based on economic reality- supply and demand, the factors I bring up in my post.

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7Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Oddly enough kurtw, there are a number of articles you can find online right now, just by googling (as you mentioned) that will inform you that the majority of employers these days are looking for highly analytical employees who majored in things like the humanities. All that "culture" stuff you mention. You don't get that from vocational training. You have stated assumptions that only pertain to this region. Many students want to leave this region. That means we need to make an education in things other than vocational training available to them.

The rest can weld and stay around here if they want to, though I'm not sure why they'd want to, when the only jobs available are for manual labor at the wages of a slave.

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8kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago


When I said that "companies across the country report they can't find machinists, welders, pipe-fitters, etc", I obviously included the Mahoning Valley. Those kinds of jobs- which pay very well (hardly a slave wage as you say) will only continue to grow as the Shale Gas Industry expands.

Your comment betrays the denigration of "manual labor" typical of the educated elite. There needs to be, in my view, a joining of the two realms- the intellectual and the manual. Welding, which you disparage, is actually a highly skilled (and well paid) occupation, as is a machinist, and pipe-fitter. An industrial society such as ours couldn't survive without people possessing these skills and denigrating and belittling the people practicing them isn't helpful.

P.S. I may be wrong in this- not having a College Education- but isn't the expression "the wages of a slave" contradictory (oxymoronic), since slaves, by definition, are unpaid?

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9DontBanThisDrone(925 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, that's like saying: "Everyone's Unique"


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10Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Oh the shale industry? You mean the industry that's poisoning our water as we speak and nothing's being done about it? Well, yeah, good jobs there. Real good.

There's a term called "wage slavery". Google it, since you seem to think you can learn everything a person needs to know by googling.

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11Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

Also, I have a family member who is a welder. He's a fine person. I just think you yourself are upholding manual labor jobs as the answer. The true answer isn't any one thing. You disparage college educated people as elitist, but you sir, make the manual labor positions seem just as elitist in the sense of giving them more importance than a broad education beyond a technical skill set.

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12VINDYAK(1824 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The Big Picture ... this is not just a YSU problem, it is a National problem. As we once heard so famously before ... its the economy, stupid!

We have too many students coming out of college looking for work that simply is not there. They resort to finding work in retail, which pays near minimum wages. Others considering college are disenchanted over prospects of borrowing to pay for 4 years of college and end up working for minimum wages once they get out. So, why bother?

The one positive I can pass on to potential college students is they will finally learn how to read, write, add and subtract. I know from experience, as I have seen job applications from high school graduates that would make your head spin. OMG...They graduated?

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13kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

for: "tiger..."

I'm against elitism period. The elitism of any group over any other. I personally like democracy and free-enterprise myself. My calling for better vocational training is because that is what our economy needs right now. We have an over-abundance of highly educated, barely literate numb-skulls in our society (and growing daily thanks to places like YSU) and an acute shortage of people who can build things and fix things- technicians, craftsmen, welders, etc. which goes back to my initial post: companies aren't calling, nationwide, for classical scholars (as far as I know)- they're looking for people with technical skills.

And, furthermore, these are not "manual laborers". That suggests a broom pusher. Your pejorative term is offensive to me, Madam


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14kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The real problem as I see it is that our high school teachers are doing a miserable job- abysmally miserable- job of doing what they are (highly) paid to do- educate our young people. We are so far behind the rest of the world it is pathetic. The 18 year olds in other countries- Germany, Norway, Japan- have the same knowledge and preparedness as our College Graduates. And yet, with that record of failure behind them, all you hear from the Teachers Union- echoing Oliver Twist- is, unashamedly: "Please, Give Us More!"

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15kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

For: Tiger...."

Re: "Wage Slavery"

Yeah, no need for me to google. I'm familiar with the term; an expression popular in left-wing circles to suggest that Capitalism is on a par with traditional slave-holding societies: Greece, Rome, the Confederate South, etc.etc. A way to make people holding low-paying jobs feel exploited in order to make them ripe for organizing into collectives.

The comparison breaks down because in an open society like ours- unlike traditional slave societies- people do have a choice- they can vote with their feet as Ronald Reagan liked to say. And there are educational opportunities- many of them at tax-payer expense- available to them.

P.S. In a real "slave society", i.e. the Confederate South, teaching slaves to read and write was a crime.

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16chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

What exactly is "the mentality of the higher education community — which is quite different from the rest of the world" ?

Bert's ambiguity leads one to think it may be arrorgance wrapped in superiority along with a tad of aloofness substituted for charm .

No sugar and spice and everything nice.

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17kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

I'm sure there are people at YSU- in the Geology Department or Engineering, the hard sciences- who know that Hydraulic Fracturing is a safe and proven technique. Only problem is that they're afraid to speak out: the left-wing vipers would hunt them down and destroy them.

That's the pitiable condition we are in. Publicly supported Universities- like Public Education as a whole- is completely dominated by radical leftos (Susie and people like her). Bill Ayers you have a lot to answer for!

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18Spiderlegs(160 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

The YSU issue is primarily demographic due to a decline in the number of high school students in the area. This problems is expected to trickle across Ohio over the next several years. There are a few factors, but it is worth noting people are moving out of Ohio, and Ytown has the misfortune of being on the front edge of the move away. You can't lose 40,000 people and expect your area institutions to keep growing. If anything, YSU is beating the odds because its declines have not been as bad as what we are seeing across the region. I find it remarkable that the Vindicator does not know about this.

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19Tigerlily(509 comments)posted 2 years, 12 months ago

"over-educated and barely literate" kurt? Really? I would think someone who is educated, period, is literate.

I think you don't understand the term "literate" and are perhaps under-educated. That's why you don't understand the terms you are using, as many illiterate people tend to do.

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20kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

For: Tigerlilly

I know plenty of people who are are highly educated- in a particular field- but not literate. Depends on how you define the term.

I stand by what I said in post #11: Our Educational System- especially at the high school level- is doing a miserable job of educating the country's young people- and the stats prove it.

P.S. As far as my being an "illiterate", well, maybe so- I do the best I can with what the dear Lord has given me and I've tried, the best I can, to make up for a lack of formal education with independent study.

On another thread, in which I posted in favor of gun ownership, someone tried to suggest (also a Lady, I would imagine) that because I supported handgun ownership, it meant I had small genitalia and now you're saying I'm also illiterate.

So there you go, I'm an Illiterate with a Small Penis! Doubly damned! Can I manage to sleep soundly tonight?- Well, I can try.

P.P.S. Was Abraham Lincoln, largely self-taught, also an "illiterate"? I don't compare myself to Lincoln, I use him to make a point that a lack of formal education doesn't preclude one from self-improvement.

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21kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Correction: in post #10, in which I stated; " We have an over-abundance of over-educated, and barely literate numbskulls in our society", I think if I had said "barely functional" instead of "barely literate"- it would have made my actual meaning- within the context of that post- clearer (although I think what I said is interesting and can apply since the word "literate" has 5 or 6 variant meanings- not just ability to read and write- but, also, "having or showing knowledge of literature, writing, etc" In other words, broadly cultured, and I think that was the sense in which I used the term : that it's possible to have an advanced degree in some field and, yet, still not be "literate", narrowly defined. Abraham Lincoln, whom I use as an example, was highly literate, even though he hadn't more than a grammar school education: he acquired his knowledge through self- application (and, of course, he was a wonderful writer, an aptitude he was born with).

Tigerlilly, in her post raises a valid point- using the primary definition of "literate"- ability to read and write- my statement was illogical. However, using, the secondary definition- broadly cultured- the statement makes sense- whether you agree with it, or not, is another matter.

P.S. That's what I like about making these posts- it's a wonderful educational experience and it's tuition-free- somebody responds to something I say and- the process of working out a response- leads me into new territory and I come away knowing more than I did before. - I'm sure it works that way for other people as well...


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22kurtw(1627 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Correction: should have said "broadly defined" above- not "narrowly defined". (You always miss something when proofing your own writing. That's why, on a paper, editors or proof-reader do that- rather than the writer alone).

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