Forums conclude YSU’s next president should be approachable, civic-minded

By Denise Dick


Youngstown State University faculty, students and staff as well as community members want the next university president to be approachable, to work with the community, and to better market YSU.

Those were some of the characteristics and qualities mentioned in three forums conducted Wednesday by Arnold Speert of AGB Search Inc. of Washington, D.C., the company hired to conduct the presidential search.

About 30 people attended each of the forums for faculty and staff and for students, while the community forum drew about 15 people.

David Stout, accounting professor, said the next YSU president needs to be able to articulate a vision for the university.

Institutions of higher education are at a critical crossroads and facing external forces. Technology and a rate of tuition increase that isn’t sustainable are some of those external forces, he said.

Diana Fagan, associate professor in biological sciences, said YSU needs better outreach.

“I don’t think there’s any collaboration between different colleges,” she said.

Attendees at both the faculty/staff and student forums said the next YSU president has an opportunity. Both the university and the community are evolving, they said.

“They’ll have the opportunity to be a transformational candidate,” said Ronald Chordas, associate provost for university outreach.

Students think more should be done to market YSU and its attributes to make it a “destination university.”

“YSU is looked at as a second choice or even a third choice,” said Melissa Wasser of Weathersfield, a YSU student trustee. “It’s not been the push out there to bring more students in.”

Travis Battiest, a graduate student in the criminal-justice program who is originally from Streetsboro, listed sincerity, good ethics and the ability to cooperate as three attributes he’d like to see in the next university leader.

At the community forum, Atty. Paul Dutton, a former YSU trustee, former Ohio Board of Regents member and one-time candidate for YSU president in the 1990s, said YSU has never had a president that went on to lead another university. They’ve all retired from the post.

“It should be a steppingstone to a much-larger institution,” Dutton said.

That was echoed by others at the forum.

Speert said he’ll use the information gathered at the forums to create a profile for the YSU search committee. An online advertisement will be placed in higher-education institutions, and Speert also will contact other universities officials throughout the country to determine if others are interested.

Between eight and 10 candidates will be interviewed at a neutral site, likely an airport, after Easter. Three or four finalists then will be asked to come to campus for interviews probably in mid- to late April.

The board plans to make its selection by the June 12 board meeting.

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