By Denise Dick
There’s no simple solution to the problem of Youngstown State University’s enrollment.
“There’s not going to be just one thing,” said Randy Dunn, who began his term Monday as YSU’s eighth president. “It’s going to be a suite or an array of things.”
For the last two years, the enrollment numbers have fallen after near record-setting totals in previous years.
Fall 2012 enrollment slipped 5 percent to 13,813, compared with fall 2011’s 14,540.
The number of students enrolled also fell the previous year from 15,194 in fall 2010 to 14,540 in fall 2011.
University officials hope the numbers stabilize this fall.
One of the ways to address the decrease is to increase the numbers of international students.
“For a campus our size, it’s somewhat low,” Dunn said.
There’s a market in many other countries for an education in the United States, he said.
Dunn also would like to increase enrollment of graduate students.
Another strategy is not to cede students from any area to other universities, Dunn said, listing Cleveland State University, the University of Akron, Ohio State University and others in the southern part of Ohio.
“We want them to think of YSU among their top choices for an education,” he said.
In introducing Dunn to those attending an afternoon welcome reception, Dr. Sudershan Garg, university trustees chairman, described Dunn as “vibrant, visionary, hard-working, a great communicator, understanding, hands-on with experience in education.”
One of the first things Dunn wants to do is determine with trustees upon which things in the university strategic plan they want him initially to focus his attention.
Dunn also plans to focus on outreach and engagement with the region YSU serves.
“Job one is educating students for graduation and successful jobs,” he said. But the university also needs to target “job creation, economic development, arts and culture, historic preservation and wellness.”
Dunn served as Murray State University president in Murray, Ky., for about six years when YSU trustees tapped him to replace Cynthia E. Anderson as university president. Anderson retired June 30 after three years at the helm.
Before Murray State, Dunn served as Illinois state schools superintendent and as a professor at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, assistant professor, school superintendent and principal. He has a doctorate of education from the University of Illinois and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Illinois State University.
Dunn’s annual YSU salary is $375,000, and his contract is for three years.
He and his wife, Ronda, moved into the university-owned Pollock House last week, and he spent his first week in town unpacking, exploring the region and attending meetings on campus.
His first day in office was spent making the tour of morning news programs and meeting with vice presidents and students and ended with a meet-and-greet reception with the public.