By Denise Dick
Considering the university’s financial constraints, Youngstown State University President Randy J. Dunn thought about canceling his installation ceremony.
“It’s turning a new page,” he said Friday during the ceremony in Beeghly Center, in which he was installed as YSU’s eighth president. “It’s opening another exciting, transformative chapter of a university.”
Friday’s event was a scaled-down version from previous presidential installations that were staged at Stambaugh Auditorium.
Because of enrollment that’s fallen over the last three years and shrinking state support, YSU faces a more than $6 million deficit this year.
Dunn, whom the YSU trustees unanimously selected last May after a national search, took office in July — and joked that he’s chosen his favorite dish at Cassese’s MVR restaurant.
“But I’m still waiting for them to attach my name to it,” he chuckled.
He previously served about six years as president of Murray State University in Murray, Ky.
Dunn is a first-generation college student and started as a community college student before taking a semester off to work.
“I had to navigate college myself including how I was going to pay for it,” he said.
Students today have that same desire and drive for higher education, he said. But universities have to be willing to change to attract students yet maintain their financial bottom line.
“The current operating model at YSU cannot be well-sustained much longer,” he said.
Like businesses and governments, universities have to reinvent.
Dunn said it’s time for YSU supporters “to come up with a new opportunity to advance YSU and make the dreams of our young people — and sometimes with our nontraditional population, some not-so-young people — a reality.”
John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, in his keynote address said Ohio colleges and universities need to increase the accessibility, affordability and completion of college.
“We need to increase the number of Ohioans with degrees and certifications,” Carey said.
That’s a way to grow the state’s economy, he said.
Dr. Sudershan Garg, chairman of the YSU trustees, said the board is pleased with Dunn’s performance thus far.