YSU faculty and staff lack confidence in trustees’ leadership
By Denise Dick
Nearly 77 percent of Youngstown State University staff and 68 percent of full-time faculty surveyed find their work rewarding, but 67 percent of full-time faculty and 55 percent of staff who answered the survey doubt university trustees’ ability to lead.
For the part-time faculty, 84 percent of those who answered the survey either agree or strongly agree that their work at YSU is a rewarding experience. On the question of confidence in the trustees’ ability to lead, 34 percent of the part-time faculty respondents gave a neutral answer.
Ron Cole, YSU spokesman, said the survey was conducted internally early this year.
“It’s called for in the strategic plan — to create a baseline as we move forward,” he said.
Surveys will be done periodically to gauge “how we’re doing in moving the needle forward,” Cole said.
Carole Weimer, trustees chairwoman, said trustees received copies of the surveys, but there are no comments to shed light on what led the respondents to answer the way they did or suggestions from them.
“There is a disconnect between faculty and the board of trustees,” she said.
President Jim Tressel is working to bridge the gap between the faculty and the board in the coming year, Weimer said.
“I don’t know that the board knows exactly what a faculty member does,” she said. “We know they teach classes, but I’m not sure everyone understands as well their scholarly work.”
She believes the relationships between the board and the faculty and the board and the staff will improve with informal get-togethers. Tressel, during his first few weeks in office, has been inviting employee groups to such gatherings with him, she said.
Weimer also wonders if some of the lack of confidence in the board indicated on the survey stems from a lack of understanding of the board’s role.
Tressel is working to help create a closer understanding between the board and the faculty, Weimer said.
“You’ve been to our meetings and our committee meetings, and there’s not a lot of discussion per se about faculty,” she said.
Weimer said she can understand from the faculty’s perspective how they could feel disconnected from the board. Everyone looks at the shared-governance concept, but not everyone may agree on who the parties are who are involved in the sharing.
“My goal in the next year is to bridge that gap of the lack of communication between the board and faculty,” Weimer said.
The staff, faculty, board and administration all have a vested interest in the betterment of the institution, she said.
Cole pointed to answers indicating a high number of those surveyed who are proud to work at YSU.
“The vast majority of people find it rewarding to work here, they would recommend to others to work here and to attend here and the majority of the people are proud to work here,” the spokesman said.
About 68 percent of full-time faculty, 87 percent of part-time faculty and 79 percent of staff either agree or strongly agree with the statement “I am proud to work at YSU.”
About 68 percent of staff, 75 percent of part-time faculty and 58 percent of full-time faculty would recommend YSU to friends or family as a place to work.
More than 79 percent of staff, 83 percent of part-time faculty and 66 percent of full-time faculty would recommend the university to friends or family for higher education.
All three employee groups also report generally positive campus morale.