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Academics, not athletics, must be primary mission of YSU

Published: Tue, August 12, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Academics, not athletics, must be primary mission of YSU

In 1939 Robert Hutchins, then president of the University of Chicago, abolished the football team, citing the need to focus on academics rather than varsity athletics. This move came just four years after the first Heisman Trophy was awarded to a University of Chicago player. Football would eventually return to the university in 1969, but only as a Division III program.

Aside from athletics, the university instituted an innovative approach to undergraduate teaching. These included small discussion based courses, a focus on primary sources and an interdisciplinary approach to learning.

What were the effects of these decisions? The university transformed itself into a world-class undergraduate and graduate university.

What does this have to do with the current contract talks at Youngstown State University? Everything. For many years those charged with making decisions and setting priorities at YSU have lost sight of the purpose of a university — the collecting, creating, and dissemination of knowledge. To illustrate this we need only look at the supposed $6 million to $9 million deficit. While it is true that there is a deficit, it is a deficit piggybacked by a $10 million subsidy to the athletic program, which saw a nearly 5 percent budget increase this year.

And what has suffered due to priorities set by the board of trustees and the administration? Just those things necessary for an urban research university to function.

For example, the university library is one of the worst funded in Ohio. The university has been increasing class sizes while decreasing the number of full-time faculty. In some departments adjuncts provide 50 percent or more of the instruction to students. While the athletic program receives $17,500 for cellphones, 58 percent of stage spots and 44 percent of overhead lights remain unreplaced at the Bliss Recital Hall.

While student retention is deemed a priority, the university decided to spend $4 million to renovate a house for the university president instead of allocating it for a new or drastically updated student center.

If we want to increase our enrollment and retain students, we need to invest in those things that will increase the academic reputation and climate of the university — something a commitment to Division I athletics is not going to do.

Dr. Mark C. Vopat, Youngstown

Dr. Mark C. Vopat teaches in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at YSU.


1steivo(540 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

More deflection and diversion from the YSU faculty. Always point at the Athletic Department as a solution to all of your woes. As if eliminating all athletics at YSU would solve all the problems. It would only be a temporary reprieve until the demands of the faculty consumed all of that excess and demanded more - more - more.
The $4 million spent on the President's house is a drop in the bucket that the faculty would consume in the blink of an eye.
I am surprised that there was not an attempt to divert attention to John Kasich. That isn't the answer either. The taxpayers don't want to support your lavish lifestyles either.
YSU could solve their problems by addressing 2 points:
1) The faculty needs to spend more time on teaching income producing students and less time on "research"/nothing.
2) An aggressive crackdown on rampant campus crime.

Then the students would flock to YSU.

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2billdog1(3254 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

steivo, again, you have your facts askew. YSU has the lowest crime rate among Ohio's state universities in the state. The average full time faculty member at YSU makes between $50-60,000 annually. Yes there are those that make six figures, but most of them are department heads. Most full time faculty at YSU have doctorate degrees. Some (few) don't. If you think $50-60,000 is a gross wage I feel for you.

The university should of never made themselves a research institution and remained a teaching institution. Not many students are running to YSU to be a part of research during their undergrad career. It is sad that those in charge of the institution cannot see the forest for the trees.

YSU's biggest problem with enrollment lays in the hands of what is referred to as Student Affairs. They are old out of touch individuals sucking at the teet. (purposely spelled) The division is made up of obese lazy slugs that believe that sitting in a chair will bring student to the institution. If you have been to a high school in this century you would see no or vary little YSU paraphernalia. The cows never go to high schools, never even call. The build it and they will come mentality.

It is not the faculty that is creating YSU's financial drain, it is the division of Student Affairs. The giant 300 lb club of fat arzes. It is through the division from housing to its VP. Time for real change. Although I can see sports play a part in the drain, the real problems at YSU is its prehistoric and obese Student Affairs Division. Some of the same crew from when I was a student exist to this day. They just kept creeping up the ladder.

The Peter Principal is rampant with in this division. I guess in some cases change comes slow. Like the people running the division. Let's all hope the heard wonders out to pasture soon so the institution can survive.

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3Tigerlily(506 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

barstoolie must spend a lot of times on bar stools. Fired for a typo in a letter to the editor of a small town newspaper? You're crazy and I see that your education didn't "take" very well. A lot of times students who remain ignorant want to blame their ignorance on their teachers, instead of looking in the mirror and facing the fact that they're maybe just incredibly stupid and can't learn anything because of that.

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4steivo(540 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This is not an opinion piece, it is just faculty union propaganda.

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5Tigerlily(506 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh my, barstoolie is sitting in his own stoolie. A professor makes a typo and barstoolie shats himself and whines and cries over it, claiming it's an international incident. What a disgrace. Talk about 2nd rate anything--you're a 5th rate person. Your child couldn't even succeed at YSU, that place of such disrepute you claim it to be. Go away, and bury yourself in your own feces.

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6steivo(540 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

The faculty wants more - more - more and TigerLily wants a cut too.

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7Tigerlily(506 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Oh, steivo, you sound like a man who thinks he knows something.

Which you don't.

Because: dumb duh dumb dumb dumb!!!


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8Seriouslee(143 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

For the sake of argument,let's say barstoolie is right. Now how would YSU attract the kind of professors she/he deserves when its administration repeatedly cuts faculty pay? Do you suppose quality professors will flock to Youngstown, or stay in Youngstown for the highest workload and the lowest pay in the state?

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9billdog1(3254 comments)posted 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Stoolie, if you had a child the rest of the world would be amazed you knew how to procreate.

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