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At YSU, let’s not be left holding the ‘colleged-up’ hammer again



Published: Tue, February 25, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

At YSU, let’s not be left holding the ‘colleged-up’ hammer again

There is no shortage of com- ments on the recent issue of Youngstown State University looking for a new president and Jim Tressel being in the mix. However, we are not done.

We all know it was coming, and it was indeed highlighted in two Vindicator columns this Sunday — that, being the issue of academics and credentials. I think we need to revise our views of searching for a new YSU president. This is not Cambridge or Berkeley.

Youngstown has seen unique challenges for the past 30 years. We are the pioneers of the modern depression in America. We do not have the luxury to debate and overly intellectualize solutions to the Valley or our university. What we need at YSU is leadership, inspiration and the confidence of the Valley’s people — not degrees and academia.

Whether it is Jim Tressel or someone else, a YSU president has to understand academics but not be “colleged-up” with degrees and publications. A real leader is surrounded by other leaders in the various fields of academics, as well as those who actually have to operate the university.

I am a proud YSU alumnus, have a graduate degree and have provided leadership in the nonprofit world for 30 years. Despite this, I have always been suspect of those whom I have interviewed and hired — those who focus on being overly “colleged-up.” They at times tend to be focused on their own worlds of discipline, less adept at teamwork — and unaccustomed to the real world.

Let’s bring in a leader who can lead rather than spending six months nailing degrees on the wall and then leave the university holding the hammer.

Rob Schuler, Canfield

Former YSU dean backs Tressel

I am not a local power, but I was dean of engineering at Youngs-town State University during Jim Tressel’s tenure as head coach of the football team. It was a pleasure to work with a coach who wanted his players to be students first and citizens after college.

He does not need a doctorate; if necessary, it could be granted. He certainly can help YSU to become a part of the community while maintaining academic distinction.

That action may be too simple for the board of trustees and unacceptable to the academic purists, but he would strengthen YSU.

George E. Sutton, Ph.D, Poland

Sutton is dean emeritus of the College of Engineering and Technology at YSU.

Scholar laments Dunn’s failure to see Youngstown State’s assets

Within the last few days, I learned that YSU President Randy Dunn accepted another job back in Illinois. For that, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that he was unable to see the wonderful opportunities Youngstown State has to offer.

Similar to him, this is my first year here. This time a year ago, I couldn’t imagine myself at YSU. I didn’t want any part of it.

Admittedly, I didn’t come here by my own free will. It took a ton of poking and prodding from my parents even to consider applying. Yet when August came around last year, I was unpacking at the Cafaro House, still hesitant about my choice.

Within seven short months, my opinion of Youngstown State is completely transformed. Starting the very first day, I didn’t hesitate to jump into classes and clubs. The more I did, the more I learned what a hidden gem Youngstown State is.

YSU may have low enrollment and deficit issues, yet for every concern, there are numerous assets.

Walking into my classrooms the first day, I didn’t have a single class with more than 48 people. Even now, my largest class is around 130. The professors will know your name, and work to help you succeed. I’ve had more seminars than I can count to polish my resume and interview skills. I have attended numerous internship and study-abroad fairs. With every pamphlet, every lecture, doors that I didn’t even know existed, opened.

That is where our departing president and I diverge. Within seven months, I took what seemed like a sentence, just a job to do, into one of the best decisions of my life. I wouldn’t change where I am for anything. Given the short time I’ve been here, I’ve given it my all. I discovered you truly do get out what you put in. I’m sorry that he chose to go the opposite way, and considered new employment only two months into the school year.

I wish him the best at Southern Illinois. Hometown pride is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the town has something truly great to brag about.

That is why I am, and forever will be, a proud Penguin.

Elizabeth Urig, Youngstown

Elizabeth Urig is a member of the 21st class of YSU University Scholars.

Trustee Harry Meshel would make an ideal president for YSU

Randy Dunn, soon-to-BE “former” president of Youngstown State University, is leaving in a few months to become president of Southern Illinois University. The trustees had spent another $100,000-plus of the students’ hard earned money in a search for a new president. What a waste.

There’s no need for another search and its costs when we have a local man who would be the ideal candidate. And that person is none other than YSU Trustee Harry Meshel.

Meshel is local and has the trust of not only the students and the Youngstown populace, but he knows his way around the Ohio Statehouse. He is a student advocate, always fighting to keep student and employee costs down. He is the veteran students’ best friend, being a military veteran himself. He is admired by the average citizen and industrialist. He is the type of person who gets the job done.

As a Youngstown resident, and former Youngstown College student, please consider Meshel as the next president of YSU.

Bob Bakalik, Youngstown

Send Randy Dunn packing — fast

Common sense and old- fashioned values are a thing of the past. I’m baffled by YSU’s board of trustees members. You spend over $100,000 to search for a YSU president and hire someone who had his previous employer Murray State not renew his contract. He was pursuing other jobs, and they lost trust in him.

After reading the paper and seeing the candidates on TV, he was the one I definitely didn’t want. I don’t understand why he was chosen. Now after the fact he secretly was meeting with SIU. He felt obligated to them. He didn’t apply per se. What about your obligation here? I don’t trust him. He’s going to do us the favor of staying on for six months.

Find someone as quickly as possible and start over. Don’t hire someone with a bad situation hanging over their head. Use common sense for a change. Hire someone with honesty and integrity. Don’t make excuses for bad behavior. History repeats itself.

Mike Cholensky, Youngstown


Comments

1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Dr. Sutton's flippant statement, "He (Tressel) does not need a doctorate; if necessary, it could be granted", is a disgrace to other Ph. D.'s who historically have sacrificed 5-7 years of their lives to complete doctorate programs representing the highest level of academic achievement in their professional fields.

Doctorate candidates must complete extensive graduate coursework and concurrent research for several years, successfully pass multiple comprehensive examinations covering their respective majors and minors that take 4-8 or more hours, respectively, to complete. A single exam failure may immediately eliminate a candidate from a program, regardless of their previous course success. Finally, while simultaneously serving as teaching assistants for high-level tenures senior professors, a dissertation of original research can often take 2-3 years of concentrated effort to complete.

I have known doctoral students who have committed suicide from the mental pressures associated with Ph. D. demands, other candidates who moved away from their families or divorced while working nonstop on their dissertations, and individuals whose employment was contingent upon doctoral completion by a specific date. All the while, doctoral students are treated like indentured servants subject to the whims of senior faculty advisers who often hold their students hostage with constant dissertation changes and their own research demands.

Pursuant to receiving their doctorate degrees, these graduates remain under constant "publish or perish" pressures to continuously produce significant research contributions to their respective fields in order to maintain their university employment. Until tenured, newly-hired Ph. D.s basically work on a provisional contract that can be terminated at any point over a 5-6 year employment period.

After completing my doctorate over 20 years ago, I understand that achieving a Ph. D. requires an incredible amount of commitment, self-denial, discipline, and mental endurance that is difficult to explain to others. Most Ph. D.s are dedicated to their students' future success and continuous learning. I believe that I can speak for many fellow Ph. D.'s teaching at YSU and other area colleges and find Dr. Sutton's comment disgusting and insulting. An public apology to his fellow Ph. D.s in all areas, particularly to those in his own engineering field, should be in order for his irresponsible and outrageous comment.

My belief that Jim Tressel would be an ideal YSU presidential candidate remains strong. But Dr. Sutton's suggestion that Tressel presidential legitimacy deserves a illegitimate Ph. D. is both reckless and asinine. Most incredulously, he demeans his own academic qualifications.

I almost feel sorry for him.

Suggest removal:

2jmagaratz(166 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Reference to "colleged up" letter....

Good point on the writer's part....people may have forgotten that Howard Jones did not have an "earned doctorate" and his stewardship of our university did not hurt it.....time to think outside the box in terms of collegiate leadership....

For faculty that insist on "academic background"....they should ask themselves a very basic question--how badly do I need my job?

Suggest removal:

3Seriouslee(99 comments)posted 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Uh, YSU has neever been 'colleged-up' as far as presidents go--very few have possessed the PH.D (Ed.D is not the same) and the university has never followed best practices for hiring. So maybe, try the industry standard for a change? A search committee comprised of academic and community leaders instead of the entire BOT (again, best practice). The claim that somehow YSU has suffered from an overabundance of academia is laughable, and I won't even touch the "let's just give Tressel a doctorate point"

Suggest removal:


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