Tressel: Retention focus of YSU plan


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

As Youngstown State University’s battle with financial challenges continues, President Jim Tressel says his goal is to avoid personnel layoffs.

Last June, the university eliminated 43 vacancies and announced plans to eliminate 43 more vacant staff positions and seven vacant faculty positions to trim a projected $10 million deficit.

More reductions are expected, but Tressel said he’s hoping the university can generate more revenue through student retention as well.

“I do believe retention is a big part of it,” he said Wednesday in his first appearance on Vindy Talk Radio, The Vindicator’s online radio program.

Tressel expects spring enrollment to be on target with what the university planned.

Officials developed budget numbers based on a 1 percent retention increase from fall 2014 to spring 2015, compared with last year’s numbers. Official enrollment numbers are expected next week.

“We had the best freshman class this year,” Tressel said, based on students’ ACT and SAT scores and grade-point averages. Higher retention numbers are an outgrowth of that.

University officials, meanwhile, are exploring the idea of combining three colleges into two, but YSU’s ninth president says the aim isn’t cost savings.

Two committees — one of department heads and the other primarily of faculty — are expected to make recommendations on the potential merging of colleges the Beeghly College of Education and the colleges of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Creative Arts and Communication into two.

Any cost savings involved in such a merger would be negligible, he said.

The university is looking at ways to improve, differentiate itself from other institutions and create research opportunities, he said.

Recommendations from the two committees are expected in March and a decision later this year.

Also, Tressel said it’s time to review YSU’s 2020 strategic plan to determine if revisions are needed.

“Education has changed a lot in five years in ways no one counted on,” he said, pointing to the reduction in state subsidy and the huge growth nationwide of free online courses.

The strategic plan, approved in 2010, was designed to move YSU into 2020.

Tressel said that of the people involved in the development of that plan, about 32 remain on campus.

“I’m going to reconvene those 32 to review what’s changed in the intervening years,” he said.

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