YSU personnel list complaints in survey

By Denise Dick



A steering committee of three faculty, three staffers, three members of senior leadership and a student at Youngstown State University will work to address concerns voiced in a campus-climate survey.

The survey lists 15 themes identified by the campus community. Those concerns include change in senior leadership, the role of trustees, shared governance and input, pay equity, respect and increased communication and transparency and suggests ways to address them.

Chet Cooper, senate chairman, said the senate’s executive leadership panel is identifying members to serve on the steering committee.

There were calls for some at Wednesday’s meeting, though, who want each college’s faculty to be represented on the committee. Cooper said he would take that suggestion back to the senate’s executive group. But there is a concern the panel could become too large.

“We have to move forward,” Cooper said. “This is a perfect storm. We’ve got issues, and they’re crowding us.”

Over the past several years, YSU has faced decreased funding from the state and enrollment slips that have also contributed to financial woes. The state has changed its higher-education funding formula so that retention and graduation, not just enrollment, determine its allocation to universities and colleges.

Data collected regarding YSU’s strengths and weaknesses is contained in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” Campus Climate Survey, conducted March 16-April 15.

The survey is part of the preparation for a 2018 visit to YSU by the Higher Learning Commission. The HLC is an accrediting body.

Hillary Fuhrman, director of assessment, gave a presentation at the Academic Senate meeting.

Survey respondents suggested leadership-improvement plans for all senior leadership, removing senior leadership based on faculty/staff input, and holding senior leadership accountable to campus policies, procedures and agreements.

The survey also says senior leadership should attend training on shared governance, institute monthly communication process for updates and changes before they’re implemented, increasing pay and distributing raises equally, and compensating employees for additional workload and responsibilities.

For years, members of the faculty and staff have complained of a lack of shared governance on campus. They contend they aren’t asked for input or consulted regarding decisions.

President Jim Tressel said YSU is facing a series of complicated issues and people are passionate about their concerns.

He pointed out, however, that faculty, staff and the rest of the campus don’t allow those beliefs to interfere with their dealings with students.

One woman expressed concern that YSU is only trying to address concerns in the survey because of the impending HLC visit.

Cooper said it isn’t.

“I’ve already told them this better not be a whitewash,” he said. “If it is, they’ll be more than hell breaking out.”

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