New YSU President Bill Johnson and first lady LeeAnn pledge $100k for student center

YOUNGSTOWN — During a meeting with the Student Experience leadership team Wednesday, Youngstown State University President Bill Johnson and first lady LeeAnn pledged $100,000 to go toward the new student center.

Construction to the new student center, which was announced in January 2023, will take an estimated two and a half years, according to a news release. Upon completion, the reconstructed student center will include updated dining services, event spaces and lounge areas for students.

“Our students are some of the most impressive and resilient people in the Youngstown community. They deserve the very best experience while they work toward their futures here,” Johnson stated in the release. “Through this pledge, my wife LeeAnn and I are committed to ensuring that this is exactly what they will receive.”

Following the announcement, Joy Polkabla-Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, stated staff is looking forward to what the pledge means going forward.

“It was wonderful to meet with the Johnsons during our leadership meeting, and our staff is both humbled by this pledge and excited for the impact it will have on our students,” Polkabla-Byers said.

LeeAnn Johnson is also looking forward to the future for students, remaining committed to improving YSU’s campus.

“As Bill and I continue to meet and engage with students, we are amazed by their drive and ambition toward their academic success,” she said in the release. “This center serves as a hub for our campus, and we are honored to have an opportunity to give back to our students.”

The construction project is estimated at $40 million, with half of the funds being borrowed or bonded. The other half will be collected through fundraising and donors.


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