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YSU collects over $6.4M in donations

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees at their quarterly meeting discussed a variety of initiatives to tackle COVID-19, reviewed the donations the university is receiving and discussed new projects.

Despite challenges with enrollment and cuts, Youngstown State University has received several donations that reflect continued support and confidence in the university, said Paul McFadden, YSU Foundation president, at the meeting Wednesday.

“Donors donate to entities that have strong leadership and are going in the right direction,” McFadden said.

The foundation received 595 gifts and 10 pledges totaling $6.4 million, six planned gift commitments totaling $1.6 million and $512,357 in pledge payments for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022, he said.

In addition, the YSU Foundation is providing $9.3 million this academic year in student scholarships and $11.1 million in scholarship money next year, McFadden said.

John Hyden, associate vice president of facilities, offered updates on a variety of existing initiatives to mitigate COVID-19, including upgrades to air filtration systems across campus. The university added ultraviolet light in air-handling systems and needlepoint ionization in dorm rooms.

Needlepoint ionization is a technology that can be used in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems to improve indoor air quality.

Along those lines, the university is continuing to regularly test air samples on the campus. Of more than 300 samples, none have indicated any level of COVID-19, Hyden told the board.

Hyden and Rich White, director of planning and construction, also updated trustees regarding a variety of on-campus construction projects, such as renovations to the greenhouse in Ward Beecher Hall, which is expected to wrap up in January. Several others are slated to begin in 2022, including renovations to Fok and Moser halls, White said.

Jennifer Oddo, executive director of strategic workforce education and innovation, highlighted a $180,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to pilot a 5G-readiness training program.

The U.S. Department of Energy commissioned YSU and two other entities to develop a regional and national roadmap of energy storage workforce needs, along with the creation of a model for a national training and innovation center, she explained.

Also discussed was the Aerospace Defense Center, a collaborative effort between the university, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the University of Texas El Paso in which students support aerospace hypersonic defense projects, Oddo said.

Trustees also adopted a resolution to approve the 2021 Affordability and Efficiency Report, which the state of Ohio requires, to identify opportunities for cost savings across the campus.

Key highlights of the 25-page report were savings of more than $3 million by using shared, joint contracts via the Inter-University Council, more than $750,000 in savings for students through the university’s textbook affordability initiatives, and creating a new YSU Division of Workforce Education and Innovation in the university’s Excellence Training Center.

Neal McNally, vice president for finance and business operations, noted that YSU’s budget is sound largely because the university received an infusion of more than $10 million in one-time COVID-19 relief funds.

McNally also recommended adjustments to modify student-employee hourly wages. The modifications establish three new hourly tiers, in part to address a shortage of student workers in certain departments.

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