Rescind YSU’s offer to Rep. Bill Johnson


I suspect that you did not anticipate the rather strong reactions concerning the announcement that YSU would be offering the presidency of the university to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson. That offering is unfortunate in this time of strong divides within the country and our immediate area. We didn’t really need another.

Of course, much of the division has come from the fact that he is a leader in the Republican Party. As an independent, I would write this same letter if he was associated with Democrats. Or any political entity. Personally, I believe the president of ANY university should not have close ties to a political party. In this case, the selection portends a heavy leaning toward the far right of the political spectrum based on Bill Johnson’s history. Regardless of promises of neutrality in his decision making, it is impossible not to be influenced by the career path chosen for the majority of Mr. Johnson’s career. It does not send the right message.

There is nothing in Bill Johnson’s resume that qualifies him to lead a university. YSU needs to be led by an individual with a strong academic background and proven leadership ability within that genre.

The only way out of the increased tension, lost respect and bickering is for the Board of Trustees to rescind the offer to Mr. Johnson on the basis of:

l A lack of a qualifying resume;

l Providing Youngstown State University with the best candidate for a long, academic, forward-looking future;

l Wanting not to polarize the community, staff, and student body.

Goals consistent with giving this community a highly rated, diverse institution which provides education at all levels along with the arts and humanities, with sports, entertainment and all the great advantages of hosting a university.

We should all encourage the university board to offer the position to someone younger and with a successful background in higher education management.

I believe this approach will make the YSU board a collective hero, and certainly a more respected body in this contentious affair. It also will avoid the expensive possibility of having to repeat the search for a new president in only a very few years.

It is imperative that the board provide the public with a sketch of the other applicants’ resumes without specifically identifying the candidate. This is needed to help restore the trust lost by hiding the selection process behind closed doors.

Do the right thing for Youngstown State University.




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