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YSU board of trustees sold university’s soul

DEAR EDITOR:

After returning to the U.S. from a trip during which I had disconnected from social media, I was informed by two of my goddaughters that Bill Johnson had been selected as Youngstown State University’s next president. Despite robust building construction in and around campus and record-setting endowments, YSU’s enrollment has continued to decline and academics have progressively taken a back seat. Last year’s layoff of seasoned faculty and impending budget cuts to imperative programs such as Judaic Studies (the YSU website link to which, incidentally, has not been updated in 18 months) are just two examples. The university is in critical need of a seasoned academic leader and scholar that can reset the course of this institution.

My disdain for Bill Johnson is not new. Having the misfortune of residing in Ohio’s 6th congressional district, several years ago I stopped attending his town halls and disconnected from his Twitter (now X) feed, both of which were peppered with dangerous rhetoric and fearmongering. One has only to view his congressional website to understand who Bill Johnson is. I am not so naive as to think that politics have never in some way been entwined with higher education. But to believe that Bill Johnson can set aside his extreme views and lead an academic institution is preposterous. Is it implausible to think YSU’s political science and history curriculums could be sanitized and Beeghly College of Liberal Arts renamed amidst book bans and open-carry laws on campus?

I am a YSU graduate, alumni volunteer and post-retirement attendee of YSU’s College for the Over 60 Program. I had also planned to work with the YSU Foundation to initiate a scholarship in 2024 which will now be redirected to another educational institution. I will be withdrawing my support, financial and otherwise, for this university. I encourage other donors and supporters to do the same.

While my personal revocation of support will likely matter little to YSU or Bill Johnson, there is something that should. My aforementioned goddaughters, both in their 20s, one of whom did post-graduate work at YSU, are beyond outraged at this decision, as are their peers. Youngstown State University’s board of trustees has just sold the university’s soul — but I am confident their generation will get it back.

JO ANNE CHITTOCK OFFILL

Canfield

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