Youngstown State University Board of Trustees Summary, Sept. 2 and 3, 2020

The YSU Board of Trustees heard reports on enrollment; diversity, equity and inclusion related strategies; campus construction projects and much more during its quarterly meetings Sept. 2 and 3, on campus and virtually. The board also approved several resolutions, including an honorary doctorate degree and swore in three new trustees. This is a summary of the board’s actions and reports. For the full resolutions, and other background materials, visit the Board of Trustees website.

National Anthem 
Virtual performance by the “Voices of YSU”.

Oath of Office
Joseph Kerola, Galena Lopuchovsky and Helen Lafferty took the Oath of Office as the newest members of the Board of Trustees. Kerola of Hubbard, president and chief executive of PI&I Motor Express Inc., and Lopuchovsky of Poland, a YSU sophomore majoring in Biology, were appointed to the board by Gov. Mike DeWine, Lopuchovsky as a student trustee. Lafferty, a two-time YSU alum and veteran administrator and faculty member at Villanova University, was appointed by the YSU Board to the position of national/global trustee.

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel acknowledged the amazing work that the YSU workforce did over the course of the summer in order to ensure a safe return to campus and to be able to provide high quality instruction in five different modalities. He recognized the faculty for the time spent rearranging their courses and instruction methods, the Board of Trustees for their constant support and the Academic Senate for all of their help to ensure that students have the opportunity to have a successful return to campus. “We also were very blessed that the federal government provided us with one-time CARES Act funding. Our Youngstown State University Foundation also stepped up with the Penguin-to-Penguin fund to meet immediate needs as our students were trying to finish the semester and the Emergency COVID-19 scholarship which provided nearly $1.4 million worth of scholarship assistance for incoming transfer students who felt that they needed to make a move closer to home and for a number of students who were not sure if they could persist, if they didn't get some financial backing,” said Tressel.

Tressel also reported that enrollment “ended up being 4.4% down” for the Fall semester. “Truly, it was an amazing effort by everyone on this campus to make sure that as many students as possible could come back and have the opportunity to continue their academic journey,” he said.

He also shared a COVID-19 update, reporting that for the months of June, July and August, the university had 22 positive cases, including six employees and 16 students and beginning the week after Labor Day, a dashboard will be available online and updated weekly with numbers.

“The entire campus community’s support to the safe return to campus and also the pursuit of excellence has been nothing short of outstanding,” added Anita Hackstedde, chair of the YSU Board of Trustees.

Faculty Presentations
Daniel Keown, associate professor of vocal music education in the Dana School of Music shared with the board how in March, the Voices of YSU “pivoted” in order to “explore new ways to learn music, make music and connect with music.” He discussed how the vocal ensemble, consisting of YSU students of diverse backgrounds, worked together to produce numerous virtual performances including the YSU Alma Mater, the National Anthem and I Know Where I’ve Been in honor of Juneteenth.

Sara Michaliszyn, associate professor and acting chair of the department of Kinesiology and Sport Science, presented her research on the effects of exercise desks on activity and reading skills in children with neurodevelopmental disorders to the board.

Cory Brozina, assistant professor and director of First-Year Engineering, spoke about the National Science Foundation grant that has been recently been recommended for funding. Once officially awarded, the grant will fund Brozina’s proposal to develop and encourage engineering professionals-commuters. The program recruitment will target women’s outreach and pre-college programs to increase the number of women in the Engineering programs at YSU and will provide $624,000 in scholarships over five years.

Student Presentation
Student trustee, Victoria Woods, introduced Nepalese Student Association members, Shreeya Manandhar and Anish Khadka as the student presenters. “These students help to build a bridge between Nepalese students in the US and their home, as well as between domestic students and the Nepalese culture,” said Woods. Manandhar, president of NSA, and Khadka, vice president of NSA, discussed the organization’s involvement on campus and the events they host on to help Nepalese students feel at home on campus and share their culture with the rest of the YSU community.

Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, led a discussion on the results of the board survey and discussed the Plan for Strategic Actions to Take Charge of Our Future and what is being done to implement the plan.

Carol Bennett, assistant vice provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, shared with the board an update on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives on campus. She shared that her office is working to ensure that campus understands the meanings of and differences between diversity, equity and inclusion. Bennett stressed the importance of bringing all of YSU’s “diverse populations to the table.” She is working with both current and past students to understand issues and challenges for diverse and underrepresented students on campus. She is looking to build a community for students so that they create connections and feel a sense of belonging on campus. Bennett also shared that the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is offering educational opportunities for students, faculty and staff to offer insight on DEI and how everyone may address these through their everyday work.

Approved a resolution to authorize the conferral of an honorary doctor of Laws on Jamael Tito Brown, who was elected the 51st mayor of Youngstown in November 2017. He earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from YSU.

Approved a resolution to modify the Student Code of Conduct to include language from the serious Misconduct Rule; which is defined as any act of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating, violence, stalking, sexual exploitation, any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon as defined in the Ohio Revised Code 2923 .11 (A) or causes serious bodily injury; approved by the Board of Trustees at its' March board meeting.

Approved resolutions to modify four policies related to grants. The policies were reviewed as part of the board’s five-year review cycle of all university policies; only minor modifications were made.

Eddie Howard, vice president of Student Affairs, reported on Fall semester enrollment: A number of changes that were made, including virtual recruiting engagements, video presentations and virtual orientations, as well as “gap funding” provided by the Penguin-to-Penguin fund and the CARES Act, helped to drive numbers up. “I can’t stress enough how truly proud I am to work at Youngstown State University and work with the colleagues that I work with,” said Howard. “The enrollment piece really takes a village, collaboration across the board is how we are able to be where we are today.”

Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional added, “Everyone working together, at every level of this institution have contributed to a remarkable enrollment circumstance for YSU.”

Claire Berardini, associate provost of Student Success, updated the board on a “transformational change to the advising structure at YSU.” She shared that over the summer, the monumental task of redesigning the first-year advising structure was undertaken and implemented for Fall 2020 with the creation of Student Success seminars. “Instead of being one among hundreds of students vying for the attention of an advisor, you now have an advisor who only has 20 students,” said Berardini. “And the advisor, because they're teaching First Year Seminar, will see that student in the classroom twice a week. We have made advising a part of the fabric of the student experience.”

Approved a resolution to accept 1,325 members totaling $233,250 for WYSU through the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Approved a resolution to modify the Affiliated Organizations Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the board’s five-year review cycle of all university policies; only minor modifications were made.

David Sipusic, YSU associate general counsel, updated progress on the development of the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Consortium and Excellence Training Center and said they have a projected completion date of March 2021 and are currently on time and on budget. The center will house almost $10 million in equipment.

The YSU Foundation, the university’s fund-raising arm, reported receiving 606 outright gifts and 5 pledges totaling $2.5 million; pledge payments totaling $1.4 million; and two new planned gift commitments totaling $401,816 for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Paul McFadden, YSU Foundation president, reported that the “We See Tomorrow” fund-raising campaign is over $109 million and will continue with the expanded $125 million goal through June 30, 2021. Endowed faculty chairs have now grown from three when the campaign began to 16 with the three new bestowals this semester.

Approved a resolution to approve the Rich Center for Autism’s operating budget for FY 2021.

Approved a resolution for interfund transfers: $529,000 from CARES Act fund to University funds, $2.5 million in the year-end balance to the operating carry forward fund and debt service reserve funds to fund a portion of the debt service.

Approved resolutions to modify the Business-related and Entertainment Expenses Policy; the Memberships, Dues, Certifications, and Licensing Fees Policy; the Electronic Signature Rules Policy; and the University Parking and Transportation Fees Policy. The policies were reviewed as part of the board’s five-year review cycle of all university policies; only minor modifications were made.

“Despite the pandemic, we have accomplished a lot over the summer,” said Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, in updating the board on various projects on campus, including: the completion of the campus roof replacements for Ward Beecher and Fok Hall, the Ward Beecher Science Hall structural repairs, the athletic team and locker room renovation within Stambaugh Stadium and Beeghly Center, the Beede Field Replacement, the pedestrian bridge renovations, the parking deck maintenance and repairs, the parking lot resurfacing and the academic area renovations. The Innovation and Commercialization Center is moving forward with a March 2021 completion, Cushwa renovations should be complete by the end of the week, Fedor Hall renovations should be complete by the end of the year and the Covelli arched entrance was just started and should be complete by November.

New Business
Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer, discussed the Ellucian Strategic Alignment Planning Assessment that was conducted in July. The free assessment conducted by Ellucian will help to align the IT strategic plan with the university’s strategic plan.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions for Intercollegiate Athletics from April 16 through July 15, including four separations and nine layoffs.

Approved a resolution to modify the Discrimination/Harassment Policy. The policy was modified to reflect changes made by the Department of Education to Title VII.

Approved a resolution to rescind the Sexual Misconduct Policy and a resolution to replace it with the Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy. The new policy was written as a result of new Title IX regulations put into place by the US Department of Education.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions from April 16 through July 15, including one appointment, 24 separations, 37 reclassifications/position adjustments, three promotions, one salary adjustment, two transfers, 25 layoffs and four recalls.

Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, gave his annual report (2018-19) comparing YSU’s athletics expenditures and revenues with other schools in the Horizon League and the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Among the details:

YSU spent less and made more on football compared to other MVFC schools. YSU spent $4.3 million and generated $1.6 million in revenue, compared to the MVFC average of $8.6 million and $1.3 million, respectively. YSU’s total institutional investment for football is $2.6 million. By comparison, the average total institutional investment among MVFC schools for football is $3.6 million.

Men’s basketball expenses totaled $1.5 million and revenues totaled $578,046, compared to the Horizon League average of $2.2 million and $645,866, respectively.

Upcoming meetings of the board:
10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020
10 a.m. Thursday, March 4, 2021
10 a.m. Thursday, June 3, 2021
10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021
10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021