YSU Board of Trustees receives national leadership award

The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees has been selected to receive the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, one of the nation’s top honors given to governing boards demonstrating exceptional leadership and initiative.

“The YSU Board of Trustees has played an indispensable role in ensuring the sustainability of this institution going forward, and as a result a bright future for YSU's many beneficiaries,” said Andrew Lounder, AGB’s director of programs.

Lounder announced the award Thursday at the conclusion of the board’s regular quarterly meeting in Tod Hall on campus. In addition, a special etching on the glass at the doorway to the Trustees Meeting Room was unveiled in recognition of the award.

“We thank AGB for recognizing the board’s work over the past several years,” said Dee Crawford, chair of the nine-member YSU board. “The progress we’ve made and the successes we’ve achieved are a reflection of the talent and determination of the thousands of dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni and others who are committed to building a future for the university that is based on fiscal integrity, shared governance and institutional effectiveness.”

The YSU board was selected from nearly 40 nominations and will officially receive the award at the AGB National Meeting April 14 to 16 in Orlando, Fla. The YSU nomination also will be developed by AGB into a case study for publication in the March/April 2019 edition of Trusteeship magazine.

YSU’s five-page nomination submission focuses on the board’s successes in wading through a variety of challenges that have faced the university over the past five years, including financial uncertainty, falling enrollment and frequent changes in presidential leadership.

“In 2013, the YSU BOT found itself in a dilemma: a leadership vacuum was diminishing the ability of the institution to create a sustainable future exactly when higher education was battling public perceptions of its relevance and value,” the submission says.

The nomination hails the hiring of President Jim Tressel, the elimination of a $10 million structural budget deficit, the launching of a record $100 million fund-raising campaign, the commitment to increased awareness of the importance of academic excellence and student success, and the creation of a new university strategic plan.

“Understanding its responsibility to ensure the sustainable future of Youngstown State University as an anchor institution, the BOT has provided bold and focused direction during a period of leadership transition, enrollment instability and fiscal volatility,” the nomination submission said. “Its diligence assuring stable presidential leadership and a commitment to the objectives of shared governance and shared responsibility has created a certain future for Youngstown State University.”

“Our trustees certainly deserve this national recognition for their steadfast leadership in the face of significant and core challenges placed before the institution over the past several years,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “It is through leadership at the very top that universities survive and thrive.”

The award is named after higher education leader John W. Nason, recognized for his work as chair of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council and for helping more than 4,000 interned students continue their college studies across the nation during World War II.

ABG, consisting of more than 1,300 member boards representing nearly 2,000 institutions and over 35,000 individuals, is the nation’s premier organization centered on governance in higher education. Since 1921, the association’s central mission has been to strengthen, protect and advance the country’s unique form of citizen trusteeship through research, service and advocacy.