YSU Board of Trustees summary, Dec. 5 and 6, 2018

Youngstown State University
Board of Trustees
Dec. 5 and 6, 2018

The YSU Board of Trustees heard reports on student success, student mental health, enrollment, campus emergency operation plans and the “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign, and also approved several resolutions, including extending President Jim Tressel’s contract, during its quarterly meetings Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 5 and 6, on campus. 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.

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel said it has been an outstanding Fall semester. He said it has been fun to watch the energy around campus surrounding strategic planning and the challenges/opportunities for the future. “We’re in good hands with the people we have at this institution, and we’re looking forward to a great 2019,” he concluded.

Faculty presentation
Ying (Joy) Tang, assistant professor of Psychology, reported on her extensive scholarly and community activities, including her ongoing research in emotion regulation. Tang, who received a 2017-18 YSU Research Professorship, also talked about a course she has developed on cross-cultural social psychology to help increase intercultural competence among YSU students; a collaboration with Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, China, her hometown; and a new course she is developing on cross-cultural perspectives of development and education in China and the United States, featuring a class trip to China at the end of the course.

Student presentations
Rosemary (Rosie) Bresson, a junior Theater major, shared with the board various highlights of her career at YSU and activities of the Department of Theater and Dance, including critical acclaim from the Kennedy Center and a new partnership with the DoubleTree hotel in downtown Youngstown.

Laurencia (Lauren) Calai talked about her research and work as a doctoral student in the Physical Therapy program, including participation in programs such as the Midlothian Free Clinic and the Walk with a Doc initiative.

Alicia Williamson, a senior Social Work student graduating in December, told the board about her final senior project that focuses on survivors of domestic violence, including a campus event scheduled for Feb. 27, 2019, that will include training and a panel discussion.

Academic and Student Affairs Committee

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on the Request for Student Directory Information from External Organizations. The policy was examined as part of the university’s five-year review process and modified as needed.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Hiring and Selection Process for Full and Part-time Faculty. Provost Joe Mosca said the changes will make the hiring process more efficient. Otherwise, he said there are no substantive changes.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on the Organization of Instruction. The policy was examined as part of the university’s five-year review process and modified as needed.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Sabbatical Leave for Department Chairs. Mosca said most of the modifications are minor updates.

Approved a resolution of appreciation for the recent continuing accreditation of the YSU School of Technology by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Accreditation was granted for the Civil and Construction Engineering Technology BSAS program, the Electrical Engineering Technology AAS program, the Electrical Engineering Technology BSAS program, the Mechanical Engineering Technology AAS program and the Mechanical Engineering Technology BSAS program, through September 2024. The resolution recognizes and thanks the faculty and staff of the School of Technology, and especially Carol M. Lamb, school director, who led the accreditation process.

Approved the Trustees’ Case Statement for the university’s strategic planning process. The three-page Case Statement provides the context and background of the planning process, the key role of the Board of Trustees and a section on how the new strategic plan will guide the university’s future. More specifically, the Case Statement says there are four basic questions that will help organize the strategic planning process: Who are we as a university? Where do we want to go as a university? How do we get there? And how do we know when we arrive? The resolution also states that an outline and a narrative for a draft strategic plan will be ready to review at the fall 2019 State of the University address, that the draft will be considered at a board advance/retreat in October 2019 and that the board anticipates approving the plan in spring 2020, along with a strategic budget to support implementation of the plan.

Gary Swegan, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, reported that enrollment for Spring 2019 semester is up nearly 1 percent compared to the same time last year. He said the university held two very well-attended Penguin Preview Days in November. He also announced that School Counselor’s Day on Dec. 7 is expected to attract nearly 85 counselors from schools throughout the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.

Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, reported on banking accounts for Student Organizations. He presented a report to trustees outlining current practices and policies regarding the management of student organization funds. Howard recommended that the university establish a partnership with the Associated School Employees Credit Union and direct student organizations to maintain accounts with ASECU. He also recommended that regular communication be maintained between the Office of Student Activities and ASECU regarding active accounts and that financial management training be provided to student organizations.

Howard and staff members Ann Jaronski, director of Student Counseling Center; Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of Student Outreach and Support; and Kate Fitzgerald, director of Housing and Residence Life, presented information on student mental health services that are available on campus. They said the demand for campus mental health services is on the rise, noting that anxiety is a major issue facing many YSU students. Jaronski said her office offers a variety of services, including face-to-face psychological therapy and education/outreach to students and the entire campus. She said that prior to her arrival at YSU in spring 2016, the office had one counselor. Since then, an additional counselor has been hired, as well as a fulltime secretary. The office has also implemented a new electronic records system and moved from Jones Hall to Kilcawley Center. “We’ve come a ways,” President Jim Tressel said, “but we still have a ways to go.” Lexi Rager, a student trustee, said YSU currently has one counselor for every 6,300 students. By comparison, YSU peer institutions have one counselor for every 2,200 students, and Ohio universities have one counselor for every 1,600 students. “It sounds like with your lack of resources that you are doing an outstanding job,” Trustee Anita Hackstedde told Howard.

Kevin Ball, associate provost, reported that the Academic Senate has approved a new definition of “credit hour” as called for by the Higher Learning Commission. He also reported that the university continues to work on another concern that HLC has identified – program review.

Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success, and Mike Sherman, special assistant to the President, reported on student success efforts on campus. In particular, Berardini pointed to academic advisement as one of YSU’s greatest opportunities to increase student success. She said YSU’s approach to advising now is mostly focused on clearing students to register for classes. Advisors at YSU carry very large caseloads, with some advisors responsible for 500 students. Wait times for advisor appointments are significant, sometimes up to three weeks. Students, Berardini said, generally do not see their advisor as someone to go to other than for registering. YSU, instead, needs to create a “staying environment,” in which advising becomes primary means of communicating to students that they are personally significant and that the institution cares about their success. She said she and Sherman are working on a new framework for academic advising as a student success and retention strategy under which students can develop a relationship with a trained person who can provide timely and effective intervention, educational planning, degree planning, course selection and registration.

Institutional Engagement

Approved a resolution to accept 551 memberships for WYSU totaling $61,211 through the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.

Approved a standardized gift agreement to be used by the President to approve naming opportunities for the university. Among the other things, the agreement requires that irrevocable pledges be paid over a period of no more than five years, outlines circumstances under which a naming can be terminated or modified, and details the rights of the university to publicize the naming.

Approved a resolution designating the Ricchiuti Family Pavilion, Home of The Paula and Anthony Rich Center for Autism. The resolution also notes that the Ricchiuti Family has committed to an immediate and deferred gift of more than $2.6 million to create the Ricchiuti Family Fund to support the activities of the Rich Center for the Study and Treatment of Autism on the YSU campus. The fund may be used to renovate additional areas of Fedor Hall, the campus home of the Rich Center.

Becky Rose, assistant director of University Communications, reported on continuing efforts to communicate the strategic planning process on campus.

Police Chief Shawn Varso and Police Officer William Rogner reported on continuing efforts to develop updated emergency operations plans for all colleges and divisions on campus. Varso said plans have been completed for all colleges and that YSUPD will now focus on other non-academic facilities to ensure that updated emergency plans are in place. The plans, he said, will be reviewed annually.

Mike Hripko, associate vice president for External Affairs, Government Relations and Economic Development, updated the board on the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center, an initiative aimed at leading the economic revitalization of the Mahoning Valley and the nation through an internationally-renowned advanced manufacturing center. Hripko also announced a couple names changes in the initiative. The Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center will now be known as the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Consortium, referring to the entire Youngstown Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem, including YSU, Eastern Gateway Community College, America Makes, YBI, Choffin Career Center and other regional career and technical centers. The actual building planned for the YSU campus will be known as the Excellence Training Center and will be one site location within the MVICC.

Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, reported that the Foundation received nearly $6.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, including 27 pledges and 389 gifts. The $100 million “We See Tomorrow” campaign is now at $81 million, he said.

Finance and Facilities

Approved a resolution to modify the selection of design professionals for university capital projects policy. The policy was examined as part of the university’s five-year review process and includes only minor modifications.

Approved new room and board rates, summer conference rates and fees for university housing, effective summer/fall semester 2019. Campus room and board rates will increase by 3 percent. Even with the increase, YSU’s rates are the lowest among public, comprehensive universities in the state.

Approved room rental rates for University Courtyard Apartments, effective fall semester 2019. Monthly rental rates will increase by $20. The increase is needed to maintain the facilities and to fund auxiliary overhead charge increases. The apartments, which are 15 years old, have recently undergone major renovations.

Approved YSU’s 2018 Affordability and Efficiency Report. The third annual report, required by the state, identifies examples of and opportunities for shared services, streamlined administrative operations and shared best practices in efficiencies. In all, YSU identified $54 million in savings, said Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Administration.

Approve interfund transfers necessary to fund a $2 million fiscal year 2018 scholarship deficit and $200,000 for strategic planning. The scholarship deficit is the result of increasing numbers of incoming students with higher ACT and GPA scores who qualify for merit-based university scholarships. To make up the shortfall, money from various other funds will be transferred, including the scholarship reserve, federal match reserve, tech and lab material fee, college fee, program fee, technology master plan, and plant reserves for housing services, Kilcawley Center and the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

McNally reported that, except for scholarship spending, all fiscal year 2019 budgeted revenue and expenses are either on target or close to on target. As noted above, the scholarship deficit is the result of increasing numbers of incoming students with higher ACT and GPA scores who qualify for merit-based university scholarships. McNally noted that investment income is also below target.

John Hyden, associate vice president for Facilities, and Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, reported on a very busy campus construction schedule, including the Don Constantini Multimedia Center at Stambaugh Stadium and renovations to Ward Beecher Hall. Other projects in the works include the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center, university tennis center, club sports field, renovations to the second and fourth floors of Meshel Hall and renovations to the Physical Therapy program in Cushwa Hall. White also updated the board on deferred maintenance on campus.

Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer, updated the board on various information technology initiatives, including a new print management program that could save more than $500,000 a year across the university and a new centralized computer refresh program that puts all 4,105 desktop computer units on campus (nearly half in computer labs) on a five-year replacement cycle.

University Affairs

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the Board Oversight on Intercollegiate Athletics Policy. The resolution has been retitled to Governance of Intercollegiate Athletics and has been modified to include the roles and duties of the university president, executive athletic director and the NCAA faculty representative with oversight by the Board of Trustees.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions in Intercollegiate Athletics from July 16 through Oct. 15, 2018, including eight appointments, seven separations, one promotion and five salary adjustments.

Approved a resolution to modify the Fringe Benefits, Excluded Professional/Administrative Employees Fee Remission Program Policy. The policy was examined as part of the university’s five-year review process and only minor changes were made, better aligning the wording with similar benefits for other employee groups.

Approved a resolution to rescind the Fringe Benefits, Non-Credit Continuing Education Fee Remission Policy. This policy is now part of the above policy.

Approved a resolution to modify the Fringe Benefits for Part-time Faculty Policy. The policy was examined as part of the university’s five-year review process and only minor changes were made.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the Workplace Violence, Threats and Disruptive Behavior Policy. The policy will now be titled the Workplace and Off-Campus Violence, Threats and Disruptive Behavior Policy. The policy was modified to include workplace and off-campus violence, threats and disruptive behavior as it pertains to faculty, staff and students. The policy also includes language requiring employees to report if they are involved in a crime as a perpetrator. Language also has been added to include a section on protection orders.

Approved a resolution to modify the Background Checks Policy, adding language requiring disclosure to the university’s chief human resources officer for any conviction or arrest of a crime committed by a university employee.

Approved the new Unscheduled Leave Policy. The policy establishes the use of accrued leave by non-essential faculty and staff during times of inclement weather or other extraordinary circumstances deemed to be potentially unsafe. The university will communicate to the campus community when this type of leave may be used, including students. Employees using leave during this time will still need to notify their supervisor, but pre-approval is not needed. Essential and non-essential employees are defined further in the policy.

Approved the selection of Cindy Kravitz as associate vice president and chief human resource officer. Kravitz, an attorney who currently is YSU director of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development/coordinator of Title IX, was selected following a national search. Kravitz replaces Al Boggs, who is retiring. Kravitz previously was managing attorney in the Youngstown regional office of the Ohio Attorney General.

Approved a resolution to recruit staff to effectuate the mission of equity and inclusion and equal opportunity. The resolution notes that vacancies have occurred recently in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development, the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs and the Student Diversity Office. The mission and vision of these offices are under review, and the university may need to search for administrative officers for these positions. The resolution authorizes the president to recruit such staff.

Approved the recruitment of a dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services. Joe Mosca, former dean of the college, is now serving as interim university provost.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions for July 16 through Oct. 15, 2018, including 40 appointments, 31 separations, 20 reclassifications/position adjustments, 46 promotions, two transfers and nine salary adjustments.

Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, reported a 60 percent graduation rate for student athletes, compared to 33 percent for the general student body at YSU. The student athlete graduation rate across NCAA Division 1 schools is 67 percent, and it is 66 percent among schools in the Horizon League and the Missouri Valley Football Conference. He also reported that student athletic grade point average was 3.17, the highest ever.

Governance Committee

Approved, on first reading, a resolution to change the name of the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee to the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee.

Executive Committee

Approved extending President Jim Tressel’s employment contract through June 2020. Tressel was named YSU’s ninth president in 2014 and signed a three-year contract through the end of June 2017. He then signed a new contract that included three separate additional one-year renewal options. Last fall, Tressel and the board agreed to the first one-year renewal option, extending the contract through June 2019. Today, the parties agreed to the second one-year renewal option, extending the contract through June 2020. The pact includes no pay increase. His annual salary will remain at $300,000. “By every measure, President Tressel has excelled in leading YSU over the past four years,” Trustee Chair Dee Crawford said. “His vision and determination have resulted in unprecedented gains in many important areas of the university’s operations. We look forward to continuing that momentum.”


Tressel reported on the passing of the following individuals:

  • Ray Beiersdorfer, distinguished professor of Geological and Environmental Sciences.
  • Joe Malmisur, retired executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
  • George Letchworth, retired director of the YSU Counseling Center.
  • Mary Jennings, mother of board chair Dee Crawford.

Chair’s remarks
Crawford thanked everyone for expressions of condolences and sympathies for the death of her mother. She wished everyone a blessed holiday season.

The board set the following meeting dates and times:

  • 10 a.m., Thursday, March 7, 2019
  • 10 a.m., Thursday, June 9, 2019
  • 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019