YSU Board of Trustees Summary, June 2 and 3, 2021

Youngstown State University

Approval of the FY 2022 budget, adjustments in tuition, action on academic program review, discussion of a new campus master plan and the election of new board officers were among the highlights as the YSU Board of Trustees met Wednesday and Thursday, June 2 and 3. For the full resolutions, and other background materials, visit the Board of Trustees’ website. Here’s a summary:

President’s Report

President Tressel recognized and thanked students, faculty, staff, administration and trustees, as well as state, county and city health departments and government representatives, for their work, innovation and support over the last 15 months facing the extraordinary challenges of COVID-19. He specifically thanked Julie Gentile and the Office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety for its work during the pandemic. Noting that he is finishing his seventh year as president of YSU, Tressel said he and YSU are fortunate to have a great Board of Trustees, which constantly challenges the administration to do greater things and which encourages and allows the administration to listen to students and their needs. He thanked the YSU Foundation for its continued fund-raising successes, and noted the university’s progress in graduation rates, strategic planning and development of the new Excellence Training Center. “We have really gone after it for the last 15 months for sure, and I know everyone associated with YSU is excited about what the Fall is going to look like,” he added.

HERITAGE AWARDS

Due to the pandemic, events to celebrate the annual YSU Heritage Awards recipients were postponed in 2020 and again in 2021, so the board took time at its meeting to recognize the honorees. The annual awards are among the greatest honors bestowed by the university.

  • Patricia Bleidt, whose career included stints as assistant dean of Student Affairs, retired in 1995. In a letter read at the board meeting, Bleidt acknowledged colleagues and support staff. She said her most endearing memories, however, are the bonds she made with so many wonderful students.
  • Joan L. Boyd, retired professor of Health Professions, thanked family and colleagues, specifically mentioning the late John Yemma, dean of the YSU Bitonte College of Health and Human Services. In a video played during the board meeting, she also said she hopes she serves as an inspiration to others, especially women and people of color. She noted that she and her husband have established a scholarship.
  • Teri Riley, professor of Economics whose career at YSU also included work in faculty relations and the provost’s office, was remembered posthumously in a video by her husband, Tod Porter, retired chair of Economics. He recalled their meeting as teaching assistants at Syracuse University, Teri’s passion and talent for teaching, her commitment serving on university committees and her balanced approach when she became an administrator. He joked that he often says his greatest contribution to YSU was listening to Teri vent after coming home from work. “You have no idea how much I wish I could have that job back,” he said.
  • James J. Scanlon, YSU provost from 1993 to 2001, said in a letter read at the meeting that he was honored and humbled to accept the award.


Academic Excellence and Student Success

Actions

  • Approved a resolution to modify the Student Residence Status for Tuition Purposes policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify the Authority to Establish and Enforce a Student Code of Conduct policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify the Recognition, Publication and Support of Employee Degrees policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a list of 14 candidates to be considered for honorary degrees. “There are some really outstanding people on this list,” said Chet Cooper, chair of the Academic Senate.
  • Approved a resolution to modify “The Student Code of Conduct.” Modifications include: remove language that does not reflect the current appellate process, reference to the recently revised Campus Free Speech policy, use a consistent definition of “harassment,” provide two additional business days for holding rescheduled student disciplinary proceedings, and extend the time of service for undergraduate student conduct board members. Other modifications: clarify the role of advisors in the student conduct process, enumerate the complainant’s right to question witnesses and to appeal, delineate the specific sanctions for serious misconduct, expand and clarify the definition of “hazing,” remove deferred suspension as a sanction, establish new procedures and criteria for expungement of student conduct records after graduation, and empower the appellate hearing panel to alter findings and sanctions issued by the original hearing panel.

Reports
Elaine Ruse, associate vice president of Student Enrollment and Business Services, reported on various initiatives aimed at increasing enrollment and retention. She said her office’s approach to enrollment emphasizes making personal connections that build relationships with students and parents, educating students about opportunities at YSU, providing prompt services and assisting students to understand YSU’s affordability and the value of a degree. She said YSU’s Fall 2021 enrollment numbers are lagging, with fewer applications due to demographic shifts. But she said there are positive signs, including increased number of students signing up for orientation, an upward trend in admitted students from inside Ohio and increased GPAs of accepted students. Dana Davis, professor and chair of Social Work, and a member of the Enrollment Optimization Team, also reported on enrollment and retention initiatives in her department.

Chet Cooper, chair of the YSU Academic Senate, updated the committee on several activities, including revisions to bylaws, a common syllabus for all courses, extension of the credit/no credit policy, “test optional” admission standards and resolutions of appreciation for retirees Bill Buckler, associate professor of Geography; Gary Walker, professor of Biological Sciences; and Jodi Clowes, executive assistant to the Provost, Office of Academic Affairs.

Background materials
The agenda also included the third quarter report from the Office of Research Services, current accreditation activity, academic programs updates and academic affairs awards, including Distinguished Professorship Awards, Watson Merit Awards and Excellence in Teaching Awards.


INSTITUTIONAL ENGAGEMENT

Actions

  • Approved a resolution to accept 1,073 memberships from WYSU totaling $279,236 through the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.
  • Approved a resolution to accept as a gift real estate owned by the YSU Foundation along West Wood Street adjacent to the new Excellence Training Center on campus.

Reports
David Sipusic, associate general counsel for Research and executive director of the Excellence Training Center at YSU, said the formal ribbon-cutting for the new center on the southwest corner of campus is set for July 26; more details to come. He also reported on several activities planned as the center gets up and running, including K-12 camps through the summer, certifications in Industrial Maintenance, Manual Machining and CNC machining (in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College) and partnerships with Rockwell Automation and Fanuc Robotics for industry recognized credentials via the ETC. Jennifer Oddo, executive director of Strategic Workforce Education and Innovation, also reported on several activities, including the ongoing planning and site selection for the Excellence Training Center in Lordstown, YSU Skills Accelerator to accelerate adoption of industry 4.0 and in-demand skills through connected educational experiences, customized and hosted corporate learning offerings, and Explore the Valley Virtual Career Fairs. 

Sipusic reported on several government/research/business engagement activities at YSU, including the GM ETC/Workforce Center, Lordstown Recovery Grant, Communities of Excellence, Defense Logistics Agency Casting Project, Hybrid Manufacturing Hub and Spoke Designation, Lordstown (ETC) Training and Research Center, Energy Storage Research Center Study, Autonomous Vehicle Conference, Lordstown SMART Logistics Hubs and RAPIDS 5 Equipment Grant.

The YSU Foundation reported 604 outright gifts and seven pledges totaling nearly $1.5 million, pledge payments totaling $706,136 and three new planned gift commitments totaling $50,000 for the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, said Heather Chunn, Foundation vice president. Foundation President Paul McFadden announced that the “We See Tomorrow” capital campaign has reached $118 million of its $125 million goal. The campaign has received 31,912 gifts, including 40 gifts of $1 million or more, and McFadden sounded an optimistic tone to come: “We have a chance for an extraordinary June,” he told the board.

Background Materials
The agenda also included a compilation of YSU Centers and Institutes and a list of alumni activities and events.


UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS 

Actions

  • Approved a resolution to ratify one personnel action in Intercollegiate Athletics, the separation of a professional administrative externally-funded employee.
  • Approved a resolution to modify Development and Issuance of University Policies Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify Discrimination/Harassment Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify Sensitive Information/Information Security Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to Modify and Retitle Supplemental Pay from Externally Funded Grants, Sponsored Programs and Contracts for Faculty and Professional/Administrative Staff Policy. The policy was modified to align with other institutions of higher education that limit supplemental compensation for incidental work. 
  • Approved a resolution to Authorize Conferral of Emeritus Status for Faculty and Administrators, recognizing seven recently-retired faculty – Frank Bosso, Jolien Helsel, Dan O’Neill, David Pollack, Fred Viehe, Gary Walker and George Yates – and five recently-retired administrators – Frank Akpadock, Karen Becker, Michael Hripko, Greg Moring and Susan Viglione.

Reports
Emily Wollet, associate director of Athletics, reviewed with trustees basic NCAA rules compliance, including what a booster can and cannot do or provide to a prospect or student-athlete. She also briefly reviewed pending new NCAA rules and state law regarding athletes profiting from their name, image and likeness. “We’re really waiting to see how this unfolds,” she said. She also reported on existing and pending NCAA rules and state laws regarding participation in athletics by students who identify as transgender, and she updated the board on the NCAA’s transfer portal and changes to the one-time transfer exception.

Background Materials
The agenda also included a report on current accomplishments and priorities for moving forward with Human Resources Department operations; an update on position searches in progress; a summary of all personnel actions approved by the Chief Human Resources Officer serving as the appointing authority for classified staff; a report on search waivers; list of employees granted Staff Development Leave; and a list of employees receiving Distinguished Service Awards.


FINANCE AND FACILITIES

Actions

  • Approved a Resolution to modify Acceptable Use of University Technology Resources Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to modify Posting on Campus Policy. The policy was reviewed and updated as part of the university’s regular and ongoing policy review process.
  • Approved a resolution to acquire three pieces of land for campus improvement: 317 W. Commerce St., a 0.2-acre, 32-spot parking lot across from the new Excellence Training Center; 150 W. Rayen Ave., a nearly 10,000-square-foot warehouse building on 0.5 acres surrounded by YSU-owned property; and 234 Fifth Ave., a nearly 3,000-square-foot building on 0.3 acres. The resolution authorizes the university to acquire the properties at a price not exceeding appraised value.
  • Approved a resolution to exchange property owned by YSU and property owned by the Butler Institute of American Art. The Butler needs the YSU property to expand its Beecher Center. In turn, YSU will acquire Butler land near Tod Hall that includes 11 parking spaces.
  • Approved a resolution to authorize the Issuance of and Sale of General Receipts Bonds of Youngstown State University, Approving a Supplemental Trust Indenture and Authorizing Related Matters. Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Operations, said significantly lower interest rates could result in gross savings of more than $6 million and still retire the debt by 2024.
  • Approved changes to Tuition and Fees for the 2021-22 Academic and Fiscal Year. McNally said the resolution includes a 2 percent increase for undergraduate students who are not part of Penguin Promise, a program that guarantees annual tuition over four years. For the incoming class of Penguin Promise students, tuition will be set at a rate that equals a 0.9-percent annual increase over four years. McNally emphasized that YSU’s tuition will remain the third lowest in the state. 
  • Approved the Annual Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2022. McNally’s observations about the budget include: the budget plan is guided and shaped by the university’s strategic plan; the budget is “flat, stagnant,” increasing a mere 0.3 percent; that increase, nevertheless, is “pretty amazing,” considering that enrollment is projected to drop by 5 percent; expenses are trending up, including a 4 percent increase in personnel costs; state funding, driven mostly by student success indicators, is projected to increase nearly $4 million; the budget is “truly extraordinary” in its reliance on one-time federal COVID-19 relief money, providing “a temporary lifeline” and buying some time for the university to prepare for the future. “We cannot stress enough the temporary nature of these funds,” he added. 
  • Approved the following interfund transfers: $1 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds/Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds to the Stabilization Reserve Fund for reimbursement of FY2020 payroll expenses attributed to the pandemic, and $570,000 from the General Plant Fund to the Property Acquisition Fund for property acquisitions approved by the board this quarter.

Reports
McNally presented what he called “a very positive report” on the FY 2021 operating budget, noting that the university is operating within a balanced budget even without adjustments related to federal COVID relief funding.

McNally and President Tressel said the university is going to start the process of putting together a committee to create a new Campus Master Plan. McNally said it has been at least 20 years since the university has developed such a plan. If the pandemic has taught YSU anything, he said, it’s that YSU probably has more space than it needs. McNally also said that, with enrollment trending down, YSU should be preparing to be a smaller university. Finally, he said the future of Kilcawley Center, built in the late 1960s, also should be considered. Tressel agreed and called for an “aggressive planning” initiative focusing on Kilcawley Center and the rest of campus. He said Joy Polkabla Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, will lead the on-campus master planning effort, with trustees Mike Peterson and Capri Cafaro taking the lead for the Board of Trustees.

Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, updated the board on various improvement projects underway on campus, including Fedor Hall, Tod Hall, restrooms in Kilcawley Center and Cushwa Hall, parking deck maintenance, HVAC updates in Ward Beecher Hall and sidewalk improvements. John Hyden, associate vice president of University Facilities, said major improvements on Fifth Avenue should be mostly completed by the end of July, in time for the official opening on the Excellence Training Center.

Background Materials
The agenda also included a report on Budget and Interfund Transfers for the Quarter Ending March 31, 2021, and the third quarter Diversity and EDGE Spend Report.

INVESTMENT SUBCOMMITTEE 

Actions

  • Approved a resolution to endorse Clearstead’s recommendation to rebalance $2.5 million or 4 percent of the university’s non-endowment long-term investment pool.

Reports
John Colla of Clearstead presented the quarterly portfolio asset allocation and investment performance review.


AUDIT SUBCOMMITTEE 

Actions

  • Approved the Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Audit Plan and Risk Assessment, which includes the planned scope and time budget of audit engagements for the fiscal year.

Reports
Kelli L. Miller, director of Internal Audit, reviewed with the board an update of the internal audit plan, anonymous reporting hotline and enterprise risk management.

Katrena Davidson, associate vice president for Finance and Controller, reported that YSU earned a 4-star rating in the State of Ohio’s Star Rating System: Monitoring Transparency in Government. It’s the highest rating in the system that evaluates compliance with the state’s Sunshine Laws. Davidson credited the work of Holly Jacobs and the Office of General Counsel, which handles Sunshine Law requests for YSU.


GOVERNANCE

Actions

  • Approved a resolution to reappoint Eric Spiegel to a second, three-year term as a national/global trustee. Spiegel, a special advisor to General Atlantic LLC and past president and chief executive officer of Siemens USA, was appointed a national/global trustee in June 2018. The reappointment will extend his service through June 30, 2024.
  • Approved a resolution endorsing the recommendations associated with the Academic Program Enhancement and Effectiveness Initiative. Provost Brien Smith outlined the initiative in detail and how recommendations were determined: “You need to be aware of what we did and how we did it so you are comfortable with the outcomes,” he told trustees. 

APEEI, commonly known as program review, is essentially a self-study of academic programs to ensure alignment with the university’s mission and with the goal to enhance quality and effectiveness, Smith said. Such a review is specifically called for in YSU’s strategic plan and in subsequent resolutions endorsed by the board, and it is required by both the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission, YSU’s institutional accreditation body. 

The process used by the university for program review embodies all tenets of shared governance, the provost said. Faculty across campus were engaged in the process over many months, including monthly meetings and individual meetings with each department, seeking feedback from faculty, chairs, deans, academic affairs representatives and board members, as well as the YSU Academic Senate. Chet Cooper, Senate chair, told the committee that he is pleased and proud of the shared governance principles followed in the APEEI process. Faculty were involved throughout, he said, from the selection of a consultant to analysis of data. Some people may disagree with the recommendations, “but they can’t say that shared governance wasn’t taken into account,” Cooper told trustees.

The provost said that each of the university’s academic programs was assessed on mission, academic standards, markets and margins, including factors such as student demand, availability of jobs, competitor offerings, costs, etc. At the end of April, deans presented their recommendations to the provost, and those recommendations were shared with faculty before the end of the Spring semester in May. The review identifies programs as: “Grow” and “Grow+ (programs with potential for enhanced revenue); “Sustain” (programs with limited potential for growth but doing well in terms of efficiency and contribution), “Adjust” (programs with serious financial concerns that cannot continue without adjustments) and “Sunset” (programs that have neither a strong market nor are efficient in delivering programs and, therefore, should be discontinued).  

The board resolution says Smith and the Office of Academic Affairs will now work with the Academic Senate and the Graduate Council to conduct an impact study. Those recommendations will be presented to the board in September. Smith emphasized that students in “Sunset” programs will not be negatively affected, and will be able to complete their programs or transfer to a related program. In addition, no tenure track faculty will be affected, he said.  

Reports
With input from the outgoing board chair, Anita Hackstedde, and incoming board chair, John Jakubek, board committee assignments were made for 2021-22. Note that all trustees are members of all committees.

Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, talked with the committee about YSU Future State, including creation of a plan to achieve enrollment that respects YSU’s mission, vision and values and provides a pathway to fiscal sustainability, academic vibrancy and regional vitality. He also provided graphs and charts, showing where YSU stands in terms of completion rates vs cost to attend and the so-called price-to-earnings premium, which calculates the value of a college degree. He also noted that YSU’s future includes not just academic credentials, but skill-based credentials, as well, to support the region’s workforce needs.

Chair Hackstedde referenced a letter sent to the board April 30 from the YSU Academic Senate calling on the board to conduct a thorough examination of the efficiency and return-on-investment of all non-academic university units prior to taking any actions on APEEI. Trustee Ted Roberts said the purpose of letter is well-taken and agreed that the university needs to review all non-academic programs just as it is reviewing academic programs. Trustee Molly Seals said she believes the university leadership does a great job at continuously evaluating efficiencies in non-academic units and should not pause moving forward with the process of academic program review. National/Global Trustee Lafferty said YSU should always be evaluating, re-evaluating and adjusting on all levels.

Trustee Seals reported on the Association of Governing Boards national conference that took place virtually in April. Topics, she said, were very relevant to post-pandemic issues that universities and colleges are facing nationwide, including governance effectiveness, financial sustainability, faculty and shared governance, educational quality and student success, and issues related to justice, equity and inclusion. “We were pushed out of comfort zones during the pandemic and had to take actions that we had never even imagined,” she said in her report. “We must get comfortable pushing ourselves out of the comfort zone and take the type of risk required to make meaningful change.”

Resolution of Appreciation

Approved a resolution of Appreciation for student trustee Victoria M. Woods, whose two-year term expires. Woods said she learned a lot and thanked fellow board members. “This board does tremendous work, always with students at the core of all decisions,” she said, concluding: “I am truly Y and Proud.”

Memorials

President Tressel recognized the following passings:

  • John Barkett, active member of the Ice Castle and the Penguin Club, Dec. 15, 2020.
  • Stanley Guzell Jr., retired professor, Business Management, March 6, 2021.
  • Eleanor DeLuco, employee for over 30 years in the Registration department, March 7, 2021.
  • Cynthia Fammartino, employee for over 10 years, system analyst, March 11, 2021.
  • Ted Pedas, employee for 30 year, Planetarium, Administrator Emeritus, March 11, 2021.
  • Rufus Hudson, marketing coordinator, Metro College; former Youngstown City Councilman, March 13, 2021.
  • Chris Yambar, alum, nationally-recognized writer and artist, March 27, 2021.
  • Delores Texter, employee for 25 years, administrative assistant; mother of Kathy (Texter) Buser (Communication) and mother-in-law of Christina Texter (University Relations), March 27, 2021.
  • Clarence Smith, YSU Foundation trustee; established the Clarence R. Smith Mineral Museum in Moser Hall; led fund-raising for Stambaugh Stadium; Athletics Hall of Fame, April 13, 2021.
  • Helene Pope, employee for 25 years, Records department and Maag Library, April 13, 2021.
  • Virginia Chiarello, employee for 27 years, in Maag Library, May 20, 2021.
  • John Sesonsky, YSU alum, Newton Falls school teacher and coach, worked 15 years in catering at YSU after retiring, May 31, 2021.
Election of Board Officers

Trustees elected the following board officers for 2021-22: 

  • Chairperson John R. Jakubek
  • Vice chairperson Charles George
  • Secretary Molly Seals.
Board chair's remarks

Chairperson Hackstedde thanked faculty and administrators for recognizing the importance of program review and for their participation in the process. “We look forward to continue working collaboratively as we begin implementation of these recommendations,” she said. She also acknowledged the ending of her stint as chair, saying it was a crazy year, thanking her fellow board members and, jokingly, lamenting the fact that she never got to use her gavel.

Upcoming Regular Meetings of the Board

10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021
10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021
10 a.m., Thursday, March 3, 2022

Special announcement

Trustee Chuck George announced an effort led by him and Trustee Joe Kerola to raise money to establish a graduate fellowship in honor of President Jim Tressel. Seven current and former trustees gifted $250,000 for the graduate position in the new James P. Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork. “President Tressel is renowned across the state of Ohio and the nation for his skills in leading successful teams, from the locker room to the board room,” George said. “This fellowship will allow those skills and those successes to be ingrained in generations to come.” The announcement was a surprise for Tressel. “You guys are amazing,” he said, “and we’ll continue to do all we can for the Penguins.”

Adjournment