YSU Board of Trustees Summary, June 3 and 4, 2020

Youngstown State University

The YSU Board of Trustees approved a fiscal year 2021 budget that includes more than $20 million in spending reductions, endorsed the Take Charge of Our Future Mission, Vision, Values and the Plan for Strategic Actions, created the new Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education, and elected Anita Hackstedde as its new chair during meetings June 3 and 4. Trustees also appointed a new dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services and bid adieu to Franklin S. Bennett Jr. after three decades of service as board secretary. The meetings were held virtually on Facebook Live. For the full resolutions, and other background materials, visit the Board of Trustees website. Here’s a summary:

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

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel said YSU is fortunate that governors John Kasich and then Mike DeWine have appointed such extraordinary individuals to lead YSU as trustees, especially during these unprecedented times. He also acknowledged Franklin S. Bennett Jr.’s 30 years of service as board secretary, as well as the service of outgoing board chair Dave Deibel. “I don’t know anyone who loves this university and this Valley more than Dave Deibel,” he said. While YSU and the world was “turned on our heads” by the coronavirus pandemic this past Spring semester, the president said students, IT, faculty and the entire campus quickly and successfully pivoted to remote learning. “Our folks did a great job.” Planning now continues for the future, he said. Fall semester will resume in August, but it will be different, Tressel said. He thanked college deans for their hard work and leadership, members of the APAS and ACE unions for “unselfishly” agreeing to furloughs and pay cuts, and the YSU Foundation for its successful Penguin-to-Penguin campaign and increased scholarship allocations to help students during the pandemic. “Everybody at every turn has stepped up.” The President also said he thinks the pandemic has also clearly shown the continued importance of higher education. As people around the world seek a vaccine for the coronavirus, it’s clear that the eventual discovery will be by people whose pathway was through higher education. In addition, nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, logistics professionals and dozens of other professionals who have been on the frontlines of responding to the pandemic all trace their careers to higher education, he said. “It’s even more obvious to me at this moment that higher education…has to be a huge part of the solution,” he said.


Trustee Ted Roberts started the meeting with a brief moment of silence in recognition of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and the ensuing reaction.

Approved the Export Control Policy. The policy ensures that YSU’s research, scholarly and other activities comply with federal export control laws.

Approved a list of a dozen candidates to be considered for honorary degrees. Candidates are recommended to the board by the Academic Senate Executive Committee, the provost and the president.

Approved a resolution to acknowledge campus involvement in the strategic planning process and to recognize the leadership of the members of the Strategic Planning Organization Team, specifically Moataz M. Abdelrasoul, Coskun Bayrak, Kristine Blair, Amy Cossentino, Amy Crawford, Chet Cooper, Dana Davis, Tim Francisco, Rodney Harden, Jacci Johnson, Sepideh Khavari, Ken Learman and David Morgan. The resolution also recognizes: the assistance of the university’s campus communications and website design teams, including Becky Rose, Shannon Tirone and Ross Morrone; the conveners of the SPOT team - Brien Smith, A.J. Sumell, Jenn Pintar, Claire Berardini and Mike Sherman; and trustees Molly Seals and Ted Roberts. Trustee Seals said it is important to “celebrate the great work of a great team” that led the development of the strategic plan and to not let the importance of this moment pass without recognition. The plan, she said, is “truly the start of a new beginning of our university.”

Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, reported on a variety of efforts underway related to enrollment. While he said enrollment numbers are lagging behind last year, he also noted that it’s difficult making any firm enrollment projections, given the unknowns of the pandemic. He said the university has created a variety of virtual programs to stay in contact with students, including more than 350 online chats, more than 15,000 website visits and two online chats specifically with transfer students. He also reported on distribution of federal and local funds designed to help students through the pandemic. In all, more than 2,000 students have received more than $2 million in assistance. Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success, reported that all orientation sessions for new students are being held virtually. She commended Leslie Paige, director of First-Year Student Services, for doing a “beyond amazing job” in leading the development of an orientation program that mimics what a student would experience if they were on campus. She also reported that the university will introduce a new Student Success Seminar required course for all incoming students that focuses on the transition to college. Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, said collaboration among many offices has resulted in a more robust approach to enrollment and student success. “It’s remarkable the progress that has been made, the barriers that have been removed,” he said.

Provost Brien Smith reported that the name of the Department of Distance Education is being changed to the Department of Cyberlearning to better reflect the university’s desire to focus on technology enhanced learning and not the separation of faculty and learners.

Smith also reported the merger of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences into the new Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geology and Environmental Sciences. The department will have about 130 majors, with 13 faculty members and one administrative assistant.

Chet Cooper, professor of Biological Sciences and chair of the Academic Senate, reported on the work of the Senate over the past academic year, including the revision of the Senate’s bylaws, introduction of a new Senate podcast, and the implementation of several Senate policies to help the university in transitions necessary during the Spring semester.

Smith also reported on the progress of the Take Charge of Our Future Focus Group on Creative Course Delivery for a Safe YSU. Smith reported that the group is exploring a variety of ways to resume high-quality, safe face-to-face on-campus instruction in the Fall semester, including social distancing requirements and several modalities available to faculty for instruction delivery.


Accepted 1,211 WYSU memberships totaling $203,759 through the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. Approved the modification of the policy on University Police. The minor clerical changes are the result of the university’s regular review of policies.

Approved the modification of the Display of the Flag of the United States of America Policy. The minor clerical changes are the result of the university’s regular review of policies.

David Sipusic, associate general counsel for Research and executive director of the Excellence Training Center, reported that construction on the $11 million ETC is underway on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Commerce Street and should be completed by the end of March 2021, with an opening in August 2021. “It’s great to say that next year we’ll be able to walk into that Center,” he said. Trustee Seals said the center “is going to be absolutely critical to our future.” President Tressel noted that the Ohio Department of Higher Education has provided $500,000 to staff the center for two years.

Mike Hripko, associate vice president for External Affairs and Government Relations, reported on several initiatives, including an ongoing additive manufacturing collaboration with Northern Iowa University for training regional defense suppliers; working with Oakridge National Labs to pursue designation of YSU as a National Manufacturing Demonstration Facility in Hybrid Manufacturing and Battery; and partnering with JobsOhio related to YSU’s role in regional economic development in petrochemicals.

Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, reported that fund-raising in the first three months of 2020 has been extremely challenging. The $125 million “We See Tomorrow” campaign is now at $103 million, the most ever raised in a single campaign in the university’s history.

Shannon Tirone, associate vice president for University Relations, reported on the work of the Take Charge of Our Future Focus Group on Ongoing Communications, noting that 41 communications have gone out to campus regarding the pandemic “to make sure we’re keeping everyone in the loop and to be as transparent as possible.”


Approved a resolution to change student tuition and fees for the 2020-21academic and fiscal year. Undergraduate tuition would increase by $82 per semester (2 percent) for continuing students and $189 per semester (4 percent) for incoming students, as permitted by state law. Even with the increases, YSU’s tuition is expected to remain the lowest among comprehensive public universities in Ohio.

Approved a resolution to waive the non-resident surcharge for graduate students who earned an undergraduate degree at an Ohio college or university. Chancellor Randy Gardner of the Ohio Department of Higher Education has requested all Ohio state universities to offer such waivers as part of an effort to help Ohio become a net importer of college students from other states.

Approved the annual operating budget for fiscal year 2021. The $157.9 million budget, which reflects the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, is $26.1 million less than last fiscal year. The budget also projects a 15 percent decline in enrollment, a 20 percent decrease in state funding, elimination of staff and faculty vacancies, salary reductions, furloughs, 40 to 60 employee layoffs and a reorganization of the university’s academic operations. “This may be one of the most extraordinary budgets that we’ve seen at YSU,” said Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations. “There’s an incredible amount of red ink.” Trustee Capri Cafaro had several questions about the academic reorganization, and particularly the merging of the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. She particularly asked about the projected cost savings of the reorganization and the process used to make the decision. Provost Smith said that, normally, a reorganization like this would take 18 months. Given the severity of the budget challenges due to the pandemic, Smith said it was imperative to act decisively. He also noted that the university’s policy on shared governance allows for flexibility in shared governance in an emergency. President Tressel noted that when the pandemic hit, everyone on campus was asked to accelerate cost saving initiatives. He also noted that, while the budget calls for eliminating one of the universities eight colleges, it also calls for eliminating one of the university’s eight administrative divisions. The university needed to quickly find ways to come up with about $20 million in spending reductions, and the reorganization of the academic unit was one of those ways. Trustee Cafaro said that, while recognizing the difficult decisions required for this year’s budget, she was concerned by the academic restructuring, that she did not want to see departments put into colleges where they don’t fit, and that there needs to be better communications and collaboration moving forward. Trustee Seals noted that the board has been clear in asking the administration to develop greater efficiencies across campus. The key, she said, is doing that while maintaining engagement, respect and input of faculty and staff. Tressel emphasized that the budget is a planning document that can be adjusted. He said the administration needed to present to the board a balanced budget plan on June 3, but that does not mean that there is not some flexibility as the fiscal year progresses. He said the work that’s been done over the last two months in terms of figuring out the budget, has been extraordinary. Trustee Roberts added: “I regret that we have to do this; I regret that we did not have more time to get the input…but there was not the ability to defer this.” Trustee Anita Hackstedde commended employees in the ACE and APAS unions who approved an agreement resulting in significant pay cuts and furloughs. “Their level of commitment to this university is really amazing to me.”

Approved inter-fund transfers. The transfers include $2.67 million that YSU received in federal coronavirus emergency relief dollars that was used to fund student refunds caused by the pandemic - $1.38 million for housing and meal plan adjustments, $1.09 million for general fee and student health fee adjustments, and $198,934 in parking/transportation fee adjustments.

Approved a resolution to Modify Institutional Insurance Programs Policy. The minor clerical changes are the result of the university’s regular review of policies.

Approved a resolution to make organizational adjustments to support the fiscal year 2021 operating budget. The adjustments include creation of the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, and Education via converging the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and dissolving the Division of Governmental Affairs, External Relations and Economic Development. The resolution also acknowledges the likelihood that other actions may be necessary over the 2021 fiscal year to resolve a balanced budget. Trustee Cafaro said she was very concerned about future of a number of academic programs with the merger of the colleges. She said she was very disappointed and that there was a number of other and better ways that the reorganization could have been accomplished. Trustee Cafaro voted against the resolution.

Approved the FY21 Annual Audit Plan and Risk Assessment.

Rich White, director of Campus Planning, reported on a variety of campus improvement projects, including roof replacements, structural repairs to Ward Beecher Hall, locker room renovations in Stambaugh Stadium and Beeghly Center, the replacement of the artificial turf on Beede Field at Stambaugh Stadium, renovations to two pedestrian bridges, construction of the Excellence Training Center and renovations to academic areas.


Approved personnel actions for Intercollegiate Athletics, including 16 appointments and 15 separations. Approved modifications to the Resignation of Employment Policy.

Approved modifications of the Selection, Appointment and Annual Evaluation of Administrative Officers Policy.

Approved Jeffery B. Allen as the new dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, effective July 15. Allen, chosen after a national search, is currently the founding dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. He previously spent 20 years on the faculty at Wright State University in Dayton, including associate dean of the School of Professional Psychology for four years.

Approved the conferral of Emeritus Status for Faculty and Administrators. Faculty: Donna DeBlasio, Anthony Kos, Keith Lepak, Kin Moy, Tod Porter, Pamela Schuster, Stephanie Tingley, Bruce Waller and Jane Wetzel. Administrative staff: Catherine Cala, Susan Davis, Arlene Floyd, Cynthia Harrison, Elaine Jacobs, Joe Mosca, Marilyn O’Bruba, Mary Jane Quaranta and Dan Sahli.

Approved personnel actions, including seven appointments, 11 separations, five reclassifications, one promotion, one salary adjustment and one transfer.

Approved appointing Charles Howell as the dean of the new Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education.

Emily Wollet, associate director of Athletics, reviewed NCAA rules compliance for boosters, staff and friends of Intercollegiate Athletics.


Approved the appointment of Helen K. (Lamb) Lafferty as a global trustee for a three-year term starting July 2020. Lafferty, a native of Youngstown, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from YSU and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, followed by post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and the National University of Ireland-Galway. Her husband, Jim, graduated from YSU with a degree in Business Administration. For nearly four decades, Lafferty has been an administrator and a faculty member at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She received an honorary degree and gave the keynote address at YSU Fall Commencement in December 2019.

Approved a resolution endorsing the Take Charge of Our Future Mission, Vision, Values and the Plan for Strategic Actions. The plan, under development for more than two years and guided by a team of faculty, staff and students, says YSU is “an institution of opportunity” that inspires individuals, enhances futures and enriches lives, focusing on the centrality of students, excellence and innovation, integrity and human dignity, collaboration and public engagement. The plan also includes specific actions related to student futures and lifelong learning, academic distinction and the discovery of knowledge, and collective impact with the region. AJ Sumell, professor of Economics and one of the leaders of the Strategic Planning Organization Team, told the board that the goals in the strategic plan, while developed before the pandemic, are not only relevant post-pandemic, but more important than ever. He also said that the most challenging part of the process - implementation, accountability, resources – is to come.  “The long term success of this institution and our students and our community depend on it,” he added.

Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, and Julie Gentile, director of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, reported on the work of the Take Charge of Our Future Focus Group on Calendar Scenarios for a Safe YSU. The group was formed to consider calendar alterations, ensure facility readiness, establish safety protocols, develop return to campus guidelines, and create social distancing parameters for faculty, staff and students in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Howard said the group has developed health and safety guidelines, a campus return-to-work plan, hosted workshops for supervisors on return-to-work plans, created a frequently asked questions list and a website on return-to-work plans. Gentile reported that 55 university departments and offices have submitted health and safety plans, temperature screening stations are being developed for campus, 10 portable hand-washing units will be installed across campus, 60 Plexiglas barriers have been placed in high-traffic areas and classroom configurations are being considered for state-mandated six-foot social distancing. She noted that the campus started a phased return to campus on June 1 and that nearly 400 faculty, student, staff are now on site on campus.


Voted Anita Hackstedde as chair of the board; John Jakubek as vice chair; and Chuck George as secretary.

Approved 2020-21 committee appointments.

President Tressel reported the passing of the following individuals:

  • Coskun Bayrak, chair, Computer Science and Information Systems.
  • Ralph Yingst, professor emeritus, Chemistry.
  • Don Manning, Ohio House of Representatives, 59th District.
  • Marcellene Mayhall, former Piano instructor, Dana School of Music.
  • Ed DiGregorio, former women’s basketball coach.
  • Sudershan Garg, former trustee.
  • Thomas N. Dobbelstein, retired professor, Chemistry.

Approved a resolution recognizing Franklin S. Bennett Jr. for Exemplary Service as Secretary to the Board. The resolution noted that Bennett, who is leaving the position after 30 years, is only the third board secretary in the university’s 112-year history, following his father, Franklin S. Bennett, and Hugh Manchester. Bennett has been secretary for 60 percent of the YSU board meetings since the university became a public university. He has sworn in 47 trustees, 31 student trustees and has worked with six university presidents. He’s attended more than 1,000 board committee meetings and 80 commencements, and his signature appears on tens of thousands of university diplomas. The resolution says three trees will be planted on campus in honor of Bennett, his father and Manchester. Bennett said he’s deeply touched by the resolution. “It seems impossible that 30 years have passed since I walked into that Manchester Room, first as a sub for my father and then as secretary,” he said, adding, “If that room could talk, a very, very interesting story it could tell.” He recalled sitting in the room several years ago during an Athletics trustees committee meeting when then Athletic Director Joe Malmisur introduced the university’s new head football coach – Jim Tressel. “It’s been a privilege and an honor that I’ll never forget,” he said about his three decades of service.

Upcoming meetings
10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020
10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020
10 a.m. Thursday, March 4, 2020.

Alma mater
Virtual performance by YSU students