YSU Board of Trustees Summary, March 1 and 2, 2023

YSU sealA variety of approaches to help stabilize enrollment, from online classes and international recruitment to facilitating the success of readmitted students, were discussed in depth as part of the YSU Board of Trustees’ meetings Wednesday and Thursday, March 1 and 2, in Tod Hall. It was the first set of quarterly board meetings under Interim President Helen K. Lafferty but also included resolutions for former president and first lady Jim and Ellen Tressel.


Being that she has been in her position for only a month, Interim President Helen K. Lafferty said will hold off on a formal, comprehensive report until the board’s meeting in June. Lafferty said, however, that the one thing she is certain of in just her first few days in office is that YSU is a very special place, with committed and dedicated faculty, staff and students. She thanked everyone on campus.


Student - Tori Blandine, MS Environmental Science.
Faculty - Dragana Crnjak, professor, Art.
Student Organization - Julie Centofanti, Transcribing Initiative.
Athletics - Aline Scott, head coach, and player Isidora Sisic, Women's Volleyball.


Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, reported on several Athletics personnel actions, including two separations, one salary adjustment, two reclassifications and three multi-year appointments (men’s and women’s head basketball coach and head football coach).

Rebecca Fink, senior associate athletics director, reported on various metrics on the educational outcomes of student athletes. The report showed a 62 percent graduation rate for YSU athletes in 2022, compared with 43 percent for the general YSU student population. By comparison, overall student athlete graduation rate in the Horizon League is 69 percent and in the Missouri Valley Football Conference is 68 percent. In addition, Jaysen Spencer, director of Athletic Academic Services, reported that YSU student athletes earned a 3.42 average grade point average in Fall 2022, including 134 students with 4.0 GPAs and 81 percent with GPAs above 3.0.

Chet Cooper, YSU faculty athletic representative, presented a report breaking down the academic majors of student athletes. The report shows that the Williamson College of Business Administration enrolls the largest number of student athletes with 159, followed by the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services with 118.

Cooper also noted that the NCAA requires each institution to appoint a faculty member as a liaison between Athletics and Academics. Cooper, a professor of Biological Sciences who has fulfilled that liaison role since 2010, presented to the board a formal job description for the position. Cooper also told trustees that, given the growth of YSU Athletics, the university should consider adding a second faculty athletic rep sometime in the future.


A resolution to employ an Outsourced Chief Investment Officer Investment Strategy. John Colla of Clearstead, the university’s investment advisor, noted that the investment structure that exists today between Clearstead and YSU is considered non-discretionary. Under the resolution, that would change to an OCIO, which he said will allow Clearstead to act more nimbly, rebalancing the university’s portfolio and entering into new investment strategies when the firm believes is optimal, rather than waiting until the next board meeting for approval. Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, agreed that this action will lessen the university’s risk exposure.

A resolution to Approve the Addition of an Investment Manager for the Non-Endowed Long-Term Investment Pool. The resolution approves the addition of a $2.75 million commitment to the Apollo Infrastructure Opportunities Fund III and the addition of Apollo as an investment manager.

A resolution to Approve Clearstead’s Recommendation to Rebalance the Non-Endowment Long-Term Investment Pool. The recommendation includes moving $1 million out of equity funds into short term fixed funds.

(The above adjustments are within the criteria the board has in place to guide the management of the university’s investment portfolio.)

Colla presented the YSU Quarterly Portfolio Asset Allocation and Investment Performance Review.  

McNally presented the annual financial disclosure form that all trustees must complete each year, in accordance with the university’s investment policy.


Michelle DiLullo, staff auditor, updated the board on the university’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline, the FY23 Second Quarter Internal Audit Plan and Audit Matrix Open Audit Recommendations Update.

Julie Gentile, director of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, updated the board on Enterprise Risk Management, including two insurance claims: $325,000 in damage to six buildings on campus due to winter storms Dec. 24-26, and a fire at Ward Beecher Planetarium with losses estimated at $400,000 minimum. Estimated time of repair is six to eight months.

McNally reported on the university’s Sunshine Law Star Rating for FY22, stating that for the third consecutive year, YSU was awarded the “highest achievement in open and transparent government” by the Ohio Auditor of State. He also presented the NCAA Agreed Upon Procedures Report for FY 2022 and presented the WYSU-FM Radio Station Audit for FY 2022.


A resolution to Modify Purchasing Policy. The resolution was updated to allow for exceptions when consistent with the university’s diversity goals.

A resolution to Modify Acceptable Use of University Technology Resources Policy. The modifications limit TikTok and other social media platforms that harvest device and/or network data to designated devices and bans use of the platforms on university-owned devices that comingle data. Trustee Mike Peterson applauded the change. “I don’t believe people understand how dangerous TikTok is,” he said.

A resolution to Increase the International Application Fee, from $45 to $75. 

McNally provided a quarterly update on the FY 2023 Operating Budget, saying that the budget plan is tracking on or better than projected in most categories of revenues and expenses, and in total. He cautioned, however, that “unlike last year, when we ended FY 2022 with a carry-forward balance of $6.5 million, this year’s budget will be much closer to break-even, which of course is more in-line with the expected financial performance of most public entities, and especially state universities.” He added: “So this is a mixed report because on one hand it signals good news, which is that our budget plan for the current fiscal year is on track. But this report also tells us that a major budget strategy that we have in place now—that is, using prior year carryforward funds to balance this year’s budget—that option won’t be available to us next fiscal year.”

McNally also reported on budget planning for FY 2024. Noting that “student enrollment is the single most important variable when planning a university budget,” McNally presented a chart that shows YSU’s enrollment levels are projected to continue declining over the next several years. As a result, the budget planning “outlook over the next several years” will be a “difficult and sometimes painful exercise” for YSU and similar universities across Ohio and the nation.  “We’re going to need to be more aggressive at trimming expenses because revenues will not be enough to support current levels of operations,” he said.

John Hyden, associate vice president of University Facilities, presented a report on YSU capital projects, including utility distribution upgrades/expansion, Watson Team Center, Stambaugh Classroom/Beeghly Physical Therapy and Maag Library Learning Commons.

Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer, provided an update on Information Technology Services. Among other things, the report showed a 94 percent satisfaction rating on ITS’ responses to service requests submitted through tickets. It also showed that the number of service tickets concerning WiFi has declined by two-thirds, with a WiFi “uptime” of 99.4 percent. . Yukech attributed part of that success to the strategic use of federal COVID relief funding, much of which was used to support WiFi and other technology enhancements on campus.


The board nominated Jocelyne Kollay Linsalata as a global/national member of the YSU Board of Trustees. Linsalata is a native of Youngstown, a two-time YSU graduate, a longtime member and former chair of the YSU Foundation, chair of the Foundation’s “We See Tomorrow” campaign, recipient of YSU’s Friend of the University Award, and recipient of the Williamson College of Business Administration’s Outstanding Alumni Service Award.

Mike Sherman, vice president for Student Affairs, Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, updated the committee on continuing plans to refresh the YSU Plan for Strategic Actions to Take Charge of Our Future. 

Sherman also presented an overview of the 2022 IPEDS Feedback Report. Among the findings: YSU is more selective than comparable peer institutions, its net price is lower, its six-year graduation rate of 47 percent is roughly equivalent to the 48 percent of peer institutions, it receives proportionally less state funding, and its average faculty salaries are slightly lower. He indicated there are other ways to consider compensation that must be considered when making decisions regarding faculty pay. Sherman presented information on board-level key performance indicators, including enrollment, faculty headcounts, degrees awarded and graduation rates. And he provided information about states with the largest number of bachelor’s degree-granting, public or not-for-profit institutions (Ohio ranks fifth with 104). Additional analysis associated with the number of 18- to 24-year-olds indicates there is much competition amongst institutions for such a population, he reported.

Chair Jakubek reported on the nomination of officers for the YSU Board of Trustees for 2023-24. Nominees for chair are trustees Peterson and Molly Seals; for vice chair, trustee Chuck George; and for secretary, trustee Anita Hackstedde. He said the election of officers will take place at the board’s June meeting.


A resolution to Approve Religious Accommodations of Students Policy. The resolution assures that YSU complies with the Ohio "Testing Your Faith Act" that becomes law April 3, 2023. The purpose of the policy is to “establish procedures to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held beliefs and practices of individual students with regard to all examinations or other academic requirements and absences for reasons of faith or religious or spiritual belief system.” Under the policy, students will be granted up to three religious holidays each academic semester. 

Brien Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, reported on Academic Program Enhancement and Effectiveness. He presented the board with 30 university performance metrics and examples of strategies that can be implemented to meet those metrics.

Jennifer Pintar, vice provost, reported on continuing efforts by the administration and Academic Senate to transform the university’s general education requirements.

Martha Pallante, chair of Academic Senate, updated the board on the Senate’s activities, including the development of new general education requirements and ongoing discussions of post-COVID 19 classroom management practices. She also thanked Interim President Helen Lafferty for attending the Senate’s February meeting.


Heather Chunn, vice president, and Paul McFadden, president, reported that the YSU Foundation received $6.4 million in gifts and pledges in the first two quarters of fiscal year 2023, down from $12.3 million in the same period in 2022. McFadden also reported, however, that the Foundation received $7.5 million in just the last two months, driven by the campaign for the new Zoldan Family Student Center Campaign. “It has really generated a lot of excitement,” he said. Chunn also reported that the Foundation has hired four new staff members since November, with one more coming on board in March. The Foundation had four staff members in 2014, and now has 20. “We are very happy with the team,” Chunn said.

A team of individuals made a presentation on the university’s continuing efforts to optimize enrollment and increase the size and strength of the enrollment funnel. Presenters included Elaine Ruse, Christine Hubert, Nate Myers, Tysa Egleton, Amy Cossentino, Joy Polkabla Byers, Ross Morrone, Sal Sanders and Jennifer Pintar. Ruse reported that applications, admissions and the number of students registered already for orientation are all up for Fall 2023. Hubert reported that YSU recruiters attended 383 high school events and more than 100 college fairs this past Fall. She said applications from high school students for YSU’s College Credit Plus program are also on the rise and represent a great recruitment opportunity for YSU. Cossentino reported on various initiatives of the Sokolov Honors College, including increased efforts to build closer relationships with high school students. Egleton focused on efforts to get students who have been out of school for more than a year to readmit to the university. Myers presented information showing international student enrollment up significantly, from 340 in Fall 2021 to 668 this Spring semester. “We’re still very early in this growth curve,” he added. Polkabla Byers reported on residence hall occupancy. She said the number of students living in university residence halls has always dropped by about 50 students between Fall and Spring semesters. This year, the number actually increased by nearly 50 this Spring semester. Pintar presented a chart showing a dramatic increase in online enrollment, from 400 in Fall 2020 to 1,171 this past Fall semester, since YSU engaged with Academic Partnerships to recruit online students. Sanders shared a chart showing graduate student enrollment on the upswing as well, from 1,149 in Fall 2019 to 2,152 this past Fall semester. And Morrone talked about Marketing and Communications opportunities and initiatives to drive YSU from a regional university towards possibly a national university. 


Jennifer Oddo, vice president of Workforce Education and Innovation, provided an update on the division, including the organizational structure, financials, key projects and metrics. She introduced David Janofa, newly appointed associate vice president for Regional Operations, overseeing the Excellence Training Center at Kohli Hall, the IT Workforce Accelerator, Williamson Innovation Park, the Data Mine and Workforce Partnerships and Programs. Also included in the division are the National EV Training and Innovation Center and the Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork. 


A resolution to Modify Civic Leave with Pay, Excluded Professional/Administrative and Excluded Classified Staff Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s ongoing policy review process.

A resolution to Modify Unscheduled Leave Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s ongoing policy review process.

A resolution to Modify President’s Leadership Merit Awards Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s ongoing policy review process.

A resolution to Modify Employee Health Insurance Programs Policy. 

A resolution to Ratify Personnel Appointments, including Faculty (six separations, two appointments, two position adjustments) and Professional Administrative (11 separations, nine appointments, five reclassifications/position adjustments, seven promotions, six salary adjustments and one transfer.

Dana Lantz, director of Equal Opportunity and Policy Compliance, updated the committee on the university’s Affirmative Action Plan.

Nate Myers, associate provost for International and Global Initiatives, provided a Support Area Assessment on the International Programs Office, including information on international enrollment, study abroad, English as a Second Language, international cultural activities and events, and collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Tysa Egleton, interim university registrar, provided a Support Area Assessment on the Office of the Registrar, which includes Degree Audit and Records, Registration and the Penguin Service Center.


Interim President Lafferty recognized the following passings:

  • Alan Brass, donor.
  • Carmella Cassese, owner, MVR.
  • John D. Hyden, father of Associate Vice President for Facilities John Hyden. 
  • Mary Dimitriou, retired employee, Alumni and Events.
  • Anthony S. Yukech, father of Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jim Yukech.
  • Kylearia “Kylie” Day, student, Marketing Management.
  • Jedidiah Affum, graduate student, Communication.
  • Stephen Gage, retired director of Bands and conductor for W.D. Packard Concert Band.
  • Vincent Morgione, father of Associate General Counsel Greg Morgione.
  • Bruce Waller, retired professor chair, Philosophy and Religious Studies.
  • A. C. McCullough, radio host, WHOT-101.


Approved a Resolution of Appreciation for Service as a Student Trustee to Elsa Khan
Approved a Resolution to Designate James P. Tressel as President and Coach Emeritus
Approved a Resolution to Confer an Honorary Degree upon Ellen J. Tressel


Chair John Jakubek said he wanted to echo Interim President Lafferty’s remarks about the hard work and enthusiasm of YSU employees. The future, he said, is bright and in good hands with “the generation of students we are producing here at YSU.” Much of that is due to a talented and inspiring faculty: “You’re not going to have a great university if you don’t have a great faculty.” Jakubek, a graduate of YSU, said he has worked with 31 trustees, 17 student trustees and six presidents in his time on the board. “It’s been a great pleasure,” he said, adding, “There are a lot of great things happening here.” He also said, however, that YSU and higher education is facing many challenges, particularly with funding and enrollment. Changes, some that may impact people, will need to be made, he said. “We have to remember one thing: we are all in this together, and all of us will get through this together,” he added.


Thursday, June 22, 2023 - 10 a.m.
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 - 10 a.m.
Thursday, December 7, 2023 - 10 a.m.