YSU Board of Trustees summary, March 4 and 5, 2020

YSU Board of Trustees summary

YSU Board of Trustees, March 4 and 5, 2020

The YSU Board of Trustees approved a resolution regarding student serious misconduct, received a report on new enrollment initiatives, was updated on the university's response to the coronavirus and met new Head Football Coach Doug Phillips at its regular quarterly meetings Wednesday and Thursday, March 4 and 5 on campus. The board also recognized the national champion YSU Ethics Bowl team, thanked Chair Dave Deibel for his nine years of service and discussed plans to contract with a consulting firm to assist in evaluating, optimizing and enhancing the university's academic programs. For the full resolutions, and other background materials, visit the Board of Trustees website. Here is a summary of the meetings:

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel thanked the board for its work during challenging times, as well as the work of students, faculty and staff. “Our students continue to amaze,” he said.

Student Recognition
“We couldn’t be any prouder,” Provost Brien Smith said in introducing YSU’s national champion Ethics Bowl team - Samantha Fritz, Jacob Tomory, Moataz Abdelrasoul, Eva Lamberson and Michael Factor. Alan Tomhave, faculty advisor, said he started the team five years ago, and in that time has won four regional competitions and qualified for the national tournament five times. He said 11 students who have been on the team have since graduated; those 11 graduates have received 34 acceptances at law schools or graduate schools with offers of more than $2 million plus in scholarship funding. “You have an entire YSU nation that is very proud of you,” Trustee Mike Peterson said.

Faculty Presentations
Gary Walker,
chair of Biological Sciences, reported on his ongoing research on muscle development, including several student co-authored scholarly articles. His latest research involves rudimentary studies in tissue engineering.

Kristin Bruns, assistant professor of Counseling, School Psychology and Educational Leadership, talked with the board about her various research activities, including projects titled “Assessing New Admission Graduate Counseling Students’ Attitudes, Knowledge and Skills for Working with Suicidal Clients,” funded with a grant from the YSU Office of Assessment, and “Suicide Assessment in the Curriculum: Assessing Counselor Education,” funded with a University Research Council Grant.

Student Presentations
Marcy A. Grossman,
a student in the Williamson College of Business Administration’s master’s in Accounting program, talked about the many activities she has been involved in during her time at YSU, including Beta Alpha Psi, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and an internship at Hill, Barth & King.

Ashley Fabian reported on the activities of the YSU Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a student organization started a year ago to help raise awareness of and explore policy implications to protect students and other people at-risk of human trafficking.

Academic Excellence and Student Success

Approved a resolution regarding student serious misconduct, enhancing several policies and procedures that the university already has in place.

Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, said the resolution was developed over the course of the past several months and in consultation with YSU Student Government, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Graduate Council and the Academic Senate. Under the resolution, serious misconduct is defined as any act of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual exploitation and any assault that employs the use of a deadly weapon or that causes serious bodily injury. The resolution requires both current students and students transferring from another school to report to the YSU if they have been convicted of or pled guilty or no contest to a felony or misdemeanor of serious misconduct, or if they have been subject to official university disciplinary action due to serious misconduct. Such students will undergo heightened scrutiny for admission and participation in intercollegiate athletics and extracurricular activities. The policy also says that students suspended from YSU for serious misconduct will, upon return to campus, be placed on probation for one calendar year, preventing them from participating in extracurricular activities, including athletics, student organizations and student employment. Also, students with a previous finding of serious misconduct will not be permitted to participate in university athletics. In exceptional circumstances, the resolution allows for a waiver, approved by the head of athletics and student affairs. In addition, students expelled or suspended from YSU for serious misconduct will have the expulsion or suspension reflected as an addendum of their official university transcript.

Approved modifications to the Minors on Campus policy, including a new section that sets standards for the number of staff counselors required for minor camps on campus.

Approved modifications to the policy regarding the Appointment of Graduate Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, Graduate Assistant Interns and Teaching Assistants. The changes would impact appointments beginning summer 2020 semester.

Approved a resolution to award a Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Thomas A. Shipka, which will be presented at Spring Commencement on May 9 in Stambaugh Stadium. Shipka, a native of Youngstown, earned a bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University and a PhD in Philosophy at Boston College, and then joined the YSU faculty in 1969. In 37 years at YSU, he served in leadership roles in the Academic Senate, the Ohio Faculty Council, University Development Council and the campus faculty union, as he was chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies for several years. He received three Distinguished Professor Awards and the Chairperson Leadership Award, as well at the YSU Heritage Award – the university’s highest honor.

A six-person panel updated the board on enrollment initiatives - Provost Brien Smith; Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs; Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional; Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success; Shannon Tirone, associate vice president of University Relations; and Sal Sanders, dean of Graduate Studies. Howard reported that applications for Fall 2020 are trending down. He reported that Sue Davis has retired as director of Undergraduate Admissions and has been replaced by Christine Hubert as interim director. He also said Admissions is utilizing a new automated application process that admits students faster. “The earlier students are accepted, the earlier they can make a decision and we can put a packet in their hands,” Howard said. Smith noted that YSU’s four-year and six-year graduation rates are improving. That, however, means more students graduating and leaving the university, which also impacts enrollment. Sanders said Graduate Studies is expanding the number of spots available in select graduate programs, including Physical Therapy, Nursing and Public Health. Tirone said Marketing and Communications is working with deans to help develop a “toolbox” of materials that each college can use to help increase the number of enrolled students. Berardini reported that a pilot program targeting conditionally admitted students has resulted in a dramatic increase in Fall to Spring retention. She said her office has applied for a $1.5 million federal grant to expand the program. “It’s a great opportunity to push the wheel,” she said. After the presentations, Trustee Eric Spiegel said: “That all sounds good, but this looks pretty dire,” referring to applications for the Fall 2020 semester. While the recruiting demographics are not good, “something else has to be going on here,” he said. Smith said YSU’s enrollment demographics are, in fact, shrinking. He added, “We don’t understand our brand well enough to market” outside the Youngstown region. Trustee Seals responded, “It’s not a matter of understanding our brand, it’s a matter of defining our brand.”

Smith reported on plans underway to contract with a higher education-focused consulting firm to assist in evaluating, optimizing and enhancing YSU’s academic programs. Among other duties, the firm will help prioritize current and potential new programs of study, create an understanding for data-informed decision-making regarding efficiency and effectiveness and focus on factors such as the marginal cost of courses, academic programs, college profiles and financial measures that create a sustainable and vibrant future. He said he hopes to hire a consultant by the end of this semester, with analysis, deliberations and discussions taking place through this Fall.

Julie Gentile, director of Occupational Health and Safety, updated the board on the university’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, including collaborating with the Mahoning County Department of Health, implementing travel restrictions for university-sponsored travel, updating university pandemic response plans, creating a university coronavirus webpage and ongoing efforts to educate students, faculty and staff on steps they can take to curtail the spread of the disease.

Institutional Engagement

Approved a resolution accepting 869 memberships to WYSU-FM totaling $124,489 through the second quarter of fiscal year 2020.

Approved a resolution to accept from the YSU Foundation a gift of four vacant parcels of property – two parcels on Valley Drive and two parcels on Belmont Avenue.

Received a report on Spring Commencement 2020, which will be held in Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday, May 9. The stage will be set up on the 50-yard line and face the west stands. The ceremony will proceed rain or shine and will be canceled if there is a call for extreme weather. The benefits of changing the venue to the stadium from Beeghly Center include: with 17,000 seats, no need to limit the number of guests; more space for graduates on the field and in robing rooms; more handicap seating; video board; concessions; more restrooms; and more room for Barnes and Noble in the concourse.

The YSU Foundation reported that it received 2,352 outright gifts and 36 pledges totaling $4.88 million; pledge payments totaling $2.62 million; and nine new planned gift commitments totaling $1.33 million, for the second quarter of fiscal year 2020. President Tressel announced that the “We See Tomorrow” capital campaign has increased its goal from $100 million to $125 million. “We’re going to have to hustle” to reach the new goal, he added.

Received a report on the university’s ongoing government and business engagements, including with Oak Ridge National Labs, University of Northern Iowa Collaboration for Defense Supplies, Drive Ohio, ASM International, Communities of Excellence, Covid Technologies and DSM International.

Finance and Facilities


Approved a resolution to set room and board housing and other housing charges for fiscal year 2021. Among the charges is $9,700 annual room and board for the Fall 2020 and Fall 2019 student cohort, and $9,400 for the Fall 2018 student cohort.

Approved interfund transfers, including $301,685 from the faculty ESP fund to the General Fund and $600,000 from the Parking Service Plant Reserve to Parking Project Funds for major renovations to parking lots including the M-70, F-1, R-4 and F-80.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the Deposit of University Funds Policy, with only minor changes.

Approved a resolution to modify the Surplus Property Policy, with only minor changes.

Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, presented a budget-to-actual report for the first half of fiscal year 2020. McNally said revenue from tuition and mandatory fees is lower than desired due to decreased enrollment. He also said that fringe benefit costs are trending upward. He also said, however, that total wages have been curtailed, mostly due to the fact that 69 staff positions that were budgeted have not been filled.

Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, said there are about $18 million in campus construction projects underway or being planned, including the new University Tennis Center that will be complete on March 11. Other projects include campus roof replacements, Ward Beecher Science Hall repairs, the new Excellence Technology Center, pedestrian bridge renovations, locker room renovations in Beeghly Center and Stambaugh Stadium, Fedor Hall renovations, restroom renovations, improvements to the Physical Therapy area in Cushwa Hall and parking deck maintenance and repairs. John Hyden, associate vice president for Facilities, reported that the city of Youngstown’s major renovations for Fifth Avenue project are now expected to begin in June.

University Affairs

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions for Intercollegiate Athletics, including one new position, two separations and five salary adjustments.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Public Use of University Grounds for Expressive Activity, including a new definition of expressive activity: any lawful exercise of the right of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution of the United State and the state of Ohio, including verbal or written expression or speech, peaceful assembly or protest, distribution of literature, carrying and displaying signs and circulating petitions.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Military (Uniformed Service) Leave that includes only minor changes.

Approved a resolution to modify the Acting President Policy that includes only minor adjustments. The policy was modified under the university’s five-year policy review cycle.

Approved personnel actions, including four new positions, seven replacement positions, 11 separations, five reclassifications/adjustments, three promotions, 11 salary adjustments and one transfer.

Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, introduced YSU’s new head football coach, Doug Phillips. “To be able to come back to where it all started…there’s no other place I would have sprinted to except Youngstown State University,” said Phillips, a native of New Middletown, Ohio, who coached at YSU as a graduate assistant in 1991 and 1992 under President Tressel. Phillips said that in his first three weeks he has met with every player, has been out in the community meeting as many people and shaking as many hands as possible, and putting together a staff. “The most important thing we can do with our student athletes is to surround them with good people,” he told the board. A former head coach at Springfield Local and Salem high schools, Phillips spent the past three seasons on the University of Cincinnati football staff.

Strollo presented several charts showing 10-year trends in YSU’s Intercollegiate Athletics program, including demographics of student athletes, graduation rates, scholarships, revenue, Title IX and game attendance.

Executive Committee

Approved a resolution related to strategic allocation, reallocation and distribution of resources to Take Charge of Our Future. The resolution says that, to plan for a vibrant and sustainable future for YSU, reasonable consideration of an appropriately-sized, -scaled and –scoped university is warranted.


On first reading, the committee nominated Helen K. (Lamb) Lafferty as a global trustee for a three-year term starting July 2020. Trustees will give final approval in June. 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 has received the Villanova University Earl Bader Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching and the recently inaugurated Lafferty Award, awarded to a faculty member who excels in both teaching and counseling students. She received an honorary degree and gave the keynote address at YSU Fall Commencement in December 2019.

On first reading, the board approved the following officer appointments for 2020-21: Chair Anita Hackstedde and Vice Chair John Jakubek.

Trustees Molly Seals and Ted Roberts updated the board on the university’s strategic planning initiatives, including Key Performance Indicators and metrics related to student success, academic attributes, inclusive excellence and global connections, and fiscal integrity. Seals said board feedback is important as the plan moves forward, with the draft plan going to trustees for adoption in June. Roberts said collaboration across campus has been widespread. “We want this plan to live, not on a shelf, but in the campus community,” he said. “It has been born in the campus community, and it will live there.”

Trustee Seals also announced that she will be panelist in the closing plenary of the AGB national trustees conference in Washington D.C. in April. The session is titled, “Anticipating Student Demographic Shifts.”


Approved a resolution of Appreciation for Board Chair Dave Deibel, whose term is expiring. Deibel, a member of the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame and former president of the YSU Penguin Club, joined the board in 2011 and has served as chair for the past year. Trustee Deibel, noting that his nine-year term has gone by quickly, said it has been a privilege to serve, calling it “one of most rewarding times in my life.” He thanked various staff and administrators, including President Tressel, and introduced his family, three of whom he said are graduates of YSU. He also encouraged his fellow trustees to attend as many university events and gatherings as possible to get a better perspective on and appreciation of the university.

Approved a resolution of Appreciation for Student Trustee Rocco Core, whose two-year term is expiring. Core thanked his fellow board members and congratulated them and President Tressel for the many improvements on and around campus over the last four years. “I love being here at YSU,” he said, adding, “I’ll never forget this experience.”

President Tressel reported the passing of the following individuals:

  • Moesha S. Shelley, a student studying pre-law.
  • George Kulchytsky, faculty emeritus, History.
  • Judge Nathaniel Jones, alum, former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the Sixth Circuit.
  • Atty. Joseph Kondela, part-time faculty, History.
  • Margaret Magmore, retired, ROTC office.
  • Anthony Cougras, 1957 Youngstown College graduate and 1994 YSU Hall of Fame inductee.

Upcoming meetings

  • 10 a.m. Thursday, June 4, 2020
  • 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020
  • 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020