YSU Board of Trustees summary, March 6 and 7, 2019

Youngstown State University Board of Trustees
March 6 and 7, 2019

The YSU Board of Trustees heard reports on enrollment, student success, the budget, campus security and the “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign, and also approved several resolutions, including two honorary degrees and Resolutions of Appreciation for two board members, during its quarterly meetings Wednesday and Thursday, March 6 and 7, 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 at https://ysu.edu/board-of-trustees

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel announced that the Board of Trustees has been selected to receive the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, one of the nation’s top honors given to governing boards demonstrating exceptional leadership and initiative. The nomination submission for YSU focuses on the board’s successes in wading through a variety of challenges that have faced the university over the past five years, including financial uncertainty, falling enrollment and frequent changes in presidential leadership. Andrew Lounder, AGB’s director of programs, was at the board meeting and congratulated trustees. “The YSU Board of Trustees has played an indispensable role in ensuring the sustainability of this institution going forward, and as a result a bright future for YSU's many beneficiaries,” he said.  The YSU board was selected from nearly 40 nominations and will officially receive the award at the AGB National Meeting April 14 to 16 in Orlando, Fla.

Faculty presentations
M. Kathleen L. Cripe, an associate professor in the Beeghly College of Education, outlined for the board her research that explores the perceptions student teachers have about urban schools, teachers and students. She said early results show that student teachers who have done field experiences in urban schools have racist beliefs toward the schools. “It is our opportunity to change that” and better prepare future teachers to work in urban school environments, she said.

Alicia Prieto Langarica, an associate professor of Mathematics, talked to the board about her continuing efforts to engage undergraduate students in research and to continue to recruit students, especially female and minority students, into mathematics studies and careers. She said that more than half of students who declare math as a major end up majoring in something else and that it’s important to better educate students about what opportunities a math degree offers.

Student presentations
Jenna Roesch and Isabel Stoeber spoke to the board about Guinathon, a charitable student organization that has raised more than $100,000 in the last three years for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Roesch, a Communications major, is the founder and past executive director of Guinathon, and Stoeber, an Intervention Specialist major, is the executive director. The group’s biggest fundraiser is an annual dance marathon that, over the past three years, has grown from 120 participants to more than 200. At the most recent marathon in February, the group raised more than $57,000.

Jess Flynn, a senior Accounting major, and Samantha Morris, a freshman Pre-Nursing major, talked about the YSU Western Equestrian Team. The team, a member of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, is a club sport at YSU. The team recently qualified for the IHSA Western Semifinals, March 16 and 17, at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. The top four individuals and top three teams will advance to the National Championships in May in Syracuse, N.Y.


Approved a resolution to modify the Sabbatical Leave for Department Chairpersons policy. Changes are minor, clarifying parameters and procedures for granting of sabbaticals.

Approved a resolution on Faculty Tenure. The resolution ensures that “commercialization” is included as one of the areas as a pathway to tenure, as per state law.

Approved a resolution to confer an honorary doctor of Business Administration degree on Sam Grooms, chief executive officer of Hy-Tek Material Handling in Columbus. Grooms, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from YSU, is a former member of the YSU Board of Trustees and is a past president of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association.

Approved a resolution to confer an honorary doctor of Business Administration degree on Don Lewis, president of SCA’s Americas Business Unit, responsible for businesses in North and Latin America that generate more than $2 billion in sales annually. Lewis is a graduate of YSU.

Approved a resolution related to strategic planning. The resolution is titled “Taking Charge of Our Future” and identifies the following focus areas for the university’s next strategic plan: Increasing educational quality; focusing on research in a strategic manner; increasing attention to enrollment of new students; emphasizing a focus on student success; building strategic, strong and purposeful collaborations with external community stakeholders; attaining a level of technological capacity and competency; using reliable data created through a governance structure to generate and analyze information to create insights for well-informed decision-making; assuring organizational structures, processes and policies streamlining, as well as optimizing performance management, peer review, planning, budgeting and financial management systems that prioritize the focus areas of the strategic plan.

Gary Swegan, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, reported that enrollment is up for the Spring semester, the seventh consecutive semester-to-semester increase, and he said enrollment numbers for the Fall semester “look very favorable” as well. He also reported that the number of freshmen and continuing students who have already paid for housing for the Fall semester is at a five-year high. “We feel comfortable that we will be at capacity again” in university housing, he said. Meanwhile, Sal Sanders, dean of Graduate Studies, said the number of graduate students already admitted for Fall semester is up 44 percent. Swegan also reported that the percentage of YSU students defaulting on their student loans continues to drop. While the default rate was 20.3 percent in fiscal year 2011, it has steadily fallen to 11.8 percent in fiscal year 2016, the most recent year that data is available. Swegan said the decrease is a reflection of “better, higher quality students” being enrolled. Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, told the board that, with Swegan’s retirement, Enrollment Management responsibilities will now fall under his division. Howard thanked Swegan for his successful work overseeing the university’s enrollment efforts. “Thanks for the quality of your work,” Trustee Ted Roberts added. “It’s helped us focus much more on student success and student progress for the future.”

Kelly Beers, director of Title IX, talked with the board about the work and the goals of her office.

Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success, and Mike Sherman, special assistant to the President, talked with the board about a variety of initiatives related to Student Success and Academic Excellence. Sherman emphasized that Student Success and Academic Excellence are central to all that the university does. Sherman also showed trustees a pie chart showing that 63 percent of students enrolled in Fall 2017 continued to be enrolled in Fall 2018. On the other hand, there are about 1,700 students that were enrolled in Fall 2017 who are no longer enrolled and cannot be accounted for. That segment of students will be a major focus – “like a laser” – in future student success initiatives, Sherman said. “This is one opportunity we have to improve,” he added.

Jennifer Pintar, associate provost for Academic Administration, presented the YSU’s 2018 University Remediation Report that shows a declining number of student in remedial classes. The report says 852 students were enrolled in remedial classes during 2017-18 (Summer 2017, Fall 2017 and Spring 2018) at a cost of $453,900 to the university and $1.1 million to students. That’s significantly lower that the 1,514 students enrolled in remedial classes in 2016-17 at a cost of $980,879 to the university and $2.39 million to students.


Approved a resolution to accept WYSU members, totaling 1,029 or $126,460 through the second quarter of fiscal year 2019.

Approved a resolution to accept a gift of property from the YSU Foundation. The property is located a 22 W. Wood St., 377 W. Scott St. and 382 Grant St.

Approved a resolution to modify the Emergency Response policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s five-year review cycle. Only minor revisions were made.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Social Media Use on Official and Affiliated Sites. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s five-year review cycle. Only minor revisions were made.

Police Chief Shawn Varso reported on several steps the university police department has taken since the campus lockdown on Dec. 3. Among the steps: eight large-scale ALICE active shooter training classes attended by more than 200 people across campus; testing of the campus mass communication public address system; introduction of a new YSUPD monthly newsletter to campus; and plans to develop training videos for campus regarding emergency response.

Mike Hripko, associate vice president for External Affairs, Government Relations and Economic Development, updated the board on the continued development of the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center. The current focus of the initiative includes the following elements: maintaining partnerships, ensuring sustainability, establishing operations and constructing the building. Hripko said he met with each of the MVICC partners in January to review a draft organizational agreement. He also said that MVICC is continuing discussions for possible future relationships with the University Affiliated Research Center, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Manufacturing Demo Facility and the Air Force Academic Partnership and Engagement Experiment. And he reported that the final design of the MVICC facility will be submitted by the end of March, with a projected construction start date in August 2019 and completion date in August 2020. He also presented preliminary architect renderings of the building, pictured below.

Jackie Leviseur, director of Alumni Relations and University Events, reported on the YSU Lecture Series, including upcoming lectures by TV personalities Dan Abrams and Nancy Grace and former NFL running back Eddie George.

Becky Rose, assistant director of University Communications, reported on ongoing strategic planning communications.

Heather Chunn, vice president of the YSU Foundation, presented the Foundation’s quarterly gift report, noting that the $100 million “We See Tomorrow” capital fund-raising campaign is now at about $87 million. That includes nearly 22,000 total gifts and 28 gifts of $1 million or more. President Tressel said the Foundation hopes to reach the $100 million goal by the end of 2019.



Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Closed Circuit Television System Use. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s five-year review cycle. Only minor revisions were made.

Approved a resolution setting the tuition rate for the second cohort class of the Penguin Tuition Promise. The university implemented the Penguin Tuition Promise effective for students entering YSU in the current 2018-19 academic year. The program provides fixed tuition and fees for undergraduate students for four consecutive years. For subsequent academic years, state law allows universities to adjust the guaranteed tuition rate by the rate of inflation, which is 1.5 percent. The board, therefore, approved a base tuition rate of $4,516 per semester for full-time students entering YSU in the next academic year, 2019-20. The rate is 1.5 percent higher than students who entered the university in the 2018-19 academic year.

Approved a resolution for Interfund Transfers, moving $412,800 for the North Central Parking Lot to the indoor tennis center project, and $950,000 from the North Central Parking Lot to the Cafaro Field project.


Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, provided an update to the board on the first half of the fiscal year 2019 budget. He noted that total revenues were on target, although revenue from tuition/fees was tracking below budget due to actual enrollments being slightly lower than projected. McNally also noted that total budgeted expenses and transfers were on target. He also specifically pointed out that scholarship spending, which grew by 156 percent over the previous three years, appears to have stabilized. Nonetheless, scholarship spending is still expected to exceed budget by about $500,000, and that is despite the use of $541,000 in one-time scholarship funding from the Ohio BMV Alumni License Plate program. He said the university has contracted with the Education Advisory Board to analyze YSU’s scholarship program and to “add a layer of sophistication for our scholarship awarding strategy”.

Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, reported on various building projects on campus, including the Don Constantini Multimedia Center at Stambaugh Stadium, expected to be completed the first week of September; the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center, slated for completion Fall 2020; the new tennis center on the west side of campus, expected completion by the end of 2019. Other projects include a new intramural field adjacent to Cafaro House, housing and campus building roof renovations, and renovations to Meshel Hall and to Physical Therapy areas in Cushwa Hall.

John Hyden, associate vice president for Facilities, reported on campus security measures in the wake of the campus lockdown in December. Hyden said that over winter break, door hardware was modified so that now all classroom doors can be manually locked. Facilities staff has since met with representatives from Johnson Controls to look into a system that would allow for all campus doors to be locked from a central location. Hyden said the price for such a system would be about $1.1 million to $1.5 million.


Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions for Intercollegiate Athletics.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the Designation of Movable University Holidays Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s five-year review cycle. The policy name has been changed to “University Holidays.” Otherwise, only minor revisions were made.

Approved a resolution to modify the Collective Bargaining and Negotiations Policy. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s five-year review cycle. Only minor revisions were made.

Approved a resolution to rescind the policy on Multiple-Year Contracts for Executive Level Officers, Administrative Officers and Other Designated Professional/Administrative Staff. Provisions included in this policy will be revised and included in other policies.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the policy on the Selection and Evaluation of Administrative Officers of the University. The policy has been retitled to Selection, Appointment and Annual Evaluation of Administrative Officers. The modifications include: allowing the president to approve the posting of an administrative officer position; allowing for administrative officer appointments that include a 90-day notice of termination clause; and allowing for administrative officer employment contracts, when in the best interest of the university. Administrative officers include college deans, associate vice presidents, executive directors, associate provosts, assistant provosts, the director of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development and other positions designated by the president.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the policy on the Selection and Evaluation of Executive Officers of the University. The policy has been retitled to Selection, Appointment and Annual Evaluation of Executive Officers. The modifications include: clarifying that the Board of Trustees must approve posting of executive officer positions; allowing for a 90-day termination clause; allowing for an employment contract when in the best interest of the university; clarifying that both appointment and employment contracts must be approved by the Board of Trustees prior to the employment start date. Executive officers are the president and vice presidents of the university.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the policy on the Selection of Professional/Administrative Staff. The policy has been retitled to Selection, Appointment and Evaluation of Professional/Administrative Staff. The modifications include: allowing the president to approving the posting of a position; allowing for a 60-day notice of termination clause; and allowing for an employment contract when in the best interest of the university.

Approved a resolution for the University Retirement Plan Committee Charter. The committee is designed to oversee and to ensure the financial integrity of alternative retirement plan options and voluntary defined contribution plans, i.e. 403(b) and 457(b), available to employees.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions, including 16 appointments, 10 separations, 10 reclassifications/position adjustments, eight promotions and two salary adjustments.


Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, presented the board with several documents as an overview of Intercollegiate Athletics at YSU, including the mission statement and a list of critical issues for the program. He also presented a 10-year “snap shot” of Athletics that shows, among other things, an increase in total number of student athletes, international student athletes and minority student athletes. The university currently has a little more than 400 student athletes and would like to increase that to nearly 500, Strollo said. The introduction of a new men’s swimming/diving team and women’s lacrosse team, as well as the doubling of the cross country program, will attract several students, he said.

Jennifer Drennan, director of Organizational Development, reported to the board about the new Office of Organizational Development, which started in September 2018. The office provides training and development opportunities to upgrade employee skills. Drennan said the office, which reports to Human Resources, is currently assessing all training programs in place at the university, with a particular focus this year on improving management training and development.

Governance Committee

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

Nominated Dave Deibel to serve as chair of the board for 2019-20. Anita Hackstedde was nominated to serve as vice chair, and Frank Bennett was nominated to again serve as board secretary. The nominations will be voted on at the board’s June meeting.


The board approved a Resolution of Appreciation for Dee Crawford, a 1968 graduate of YSU whose nine-year term as a trustee is expiring. Crawford was named to the board in 2010. The resolution recognizes Crawford’s regular attendance at hundreds of meetings and other events while unflinchingly managing major family and personal health challenges.

The board approved a Resolution of Appreciation for Lexi Rager, whose two-year term as a student trustee is expiring. Rager is a senior Mathematics and Psychology major.

Tressel reported on the passing of the following individuals:

  • Guy Shebat, faculty, English.

  • Norma Watson, donor, mother of Ellen Tressel.

  • Martin O’Connell, former trustee.

  • Barbara Krauss, WYSU.

  • Pei Huang, faculty, History.

Chair’s remarks
Crawford said her YSU journey started as a student, continued as an employee, and then a member of the Board of Trustees, and finally chair of the board. “It’s been an honor,” she said, noting that she believes the university has a great future.

Upcoming meetings of the board:

  • 10 a.m., Thursday, June 6, 2019

  • 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019

  • 10 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019