YSU Board of Trustees Summary, Sept. 20 and 21, 2022

The search for a new president, how to fund proposed renovations to Kilcawley Center, establishing university-wide learning outcomes and formally creating the new Division of Workforce Education and Innovation were among topics discussed and actions taken during two days of meetings this week by the YSU Board of Trustees. The board met in Tod Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 20 and 21. For the full resolutions, and other background materials, visit the Board of Trustees website. Here’s a summary.

Oath of Office

Board Secretary Molly Seals gave the Oath of Office to Trustee Dr. Surgul A. Erzurum, ophthalmologist and vice president of Eye Care Associates in Poland, Ohio. Erzurum’s term expires in 2031.

President’s Report

Tressel said that, since the board’s last meetings in June, “It’s been fun to watch the entire campus work together to welcome a new group of Penguins to campus,” from orientation to Ignite to residence halls move-in to the start of Fall semester classes. He also said that seven-hours of board committee meetings revealed several examples of collaboration, progress and passion for each other and students across the campus. While there are many challenges facing all of higher education, Tressel said he is confident with “the people we have who care greatly about our students,” adding, “Our faculty, our staff, our administration and our students, truly make us Y and Proud.”


Jennifer Behney, associate professor, Department of English and World Languages, discussed her ongoing research in Applied Linguistics, specifically second language acquisition and second language education. 

Jasper Sharpless, senior Anthropology major, talked about his internship and research at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History titled “Blunt-force Fractures by Sex and Age.” The project utilizes the Hamann-Todd Human Osteological Collection, a collection of more than 3,000 human skeletons between 1912 and 1938. 

Student Organization 
Members of YSU’s Baja Racing Team, a group of 25 students who design, fabricate, machine and race a mini-car at competitions around the country, reported on their activities
Students Kenneth Vigorito and Jared Koenig discussed YSU’s nationally-successful concrete canoe and steel bridge teams via the YSU chapter of ASCE. This year, for the second consecutive year, both YSU teams took the top prize in the regional competition, besting teams from 17 other universities. The Steel Bridge team has placed first in four of the last five regional contests, while the Concrete Canoe team has won three of the last four. 

Rick Penniman, head coach pole vault, talked about the pole-vaulting program, and senior pole vaulter Wyatt Lefker talked about competing in the sport. Lefker is a Horizon League champion who holds YSU’s pole vaulting record and recently competed in NCAA outdoor championship. He is the sixth member of YSU's Outdoor Track and Field program in school history to be designated an All-American.


Approved a Resolution to Modify Scheduling of Intercollegiate Athletics and University Sponsored and Recognized Student Organization Activities During Final Examination Period Policy, 3356-6-01. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle. No substantial changes.

Approved a Resolution to Rescind Intercollegiate Athletics Programs – Student-Athletes Policy, 3356-6-02.

Approved a Resolution to Modify and Retitle Governance of Intercollegiate Athletics Policy, 3356-6-03. This resolution modifies the content of Policy 3356-6-03 to maintain all existing provisions for governance of Intercollegiate Athletics while adding the provisions for operations of Intercollegiate Athletics taken from the now rescinded 3356-6-02, effectively combining and condensing the two policies into the newly modified 3356-6-03.

Ron Strollo, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, reported on recent personnel actions in Athletics, including seven separations, three appointment and 17 salary adjustments.

Strollo also presented several charts showing YSU Athletics’ 2020-21 financials compared to other universities in the Horizon, Missouri Valley and Mid-American conferences. For instance, YSU spent $3.8 million and generated revenue of $763,918 on football, compared to the average of $4.6 million and $444,357, respectively, across the MVFC. YSU ranked sixth in the MVFC in football expenses and seventh in salaries. Football accounted for nearly 30 percent of the YSU Athletics budget. Meanwhile, YSU spent $1.4 million on men’s basketball and $1.1 million on women’s basketball, compared to average in Horizon League of $1.97 million and $1.3 million, respectively. In addition, the reports show YSU spent $6.9 million on men’s sports and $4.7 million on women’s sports, compared to peer average of $9.8 million and $5.7 million, respectively. Strollo noted that some of the numbers may have been impacted by COVID-19. Tressel noted that the number of student athletes has strategically increased significantly over the past 15 years, and he said most of them are not on full scholarships. Those students, he said, come to YSU and pay tuition out-of-pocket. In addition, the university gets state subsidy for those students being enrolled, he noted. He also indicated that during the period of the pandemic there were many restrictions on scheduled competitions that significantly reduced the revenue that would be typically generated by competing in regular season contests.


Mike Shebak of Clearstead presented the Quarterly Portfolio Asset Allocation and Investment Performance Review for YSU investments, noting that most areas of equity markets eclipsed bear market territory in the second quarter of the year. He also noted that interest rates are up and the bond market is down for the second consecutive year, the first time for that to happen since the 1980s. The university’s long-term investment pool declined by nearly 10 percent during fiscal year 2022, he said. Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, noted that YSU’s investment performance is not unique given the volatility of the investment market. He added that the negative effect this has had on the university’s financial position will be more apparent when YSU’s FY 2022 audited financial report is released in December.

Shebak also withdrew a resolution asking the board to approve recommendations to rebalance the non-endowment long-term investment pool. Shebak told the board that Clearstead was withdrawing its recommendation because equities have declined even more since the rebalancing recommendation was made in August. Trustees discussed the possibility of allowing more discretion in investment actions, so the university can react to market volatility more quickly and mitigate losses. Shebak said Clearstead will present to the committee at its next meeting a framework that could be adopted that would allow more discretion. 


Approved a Resolution to Approve the Selection of a Staff Auditor in the Office of Internal Audit. The resolution names Michelle DiLullo as staff auditor. DiLullo holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from YSU.

DiLullo updated the subcommittee on the YSU Anonymous Reporting Hotline and the Audit and Matrix Open Audit Recommendations. Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, updated the subcommittee on Enterprise Risk Management, including the latest meeting of the University Risk Council, and Katrena Davidson, associate vice president of Finance and Controller, updated the subcommittee on the GASB Statement 87.


Approved a Resolution to Select Interim President and Thereafter Conduct National Search. The resolution says the board will conduct a “full and thorough national search using a respected national recruiting firm” to find a replacement for President Jim Tressel, who announced in June that he will be stepping aside on Feb. 1, 2023. The resolution also says that the board will appoint an interim president sometime before its December meeting. The interim president will take the position when Tressel leaves.


Approved a Resolution to Modify University Construction/Renovation Projects Policy, 3356-4-15. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle.

Approved a Resolution to Modify Key Control Policy, 3356-4-16. The policy was reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle.

Approved a Resolution to Approve Interfund Transfers Related to FY 2022 Year-End Operating Performance. McNally said the university ended FY 2022 with an operating fund balance of $6.45 million. The size of the balance is due mostly to an influx of federal COVID-19 relief funds during the pandemic. The resolution allocates the majority of the carry-forward balance, $5.46 million, to the general fund budget to support current year operations, in accordance with the FY 2023 budget plan adopted by trustees in June. In addition, $500,000 is allocated to academic plant funds and $495,000 to plant reserves for the Andrews Student Wellness and Recreation Center, Parking Services and Kilcawley Center. 

Approved a Resolution to Approve FY24 Housing and Courtyard Rates. Room and board for the FY24 cohort of students staying in university residence halls will increase 2 percent to $10,384 a year. Monthly rent for the University Courtyard Apartments will be $880 for 1 bedroom, $750 for two bedroom and $655 for four-bedroom, up from $855, $725 and $630, respectively. Joy Polkabla Byers, associate vice president of Student Experience, said the university is planning to take over management of Courtyard.

McNally reviewed a draft Supplier Diversity Policy outlining YSU’s commitment to strengthening supplier diversity and developing relationships with socially and economically disadvantaged businesses by utilizing diverse vendors. He said a final version of the policy will be included in the board’s December meeting agenda. He indicated that Assistant Provost Carol Bennett had been consulted as the proposed policy was developed, and he recognized that suggestions also had been received from Trustee Seals.

John Hyden, associate vice president of University Facilities, and Rich White, director of Planning and Construction, updated the board on several capital projects, including elevator safety repairs and replacements, building envelope renovations, utility distribution upgrades/expansion, Watson Team Center, demolition of the Fifth Avenue parking deck, and renovations to Fok and Moser halls, as well as the Wick Avenue parking deck and Lyden House. 

McNally said there has been much discussion since the board’s June meetings about the most feasible funding scenarios for an approximately $40 million renovation of Kilcawley Center. He suggested an approach that would involve $15 million in private gifts for the project and also issuing $25 million in bonds. “Regardless of what happens with interest rates, any scenario that includes significant amounts of private gifts will be a whole lot more viable if we’re seriously going to undertake a $40 million construction project,” he said. He also said there have been discussions with the Chancellor’s office in Columbus about the possibility of including a student fee to help support the renovated facility. “We’ll keep having discussions,” Tressel said, adding that the administration will provide an updated funding strategy in December and continue working with the YSU Foundation on the fundraising aspect. The president also discussed a plan to transform parts of Maag Library into a “learning commons” to complement and to help reduce the size of Kilcawley Center, thus saving money on the renovations. In discussions, Tressel said the “best case scenario” would have the renovated Kilcawley completed by Fall 2025. 

Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer, talked with trustees about YSU’s continued digital transformation initiatives, including CRM Advise, Banner 9 self-service modules, WiFi and network upgrades, cyber security enhancements, PC refresh program, technology training and Classrooms of the Future. “You need to make these investments to pave the way for future workflow improvements,” he said. 


Approved on Second Reading a Resolution to Amend the Bylaws of the Board of Trustees. The amendment changes the quorum for a committee of the Board from six to five as five is the number required for a quroum for a meeting of the full Board. 

Approved a Resolution to Approve Electronic Attendance of Board of Trustees’ Meetings Policy, 3356-1-13. The new policy permits trustees to attend meetings via means of electronic communication. The policy says that a trustee must attend in person at least half of the regular meetings of the board annually, and that at least one-third of board members must attend each regular meeting in person. Trustees reiterated how beneficial it is to be present at the meetings but acknowledged there may be circumstances that warrant such flexibility. 

Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, presented “a new way of measuring value in higher ed” college ranking system from the Third Way, a national think tank. The ranking is based on the Economic Mobility Index, which places value on how well institutions serve low-income students. Among 12 Ohio public universities, YSU ranks fifth in the index and has the lowest net price to earn a credential, the second lowest enrollment and the third largest proportion of students receiving federal PELL Grants. Sherman noted that these types of measures are in the viewfinder of national higher education organizations and at state and federal levels for assessing the value of a degree. So, he said it is wise for the administration to keep the board informed as alternative measures emerge.

Sherman also reported on topics covered in recent Future State conversations with deans and department chairs. He noted that YSU is neither a glass half-full nor a glass half-empty institution, but an institution that has several glasses overflowing with opportunities. He discussed that “demographic busting” is necessary so that demographics are not YSU’s destiny. He outlined the current and emerging demographic-busting strategies that are in place and are being developed for implementation, including strategic online graduate programs, admitted student and orientation yield enhancements, international student enrollment and success plans and strategies, advising redesign and new technology platforms that provide opportunity for more timely interactions with students to enhance their success. 


Approved a Resolution to Modify "The Student Code of Conduct" Policy, 3356-8-01.1. Modifications include requiring that records related to expulsion be retained indefinitely and not be expunged after 15 years. The modifications also terminate interim measures issued prior to a student conduct board hearing when risk to the university community, damage to university property and/or disruption of university operations has been mitigated.

Approved a Resolution to Authorize Conferral of Honorary Degree on David Lee Morgan Jr., a graduate of YSU and currently an English and Video Journalism teacher at Stow-Munroe Falls High School in Stow, Ohio. He previously was a sportswriter.

Jennifer Pintar, associate provost for Academic Administration, reported on four university-wide learning outcomes that have been proposed to Academic Senate. The outcomes say that YSU graduates: are critical, creative and integrative thinkers who incorporate a range of interdisciplinary knowledge; recognize the impacts of different dimensions of health, which include physical health, emotional well-being, social support, economic stability, environmental quality, educational opportunity and health-care accessibility; are global communicators who curate and disseminate discipline-specific knowledge through appropriate channels for audiences in a variety of modalities; and connect scholarly research, academic inquiry and/or artistic expression to actions that inspire a civically engaged mindset and contribute to society through service to their community. 

Brien Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, reported on the Academic Program Effectiveness and Efficiency Initiative. The initiative, he said, is chiefly a response to the Higher Learning Commission’s mandate that YSU implement a comprehensive academic program review process. APEEI is designed to be, he said, a continuous improvement process that is owned in large part by the faculty. It is not a means, he said, to drop or eliminate programs. Kevin Ball, associate provost for Academic Programs and Planning, agreed. He said the initiative allows faculty, chairs, deans and the provost to reflect on every program on campus in terms of quality, and then set goals and action steps that will lead to improvements. “This is our assurance that we are invested in the quality of our academic program,” he said.  

Pintar and Erin Hungerman, assistant dean of Students, discussed the university’s annual report on student complaints. For the 2021-22 academic year, there was one student academic grievance, 29 academic integrity cases (including 16 involving plagiarism) and 75 student complaints (65 of which were academic-related).

Chet Cooper, chair of the YSU Academic Senate, reported on the YSU Foundation’s presentation at the last Academic Senate meeting. He also reported that Senate meetings are now being held in the Rossi Room in Kilcawley Center. The next meeting is 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5.  


Approved a Resolution to Accept a Gift of Real Estate. Greg Morgione, associate general counsel, reported that the YSU Foundation is giving YSU 166 acres of land along Tippecanoe Road in Boardman. The property, which includes a 5,132-square-foot residence, was recently gifted to the YSU Foundation by Warren P. “Bud” Williamson III with the understanding that it would be transferred to YSU to support innovation and education, with a focus on science-based activities. The land will be named the Williamson Innovation Park. Williamson, via a $3 million gift to the YSU Foundation, has also established the Williamson Innovation Park Champion Fund for the salary and related costs of the position of a leader of such activities at the park. In addition, Williamson provided $400,000, plus a pledge of $500,000 over five years, for maintenance, upkeep and enhancement of the park. “It’s a wonderful piece of property; it’s very well situated and it’s been very well maintained,” Hyden said. Tressel said the park will be under the auspices of the YSU Division of Workforce Education and Innovation. Oddo, division executive director, said planning is underway for use of the property, including areas for aviation, Baja trails and a concrete canoe area, as well as an area for drones. “It’s incredible, the opportunity,” Tressel said. 

Approved a Resolution to Modify Partnerships, Centers, and Related Arrangements Policy, 3356-10-22. The policy is modified to provide guidelines on external funding of centers or institutes and to assure such entities are created or deactivated in consultation with the board.

Heather Chunn, vice president of the YSU Foundation, reported that the Foundation received $24.1 million in gifts in FY 2022, the highest amount ever. She also reported 679 new gifts and pledges totaling $2 million for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2022. She said the Foundation has already started preparing for fundraising to help support proposed renovations of Kilcawley Center. 

Oddo updated the committee on various activities of the Division of Workforce Education and Innovation: in collaboration with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, creation of the Mahoning Valley Workforce Partnership; a National Science Foundation grant in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University; YSU Data Mine corporate project, in collaboration with Purdue University; and a Google dashboard control project. 

Claire Berardini, associate provost for Student Success, and Katie Burdette, Social Media coordinator, presented a report showing how the use of the ZeeMee Social Media Platform has increased the number of students attending orientation and enrolling at YSU. Burdette said ZeeMee, which she said is like a giant chat room, grew from 1,160 to 1,924 students between 2021 and 2022. The report showed that orientation attendance, with the help of ZeeMee and other initiatives, has improved from 88.6 percent in 2020 to 94.3 percent in 2022. The report also showed that incoming students receive 15 separate communications post-orientation leading to the first day of the start of classes. 

“We’re off and running,” said Elaine Ruse, associate vice president for Student Enrollment and Business Services, about student recruitment for the Fall 2023 semester. She said her office has set a goal of 8,100 applicants for next Fall, up from 7,300 this Fall. 


Approved a Resolution to Modify Outside Consulting/Employment Services – Faculty Policy, 3356-7-18. The policy, reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle, establishes guidelines and reporting guidelines under which faculty may engage in outside paid consulting services.

Approved a Resolution to Modify Outside Consulting Services/Employment by Full-Time University Employees Policy, 3356-7-34. The policy, reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle, establishes guidelines to allow employees to engage in outside consulting/employment activities.

Approved a Resolution to Modify Public Records Policy, 3356-9-07. The policy, reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle, defines procedures the university follows in administering the public records law.

Approved a Resolution to Modify Records Management Policy, 3356-9-09. The policy, reviewed as part of the university’s regular five-year review cycle, ensures compliance with state law for efficient and economical management methods of university records.

Approved a Resolution to Ratify Personnel Appointments, including 26 separations, eight appointments, 17 reclassifications/position adjustments, nine promotions, 28 salary adjustments and two transfers. 

Ruse presented a 23-page report on Student Enrollment and Business Services, which includes Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid and Scholarships. Among the Points of Pride in the report: Penguin Preview Day Recruitment Programs, CRM Ellucian “Recruit” System, Experience Y Days, the Second Chance Program and pandemic-related emergency grants to students. She also made the point that the area disburses more than $120 million of financial aid per year to YSU students. Board members asked some questions regarding the data comparing this information with other similar areas at other institutions. It was noted that not every institution has similar organizational structures and thus it is not possible to draw firm conclusions from that comparison information.


President Tressel recognized the following passings:

  • Dorothy F. Masternick, who established the John and Dorothy Masternick Nursing Simulation Lab at YSU.
  • Keith S. Baker, faculty, Computer Information and Science.
  • Hugh G. Earnhart, History professor emeritus and Heritage Award recipient.
  • Bernard T. Gillis, former provost.
  • Michael J. Repetski, employee in the Electronics Maintenance Department.
  • Dennis R. Henneman, retired faculty, Theatre and Dance.
  • Aaron D. Bacon, son of Jennifer Kurcon, employee in Financial Aid and Scholarships.
  • Alexandrea R. McCartney, daughter of Rachel McCartney, employee in the Center for Workforce Education and Innovation.
  • Wesley Scott Jr., father of former YSU employee Brenda Scott.
  • Margaret A. Binsley, grandmother of Jenna Binsley, manager of the Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork.
  • Donald L. Myers, father of Terri Orlando, academic budget officer.
New Business

Approved a Resolution to Create the Division of Workforce Education and Innovation. The resolution says the Division focuses on strategic and operational alignment of the YSU Excellence Training Center, the online Skills Accelerator workforce education offerings and strategic workforce programs that are focused on training in areas of advanced manufacturing, robotics, automation, information technology and professional business skills. The resolution also noted that the division is aligned with strategic initiatives related to Collective Impact with the Community in the Plan for Strategic Actions to Take Charge of Our Futures, and positions YSU in the pathway for educational advancement and career success to support regional sustainable prosperity.

Approved a Resolution Related to the YSU Future State: Crafting a Sustainable Future in Consideration of the Fall 2022 14th-Day Enrollment Report, Enrollment Trends and Other Pertinent Factors. The resolution says the Board has complete confidence in the administration to take appropriate actions to optimize the academic portfolio of the university and, thereby, contribute to the sustainable prosperity of YSU.

Board Chair’s Remarks

Regarding the resolution on 14th-day enrollment, Board Chair John Jakubek said the 4 percent decrease in enrollment for the Fall semester was anticipated given demographic trends showing fewer people and high school graduates in the region. He said the decline creates challenges for YSU, and those challenges are not going away, so changes will need to be made. He also noted that there have been many initiatives over the past several years to help significantly increase retention and graduation rates. “We’ve made a lot of great strides,” he added. He also noted the board has confidence in the administration taking the appropriate steps to chart a sustainable future. In addition, the chair commended the passage of the resolution to create the new Division of Workforce Education and Innovation. “If we want industry to come to this area, we have to show companies that we have the workforce,” he said. 

President’s Remarks

Tressel said he wanted to again recognize the hard work of everyone on campus on enrollment, retention and graduation, and he said that the development of the Division of Workforce Education and Innovation sends a strong signal “that we’re here to help.” 

Upcoming Regular Meetings of the Board
  • Friday, December 9, 2022
  • Thursday, March 2, 2023
  • Thursday, June 22, 2023

The board entered executive session, returned to open session, took no actions and then adjourned the meeting.