YSU names Focus Groups to consider post-pandemic future

Youngstown State University has formed five Take Charge of Our Future Focus Groups to address the university’s near-term future in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are unprecedented times requiring unprecedented actions to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future for YSU,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “We have successfully transitioned to remote instruction; our students, faculty, staff and the community are to be commended for their patience, expertise and hard work through this very trying Spring semester.

“However, many uncertainties remain, and the threat from the coronavirus remains real and immediate. It is imperative that we are proactive and prepare for any eventuality as we enter the Summer and Fall semesters. These Focus Groups will engage in rigorous planning and help guide us through the decisions and activities needed to ensure the continued effective and safe delivery of instruction and the continued success of our students.”

Tressel announced the formation of five Take Charge of Our Future Focus Groups, consisting of more than 50 university administrators, staff, faculty and students. They are:

  • Calendar Scenarios for a Safe YSU, convened by Eddie Howard, vice president for Student Affairs, will consider calendar alterations, ensure facility readiness, establish safety protocols, develop return to campus guidelines, and create social distancing parameters for faculty, staff and students.
  • Financial Realities, convened by Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations, will advise on to optimize structures, principles, policies and procedures to facilitate optimum resource allocation that will ensure the university’s long-term sustainability.
  • Creative Course Delivery for a Safe YSU, convened by Brien Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will advise on how YSU will maintain academic continuity in its core academic functions during the current pandemic and beyond.  The objective is to determine how the university might deploy medical, behavioral, and technological procedures and applications to ensure the safety of our learning environment and the quality of education, whether delivered on campus or virtually.
  • Enrollment Initiatives,convened by Mike Sherman, vice president for Institutional Effectiveness and Board Professional, will advise on how to optimize the structures, principles, policies, and procedures that support the success of students so that the real differentiator is the behaviors experienced by the students that create a sense of belonging to a community that cares about them, their success and their futures.
  • Ongoing Communication, convened by Shannon Tirone, associate vice president for University Relations, will lead efforts to provide timely information to employees, the community, alumni, supporters and other stakeholders that is accurate, transparent and readily distributed and available.

The Focus Groups were formed in mid-April in response to a YSU Board of Trustees’ resolution passed earlier in April calling on Tressel to develop recommendations for cant actions in response to the profound effects the coronavirus pandemic and other factors will have on the future of higher education. Those recommendations are expected to be presented to the board in June.

“We will need to make difficult decisions and the way forward may be a bit bumpy, but YSU is committed to doing all that we must to get to the other side of this horrible health crisis,” Tressel said. “And when we get there, while we are likely to be changed, we also will be stronger than ever.”

Take Charge of Our Future: Focus Groups

Creative Course Delivery for a Safe YSU: Brien Smith (convener); provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Jennifer Pintar, associate provost for Academic Administration (co-convener); Jim Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer; Jeanne Herman, university registrar; Amy Cossentino, dean, Honors College; Sal Sanders, dean, Graduate Studies; Phyllis Paul, dean, Cliffe College of Creative Arts and Communication; Joe Mistovich, professor and chair, Health Professions; Greg Sturrus, professor and chair, Physics and Astronomy; Jake Protivnak, professor and chair, Counseling, School Psychology and Educational Leadership; AJ Sumell, professor, Economics; Rebecca Curnalia, associate professor, Communication; and Patrick Bateman, professor, Management; Carol Bennett, assistant provost, Diversity and Inclusion; Hillary Fuhrman, interim director, Institute for Teaching and Learning;  Jessica Chill, interim director, Distance Learning.

Calendar Scenarios for a Safe YSU: Eddie Howard (convener); Julie Gentile, director, Environmental Health and Occupational Safety (co-convener); John Hyden, associate vice president, Facilities; Bill Rogner, Clery Compliance and Campus Safety officer; Joy Polkabla-Byers, executive director, Campus Rec; Kevin Ball, associate provost, Academic Programs and Planning; Chet Cooper, professor, Biology, and chair, Academic Senate; Wendy Thomas, assistant professor, Nursing; John Young, executive director, Kilcawley Center; Becky Rose, assistant director, University Communications.

Enrollment Initiatives: Mike Sherman (convener); Claire Berardini, associate provost, Student Success  (co-convener); Leslie Page, director, First Year Student Services; Christine Hubert, interim director, Admissions; Elaine Ruse, executive director of Student Enrollment Services; Erin Driscoll, executive director, Student Activities and Greek Life; Becky Varian, director, Center for Student Progress; Karen Becker, director, First Year Experience; Patrick Hoffman, director, Financial Aid and Scholarships; Ross Morrone, director, Marketing; Dana Davis, professor and chair, Social Work; and Cory Brozina, assistant professor and director, First-Year Engineering Program.

Financial Realities: Neal McNally (convener); Katrena Davidson, Controller (co-convener); Rich White, director, Planning and Construction; Jeff Coldren, chair, Psychology, and member of Budget Advisory Council; Terri Orlando, budget officer, Academic Affairs; Mike Hrishenko, director, Information Technology Services; Danny O’Connell, director, Support Services.

Ongoing Communications: Shannon Tirone (convener); Jeanne Herman, University Registrar; Jennifer Pintar, associate provost, Academic Administration; Jim Yukech, AVP and CIO; Claire Berardini, associate provost, Student Success; Elaine Ruse, executive director, Student Enrollment Services; Jeff Tyus, professor, Communication; and Ron Cole, director, University Communications/public information officer.