YSU trustees approve fiscal year 2021 budget plan

Student success, affordability remain top focus, President Tressel says

The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees approved today a fiscal year 2020-21 budget that projects a 15 percent decline in enrollment, a 20 percent decrease in state funding, salary reductions, furloughs, layoffs and a reorganization of the university’s academic operations.

“This budget reflects the significant impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on our university, the economy and our students,” President Jim Tressel said. “While difficult, this plan also presents the opportunity for YSU to continue to offer a quality, affordable higher education that focuses on the success of our students and our community.”

Anita Hackstedde, newly-elected chair of the YSU Board of Trustees, added: “While these are indeed uncertain times, we commend the university for putting together a responsible, albeit difficult, budget for this next fiscal year. We also commend our employees for their understanding, their sacrifice and their continued commitment to the university’s greater good.”

The $157.9 million operating budget is $26.1 million less than last fiscal year. Major parts of the plan include:


  • A projected 15 percent decline in full-time equivalent student enrollment, largely due to uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. The projection, which would result in $15.1 million in lost tuition and fee revenue, is based on several variables, including new students who have applied and been admitted, as well as demographic trends.
  • A 20 percent or $8.8 million decrease in state appropriations, based on estimates from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
  • A 12 percent or $652,000 decrease in other revenue sources, largely due to losses in investment earnings.
  • Undergraduate tuition increases amounting to $82 per semester (2 percent) for continuing students and $189 per semester (4 percent) for incoming students, as permitted by state law. Even with the increases, YSU’s tuition is expected to remain the lowest among comprehensive public universities in Ohio.

Spending reductions totaling $24.6 million:

  • Salary reductions for management staff ranging from 2 to 15 percent.
  • Furloughs for all classified and professional administrative union staff, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in salaries.
  • The layoff of approximately 40 to 60 employees; and an additional 22 positions in Athletics.
  • Campus-wide reductions in operating budgets.
  • Restructuring of Academic Affairs, including the merger of the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences into the new Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education. The restructuring results in elimination of one dean position and the consolidation of up to 18 academic departments. Charles Howell, formerly dean of the Beeghly College of Education, will serve as dean of the merged college.
  • Elimination of the administrative division of External Affairs, Government Relations and Economic Development.

“We are confident that these extraordinary steps will help stabilize our budget and place us on a path back to more traditional revenue and expenditure scenarios moving forward,” said Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Business Operations.

Tressel added: “The past three months have illustrated the extraordinary people that make up our YSU community. Our students, faculty and IT staff pulled together to complete Spring semester in an amazing fashion. Our board and administration have worked tirelessly to plan for our new normal. Our faculty continue to plan for the creative, safe delivery of quality instruction in the Fall. Our ACE and APAS unions have selflessly taken compensation cuts, along with our administrative personnel, to minimize the inevitable layoffs that will be necessary to meet our budget realities. As we plan for the Fall, five focus groups consisting of 50 staff and faculty are working around the clock to assure that YSU will have a safe return to campus. Our people make us Y and proud!”

Meanwhile, trustees also unanimously adopted the university’s Take Charge of Our Future Strategic Action Plan, including new mission, vision and value statements.

The plan, under development for more than two years and guided by a team of faculty, staff and students, says YSU is “an institution of opportunity” that inspires individuals, enhances futures and enriches lives, focusing on the centrality of students, excellence and innovation, integrity and human dignity, collaboration and public engagement. The plan also includes specific actions related to student futures and lifelong learning, academic distinction and the discovery of knowledge, and collective impact with the region.

“As we face the many unexpected pandemic-related challenges now before us, we are fortunate to have in place a  strategic plan that emphasizes our foundational purpose and focuses our behavior toward important priorities,” said Brien Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

The board also approved the appointment of Jeffery B. Allen as the new dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, effective July 15.

Allen, chosen after a national search, is currently the founding dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. He previously spent 20 years on the faculty at Wright State University in Dayton, including associate dean of the School of Professional Psychology for four years.