YSU Board of Trustees summary, Sept. 6 and 7

Youngstown State University
Board of Trustees
Sept. 6 and 7, 2017

The YSU Board of Trustees created the Office of College Access and Transition, approved revisions to the Student Code of Conduct and appointed a new associate provost for Academic Administration during meetings Sept. 6 and 7 on campus. The board conducted a series of committee meetings, followed by its regular quarterly meeting. The following is a summary of actions taken and reports given. For more details, see full texts of resolutions and policies.

Oath of Office
Capri Cafaro and Molly Seals were sworn in as new members of the Board of Trustees. In addition, Lexi Rager was sworn in as a new student member of the board.

President’s Report
President Jim Tressel said he is appreciative of the patience that everyone across the YSU community has displayed for the urgency that was demonstrated over the past three years in moving the university forward on many fronts. He said much has been accomplished – stabilized enrollment, balanced budget, housing at capacity, second largest graduating class in university history, record fundraising, improved campus streets, extraordinary community service by employees and students, and excellence across many areas – all done in very challenging times. The president said he believes the future is bright as long as the university focuses on the 4 Cs and an S: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Courage and a Selfless attitude. He concluded with an 1893 quote from Daniel Burnham: “Make no small plans, for they have no magic to stir men’s souls.”

Faculty Presentations
Victoria Kress,
professor, Department of Counseling, School Psychology and Educational Leadership, in the Beeghly College of Education, talked about her work in Malawi, Africa, where she helped earn national accreditation for the Africa University of Diplomacy, Counseling and International Relations, and her visits to Tanzania and Zambia to train mental health facilitators.

Eric MacDonald, Friedman Chair in Materials Engineering, talked about his work in additive manufacturing, particularly 3D printing in sand and reinventing the way metal is cast. “We are in the vanguard for that, for sure,” he said.

Student Presentations
Alexis Vogler,
Psychology and Philosophy major, talked about her plans to graduate in the spring and her career plans to open a private mental health practice. She also talked about research on intrinsic/extrinsic motivation that she is doing under the leadership of Jeff Coldren, professor of Psychology.

Mohammad Yusuf talked about his experience as a student in the Williamson College of Business Administration, where he served as an intern in the Ohio Export Internship Program, was president of Beta Alpha Psi honor society, was president of the Institute of Management Accountants, and served as an intern for Ernst and Young, where he will begin to work in July 2018. He said Betty Jo Licata, WCBA dean, tells incoming business students that it’s not about where you go to college, but how you go to college. He said the sky is the limit for students at WCBA.

Academic and Student Affairs

Approved resolution to modify the Student Code of Conduct. Among the revisions is new language about the misuse of prescription drugs, additional language about unauthorized access to student rooms in resident halls, and updated Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Agreement forms. The code also includes a new two-year suspension sanction. In addition, Eddie Howard, associate vice president for Student Experience, reported on the effectiveness of student fines for misconduct that were introduced in June 2016. He presented information showing that the fines have helped reduce the recidivism rate by students.

Approved a resolution to modify the policy on Adjunct Faculty. Provost Martin Abraham said the policy includes only minor updates and revisions.

Approved a resolution to authorize conferral of an honorary degree for Pamela Browner White. White earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication from YSU. She is senior vice president of Communications with the American Board of Internal Medicine. She previously was senior vice president of corporate communications and strategic development at Esperanza Inc. and vice president of public affairs for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She has received many honors, including the Pennsylvania Top 50 Women in Business, the Girl Scouts of America 2011 Take the Lead Award and the NAACP President’s Award Beverly Hills.

Voted to rescind two existing policies (Agreements, Educational Partnerships and Related Arrangements, and Establishing, Altering or Abolishing Educational, Research and Public Service Centers, Institutes and Laboratories) and to combine them into one - Partnerships, Centers and Related Arrangements.

Approved a resolution to create the Office of College Access and Transition. Under the plan, staff from Metro Credit, Associate Degree and Tech Prep, Academic Achievers and Upward Bound will join forces in the new office. The focus of the office will be to improve the college success of under-resourced and under-prepared and thus at-risk students. The office will be directed by Karla Krodel and will report to Claire Berardini, associate provost of Student Success. Berardini said the reorganization aims to improve services and to increase retention and graduation rates for underrepresented students. The board received information about the retention and completion of underrepresented students, including a chart showing that YSU’s six-year graduation rate of 8.3 percent for African American students as the lowest among 15 peer institutions.

Gary Swegan, associate vice president for Enrollment Planning and Management, reported on Fall semester enrollment. He said that while overall headcount enrollment is down about 0.8 percent, FTE enrollment is up 0.5 percent. Freshmen enrollment, on the other hand, is up by nearly 6 percent from 2159 last fall to 2,278 this fall. Since Fall 2014, freshmen enrollment has increased nearly 26 percent. This year’s freshmen carry ACT and high school GPA scores that are again the highest in the university’s history, he said.

Kevin Ball, associate provost, updated the board on preparations for the reaffirmation of accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. An HLC review team will visit campus March 26 and 27. The team will interview various individuals on campus, including the president, provost, trustees, deans, department chairs, faculty, students and staff, as well as individuals off campus. Ball distributed an information sheet about HLC accreditation, what to expect and how to prepare for the visit, and sample questions that various groups may be asked by team members. Meanwhile, Ball said drafts of documents demonstrating that YSU meets accreditation criterion will be distributed across campus this fall for review and feedback. Final drafts will be produced, which will then go to HLC prior to the March visit.

Provost Abraham and Chet Cooper, chair of the Academic Senate, reported on the YSU Excellence Steering Committee, formed to address issues raised in the two most recent Great Colleges to Work For survey of YSU faculty and staff. One of the major weaknesses identified in the survey was shared governance. Cooper, who now sits on the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee, said the YES committee, which consists of faculty, staff, trustees and students, has drafted a document outlining principles and practices of shared governance at YSU. Cooper said the document could serve as a foundation moving forward on how policies, procedures and practices should be addressed. The document will be reviewed by the Academic Senate, and Cooper said he hopes it will endorse. Trustee Ted Roberts, a member of the YES committee, said it is important to seek input for implementing decisions, if at all possible, from those who will be impacted by the decisions. He said the document sets out guidelines to inject a spirit of shared governance that, hopefully over time, will come naturally to the campus. The Board of Trustees will be asked at some point to endorse the document. President Tressel added that two new email addresses have been created to seek input on campus direction and decision-making. The address, cornerstones@ysu.edu, is designed to get input on the university’s ongoing efforts to fulfill the 2020 Strategic Plan. The address, RISE@ysu.edu, is designed to get input on the university’s ongoing Culture of Community initiatives. He said the campus is trying to get more people more involved so they can be better engaged and better informed.

Sal Sanders, dean of Graduate Studies, updated the board on the Urban Research cornerstone of the 2020 Strategic Plan. Sanders presented several charts about the universities efforts in innovation and discovery, funding to support research and quality academic programs. He also shared with trustees newly established targets/goals for the cornerstone. For example, while the university’s five-year average for number of scholarly citations is 938 annually, the target is 3,010 annually. Likewise, the five-year average for number of publications is 167 a year.

Mike Hripko, associate vice president for Research, and Andrew Shepherd-Smith of the Office of Research Services, presented the FY 2016-17 fourth quarter report on university research activity. The report shows that grants received by faculty and staff for FY 2017 totaled $8.79 million, the second highest in 30 years. The total of 154 grants include 57 from federal agencies, 43 state, 23 private, 25 local, 2 from industry and 4 from associations. The STEM College led the way with 20 grants, followed by 12 each for Health and Human Services and CLASS, and 11 for Education. Shepherd-Smith said YSU is drawing national attention for its research activity, with rapidly growing momentum and a future filled with an increased national and state research presence. Hripko said the success helps improve the university’s profile and helps attract students.

University Affairs

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions in Intercollegiate Athletics.

Approved a resolution to modify and retitle the Workplace Violence Policy. The policy was revised to provide greater specific information about the various components of violence in the workplace through the inclusion of definitions regarding threats, disruptive and inappropriate behavior and/or violence. The revision provides greater clarity regarding prohibited workplace behavior. It also provides direction for victims of violence and for witnesses.

Approved a resolution to modify the Background Checks for Potential Employees Policy. The policy was revised to better define the components of the background check and to more clearly identify the parameters associated with conducting a background check. Further, the procedures utilized by Human Resources to consider information obtained from a background check have been clarified.

Approved a resolution to appoint Jennifer Pintar as associate provost for Academic Administration. Pintar has served on the faculty of the Department of Human Performance and Exercise Science since 1999, earning the rank of professor in 2012 and serving as chair since 2014. She was selected for the new position as a result of an internal search process and the recommendation of a search committee. Pintar will provide leadership in the areas of academic resource planning and management, personnel activities and communications and public reporting for the Division of Academic Affairs.

Approved a resolution to appoint Jim Yukech as associate vice president for Technology and chief information officer. Yukech has served in the position in an interim capacity for the past year. He was selected as a result of a national search process and the recommendation of a search committee. Yukech previously was corporate vice president IT Relationship Management at Mercy Health.

Approved a resolution to ratify personnel actions, including 15 appointments, 32 separations, six reclassifications and eight promotions.

Ron Strollo, executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, introduced new head men’s basketball coach, Jerrod Calhoun. Calhoun said he’s excited about being at YSU, talked about the program’s recent activities to help victims of the hurricane in Houston and outlined ideas for a mentoring program with the Warren City Schools. He said he believes Youngstown is a great place for college basketball.

Strollo also presented Intercollegiate Athletics’ FY 2016 Financial Analysis of Benchmark Institutions. The report compares YSU’s spending and revenue to other schools in the Missouri Valley Conference, Mid American Conference and Horizon League. For example, the report shows that YSU spent $14.9 million on Intercollegiate Athletics in FY 2016, nearly $4 million less than the average for other schools in the MVC.

Institutional engagement

Approved a resolution to accept Alumni Engagement and WYSU Memberships.

Ron Cole, director of University Communications, and Becky Rose, assistant director of University Communications, updated the board on the university’s Crisis Communications Plan. Cole and Rose outlined the history and purpose of the plan, actions called for in the plan and the various communications tools the university has to communicate in the event of an emergency, including the PenguinAlert mass text and email system.

Paul McFadden, president of the YSU Foundation, updated the board on the foundation’s capital fundraising campaign. The $100 million campaign will reach the half-way point and the public phase will be launched at an event 6 p.m. Oct. 26 in Stambaugh Auditorium. President Tressel said the goal is for the campaign to be at $75 million a year from now.

Finance and Facilities

Approved resolution to modify university construction/renovation projects policy. John Hyden, executive director of Facilities, said the modifications, among other things, reinforce that any construction-related activity on campus needs to be directed through the Facilities office.

Approved resolution to modify key control policy. Hyden said most changes are minor.

Approved resolution for interfund transfers. The resolution includes several transfers, including carry forward funds from FY 2017. Nearly $1.5 million of those funds will be designated to a strategic investment reserve. Neal McNally, vice president for Finance and Administration, suggested that – in the spirit of shared governance – those funds be allocated by the university’s Budget Advisory Committee through a process in which the committee seeks campus proposals for spending the funds.

McNally also presented reports to the board showing that, for the second consecutive year, the university concluded the fiscal year with a positive fund balance, including nearly $1.5 million in the general fund. He also cautioned, however, that the year-end balance is only about 1 percent. He said operating deficits in FY 2010 through FY 2015 were due to several factors, including significant cuts in operating subsidy from the state and a 17 percent drop in enrollment over that period. The turnaround in the last two years is due in large part to stabilized enrollment and to a lot of sound financial management across campus, including deans, department chairs and directors.

Hyden updated the board on various construction projects on campus, including the completion of the Barnes & Noble campus bookstore on Fifth Avenue. He also mentioned major summer renovation projects in Meshel and Ward Beecher halls, roof replacement on Jones Hall, improved walkways and driveways across campus, and improvements to the fountain area outside Kilcawley Center. He also said that the Wick Avenue improvement project should be finished by the end of October.

McNally and Hyden also updated the board on facilities health as part of the Accountability and Sustainability cornerstone of the 2020 Strategic Plan. McNally noted that YSU has invested $52.6 million over the past five years to help stabilize the university’s deferred maintenance backlog. He also noted a 33 percent drop in the costs of utilities in FY 2017, due in large part to YSU’s new steam plant operation.

McNally reported to the board the administration’s hope to implement an undergraduate tuition guarantee program. As allowed by state law, the program would allow YSU to raise tuition by 6 percent, as long as those rates are held steady for four years. So, an entering student’s tuition would be set as they enter as freshmen and would remain the same for four years. McNally said the program requires the approval of the board and the Ohio chancellor of the Department of Higher Education; he said he hopes it can be put into place in Fall 2018. Ohio State, Ohio and Miami already have the guarantee in place.


The Governance Committee agreed, on first reading, to change the board’s bylaws and to establish national and global trustees. More details and a final, second reading will happen at the board’s meeting in December.

President Tressel announced that the following students, employees, retirees or others with connections to YSU have passed away:

Harry Meshel, former trustee
Frank Waston, former trustee
Connie Knecht, wife of former trustee and university supporter
Roger Jones, university supporter
Michael Theall, faculty
Angela Bell, student
William Bailey, police
George McCloud, retired faculty and administrator
Marion Beam, retired, Geological & Environmental Science
James Wilson, parking
Robert Cooke, retired, police
Mary Belloto, retired, History
Carolyn Martindale, retired faculty, English.
Ann Sanders, retired, Procurement
Robert Sorokach, retired, STEM

The board approved a resolution in memoriam of Frank Watson, a YSU alum, former trustee and major donor.

The board approved a resolution in memoriam for Harry Meshel, a YSU alum, former trustee, donor and a former leader of the State Senate, a role in which he strongly supported the university.

Chair’s remarks
Board Chair Len Schiavone said he was humbled to hear the resolutions read for Watson and Meshel, who he called two giants of the community. He said he had the privilege and honor to know and to work with both. He said both left a profound imprint on their alma mater. He also noted several accomplishments of the past year – including new resident halls, the university’s second largest graduating class of all time, many campus activities and student honors. It’s good to know, he said, that the university has a great foundation built by people like Watson and Meshel. He said he and the board will do their best to honor those memories.

The board set the following meeting dates and times:

  • 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017
  • 10 a.m. Thursday, March 15, 2018
  • 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, 2018