Update: YSU Trustees to Meet Tuesday; Alumni Ask Trustees to Rescind Offer to Johnson

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A group of Youngstown State University alumni wants university trustees to rescind the offer of the YSU presidency to U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson and conduct a search that involves faculty, staff, students and alumni.

And a group of students plans a rally at noon Monday outside Tod Hall on campus.

YSU announced Sunday afternoon that the board of trustees will conduct a special meeting at 2 p.m Tuesday. “The purpose of the special meeting is to consider and/or take action upon the presidential search and such other matters as may properly come before the board of trustees,” states the meeting notice.

No other information was made available.

In an emergency meeting Nov. 16, trustees voted 8-1 to offer the president position to Johnson, a Republican from Marietta who has been in office since 2010. Molly Seals cast the only no vote.

Johnson has not said if he will accept the position.

Johnson was one of the three finalists. The search process marked a departure from recent YSU presidential searches when the names of candidates were announced and finalists visited campus and met with groups of students, faculty and staff.

The letter posted to social media on Saturday lists Daniel Catello, Class of 2014; Ashley Orr, Class of 2016; and Madeline Grimes, Tyler Pabst and Jacob Schriner-Briggs, all Class of 2017, as its authors.

Orr was a Rhodes Scholar and she and Schriner-Briggs were president and vice president of the YSU Student Government Association while they were students. Schriner-Briggs is a Yale Press Law Fellow.

The letter, which has gathered signatures since it was posted online, says it’s written on behalf of alumni who are alarmed by the board’s decision to offer Johnson the job.

“The board’s refusal to incorporate the greater YSU community in its decision making flouts basic values of transparency, accountability, and democratic participation,” it reads.

That’s compounded by what the letter writers call Johnson’s polarizing track record in office.

“The fact that Johnson’s positions are highly contentious—and directly relevant to the diverse interests and identities of YSU’s student body—increases the need for public vetting of his candidacy,” the letter continues.

A group called “Community Concerned for the Future of YSU,” posted on its social media that a student-led protest in opposition to Johnson being president is set for noon Monday.

As of Sunday morning, a student-organized Change.org online petition against Johnson being YSU president has gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

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