Alumni Urge Withholding of Financial Support for YSU

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Five Youngstown State University alumni say the campus community will fight the board of trustees’ selection for a new university president and urge supporters to withhold financial support.

The group of Madeline K. Grimes, Jacob M. Schriner-Briggs and Tyler P. Pabst, all Class of 2017; and Ashley E. Orr, Class of 2016; and Daniel Catello, Class of 2014, sent an email Monday to those who signed a petition last week opposing the selection of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6th, to be the next YSU president.

“… We ask that you tell the YSU Foundation that you will withhold financial support until the [YSU Board of Trustees] removes Johnson or he resigns and a transparent, public search involving university stakeholders is conducted.”

It also says that since the trustees’ vote, alumni have withdrawn monetary support, canceled campus speaking engagements, requested their names be removed from YSU marketing materials and stepped down from alumni leadership positions.

In an email, Rebecca Rose, a YSU spokeswoman, declined to comment, writing that the university hadn’t seen the latest alumni letter.

The same five alumni last week gathered more than 2,000 signatures from people across campus and the community who opposed the selection.

They pointed to the way the search was done without the involvement of students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community, as well as some of Johnson’s political views.

Trustees voted 8-1 in an emergency meeting Nov. 16 to authorize negotiations with Johnson for him to be YSU’s 10th president. At a special meeting last week, they voted 8-1 to ratify and approve a contract with the seven-term congressman from Marietta, Ohio. Trustee Molly Seals was the only no vote at each meeting.

Johnson will earn $410,000 in the first year of the three-year agreement.

The decision didn’t go over well with some members of the campus community. Audience members at the Nov. 21 meeting booed.

After that meeting, Johnson said his politics will not be reflected in the decisions he makes for YSU or its students.

He said he’s committed to an inclusive environment at the university, regardless of political or personal affiliations. He said his focus will be on fostering open dialogue, understanding diverse perspectives and contributing positively to the well-being of every student.

The email from the alumni also urges people to attend the trustees meeting Dec. 7 and to bring signs. It suggests messages, including “Closed doors = closed wallets” and “We deserve to #KnowY.”

“As we’ve seen from current and former faculty, community members and alumni, our voices are strongest together,” the email reads.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.