More than a Motto: CLASS Is ‘Y and Proud’

By Kristine Blair
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at Youngstown State University since May 2016, I have been immensely proud to be a member of the Penguin family.

For the faculty, staff and students of CLASS, “Y and Proud” is more than a campus motto. It is a commitment to academic excellence and professional success for our nearly 1,800 students while they are on campus and after they graduate and pursue careers in wide variety of fields, among them business, education, government and health professions.

Whether through our award-winning intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team, ranked second in the nation, or our Moot Court team, ranked sixth over schools that include Duke University and the University of Chicago, or through our internationally recognized graduate program in financial economics, CLASS is a dynamic place for students to learn and grow as they develop critical thinking, research and writing skills that help them advance on campus and off en route to becoming local and global citizens.

Equally important, the teaching and research accomplishments of our faculty contribute to student achievement through innovative pedagogies that connect the campus to the community across our nine academic departments and six interdisciplinary programs.

Despite our large size, CLASS has the feel of a small liberal arts college, but maintains the advantages of a larger university. We offer a diverse range of majors in the humanities and social sciences, two of the most popular being psychology and political science.

Our faculty takes a personal interest in their students and ensures that they have the experiences necessary to make them competitive when they begin their careers or apply to graduate or professional schools.

Our faculty and my office actively encourage students to explore various careers through events such as Law Day and Geography Night, to name just two. Many of our undergraduates conduct research in their majors with faculty and, before they graduate, present papers at regional and national conferences and co-write papers in professional journals in areas such as gerontology and psychology.

One hallmark of CLASS is its emphasis on cultural diversity through our interdisciplinary programs in Africana studies, applied history, American studies, Islamic studies, Judaic and Holocaust studies, women’s studies and working-class studies. In addition to community events that celebrate the cultural and intellectual heritage of these disciplines, we focus on the economic, historical, political and social conditions of diverse groups in ways that connect the Mahoning Valley to its multicultural and multinational heritage.

Other examples of these campus-community connections are our partnership between the history department and the Ohio History Connection in the administration of the Youngstown Historical Center for Industry and Labor, along with our co-sponsored programs between Judaic and Holocaust studies and the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown.

We are developing a Center in Italian and Italian-American Studies to be housed in our department of foreign languages and literatures and to promote the Italian-American experience.

In this academic year, CLASS is celebrating several milestones. Among them are the 50th anniversary of our department of geography, the 30th anniversary of the annual study abroad experience at the Gerace Research Center on San Salvador island in the Bahamas to conduct both geographical and anthropological fieldwork.

Finally, in 2018, our nationally recognized English Festival is in its 40th year of promoting the importance of reading and writing in the lives of middle and high school students in the region.

While Penguin pride is an important facet of academic life at YSU, in CLASS we also like to say we are a college of “CLASS Acts.” As dean, I’m grateful for the opportunity to highlight the substantial contributions our college has made to YSU and the Mahoning Valley.

‘The New YSU’ is a print and video series. Watch for columns by YSU deans and see video stories here.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.