VP of Finance to Serve as Acting YSU President

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University vice president for finance and business operations will serve as acting president until U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson assumes the role.

An email sent to campus Friday afternoon said Helen Lafferty, interim university president since February, will leave Dec. 27.

Neal McNally, VP of finance and business operations, “will serve as acting president, with signature authority” and ”brings a wealth of experience and a strong dedication to YSU to this role,” the email from Michael A. Peterson, trustees chairman, said. Peterson sent the email on behalf of the board.

McNally will serve until Johnson, selected by trustees as the 10th YSU president, begins in the position.

“While Bill’s contract indicates he will begin prior to March 15, we are looking forward to him joining us on campus even sooner,” the email said.

The email also thanks Lafferty, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from YSU, for serving as interim president.

“Throughout Dr. Lafferty’s time at YSU, she worked daily advancing the mission of YSU as a student-centered university built on academic excellence,” it says. “Her steadfast commitment to our students is commendable.”

Since trustees voted 8-1 on Nov. 16 to offer Johnson, a seven-term Republican congressman, the presidency, there have been concerns and opposition raised by people on campus and in the community. Trustee Molly Seals cast the only no vote.

Some decried a search process that didn’t include input from a wider campus and constituency as previous YSU presidential searches had.

Trustees have said the search was confidential, following the advice of the search firm, because open searches deter the best candidates from applying.

Others voiced opposition to some of Johnson’s political views and votes including his vote against certifying the electoral college results of the 2020 election.

Johnson told The Business Journal that he had concerns about some states including Pennsylvania because that state’s secretary of state allowed mail-in ballots and changing the date the ballots could be received without going through the legislature.

Since the selection of Johnson as the next YSU president, alumni and other donors have said they will withhold donations to YSU moving forward. The YSU Foundation, the independent fundraising arm of YSU, wrote a letter to YSU trustees saying it had concerns with the way the presidential search was conducted. The foundation said they had heard from donors who expressed their concern and reluctance to provide ongoing support to YSU moving forward.

The YSU Academic Senate approved no-confidence in both Johnson and the presidential search process.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.