YSU Trustees Receive National Award for Leadership

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A few years ago, the future of Youngstown State University was uncertain due to presidential leadership changes, financial circumstances and declining enrollment, said Mike Sherman, but in the last five years that uncertainty has been erased.

“It’s a result of this board’s leadership and this academic community of students, faculty and staff that has helped turn an uncertain future to a very certain future of possibilities,” said Sherman, special assistant to the president at YSU.

On Thursday, YSU’s Board of Trustees received the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. The award recognizes “higher education boards that have demonstrated bold initiative and leadership, unusual courage in the face of difficult circumstances and significant achievements that benefit their institution, system or foundation,” according to the organization’s website.

“The board’s engagement with the faculty, staff and the students during difficult times that represented a challenge for the university’s future resulted in decision making, direction setting and produced opportunities otherwise unexpected to really change the growth trajectory and the opportunities for vitality for the future of the institution,” Sherman said.

Andrew Lounder, the association’s director of programs, presented the award to the board of trustees during their meeting Thursday in Tod Hall, where a special etching on the glass at the doorway to the trustees meeting room was unveiled in recognition of the award.

“The Youngstown State University board of trustees has played an indispensable role in ensuring the vitality of this institution going forward and as a result, a bright future for many of YSU’s beneficiaries,” he said. “The board recognized the challenges facing the institution required not independent action, but leadership of an institutional response and the board’s determination to leverage in strength in shared governance as a key ingredient for change makes its story exemplary.”

The YSU board was selected over 40 other universities from across the country. The award will be officially accepted at the AGB National Meeting April 14 through 16 in Orlando, Fla. The YSU nomination will be developed by AGB into a case study for publication in the March/April 2019 edition of Trusteeship magazine.

YSU’s Sherman was the one who wrote the nomination on behalf of the university to AGB.

The nomination hails the hiring of President Jim Tressel, the elimination of a $10 million structural budget deficit, the launching of a record $100 million fund-raising campaign, the commitment to increased awareness of the importance of academic excellence and student success, and the creation of a new university strategic plan.

Sherman also noted that student enrollment increasing over the past seven semesters has been an effect of the university hiring Tressel as its president.

“They hired a nontraditional president who brought energy and enthusiasm to that position that resulted in leadership at the institution,” he said. “That changed up a lot of things that I think has resulted in YSU becoming a destination institution as opposed to an institution of second choice.”

Enrollment at YSU is at 11,900 this semester, up 0.24% over spring 2018.

“Our trustees certainly deserve this national recognition for their steadfast leadership in the face of significant and core challenges placed before the institution over the past several years,” Tressel said. “It is through leadership at the very top that universities survive and thrive.”

The award is named after John W. Nason, who served as president of Swarthmore College, Carleton College and the Foreign Policy Association, Lounder said. He made contributions to the field of higher education governance and boards and worked with AGB in many roles, including adviser, mentor, author and speaker. He served as chairman of the National Japanese American Student Relocation Council, helping more than 4,000 interned students continue their studies at higher education institutions across the nation during World War II.

“We thank AGB for recognizing the board’s work over the past several years,” said Dee Crawford, chairwoman of the nine-member YSU board. “The progress we’ve made and the successes we’ve achieved are a reflection of the talent and determination of the thousands of dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni and others who are committed to building a future for the university that is based on fiscal integrity, shared governance and institutional effectiveness.”

Pictured: Andrew Lounder, AGB’s director of programs, presents the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership to Youngstown State University’s Board of Trustees.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.