YSU Focus Groups Will Consider Post-COVID Future

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Youngstown State University has formed five Take Charge of Our Future Focus Groups to address the university’s near-term future in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, YSU President Jim Tressel announced the groups, which are composed of more than 50 university administrators, staff, faculty and students. The groups include Calendar Scenarios for a Safe YSU, Financial Realities, Creative Course Delivery for a Safe YSU, Enrollment Initiatives and Ongoing Communication.

“We have successfully transitioned to remote instruction; our students, faculty, staff and the community are to be commended for their patience, expertise and hard work through this very trying Spring semester,” Tressel said in a release. “However, many uncertainties remain, and the threat from the coronavirus remains real and immediate. It is imperative that we are proactive and prepare for any eventuality as we enter the Summer and Fall semesters. These Focus Groups will engage in rigorous planning and help guide us through the decisions and activities needed to ensure the continued effective and safe delivery of instruction and the continued success of our students.”

Calendar Scenarios for a Safe YSU, convened by Eddie Howard, vice president for student affairs, will consider calendar alterations, ensure facility readiness, establish safety protocols, develop return to campus guidelines, and create social distancing parameters for faculty, staff and students.

Financial Realities, convened by Neal McNally, vice president for finance and business operations, will advise on to optimize structures, principles, policies and procedures to facilitate optimum resource allocation that will ensure the university’s long-term sustainability.

Creative Course Delivery for a Safe YSU, convened by Brien Smith, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will advise on how YSU will maintain academic continuity in its core academic functions during the current pandemic and beyond. The objective is to determine how the university might deploy medical, behavioral, and technological procedures and applications to ensure the safety of our learning environment and the quality of education, whether delivered on campus or virtually.

Enrollment Initiatives, convened by Mike Sherman, vice president for institutional effectiveness and board professional, will advise on how to optimize the structures, principles, policies, and procedures that support the success of students so that the real differentiator is the behaviors experienced by the students that create a sense of belonging to a community that cares about them, their success and their futures.

Ongoing Communication, convened by Shannon Tirone, associate vice president for university relations, will lead efforts to provide timely information to employees, the community, alumni, supporters and other stakeholders that is accurate, transparent and readily distributed and available.

The focus groups were formed in mid-April in response to a YSU Board of Trustees’ resolution passed earlier in April calling on Tressel to develop recommendations for cant actions in response to the profound effects the coronavirus pandemic and other factors will have on the future of higher education. Those recommendations are expected to be presented to the board in June, according to the release.

“We will need to make difficult decisions and the way forward may be a bit bumpy, but YSU is committed to doing all that we must to get to the other side of this horrible health crisis,” Tressel said. “And when we get there, while we are likely to be changed, we also will be stronger than ever.”

Source: YSU.edu/news

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.