YSU Trustees OK $158M Budget, Projects 15% Drop in Enrollment

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include the correct votes for approving the budget; it was unanimously approved. Trustee Capri Cafaro’s dissenting vote was in regards to restructuring the university’s colleges.

YOUNGSTOWN – The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees today approved a $157.9 million budget for 2020-21 that projects a 15% decline in enrollment, a 20% decrease in state funding, salary reductions, furloughs, layoffs and a reorganization of the university’s academic operations.

The budget, which is $26.1 million less than the previous fiscal year, reflects cuts and other measures necessitated by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the university to shut down in March and finish the semester with online classes.

All trustees voted in favor of the budget.

“This budget reflects the significant impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on our university, the economy and out students,” said Jim Tressel, YSU president. “While difficult, this plan also presents the opportunity for YSU to continue to offer a quality, affordable higher education that focuses on the success of our students and our community.”

The budget reflects a projected $15.1 million decline in tuition and fee revenues; a $8.8 million decrease in state appropriations; and a $652,000 decrease in other revenue, largely due to losses in investment earnings.
It increases tuition by 2%, or $82 per semester for continuing students and $189 per semester (4%) for incoming students.

The budget’s spending reductions of $24.6 million include salary reductions for management staff ranging from 2% to 15%; furloughs for all classified and professional administrative union staff, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in salaries; and the layoff of 40 to 60 employees, and an additional 22 positions in athletics.

The reductions also include campus-wide cuts in operating budgets, and elimination of the administrative division of external affairs, government relations and economic development.

The most controversial element of the budget is the merger of the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education. This restructuring includes the elimination of one dean position and the consolidation of up to 18 academic departments.

All trustees except Capri Cafaro voted in favor of the restructuring.

The faculty union at YSU sharply criticized the merger when it was announced last week.

Steven Reale, president of the YSU-OEA, said in a statement the sweeping changes were “hastily and unilaterally conceived without the slightest consultation with the students, faculty and staff whose work lives they will most profoundly affect, at a time when we are already working through unprecedented uncertainty.”

Reale’s statement said the move would “effectively split apart linked programs and curricula, drastically reduce support staff, and sow chaos in ways we cannot possibly yet predict.”

In other action, the trustees adopted the university’s Take Charge of Our Future Strategic Action Plan, which includes new mission, vision and value statements. The plan, under development for two years and guided by a team of faculty, staff and students, includes actions related to student futures and lifelong learning, academic distinction, and collective impact with the region.

The trustees also approved the appointment of Jeffery B. Allen as the new dean of the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, effective July 15. Allen currently serves in a similar position at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.

The board also elected trustee Anita Hackstedde as chairman of the trustees for the 2020-21 year and trustee John R. Jakubek vice chairman.
Hackstedde, who currently is vice chairman, will replace David C. Deibel as chairman.

Franklin S. Bennett Jr. wrapped up his 30-year stint as board secretary at Thursday’s meeting. Trustee Chuck George was named the incoming board secretary.

Related:
June 4, 2020: YSU-OEA Unhappy with Reorganization, Contract Talks

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