Youngstown State plans on restructuring, consolidating colleges

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The faculty union is upset they were never consulted on the changes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown State Faculty Union criticized the university’s administration Friday for not consulting the union before reorganizing its departments.

Faculty union president Steve Reale is also a music professor. His comments came after the university announced Thursday that it planned to reorganize.

The number of colleges will be reduced from six to five:

  • Bitonte College of Health and Human Services
  • College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
  • Williamson College of Business Administration
  • Cliffe College of Creative Arts
  • A new college comprised of programs from the Beeghly College of Education and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Additionally, certain fields of study will become parts of different fields of study:

  • Forensic sciences will move from BCHHS to STEM
  • Journalism will move from CCCA to Education/Liberal Arts
  • Early Childhood Associate’s/Pre-K will move from BCHHS to Education/Liberal Arts
  • Economics will move from CLASS to WCBA
  • Communication will move from CCCA to WCBA
  • Center for Human Service Development will move from Education to BCHHS
  • Gerontology/Long-term Care Administration will move from CLASS to BCHHS

The university said these changes will save $1 million each year.

“I think it’s less that the union and the faculty as a whole is upset by the changes, and more that the faculty weren’t consulted or asked about the changes,” Reale said. “These changes are going to create a fundamental upheaval in the university in these coming months and we’re going to be needing to deal with the ramifications of these changes, which we don’t even know what they’re going to be.”

On Friday afternoon, the union released a statement:

“Faculty at YSU face increased uncertainty as a result of the unilateral and unclear restructuring plan unveiled Thursday, May 28. YSU-OEA, the faculty union at YSU, is ‘extremely distressed by the unilateral decisions being made this week about crucial matters of university operations without any input from faculty,’ YSU-OEA President Steven Reale said.

YSU-OEA learned of YSU’s plan to restructure the university at the same time as the general public.
Members were told via email that major restructuring of academic divisions is taking place. This reorganization was done without input from faculty or students. Reale said the moves ‘demonstrate not only reckless haste, but an unprecedented lack of transparency and disregard for shared governance.’

‘Undertaking a massive restructuring of colleges and departments, while also negotiating a contract and adjusting to the realities of teaching during a pandemic, will only create more stress, chaos, and division at YSU at a time when all of our energies should be devoted to working together to provide a seamless and minimally disruptive Fall semester for our students,’ Reale said.

The YSU-OEA faculty union has repeatedly asked the university’s administration to pause contract
negotiations for one year during this time of unprecedented uncertainty but that request was rejected.

The YSU-OEA is troubled that many decisions affecting faculty, especially during these rushed negotiations, are being made behind closed doors, in secret and implemented under the cover of a global pandemic.

‘Today’s challenges demand more responsible governance. An opportunity was missed in this top-down approach to reorganization. The Take Charge of Our Future task forces are meeting weekly and could have been used to efficiently collect feedback about reorganization plans from diverse constituents on campus,’ Reale said.

Now more than ever, YSU’s administrators must discuss with its faculty what the post-pandemic future holds and involve faculty in the planning of that future at YSU. To remove faculty from this process is detrimental not only to YSU’s organizational culture and climate, but ultimately harms our students and our ability to educate them to the high standards we have been instrumental in establishing across the
university, as well.

‘If we’re all in this together, YSU administration needs to do a better job of acting like it,’ Reale said.”

YSU Provost Brien Smith released a response:

On Thursday afternoon, in meetings with department chairs, the executive committee of the Academic Senate and the negotiating team for the YSU-OEA union, we presented initial plans for a significant college restructuring now under development within the YSU Office of Academic Affairs. That information was also shared via email with all university faculty, staff and administrative employees.

Restructuring of the colleges has been under consideration for several years at YSU and has been examined over the past several months as part of the university’s Take Charge of Our Future strategic planning process. With the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial impact, it is crucial that we enact plans now to develop a state-mandated balanced budget and to maintain and enhance our academic quality. A significant number of employees on campus have already agreed to a combination of pay cuts and furloughs. As we determine the full economic impact of the pandemic, more actions are likely to come.

This restructuring of YSU’s Division of Academic Affairs will save the university an estimated $1 million annually in administrative costs. Also, under this restructuring, all academic programs will remain in place, while no faculty jobs will be lost. Most importantly, the plan should not have a significant impact on students, their studies, their majors and their successful pursuit of a college degree. In fact, our hope is that these internal structural changes present an opportunity for new innovation and synergies to improve the already excellent programs at YSU. We look forward to working with our faculty, staff and everyone on campus and in the community as we continue to face these challenges.”

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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