YSU and Academic Senate at odds over study targeting academic programs

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YSU expects reduced enrollment, hires firm to crunch numbers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State’s faculty union has joined the university’s Academic Senate in questioning the process being used to determine the extent of cuts, if any, may be needed in the future.

The questions being asked and recommendations being made all came from a letter sent last Friday from Dr. Chet Cooper, chair of YSU’s Academic Senate, to President Jim Tressel and the Board of Trustees.

Cooper’s letter begins with a quote from Provost Brien Smith stating the number of high school graduates is trending downward and lower college enrollments are expected.

To help plan for the future, Cooper’s letter claims YSU has hired Boston-based Gray Associates to make “data-informed decisions about all of our academic programs.”

Cooper’s issue, and that of the Academic Senate, is that the Tressel Administration is focusing solely on academic programs and not the rest of YSU’s operations.

“While the YSU Academic Senate agrees that the continued solvency of the university is one of the
practical realities of higher education, it is also clear that the approach to our fiscal challenges has been short-sighted,” Cooper wrote.

The Academic Senate has asked the administration to hire a consulting firm to focus on everything else, including non-academic units and athletics, in terms of their return on investment. They want all administrative structures evaluated for overall efficiency and to examine the impact all non-academic units have on student recruitment, retention, and success.

A statement Thursday from YSU spokesperson Ron Cole did not address any of the issues that were Cooper’s letter.

“We appreciate Chair Cooper’s letter and value the Academic Senate’s continued leadership. Our academic unit is at the center of everything we do as a university and is at the core of ensuring the success of our students and the institution in general. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Academic Senate, working together to shape a healthy, bright future for the entire YSU community.”

Ron Cole, YSU Director of Communications

Officials with the faculty union at YSU said Thursday that they are in agreement with Cooper’s letter and the stance of the Academic Senate.

“The Senate is right to ask for this. If the administration wants to make changes and possible cuts based on cost/benefit data, then all divisions of the university should be subject to the same processes,” said Susan Clutter, YSU-OEA president.

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