Stop the job and program cuts at YSU!

Stop the job and program cuts at YSU!

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Sadie Pasquale started this petition

Recently, the Administration of Youngstown State University (YSU) announced that the University will be eliminating 20+ programs due to the decrease in enrollment over the past few years. The list of programs being cut are listed here:

Contradiction and inconsistent communication throughout the University community has become a common trend. From COVID protocols, to program cuts, to faculty layoffs, the community is not being provided answers or a clear explanation of the Administration’s intentions and vision for the future of the University.

WFMJ quoted Provost Brien Smith explaining, “less than 20 faculty members will be cut although they will have the opportunity to contest the layoffs”. An email to YSU faculty does not corroborate this vision: “we also anticipate the non-renewal of some lecturers. These lecturers will be chosen based upon the number of students and the workload within the program. Unfortunately, we do not know the number of lecturers that Administration will cut, nor do we know what Departments will see those cuts. We have been told that the extent of the cutting will be based upon how much money can be saved with the utilization of curricular efficiency within programs across campus. The Administration made it clear that if we do not tighten our belts via curriculum changes, then we will face the loss of more faculty.”

Although Provost Brien Smith claims that less than 20 faculty members will lose their jobs, faculty are led to believe that more layoffs and retrenchment are to come once programs are evaluated after the initial program cuts.

Furthermore, students are receiving yet a different message from leadership. One example comes from an email sent to students in the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program from Dr. Charles Howell, the Dean of the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences & Education indicating that their program will be terminated. He states, “Unfortunately, in assessing viability of the program, I have to consider the fiscal situation of the university. As I explained at our meeting, in a short-term analysis, the program breaks even, since costs are booked at adjunct replacement rates. In a longer-term analysis, however, we have to consider the cost of a full-time faculty member, and consequently the revenue flow for the program is negative.”

Some questions that remain include, but are not limited to: If the program “breaks even” on adjunct work and rates, why be concerned about hiring a full-time professor at this point post-pandemic? Why cut a program that is not currently a negative return on investment?

With no clear definition, outlook, or explanation of the Administration’s plans, the Youngstown State University Chapter of the Ohio Education Association (YSU-OEA) is taking a stand. They state, “Provost Brien Smith’s argument that nearly all Ohio’s universities are seeing similar declines is not entirely true and ignores the failure of these administrative priorities at YSU. Two of YSU’s closest competitors, Kent State and Cleveland State, both had enrollment increases in Fall of 2021.” Kent State boosted enrollment by 4% from Fall 2020 to Fall 2021, and Cleveland State reports an overall 1% increase for both Undergraduate and Graduate enrollments. The YSU community is led to question the source of the Administration’s claims.

Online news source, Mahoning Matters, reports further findings from the YSU-OEA: “...YSU Athletics Department anticipates a $885,000 budget increase in the midst of a structural deficit. YSU’s athletic department budget for the 2022-23 school year is $13,835,644, out of a total general fund allocation of about $153 million. Additionally, each YSU student pays about $1,000 for athletics annually, which is about 10 percent of their tuition.”

Not only did the Athletics budget increase, but “YSU trustees also approved some administrative raises up to 10 percent, as well as the creation of additional administrative positions, according to the union.”

YSU-OEA’s claim that the Administration is favoring other areas over academics was referred to as “So absurd.” by Provost Smith. The plan that is being outlined above includes pay increases for Administration, Athletics budget increases, and faculty and academic retrenchment.

Mahoning Matters further explains, “In the academic division, YSU has lost 42 faculty members from resignation and retirements since fall 2020, the union said. According to the union, 25 of the 42 faculty members took the separation incentive offered by YSU administration. This incentive is a $2 million dollar cut on faculty already, union leaders said.”

The Administration should take into account the long term effects of some of these program cuts. Youngstown boasts about its Italian American heritage. By eliminating both the Italian and Italian Education Majors, the University could lose funding from prominent local supporters. The University could potentially be breaking ties with the community and losing part of its heritage in the process. How will the tri-county and surrounding areas, such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh be affected by this program cut? In addition, Alumni are being asked to support a University that is not providing clear direction for the University and what their money could be benefitting.

It is time for students and alumni to stand with faculty and their respective programs to identify the true issues at hand. Why is the YSU community in the dark about the true state of the budget and its allocations? Where are the funds coming from to support salary raises and athletics increases? Why are our questions not being answered?

Special thank you to the YSU-OEA for bringing these points to the community's attention.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!