Support the NEOMFA program at YSU. Stop the cuts!
Support the NEOMFA program at YSU. Stop the cuts!
The Youngstown State University (YSU) Administration is planning to sunset the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program at our institution, despite the program producing revenue for the school last year. This is a huge detriment to the area which has a thriving literary arts community with organizations such as Lit Youngstown that hosts a creative writing conference on YSU’s campus. The NEOMFA program is a consortial program, shared by YSU, Kent State University, the University of Akron, and Cleveland State University. In Spring of 2022 alone, nearly 25% of courses through the program will be taught by YSU professors. Last year, YSU was the 2nd highest university for cross-registrations indicating desire from other university’s students in the program to take classes at YSU. If the program is cut, that would mean students across the region, at all of the participating universities, have fewer classes to choose from, less esteemed faculty to learn from, and higher course sizes, leading to less individualized learning. YSU pulling out of the program could impact the health of the program, leading to less reputable degrees and affecting every student in the program. Sign this petition today to help support the program at YSU, and to help the students of the program, past and present, and hopefully future make our case.
YSU alumni of the program have succeeded in the field by securing teaching, writing, and editing positions across the country, publishing high-quality work across genres, and receiving esteemed awards. Just a few alumni include: Couri Johnson who published her first short story collection in 2020 and is now a PhD Candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Karen Kotrba who published a collection of poetry with Bottom Dog Press. Kelly Bancroft who published her first collection of poetry this past year with Vox Press. Colleen Clayton who published her first novel with Little, Brown. William Soldan who published a novel, two story collections, and a collection of poetry since graduating the program, and one of his stories was selected for the America's Best Mystery Stories series. Beesan Odeh who sold her debut short story to nationally circulated magazine, Lightspeed. Jonathan Wlodarski who has published stories in multiple nationally recognized publications, including Ninth Letter and The Fairy Tale Review. Christopher Alonso who has published stories in nationally known magazines, like Strange Horizons. Alex Puncekar who took a job as a copyeditor and personal assistant to the editor John Joseph Adams.
Alongside awards, teaching, and publications, YSU alumni have become community leaders such as Karen Schubert, author of six poetry books. Karen co-founded Lit Youngstown, which has focused hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant money hosting national, regional and local authors of contemporary literature, as well as public art projects, books for over 1000 Youngstown children and an oral history project of Youngstown. The NEOMFA program is a positive force for Youngstown and the region, economically, financially, socially, and professionally.
If the program were to be cut from YSU, access to writers and resources would diminish in the area. YSU students in the program volunteer for events such as the English Festival impacting hundreds of local high school students, and the Lit Youngstown Fall Literary Festival, bringing hundreds to the area each year. Additionally, the program brings in many prominent writers to Youngstown, including Ross Gay, Laura van der Berg, Kelly Link, among others. YSU students participating in the program come from all walks of life, such as Lou Yuhasz who began the program after working in the corporate world for many years. His legacy has contributed to organizations in the area and students of the program through scholarships left behind. By cutting the program, YSU would diminish the culture, money, and jobs that the literary arts brings to Youngstown.
In July of 2021 for Mahoning Matters, YSU President, Jim Tressel, said "By leveraging the power of creativity, the Cultural Alliance can help unite and invigorate our region-building relationships, fostering growth and encouraging cultural connections." And yet, despite saying he recognizes the importance of the arts, YSU administrators are aiming to cut the YSU Master of Fine Arts program, which is one of the biggest contributors to the literary arts culture in Youngstown. In fact, the program generated revenue last year for the university. Help YSU administrators see that creative industries like the literary arts are not something to cut as they fuel $41.1 Billion dollars of Ohio’s economy every year. By signing this petition, you are supporting for YSU to maintain the programs they have, continue to invest in it with faculty, which would make it only stronger, and show our community that they truly support the arts.
Along with signing this petition, please help by emailing the local news outlets and the Provost (email@example.com), President (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Board of Trustees (email@example.com) at YSU. By sharing and tweeting YSU handles, this helps bring our stories and concerns into the public light. The more public media exposure we can promote, the more we help bring attention to issues within the university and show the administrators that we care.