Many of the improvements President Jim Tressel has made to Youngstown State University are appreciated; however, recent cuts are alarming. I have serious concerns for prospective students seeking a degree from YSU.
The university needs to operate within budget, but is it beneficial to eliminate bachelor’s and master’s degrees, especially in areas where strengths are inherent? Why, for example, would music majors or professorships be abolished from a famous institution like the Dana School of Music? Why cut back on art study programs when the university has the McDonough Museum of Art and is adjacent to the famous Butler Institute of American Art? Most of these courses have yet to be offered as requirements for other degrees. Where are the savings?
Take a close look at our Mahoning Valley. Many high schools teach Italian. Why, when few colleges in Ohio and Pennsylvania offer Italian, would two majors be cut? Judging by the substantial endowments, the teaching of the Italian language and culture enjoys strong community support. The same can be said about the program at the Center for Judaic Studies in the History Department which lost a professorship (and a recognized scholar). The department was considered a “to grow” Category.
These are just a few examples of poor financial health decisions. It seems that the administration does not realize that the heart and soul of a university are the professors and the courses offered. The number of major degrees is not a meaningful indicator of a successful program, just as the goal of a college education is simply to get a job – important as that is. A well-balanced education develops analytical skills and scientific knowledge, broadens the world view of cultural and religious differences and similarities, and gives meaning. It is an opportunity for personal enrichment. It helps teach students to face ethical dilemmas and identify moral responsibilities as contributing members of society.
Instead, YSU must re-evaluate what appears to be a very heavy administration. Why does a school of this size need a rector, four vice-presidents, two vice-presidents, four vice-presidents (actually five, counting the double-appointment of the president), seven assistant vice-presidents, 22 directors and five other executives / partners / and co-directors? This does not include the myriad of assistant directors, principals, etc., or directors, advisers and over 60 coaches or athletic grants needed to maintain Division I sports.
Athletics is important, but can the spending continue in good conscience at the expense of studies?
Providing sustainable education to students is vital for the Mahoning Valley and the continued economic recovery. Please pay attention to how and where you prune. Like a tree, there is a point from which it cannot recover.
Among President Tressel’s many accomplishments, he would surely want his greatest legacy to be a financially strong and balanced university, not a mediocre university with a maligned faculty.
SUSAN M. ROSSI-WILCOX