Dunn begins school year with State of the University address
In front of a packed Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center, new Youngstown State University President Randy Dunn delivered his first State of the University address on Monday. Dunn said he wants to explore approaches to solve challenges the University will face in the future.
Limited state funding and a decrease in enrollment have led to a subsequent reduction in the university’s revenue. This is one challenge Youngstown State University must face.
“Over the next eighteen months to two years, we have to stabilize our revenue stream,” Dunn said. “For this year alone, the one just completed, fiscal year 13, we are looking at about 1.9 million dollars in deficit.”
Tyler Hovanec, a first year electrical and computer engineering student, said he is concerned about this deficit.
“This is my first year here, and I wasn’t aware that the university was operating under a deficit,” Havonec said. “[Dunn] seems hopeful that he can turn that around.”
Dunn said as of now, state funding accounts for only 25 percent of the university’s budget. This funding has been increasingly linked to graduation rates, and YSU has struggled with graduation numbers in the past.
Dunn indicated that YSU’s graduation numbers fall in the bottom quartile of Ohio universities. He said that informed advisors and a strong Center for Student Progress could help improve graduation rates.
With only 25 percent of revenue coming from the state, YSU is dependent on tuition and enrollment for the rest of its budget. And, this fall, enrollment is expected to decrease for the third consecutive year.
“[Enrollment] is going to be lower than we have budgeted for. That happened to be a one percent decrease that we had anticipated, and we’re going to exceed that as we cut into this year,” Dunn said. “Generally, broadly, crudely speaking for every one percent loss in enrollment we are losing about one million dollars”
Dunn said YSU has the facilities, the teaching staff and the pricing to improve enrollment.
“We will work to attract students from several states,” Dunn said. “We have the opportunity to become a university of destination.”
Dunn also said he wants to focus on increased community involvement and pointed to YSU’s past successes with community partnerships, such as the university’s relationship with the Youngstown Business Incubator.
“We are going to look at all of these places and engage through partnerships. As those boats are raised in the harbor… ours will as well,” Dunn said.
Finally, Dunn concluded that despite challenges, YSU is capable of achieving excellence.
“People are attracted to quality. People will follow quality. Students in the new territories we are going to recruit. International partners we are going to be growing…. People come to excellence,” Dunn said. “People want to be associated with a winner. And we can show that we are a winner. We have a thousand ways we can show it. And we are going to show it.”