Editorial: The Out-of-Towner

He’s not from around these parts.

Well, actually, he is.

Charles Bush, Youngstown State University’s newest trustee, doesn’t live in Youngstown. Though he grew up in Youngstown and graduated from YSU, the retired surgeon calls Powell, Ohio — just outside of Columbus — his home and splits his time between his residence there and a residence in Florida.

For those not in the know, the Board of Trustees is a body of 11 individuals — including two students — appointed by Ohio’s governor to work alongside the president and provost in running the University.

Since their job is to help run the University, intimate knowledge of the University is a reasonable expectation to have from a trustee. No one has this knowledge coming into a position on the Board of Trustees, but it’s assumed they’ll learn as they go.

The question being levied by some — including State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown — is whether or not someone living well outside the city can serve the University as well as a local resident might.

Lepore-Hagan is right in saying there are plenty of local business leaders and individuals of influence who would do well to serve on the Board of Trustees. She’s probably also right to be wary of Gov. John Kasich inserting his influence into the Mahoning County, though that’s a discussion for another editorial.

Where the opinion of this editorial board and the state representative diverge is on the relevance of Bush’s residency.

In many universities, as Bush himself has pointed out, there are non-local residents serving as trustee members. In fact, most residency debates at universities occur over whether or not they should allow trustees to live outside the state. In searching for universities who limit trusteeship to only those within county or city limits, very little turned up.

This isn’t to say there aren’t drawbacks. In the event of an emergency meeting, Bush would have to decide whether or not he’s going to drive — or fly if he’s in Florida — up to Youngstown and attend a meeting or if he’s just going to stay put. Emergency meetings — such as when former president Randy Dunn suddenly decided to leave the college — are when the variety of viewpoints and opinions of the various board members are the most important.

That being said, thanks to the Board’s quorum — the minimum number of members necessary to be present before any action at a meeting can occur — requiring a majority of members, they don’t actually need Bush to be there to make important decisions. His potential inability to make meetings doesn’t really stifle the Board’s ability to make decisions.

Lepore-Hagan’s underlying criticism of Bush’s appointment has less to do with his residency and more to do with his relationship with the governor. While we can’t speculate as to the degree of their closeness, we do know Kasich proposed the appointment to Bush over dinner, so there must be some degree of familiarity there, even if only on a professional level.

Even this concern — rooted in Kasich’s closing of a local mental health facility providing long term housing to extremely disabled individuals and the now infamous passing of the Youngstown Plan — is almost a moot point at this juncture. President Jim Tressel was one of the members of the body that drafted the Youngstown Plan. If Kasich wants to offer input on matters at YSU, it’s unlikely Tressel is going to hang up the phone on him.

That doesn’t mean Tressel is going to blindly act at the governor’s command, however. Just like Bush’s closeness to the governor doesn’t mean he’s going to be a puppet.

The phrases “benefit of the doubt” and “second chance” might as well be mantras at YSU. Bush has done nothing to warrant needing a second chance, but just as this publication did with Tressel, we offer up our optimistic belief that Bush will do the job he’s been appointed — to try to make this university the best he can with the resources at his disposal.

Do good, sir. We’ll be watching.


 

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member.  The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the adviser does not have final approval.

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