In April, the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees revised a number of appointment policies relative to hiring on campus through the University Affairs Committee.
With the changes, the board would pre-approve any personnel actions before the hiring took place. The resolutions passed with only two dissenting votes: Scott Schulick and Delores Crawford.
Schulick said that these policies reversed long-standing practices where the board simply ratified hiring.
“If university managers have to wait to hire employees before board approval, we could very well lose competitive appointments with the faculty,” Schulick said.
Recently, the board reversed previous actions so that faculty and coaches can be hired without board approval.
Schulick said that he believes the board quickly realized the resolutions were impractical.
“It impairs and impedes the ability of the university to function,” he said.Schulick said that the board is moving away from looking at the big picture and focusing on very small, minute details.
“I’d like to believe the board knows the difference between governing and micromanaging,” he said. “I have been personally disappointed that there’s been a tendency of late for some members of the board — or the board in general — to kind of move in that direction.”
Schulick also said that recent actions have moved beyond the typical governance.
On Monday, four former members, all of whom served as chairmen, of the Board of Trustees sent a letter to the current board criticizing the new resolutions. The letter was signed by Richard McLaughlin, Bruce Beeghly, Paul Dutton and John Pogue.
“There is always temptation for a University Board to micro-manage,” the letter stated. “The temptation should be resisted because volunteer University Board members are typically selected for reasons other than academic expertise.”
McLaughlin said that the signing members feel it is not a good time to change policies with a new president coming in.
“It would be unfortunate for the Board to establish a personnel policy that would emasculate the new President from his basic Presidential function of personnel appointment and management,” the letter said.
McLaughlin also stated that the old policies have been in effect for as long as the four signing members can remember.
“There is no overwhelming reason to change [the policies],” McLaughlin said.
Sudershan Garg, the chairman of the board, agreed with the former trustees.
“We had an overreach last time and then we had a mistake, mistakes do happen,” Garg said. “And we have corrected them.”
Garg also added that the board took measures in Wednesday’s meeting to rescind the policies that were questioned by the former board members. Not all current members believe that they are micromanaging the hiring process.
“The truth of the matter is we’re exercising our authority to the extent that we’re authorized to do so,” said board member Harry Meshel. “And failure to exercise your authority violates the responsibility we have.”
Meshel referred to the Amended Substitute House Bill Number One, which states, “Administrative decisions about the utilization of available resources, about organizational structure, about disciplinary procedure, about the staffing of all auxiliary facilities, and about administrative personnel shall be the exclusive prerogative of boards of trustees.”
Meshel said that the YSU Board of Trustees will not have a hand in all of the hiring, but rather that they will make sure that all of the hiring will fall within budgetary constraints.