Letter to the Editor: Campus Climate Survey
On Sept. 7, President Tressel released the results of the campus-wide climate survey, wherein faculty and staff gave their opinions on a host of topics effecting Youngstown State University. The survey revealed that the majority of the campus is extremely dissatisfied with the administration, particularly in the area of shared governance. These results should have the entire campus concerned, because they suggest significant problems with the very facets that will be scrutinized next year when YSU begins our ten-year accreditation review process from the Higher Learning Commission.
How did the administration respond to these results? The Academic Senate’s Executive Committee and the Office of the Provost invited us to attend a forum or complete a survey to communicate possible solutions. I find the latest “survey about the survey” to be especially frustrating, because it implies that the employees at YSU have not been voicing their concerns.
My letter to The Jambar is to reiterate to our students that YSU employees have been communicating loudly, and we simply are not being heard by those who make major decisions on this campus. A few notable examples:
- 2013 — Accounting Chair Peter Woodlock completed an audit of YSU’s finances, including a comparison of our expenditures versus other comparable Ohio universities. The results showed a higher than average budget in auxiliary/athletic enterprises (23 percent versus 14.9 percent average) and in maintenance of buildings/ grounds (12.4 percent versus 8 percent average). The report was praised for its insightfulness, but was apparently unheeded. In FY 2015 alone, Athletics received a 3.6 percent increase, while Academics was cut by 9.6 percent.
- 2014 — President Tressel addressed the Academic Senate to defend why Martin Abraham was chosen as Interim Provost, despite the fact that he had not applied for the position, and a Committee successfully put forward two candidates for his consideration. Many employees voiced concern with a unilateral decision devoid of shared governance. The administration responded by making Abraham’s “interim” position permanent.
- 2015 — The ACE Union (comprised of lower-level administrative staff) overwhelmingly rejected their Union contract, citing the administration’s plan to subcontract up to 25 jobs and reduce the layoff notice time to 14 days. The administration promptly imposed the contract upon the ACE employees anyway.
- 2016 — Faculty reviewed the budget changes from FY 2008 to 2015. While the athletics program saw their budget increase by 46 percent, academics only saw a 2 percent increase overall.
- September 2016 — One day before releasing the results of the climate survey to the public, the Board of Trustees approved salary raises for several upper-level administrators, including the Provost, the vice president of Legal Affairs (5 percent increases), the vice president of Finance ($10K), and the associate vice president of University Relations ($5K).
These events, as well as the results of the campus climate survey, reveal that the administration has an overspending issue, and that there is a lack of collaborative governing.
As for potential solutions, employees have been very vocal here as well. First, the administration and the BOT need to reprioritize the general fund to better reflect the budgets of other Ohio state based institutions. Second, the administration should heed the opinion of the committees in place to provide shared governance, such as the Academic Senate, the unions and the SGA. Rest assured, faculty, employees and students will continue to voice our concerns. It is my sincere hope that the Board of Trustees and the administration finally listen.
Susan Clutter, Associate Professor
Youngstown State University
Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences Department