Anderson reflects on four decades at YSU

Cynthia Anderson

Youngstown State University President Cynthia Anderson walks hand-in-hand with her husband, Brian Williams, on her ceremonial first day in office. Jambar file photo.

In her second floor office of Tod Hall, overlooking the side of Ward Beecher, Cynthia Anderson leaned back in her chair and sipped her coffee out of a Youngstown State University mug. Anderson began her time at YSU as a student in 1968, became a student employee, then faculty, and eventually moved up through the ranks to her presidency.

She was the first female president and the first alumni to be elected. She said that there was no downside to being an alumni.

“Coming back and serving the institution from which you graduated, coming back to your own community and doing all this has literally been a dream come true,” she said.

Anderson said that she is very proud to be the first female president, but that she hopes that’s not the only way she is identified.

“I hope that I’m identified with the fact that we were able to do a lot in three years,” she said.

Throughout her three-year term, Anderson created the strategic plan and made what she described as “wonderful connections with the community” and has trimmed the university budget, among other things.

Jack Fahey, vice president of student affairs, described working with Anderson as “wonderful,” and said he loves that she has accomplished the strategic plan because it’s all about the students.

“I had a lot of fun working with her. She has a great sense of humor,” Fahey said. “Her and I share the love of students, so it was very, very easy to work for a boss that is so passionate about treating students well.”

She has been in education “40.4 years” and at YSU “34.7 years total,” and has always considered education as her passion.

She said her most prized moments at the university have been the graduations, and that she cries at every commencement. “It’s like I look like I’ve been to a Kiss concert. I’m just so tickled,” Anderson said.

She also said that she is proud to see that people are achieving what they set out to do by graduating.

“To me, that was the culmination of everything I went to school for: somebody else achieved what they wanted because of all of us here at the university,” Anderson said.

Anderson will be retiring on Sunday, and she and Brian Williams, her husband, will be moving to Nevada.

Anderson and Williams have been together for 22 years. They were married in Clark County, Nevada on December 28, 2010. She said they were attracted to each other because they both have hard work ethics.

“We work hard so we can live well and live hard,” she said. The couple likes to ride around in hot rods and going to car shows, as well as boating.

“He, too, is looking forward — although he is going to continue to work — he is looking forward to this, as well,” Anderson said. She said her career has been wonderful, even though it has had its ups as well as its downs.

“If I had one wish for every student who walks through the doors of the admissions office at YSU, I would wish for them the kind of happy career — wonderful career — that I have had,” she said.

Anderson said that she believes she just knew it was time to retire, but that at some point she might consider teaching again. “It’s been wonderful serving the students, which is all I ever wanted to do,” Anderson said.