Letter to the editor

Think you’ve had a bad semester? It could be worse: You could be President Anderson.

Over the past few weeks, everything that Dr. Anderson embodied during her time at YSU has been simply swept aside. Dr. Anderson placed the students of YSU at the forefront of university decisions, but the board of trustees has proven that it does not share these same sentiments.

It is easy to overlook the importance of this one committee, but the direction of the university hangs in the balance with its selection of a new president. The composition of the new presidential search committee therefore merits close scrutiny. A cursory glance at the members making up the committee yields no immediate red flags, but when looking deeper, one can see just how badly the students and staff at YSU may be having the wool pulled over their eyes. The 17-member committee, which will choose the next president from the candidates whittled down by AGB Search Inc. has a very unbalanced makeup.

The committee is made up of all nine YSU trustees, two student trustees and two former trustees. The non-trustee members are Bege Bowers, retired associate YSU provost; Chet Cooper, professor of biological sciences and president of the YSU Academic Senate; Carl Nunziato, YSU graduate and former vice president of National City Bank; and Suzanne Fleming, former coordinator of the Northeast Ohio Regional Leadership Task Force, YSU Center for Human Services Development.

So, out of the 17 members, 13 of them have ties to the board of trustees. That is 76 percent! That is a huge amount of clout for just one area of the university, especially one that has little interaction with students and especially considering that there is only one professor.

The number looks even more out of place when looking at the last presidential search committee, which was formed in 2009 and had 22 members. In this instance, there were only seven members affiliated with the YSU Board of Trustees (or just 32 percent of the committee). The other members included three professors, the president of the YSU Alumni Society, a YSU union president, the president of the YSU Foundation, a dean, the assistant director of the honors program and members of the community, just to name a few.

Also absent from the new committee is any member of the city government in a time where cooperation between the university and the city is paramount to the success of both.

Although this vast change in committee composition could just be happenstance, it is very likely with President Anderson’s exit that this is an uncomfortable trend within the university that will continue for years to come. The amount of trustees on the search committee could easily give them the final say in who, ultimately, is the new face of YSU.

Although this may not happen, the composition of the search committee lends itself to thoughts that the presidential selection process is not necessarily in the best interest of students. Although the timing may be too late, the board of trustees may need to consider altering the composition of the search committee.

I understand that choosing a presidential search committee — let alone a president — is no easy task, but all I am asking is that the views of the students and staff at YSU not be overlooked. The last thing YSU needs to do is distance itself from the student body.

Is it too late?