Monetary Gift Opens New Doors for Beeghly College

By Jordan Unger

A recent donation to the Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University will establish an endowment for the college, providing more academic opportunities for its students and faculty.

The endowment is part of a $1.5 million gift that was presented to the university by Bruce and Nancy Beeghly last month through the “We See Tomorrow” campaign.

Charles Howell, dean of BCOE, said the funding focuses on bringing scholars and education professionals to the university for open forums, workshops and lectures.

“We have brought [speakers] in before, but it’s usually just… a lecture to one class,” Howell said. “This gift will allow us to bring them in for an extended period of time and bring in nationally known figures.”

An extended stay could allow the speaker to visit several classes during the day and speak to the Youngstown community in the evening, Howell said.

Jake Protivnak, chair of the department of counseling, school psychology and educational leadership, said they will no longer need to rely on student organizations funds and fees when bringing in speakers.

“It’s a wonderful gift that will support the professional development of our faculty, our students and our alumni,” Protivnak said. “Hopefully we will be able to have speakers that will focus on areas that are relevant to counseling, school psychology and educational leadership.”

He said the opportunity to meet these professionals gives students and faculty a much needed out-of-the-area perspective.

Mary Lou DiPillo, associate dean of BCOE, said she is excited for the opportunities the endowment will create for YSU alumni.

BCOE was notified by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) in November that the college is fully accredited until 2024. One of the accreditation standards is to keep tabs on alumni already working in schools.

She said this standard really encourages the department to keep supporting in-service teachers and principals. One of the ways they plan to do this is through discussions on the rising opioid crisis.

DiPillo said the department hosted a conference with in-service teachers in the fall regarding this epidemic.

“It was a way for us to try to show support for them. We had some workshop sessions where people were getting ideas and tips on how to deal with a child in crisis,” DiPillo said.

She said the donation gives them the opportunity to continue such workshops and discussions.

Howell said it is also important for faculty at YSU to understand how the opioid crisis and domestic violence affect the lives of their students.

“It affects their psychology; it affects how they learn and process information, and our teachers, counselors and administrator candidates need to learn more about that,” Howell said. “Our existing faculty generally haven’t been trained in that, so we want to bring people in from the outside to help us become better prepared.”

No specific lecturers have been determined. The experts are expected to benefit from the meetings as well, Protivnak said.

“I hope that these experts who come here to YSU can also learn from the experiences of our faculty, students and alumni,” he said. “[We want] a collaboration, not just a one-way street.”

The gift will also create two graduate fellowships, the Bruce R. Beeghly Graduate Fellowship in Electrical and Computer Engineering and the R. Thornton Beeghly Graduate Fellowship in Business Administration.

This is the most recent addition to the Beeghly family’s growing list of contributions to the university. Two campus buildings bear the family name and their support for YSU’s partnership with Youngstown City Schools has made dramatic changes to the education program, Howell said.

“We send all of our tutors out to [assist] second or third graders in the entire school district, so it’s quite an enterprise,” he said.

Howell said a study was done to compare the students who received the tutoring services for two semesters to those who did not. The tutored students had a 50 percent higher chance of passing reading exams.

This program also impacts the YSU education students, Howell said.

“It’s very different working with a real kid than sitting there listening to your professor. All of a sudden you have a whole lot of questions you need to ask,” Howell said. “It’s really been a wonderful program.”

The department of counseling, school psychology and educational leadership have potential school counselors and principals work with the partnership as well.

Protivnak said he hopes these community partners attend future lectures and workshops when they begin.

Activities supported by the endowment are expected to start next year.