Seeking vision


Consultant Arnold Speert of AGB Search Inc. met with Youngstown State University faculty, staff and students on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Tod Hall to inquire about characteristics that the YSU community would like to see in the university’s new president.

Speert said an advertisement would run for 30 days; emails would also be sent to presidents and provosts at institutions across the country. He also requested information that the candidates should know about YSU and the surrounding community.

Attendees expressed concerned about outreach, enrollment and finances, among other things.

Many faculty members felt the new president would have to be an individual that could hit the ground running, or someone who could avoid a long learning process once chosen.

David Stout, chair of accounting, said the future president must be able to articulate a vision.

“And not just a short-term vision, but one for five to 10 years down the road is critical,” Stout said.

Stout also said he would like the next president to have knowledge of the external forces that higher education institutions are dealing with, such as technology and online courses.

He said he feels that the university is forced to re-examine business models to find where YSU fits in.

“I do expect some intelligent discussion and appreciation for these forces,” Stout said. Nancy Landgraff, chair of the physical therapy department, said she would like the president to have a vision of the bigger picture.

“He or she needs to have a vision of not internal competition, but internal collaboration,” Landgraff said.

Landgraff said she would like to see more effort, like collaboration with the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Steert asked faculty and staff what attributes are attractive about YSU, and Julia Gergits, chair of the English department, said the students make this university attractive.

“This place lives and dies by our students,” Gergits said. “Everything we do is dedicated to this area. We are all wrapped and tied into the community.”

Many attendees expressed the need for positive change.

Jacquelyn Johnson, development officer for university development, said she hopes the faculty and president can have a close bond.

“The people who work here want to help everyone succeed. It can’t be a one-person show,” Johnson said. “We need to someone who understands the pronoun ‘we.’” Johnson said faculty would “run through a brick wall” for this university to succeed.

William Gregg Sturrus, professor and chair of physics and astronomy, said this year is a unique opportunity for a transformational president.

William Blake, director of student diversity programs, said the new president “must understand partnership with the unions, the board of trustees and the staff in order to give students the best learning experience.”

Some faculty members said YSU is lacking in a few areas of which the new president should be aware.

Brenda Crouse, senior academic adviser for the STEM College, said YSU’s marketing and advertising is not aggressive, impressive or state of the art.

“We have so many bragging rights, and we hide under a bushel,” Crouse said. “We need to make a statement and get out there and show we have a product because we have a really good product here.”

Crouse said better marketing efforts would help put YSU in the ranks with schools like the University of Akron and Ohio State University.

Cory Okular, president of the Student Government Association, said he would like the next president to help showcase YSU as a destination institution.

“We want it to be a first-choice option for students, not a second option or transfer option,” he said.