YSU makes cuts to balance budget


To account for a $6.6 million deficit, Youngstown State University released a comprehensive plan on Thursday calling for a balanced budget.

This plan includes the layoff of five full-time and four part-time non-faculty employees and calls for the following cuts to the budget: the freezing of discretionary spending, a reduction in operating budgets, a curtailment of technology spending and a cutback in energy spending.

These budget cuts went into effect Thursday and are projected to save $6.09 million. Improved enrollment and overhead campus auxiliaries are expected to generate an additional $615,000.

In early September, YSU President Randy Dunn said in a Jambar interview that he wanted “to protect as much as I can — our academic support services, student services and our people.”

However, Dunn said that personnel reductions were unavoidable.

“Given that personnel  is by far the largest portion of the university’s general fund budget expenditures, and given that we are facing a significant $6.6 million shortfall, it became
difficult to develop a plan to reduce the budget without, unfortunately, some way addressing personnel costs,” he said. “Making these decisions is difficult and not taken lightly, but we believe they are a necessary part of trying to fix the structural budget challenges before us.”

Personnel reductions are projected to save $663,000.

In a press release issued on Thursday, YSU unions expressed dissatisfaction with Dunn’s decision to reduce personnel.

“It is unfortunate that these budget cuts were formulated without input from the dedicated men and women who know the most about day-to-day and year-to-year operation of YSU: the faculty members who teach the students, the employees who literally keep the lights on and the professionals who provide essential services to the students, faculty and administration on a daily basis,” the press release said.

Connie Frisby, president of the YSU Association of Classified Employees (ACE), added that she is disappointed that employees will be negatively impacted by the school’s deficit.

“We’re saddened that we are being forced to again bear the burden of the university’s financial difficulties,” she said.

YSU employees will also be asked to voluntarily give up vacation days or take voluntary unpaid furlough — an initiative that is expected to save the university $230,000.

Ron Cole, director of university communications, said the budget cuts should not hinder student success.

“These cuts were done in such a way to hold harmless the academic and other services that are at the core of what we do as an educational institution,” Cole said.

Gene Grilli, vice president of finance and administration, agreed with Cole.  He said that despite declined enrollment and reduced state subsidies, the university will remain sustainable.

“We want to make sure that we give the students the programs that they need. … We are doing a very good job making sure we sustain,” he said. “The university is working as a team. Everybody is puling together: administrators, faculty and staff — and the students, too.”

While the university’s financial plan calls for substantial cuts to the budget. It also provides funding for a new marketing strategy.

“There will continue to be strategic initiatives that will be funded that will speak to priorities such as enrollment,” Cole said. “We are in the midst right now of developing a marketing campaign that will be coming out soon.”

YSU’s budget creates a new enrollment management position. This new position, along with an extensive marketing strategy, is expected to produce higher enrollment for this spring semester than enrollment for Spring 2013 and generate $315,000 in revenue.

Cole explained that spring enrollment, though, is expected to be lower than fall enrollment.

“We anticipate that [the difference] between fall and spring will be less than it normally is,” he said.