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YSU president outlines plan to deal with looming deficit

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - In his first state of the university address since being appointed president on July 15, Dr. Randy Dunn told a crowd in Kilcawley Center that Youngstown State University faces big challenges, but he remains hopeful for the future.

On Monday, Dr. Dunn told an audience in the Carnation Room that the university faces turbulent waters ahead, but says they will navigate those waters.

 President Dunn said that YSU will be dealing with what he characterized as a structural imbalance over the next 18 months to two years. Dunn says that YSU finished it's most recent fiscal year with a $1.9 million deficit.

Dr. Dunn pointed out that the revenue model for the university has reversed in recent years, with 75 percent of the budget coming from tuition, and 25 percent from government and other sources.

Dunn said that the university must bring in tuition dollars to plug the hole in the state revenue stream. He said he doesn't want to see the university shrink by cutting faculty and programs.

Dr. Dunn says he expects the university to experience a reduction in enrollment for the third consecutive year. He believes that the decrease will exceed the one percent drop that was anticipated. He says that the university loses approximately one million dollars for every one percent reduction in enrollment.

The president said that a four to five percent enrollment decrease for the coming year would translate to a $4 million to $5 million dollar loss, not including the $1.9 million deficit. Dr. Dunn estimated losses in tuition, state and other funding amounts to $16 million in the coming years.

Adding to the problem of reduced enrollment, Dr. Dunn says that about half of the university's share of state funding is now being based on performance. YSU ranks in the lower fourth of Ohio's state universities when it comes to graduation rates.

In order to retain Youngstown State's reputation as an institution that is open to people in all walks of life, Dr. Dunn says the university must define the meaning of being an open access learning institution.

Dunn suggests a strong advisement system that may suggest some potential students attend institutions like Eastern Gateway Community College to complete their core requirements before enrolling at YSU.

Dr. Dunn summarized his plan to meet the challenges facing the university with what he termed the "Three E's": 

  • Enrollment

Looking at places where the university conducts it's recruiting

Look at signature programs to attract students from a wider geographic area

Marketing to make the university a destination

Reviewing scholarship programs

  • Engagement

Establishing working relationships with entities in the valley

Focusing on deep and rich partnerships with business, government, schools and cultural organizations

  • Excellence

    Dr. Dunn cited several examples of YSU's reputation for excellence

    Beeghly College of Education named in top 40 schools for education

    100% of students in dental hygiene program passed board exams on first try

    Two faculty members are Fulbright Scholars

    YSU named 21st among 400 colleges for greatest return on investment

Dr. Dunn told the audience that it will take some risks and experimentation to accomplish those ends. He pledged to build good relationships and communicate with the community to reach the goals.

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