YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - While trustees at Youngstown State University are looking at ways to increase enrollment and improve the overall finances at the school, they are still optimistic about the future.
A few years ago, YSU was looking at record enrollment, but now the university's eighth president Dr. Randy Dunn, said they are expecting a five percent decrease this year, marking the third consecutive year of student loss.
Trustees say Eastern Gateway Community College has drawn many students away from YSU, especially since they are now offering a free tuition program for some students. But trustees believe students there will eventually go to YSU to finish their degree.
However, since YSU is an open access school, meaning they accept all students, many people tend to drop out and that has a negative effect on graduation rates, which could mean lower state funding.
Trustees say they are looking at becoming more selective and be a destination university in the next five to 10 years.
"I think there would be a marked decrease in enrollment all of a sudden, which would be hard to accommodate from a financial perspective," said trustee Sudershan Garg. "We would want the community to be prepared slowly and gradually rather than be cut off all at one time."
Other trustees say they want to expand the university's market to areas outside the greater Youngstown area. That means pulling students from areas farther than 30 miles away.
"We should look for international students, where there is a great deal of money, where we can bring in new blood, newer educated people from different parts of the world," said trustee Harry Meshel. "We need to bring programs here so when someone graduates they are going to find some work."
Many trustees agree that making drastic cuts to counteract cuts in state funding would hurt academic programs so, as of now, those kinds of proposals are not on the table.