By BONNIE L. HAZEN
YOUNGSTOWN - Shortly after taking over as Youngstown State University president in 2010, Cynthia Anderson stood on the bridge that crosses over Wick Avenue, greeting and hugging students.
Alumna Karen Cooper of Canfield, left, hugs Youngstown State University President Cynthia Anderson shortly after Anderson gave her final State of the University address on Tuesday in Kilcawley Center. Anderson retires June 30.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie Hazen
That and other memories were shared on campus Tuesday when Anderson gave her last State of the University address. A reception immediately followed the address, during which Anderson was greeted and congratulated by those wishing her well as she prepared to retire after a more than 40-year involvement with the university and its students, faculty and staff.
"While today I speak to you from this podium for the last time as your president, please know that it is certainly not the last time that I will speak to you as a colleague and a friend. I still have a lifetime to do that," she said.
Karen Cooper of Canfield, who said she considers Anderson a dear friend, remembers the day when Anderson was hugging students as they walked over the bridge, and said it is an example of the way she always puts students first.
"That's what it's all about. She's just an amazing woman. She will truly be missed," she said.
YSU senior Luke Politsky talked about Anderson's sense of humor.
"When she goes up on stage, she likes to make fun of me. She'll joke with me publicly," he said, laughing. "It's nice to see somebody that's engaged with students."
Politsky, a business management major who also is involved with the student government, graduates next month.
"We're very sad to see her go, but we're very grateful for the impact that she's had on students' experiences here. Enough can't be said about her interaction with us," he said.
Patty Gillis, administrative assistant for YSU's Procurement Services, said Tuesday was a sad day for YSU.
"I'm delighted for her to be able to move on, and I know she won't neglect this place. It's a part of her. She's accomplished great things," she said.
Accounting professor Ray Shaffer said Anderson will be missed.
"She's done a great job. She's always been very student-oriented and that shows in everything she's done," he said.
Mike McGriffin, Kilcawley Center building manager, called Anderson the matriarch of the university and said she has left an indelible mark on the campus.
"Her personality (will be missed the most). I think that her leadership style very much exemplified her personality. She's the type of person to make everybody feel as important and as loved as the next person," he said. "She's set a very happy and willing atmosphere. I think it'll continue with the faculty and staff that remain."
Anderson also said though she won't play a formal role in the process to select her successor, she will have the opportunity to speak with the candidates. She said she will be sure to tell them the greatest resource YSU has today and has always had is its human resource.
The three final candidates are William R. Decatur, executive vice president of the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; Randy J. Dunn, president of Murray State University, Murray, Ky.; and James D. Moran III, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Starting today, they will each visit the campus to greet faculty, academic chairs and academic senate leadership, YSU students, and members of the university and outside community. Once the visits are complete, YSU's Board of Trustees will vote on a final candidate.
Anderson said although her name isn't on any buildings, towers or streets, she hopes people remember her as a good, decent person whose passion was to serve students in any way she was capable.
"What could possibly be a better legacy than that?" she asked. "For forty-plus years, it has truly been a privilege."