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YSU union supports buyouts

YOUNGSTOWN — Faculty members with the Youngstown State University-Ohio Education Association have overwhelmingly approved a memorandum of understanding related to a voluntary separation and retirement program.

During a special meeting last week, the YSU Board of Trustees had approved a resolution supporting the program.

The YSU-OEA vote, announced Monday, is unofficial, however, because the parties have yet to sign the memorandum of understanding, said Susan Clutter, YSU-OEA chapter president. She added that nearly 56 percent of the 335-member union voted on the resolution.

The program, which is a collaboration between trustees and the union, will give certain full-time tenured faculty, many of whom retire after 30 years, an opportunity to separate their employment from YSU and receive a possible buyout or other incentive.

Nevertheless, any incentive can be altered or modified with certain counter-proposals or stipulations, Mark Vopat, union spokesman, said last week.

He added that YSU has expressed concerns about the decrease in the pool of area high school graduates largely because of a continued overall population decline in the Mahoning Valley. That situation means a probable decrease in YSU enrollment figures, Vopat said.

“As the university continues to move forward on the Plan for Strategic Actions to Take Charge of our Future and makes a commitment to academic program enhancement, this resolution allows us to establish a program to create the opportunity to compensate our dedicated faculty members, while also making the academic changes necessary to guide YSU into the future,” YSU President Jim Tressel, said in a statement.

Clutter added she hopes the university will consider all options for cost-saving measures, as opposed to just focusing on the academic sector.

In an April 30 letter to the Board of Trustees and administration, Chet Cooper, chairman of YSU’s Academic Senate, said that as a result of the declining enrollment, the university hired Concord, Mass.-based Gray Associates Inc. to help the administration make “data-informed decisions about all of our academic programs.”

Such decisions should help the university continue fulfilling part of its mission to students via examining the cost-effectiveness of various programs “while also identifying areas for cutting or greater investment,” among other things, the letter states.

news@tribtoday.com

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