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YSU’s decisions on academics cut too deep

DEAR EDITOR:

Many improvements President Jim Tressel has made for Youngstown State University are valued; however, recent cuts are alarming. I have grave concerns for future YSU degree-seeking students.

The university must operate within budget, but is it advantageous to eliminate bachelor and master’s degrees, especially in areas of inherent strengths? Why, for instance, would majors in music or faculty positions be chopped from a celebrated institution like Dana School of Music? Why cut degree programs in art when the university owns the McDonough Museum of Art and is adjacent to the renowned Butler Institute of American Art? Most of those courses still must be offered as requirements for other degrees. Where is the savings?

Look closely at our Mahoning Valley. Many high schools teach Italian. Why, when few Ohio and Pennsylvania colleges offer Italian, would two majors be cut? Judging from substantial endowments, teaching Italian language and culture have solid community support. The same can be said about Center for Judaic Studies program in the history department that lost a faculty position (and recognized scholar). The department was deemed as a “grow” category.

These are only few examples of poor decisions in a pretext of financial health. It seems the administration doesn’t realize the heart and soul of any university are faculty and courses offered. The number of degree-majors is not a significant indicator of a successful program, just as the purpose of a college education is just to get a job — as important as that is. A well-rounded education develops analytical skills and science literacy, expands world view of cultural and religious differences and similarities, and gives meaning. It’s an opportunity for personal enrichment. It helps teach students to confront ethical dilemmas and identify moral responsibilities as contributing members of society.

Instead, YSU must re-evaluate what appears a top-heavy administration. Why does a school this size need a provost, four associate provosts, two assistant provosts, four vice presidents (actually five, counting the provost’s dual appointment), seven associate vice presidents, 22 directors and five other executive / associate / and co-directors? This doesn’t include the myriad assistant directors, managers, etc., or directors, advisers and over 60 coaches or athletic subsidies needed to maintain Division I sports.

Athletics are important, but can expenditures continue in good conscience at academic expense?

Providing an enduring education for students is vital to the Mahoning Valley and continued economic recovery. Please be careful how and where you prune. Like a tree, there’s a point from which it cannot recover.

Among President Tressel’s many accomplishments, surely he would want his greatest legacy to be a financially robust, balanced university, not a mediocre one with a disparaged faculty.

SUSAN M. ROSSI-WILCOX

Niles

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