YSU leaders explain recent decisions on budget, enrollment and program eliminations

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State University is addressing its budget, enrollment and program eliminations. University leaders held a virtual briefing on Wednesday and explained their decisions.

Neal McNally, YSU’s vice president for finance and business operations, says it seems clear to them that the university is in the middle of a period of sustained enrollment decline.

“From a strictly financial perspective, a period of sustained enrollment decline means that we’re also in a period of sustained revenue decline,” he said.

McNally says YSU has been planning responsibly as exemplified by the new strategic plan that the university board of trustees adopted last year.

He says that plan in many ways is based on the underlying assumption that YSU will continue to become a smaller university in terms of enrollment.

He pointed out that the university is not in financial dire straits. In fact, he says it’s fiscally sound overall.

“In order to preserve the university’s financial health in the long run, we do need to begin taking steps now, taking steps today, to ensure a brighter future for tomorrow,” McNally said.

One of the ways they’re doing this is by cutting 26 of the university’s academic programs. After an in-depth examination of all 140 programs, each of the 26 displayed low enrollment and potential for growth.

According to McNally, all athletic programs are functioning at optimum enrollment levels, otherwise, they’d look to cut those programs as well.

Brien Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, says they continue to look for new opportunities for growth.

“In the short run, what sticks out is cutting, but that’s not really the future of the institution. The future of the institution is new programs and innovations,” Smith said.

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