Mixing humorous memories of her 30 plus years at YSU with the challenging realities facing all institutions of higher education, President Cynthia E. Anderson delivered her final State of the University address before about 200 faculty, staff and community members in Kilcawley Center.
“Awhile back I was asked, “When you leave the presidency and YSU, what do you want to be known for? How do you want people to remember you?’” said Anderson, who retires June 30 after three years as YSU president and more than 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at the university.
“Well, I finally have an answer. There are no buildings, no towers, no streets named after me. I just want people to remember Cyndy Anderson as a good and decent person whose career passion was to serve students in any way she was capable. What could possibly be a better legacy than that?
Anderson reminisced, recalling being tricked several years ago into sitting in a dunking tank in the middle of campus for a student philanthropy. “I have a hard time saying no to students,” she said. Anderson got all wet; the charity raised $3,000.
She also remembered being nervous about taking the job of vice president for Student Affairs. K.J. Satrum, newly appointed executive director of Student Services, sent her a gift: “It had a beautiful bow. Beautiful wrapping,” Anderson said. “The package contained, and I still have it – Imodium AD.”
But the greatest memories, she said, surround students and their achievements. “You all know that there is no better feeling as an educator than to have a student come back and tell you about their life and their success – and in so many cases, they actually thank you for having played a role in their life,” she said. “That’s what all of this is about.”
The budget, Anderson said, has been and will continue to be a major challenge for the university. “We’ve streamlined processes, have begun to make much better use of technology where possible, left positions vacant, taken positions out of the budget, made changes to our health care plans and funding, and actually reduced our base university budget by over $2.5 million,” she said.
The moves have made the challenges manageable, but caution remains in order, she said. “As I turn the leadership of this university over to a new president, I have been insistent that our plans for the coming fiscal year are comprehensive and have asked the vice presidents to coordinate planning for alternative spending scenarios,” she added. “We have got to continue to be diligent with our funds.”
The president said the university is working hard to increase its enrollment footprint, an effort she called “not an easy task.” A new and contemporary distance education program is about to be launched to attract additional students. Seven new degree programs have been started, the university’s enrollment processes have been streamlined, and the YSU Foundation is planning significant increases in scholarship funding, she added. Students are succeeding across campus, fund-raising is at a record high, a new athletics complex is nearing completion and ground will be broken soon on a new Veterans Resource Center.
“This is a proud state, a proud community, a proud university,” she said. “Our traditions will be tested. For me to say that we are at a critical point in our own history is just some words that have been overused and stated for decades.
“But, we will need to make bold decisions – to be courageous – to define and demand progress. We cannot afford to lose any opportunities. We will have to be diligent in all we do – and you will. We’ve all seen much change, and we’re going to see more.”