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Retired faculty protest hiring of Republican as new Youngstown State president

Letter demands trustees ‘put away your selfish interests,’ rescind job offer

Dozens of retired Youngstown State University faculty and staff protested the hiring of Republican Congressman Bill Johnson as its new president in a letter Monday to the Board of Trustees.

In the letter, former employees of the Ohio public university criticized Johnson’s voting record and called on the trustees to rescind their job offer to him, The Vindicator reports.

“As to the often-heard refrain, ‘Give Bill Johnson a chance,’ we say to him, your voting record in Congress, your uniformed criticism of higher education, your total lack (except for eight trustees) of a constituency on campus and the absence of any demonstrated qualifications for the job do not bode well for the future,” the letter states.

Johnson currently represents Ohio in the U.S. House, but his term ends later this month and he is slated to begin at Youngstown on Jan. 22, according to the report.

The YSU Board of Trustees announced Johnson as the new president Nov. 21, saying they believe he will be “forward thinking and an investment in the future of YSU. He understands the vision of our strategic plan.”

However, the nearly 90 Youngstown retirees and former employees who signed the Monday letter said Johnson is wrong for the leadership role.

“Our main concerns deal with how your decision will affect both the short-term and the long-term welfare of the university that we have been part of for a good portion of our lives,” they wrote. “It is already clear that the good name and reputation of YSU has been severely, if not permanently, damaged as a result of the uniformly critical, scathing regional and national reviews of your decision.”

In the letter, they said the decision to hire Johnson has “broken the bond” between the university and its employees, and “many” are looking for new opportunities elsewhere. They also accused the trustees of making the decision based on “your selfish interests.”

A number of current employees, alumni, and students also have spoken out in opposition to Johnson, according to The Vindicator.

Responding to the criticism, Johnson said in a Nov. 21 statement that he wants to foster an “inclusive and respectful environment” at Youngstown.

“I know some have questioned my professional and educational experience,” he said. “As president, my history in politics will not be reflected in the decisions I make for YSU and the students of YSU.”

In the new role, the Republican lawmaker said he wants to foster “open dialogue” and “diverse perspectives,” and he is committed to “the well-being of every student.”

Meanwhile, a recent College Fix analysis found the university hiked tuition for four consecutive years while full-time undergraduate enrollment fell and the ratio of administrators to students grew. At the same time, the Ohio university exhibited a growing effort to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

MORE: Zero Republican professors found in 33 departments at 7 universities: College Fix analysis

IMAGE: Youngstown State University/YouTube screenshot

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.