YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The second of three candidates vying for president of Youngstown State University addressed faculty, students and staff Tuesday.
Dr. Gary Miller took questions from reporters before addressing a group of about 100 inside Tod Hall.
Miller said he sees great opportunity at YSU and is committed to staying as long it takes to reach the goals he and his leadership team will set.
“Clearly, this university needs stability. I wouldn’t be here if I weren’t committed to that,” said Miller
Miller said the research conducted at YSU enticed him to apply for the job. He said research is just another way for the university to connect with the community.
“I think it is essential. This institution does a lot of research,” said Miller. “I think institutions like YSU must engage in community and prepare places for students to intern, to find donors and friends. We have to be a partner in the Youngstown community.”
Miller admitted he has never worked with unions in the past but noted that he has experience dealing with the workplace and workforce. Youngstown State University has labor agreements with four Unions, YSU-ACE (Classified Civil Service Staff), YSU-APAS (Professional/Administrative Staff), YSU-FOP (Police) and YSU-OEA (Faculty).
“I think working with the unions is an enormous opportunity. I am looking forward to it,” said Miller.
Student retention and enrollment is a top priority for Miller. He said the university must be prepared to invest in what students need to succeed.
With 42 percent of students at YSU working and going to school, he said a good measure is not a first or second year retention rate that is commonly used; he said a better measure is how many of those students graduate.
“We have to accommodate an emphasis on retention with a broader view on what retention is,” said Miller. “If a student takes longer to graduate and we ultimately graduate them, we have served the country, Ohio and the student.”
On a personal note, Miller said his wife is from Western Pennsylvania but has never visited Youngstown before Tuesday but admitted he could see putting some roots down in the community. “I could see myself living here. It reminds me of where I grew up in West Virginia,” he said.
On Monday, former YSU and OSU football coach Jim Tressel spent the day visiting with university and community leaders.
Wednesday, the university will host its final candidate Mary Cullinan.