By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — It will take about a year and a half, but the new president of Youngstown State University will have a residence on campus.
The YSU Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to restore the mansion portion of the Wick-Pollock Inn at 603 Wick Ave. as a single-family residence, designating it as the official home of YSU’s president.
In a related move, the trustees voted to change the name of the structure to the Porter and Mary Pollock House.
The 16-room house was built by Paul Wick in 1893 and his daughter, Mary, and her husband, Porter Pollock, lived in the house until their deaths. The Pollock family then gave the house, known as Pollock House, to what was then Youngstown College.
Over the years, it served as classroom and office space, and, in the 1980s, a private developer added a 64-room addition to the mansion and opened it as a full-service hotel under the name Wick-Pollock Inn. It closed in 1998 and has been vacant ever since, and, over the last couple of years, the trustees have been looking at various plans to get it restored in some fashion, opting last fall for a conference center proposal.
The trustees have set aside about $4.4 million for the restoration, the bulk of it from $47 million being borrowed for various campus construction and improvement projects. The residence will be on the second floor with the first floor designed as a reception area. The project includes restoring the carriage house.
YSU hasn’t had a presidential residence for about 25 years and the issue came up as the trustees are searching for a successor to David C. Sweet who retires as president June 30.
Scott Schulick, chairman of the board, said the issue of housing for a new president came up as the trustees began reviewing candidates for the post. The trustees had already approved a plan to tear down the Wick-Pollock hotel wing and convert the mansion into a conference center with as many as 11 guest rooms.
Changing that plan to make it a presidential residence instead was an easy switch and won’t change the project cost, he said.
The YSU Archives show that President John Coffelt (1973-84) was the last president to live in university-owned housing, a property on Colonial Drive in Liberty.
The university sold that house after President Neil Humphrey took office (1984-92) as Humphrey already had his own home in Poland.
YSU has been paying its presidents a housing allowance since that time and spent $515,000 toward that purpose over the last decade.
The board prefers to provide housing rather than a housing allowance, Schulick said, noting that only two of Ohio’s public universities — YSU and Kent State — don’t provide housing.
The descendants of the Pollock family like the trustees’ plan, he said.
“This house is very dear to me and my family, and we are heartened that the university has committed to returning it to its original use as a home,” said Roberta Marstellar Hannay, granddaughter of Porter and Mary Pollock.
The new president will take office July 1, but the restoration project won’t be done until July 2011. The trustees will have to come up with some temporary housing arrangements in the meantime, Schulick said.
The house is at the main entrance to the university and is a central point of the campus, said Hunter Morrison, director of campus planning and community partnerships. It will work well as both president’s residence and a location for fund-raising, community and other events and receptions, he said.