Tressmania diminishes YSU’s value

Jim Tressel’s claim to fame is the national championships he won as football coach at Ohio State and Youngstown State universities.

Dr. Martin Abraham’s claim to fame is the growing national reputation for YSU’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) College that he created.

Tressel (known as “Tress” to some of his friends) has parlayed his coaching abilities into a lucrative administrative position at the University of Akron.

Abraham has parlayed his academic acumen into a $440 million in-kind grant for STEM from the internationally renowned Siemens Corp. The grant is for the state-of-the-art product lifecycle management (PLM) software and training.

Jim Tressel has applied for the presidency of Youngstown State, where he coached from 1986 to 2001, and for the presidency of the University of Akron.

Provost finalist

Abraham has applied for the presidency of YSU, where he has worked since 2007, and is one of four finalists for the position of executive vice president and provost at Northern Illinois University.

So who’s more deserving of the movers’ and shakers’ public support for the YSU post — the man who coached football or the man who is the driving force behind the university’s leading role in America Makes (the former National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute)?

In a letter to the YSU Board of Trustees in support of their man, the movers and shakers of the Valley had this to say:

“He understands the importance of YSU’s relationship to the cities of Youngstown, Warren, our surrounding communities, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the role of STEM in our future economic initiatives.”

The “He”, of course, is ... Tressel — as has been extensively reported since the letter was made public two months ago. Tressmania has swept the Mahoning Valley.

To be sure, there are individuals — some of them might even be considered movers and shakers — who think it’s a terrible idea to have a nonacademic lead the four-year urban institution. However, you won’t hear them saying so publicly. Why? Because there is strength in numbers (dollars, that is), as the wealth of Tressel supporters makes clear.

But all the hype aside, this question must be asked: If U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who is deserving of a great deal of credit for America Makes being located in downtown Youngstown, believes that additive manufacturing, the incubator and STEM are so important to YSU’s future, why hasn’t he publicly endorsed Martin Abraham?

The same question goes to the others who are supporting Tressel, including Mike Broderick, head of Turning Technologies, which got its start in the Youngstown Business Incubator. Turning’s products are being used around the world.

Broderick has said that most of his employees are graduates of YSU, which suggests that he certainly understands the value of the STEM College, and what the future holds with Siemens’ involvement.

Next industrial revolution

Consider what Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of the giant company, said when he spoke last summer at the announcement of the in-kind grant: The next industrial revolution in the U.S. is going to be around additive manufacturing, and YSU and America Makes will help drive it.

Spiegel is a Valley native who graduated in 1976 from Poland Seminary High School.

At the announcement, Abraham noted that the software from Siemens will allow students to learn the latest technology.

“Companies will now be coming to YSU to recruit our students, looking for them,” he said. “Today YSU becomes a global leader in engineering education.”

Considering that Abraham has built the STEM College literally from the ground up, does it not make sense that he should have the inside track to the presidency?

After all, YSU will, in the not too distant future, have to define its mission and show how it fits into the state’s higher education profile.

With additive manufacturing’s use of 3-D printing all the rage in this country and around the world, YSU can play a crucial role in making Ohio a leader in the manufacturing renaissance.

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