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Tressmania diminishes YSU’s value

Published: Sun, April 20, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

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.


1kurtw(1823 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Good Column! I just hope the knuckleheads- and particularly the ones on the YSU BOT who didn't show themselves particularly bright when they brought in the Weasel "Carpetbagger" Randy Dunn- will listen. I have my doubts. You're right about the importance of Additive Manufacturing and Abrahams role in that- and so, logically, he should be the choice, right? But, that's not the way things work around here. You have too many important and wealthy people having "wet dreams" about Jimbo Tressel- for him not to end up as the next YSU President.

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2Letstryagain(218 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago


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3dmacker(537 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Jim Tressel is worthy of consideration for the position. He is also very capable of carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the job should he be selected.
In addition to having coached YSU to National Championships on more than one occasion he went on to coach Ohio State to a National Championship.
Even though his coaching career has been more than stellar he is more than just a coach.

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4Photoman(1249 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Despite the many fine qualities Mr. Tressel offers, he is not the right "fit" for the position of YSU President.

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5lovethiscity(169 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The two organizations that the so-called "movers and shakers" cite as critical to the Valley's future are, in their own words, America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator. It's interesting, therefore, that the leadership of those two organizations are conspicuously absent from the draft Tressel letter circulated by the same. It is also telling that Dr. Abraham was chosen to serve on the Board of both organizations long before the draft Tressel movement arose.

Coach Tressel does have some fine qualities. And, if he really loves Youngstown, genuinely wants to help Youngstown State, and truly understand the critical role of the Servant Leader in public institutions...then I hope he will accept the proper position with the university. That position, however, is not as its President. That position would be much more ably filled, and far better served, by Dr. Abraham.

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6Seriouslee(149 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The Tressel nonsense is ridiculous and embarrassing for sure, but I'll just put this out there. Not that it matters at YSU, but it's just as unusual in the world of real universities to move from dean to president without having served in an executive position like provost (that's why he's a finalist for provost NOT president at another university). The fact that Abraham probably has a shot, and the fact that everyone from a former department chair (Mincy) to current students has applied shows what a mockery the Board of Trustees and those community "movers and shakers" have made of the university.

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7candystriper(575 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Eric said the same thing at the University of Maryland when Siemens gave the school $750M.

YSU has always been a top engineering school.

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8papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

all the movers and shakers have their hearts in the right place, but they're not thinking this through logically. the nineties were great, but they're gone and they're not coming back. tressel would be a terrific cheerleader for ysu, but the differences between his and dr. Abrahams credentials is nakedly obvious. dr. Abraham is tailor made to be president of ysu. his accomplishments go way beyond winning a football game. it's almost ridiculous. it's a no-brainer. trustees, do what's best for ysu, to take it forward.

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9jerryvalley(26 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Bert is on a hot streak. He's been right two weeks in a row. A new record.

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10RustOnMyBelt(172 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Abraham would use the Presidency as a stepping stone just as Dunn had.I agree with the post by Erplane as far as who would be better in each position.Like Gee at OSU, Tressel would be a positive force and face for the University to raise the image AND the money needed to move forward.The president does not have to have a Doctorate to speak on the University's behalf and raise funds for YSU. He would be sure to utilize the wealth of experience those working there have to offer. deSouza diminishes YSU and the Vindy with every slamming "editorial" about the campus that he writes..

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11lovethiscity(169 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

What best suits Tressel's "traits" is Executive Vice President for University Advancement. He is singularly unqualified to be either YSU's President or Provost. And many would suggest, in light of his extremely serious ethical transgressions at both Youngstown State and Ohio State, his appointment to even that post is seriously flawed.

I will agree, however, that the number one priority of YSU should be to build a new, world class STEM building as close to Downtown as possible.

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12Seriouslee(149 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Folks, its OK to use the presidency as a stepping stone! Dunn is a huge exception--no one with character would do what he did--and the damage he left is huge because now YSU and the valley cries for someone who will stay forever and who has local ties--guess what? You DON"T want someone who is a product of the same crappy system that desperately needs changing--you WANT someone from the outside who can see with fresh eyes the huge problems the university faces.

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13kurtw(1823 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

seriouslee: "you WANT someone from the outside who can see with fresh eyes the huge problems the university faces."

In your view, what are those "huge" problems? Aren't they the same "huge" problems that drove Detroit into bankruptcy- decimated the U.S. Auto Industry (bankrupting GM)- I'm talking about out of control Unionism- isn't that really it? Public Sector Unions- if not controlled- may succeed in driving the entire country into bankruptcy pretty soon. We should send fact finding missions to Wisconsin to see how the Governor of that state- ironically, the Birthplace of the Progressive Movement which gave us most of our problems- is trying to reverse the trend of out-of-control lunacy in his state.

What chance does the charismatic Jim Tressel- or even the technocrat-genius Abraham- have of changing that- breaking the back of entrenched Unions at YSU- that force ever increasing pay and benefits- despite declining enrollment? (Oh, I know, last time they made a few "concessions" but they were so tiny as to be insignificant- paying a few percentage points more for taking care of their own bodies - I mean, really...)

Oh, also, you don't need an "outsider" to see what's wrong with YSU- I think you see it yourself- anybody with common sense- and the courage to speak up sees the problem: declining revenue paired with out of control costs forced by entrenched Unions. We don't need another overpaid "Carpetbagger" to tell us that. Just walk up and down any Youngstown street and start asking people- It's called Common Sense- and you don't have to pay somebody a half-million a year for that.

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14Nurse_Midlo(34 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Betram hit the nail on the head with this one.

It is odd how people give Tressel credit for all of Abraham's accomplishments.

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15Seriouslee(149 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

LOL kurtw! If you think unions are the real problem at YSU, you really have no clue.

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16papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

dr, Abraham is the future of ysu, tressel is the past. we have to move forward. it's about more than winning football games.

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17UNCOMMONSENSE(626 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Bert what is your claim to fame?? Seems like your attitude diminishes the Mahoning Valley. The university needs a CEO not another over educated failure.

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18kurtw(1823 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Ok, Serious, get serious and tell me What Are the Real Problems At YSU- if not being throttled to death by their Unions- Educate Me.

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19Seriouslee(149 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Hey kurt, sorry for being "curt" in earlier post--just check out previous comments. The real problem is that the Board of Trustees is completely incompetent--no clue as to best practices or data driven decision making, micromanaging everything they can get their hands on, and frankly an embarrassment to the university.

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20pol26(26 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Golly gee whiz Bertram. I almost want to agree with you. Except for one thing. People don't like working with Abraham. B.O.T. most likely feels the same. Hopefully there is someone else who is just as worthy, or even more worthy on the long list. Let's keep an open mind, shall we?

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21WowOMG(3 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago


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22MD1533(25 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Tress would make an excellent President for YSU!
de Souza is all wet with his views on this subject! PERIOD!

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23CountryGirl51(232 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Tressel does not have the qualifications to be President of YSU ! There are other people with the education and experience over him !

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24frinightlights(10 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

The author of this article is the worst thing about Youngstown, period. Tressel is the man for the job. The trustees are not taking a proactive approach. Get it done.

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25uptowngirl(139 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

I do not care who the next president of YSU is. I will say that Jim Tressel has never forgotten or neglected Youngstown, the university or the city. How may past YSU presidents can you say that about? I am surprised none of the movers or shakers were suggesting Jay Williams for YSU president.

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26jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 2 years, 2 months ago

The "Vindy" surrendered its credibility many years ago when it employed Bertram.....his comments about YSU in general are meaningless.....I treat his column pretty much like I treat Fox News--push the next channel on the remote.....

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