Tressel stresses the importance of selflessness in a university leader


Jim Tressel talked about the importance of selflessness in a university leader, the need to work together and the significance of retaining and graduating students.

He spoke this afternoon in a public forum as a University of Akron presidential candidate.

“If we can inspire students to have a passion to learn, they’re not going to leave here,” Tressel said. “We are going to retain, they’re going to complete.”

Tressel, the former head football coach at both Youngstown State University and Ohio State University, who led both teams to national titles, is a finalist for two university presidencies at YSU and the University of Akron. Beginning in 2012, Tressel served as UA’s vice president of strategic engagement; in 2013, he became executive vice president for student success.

Tressel spoke extemporaneously from the stage, without notes, stressing oneness for success. “We’ll work to be as selfless as possible as we work to be the best we can be,” he said.

In other words, in this tough economic climate for higher education, the natural inclination to look out for the self has to be suppressed for the greater good of the whole.’

“We’re here for student success” and making sure the region flourishes, he added.

Tressel, noting his background in athletics rather than academics, said if he were to choose a UA provost, that person would have to be selfless, and a great communicator.

He also told the UA crowd, “We are all responsible for recruitment,” and student retention is the No. 1 financial lever

the university has. To ensure young people succeed, he said UA must give students relevant learning opportunities and make sure students are ready to compete in the world.

Akron’s other two finalists are Ronald A. Nykiel, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne, Md., and Scott L. Scarborough, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Toledo. Their forums were earlier this week.

Tressel’s YSU forum will be 2 p.m. Monday in the first-floor meeting room of Tod Hall.

The forums, which follow meetings of the candidates with the deans, unions, faculty and executive staff and a campus tour, will use the same format as last year’s when YSU trustees selected Randy J. Dunn as university president. Dunn resigned after eight months to take the presidency of Southern Illinois University. His last day at YSU was March 21.

The other two YSU finalists, Gary L. Miller, chancellor of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington; and Mary Cullinan, president and English professor at Southern Oregon University, will visit YSU and participate in 2 p.m. forums Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Trustees plan to meet next Thursday and may select a president but have said an announcement won’t be made until a contract is negotiated.

The UA trustees plan to meet in closed session tonight at the Portage Country Club and Monday at the Student Union. The board has also scheduled meetings for May 12 and May 19 in the Student Union Board Room.

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