By Denise Dick
One of the city’s favorite sons returns to the campus where he spent 15 seasons as a football coach to make his play to become president of Youngstown State University.
Jim Tressel, former head football coach at both YSU and Ohio State and now executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron, is one of three finalists for the YSU presidency. He’ll spend today on campus, meeting with deans, faculty and the executive team before a 2 p.m. forum for the campus community. The visit will conclude with a dinner with university trustees.
“We’ll go more in depth with them on their vision for the university and see whether their past experience will be helpful to YSU or not,” said Dr. Sudershan Garg, chairman of the YSU trustees.
The other two 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 campus Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
During the forums, attendees will be able to complete surveys offering feedback about the candidates. Garg said trustees will review those surveys and take the input into consideration, but ultimately the board will make the decision.
The board plans to meet Thursday, likely in executive session.
“I think there will be some decision made, but a decision doesn’t mean we’ll have a president in place,” he said.
Trustees will give their choices in order to AGB Search, the firm that led the presidential search.
“The search firm will talk with the candidate to see whether he or she is still interested,” Garg said. “If he or she is still interested and YSU is his or her choice, we’ll work out a contract. Only after a contract is worked out will we make an announcement.”
He said terms of the contract will be similar to those in the contract with former President Randy J. Dunn, who resigned in March after eight months on the job to become president of Southern Illinois University.
“There will be a few areas that will be re-looked at in light of what happened,” he said. “We don’t want what happened to happen again. There should be some penalty for the president to leave without cause before a certain amount of time.”
Tressel also is a finalist for the University of Akron presidency and gave his pitch there last week, talking about the need to work together and to increase recruitment, bolster retention and reduce student debt.
Trustees from both universities expect to select presidents this month. UA President Luis Proenza is retiring June 30 to return to the classroom. Ikram Khawaja, YSU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, retires June 30. Khawaja was appointed YSU’s interim president after Dunn’s resignation.
Miller is among the five candidates being considered for the presidency of SUNY Buffalo State in New York. Cullinan, along with two other SOU administrators, received no-confidence votes from faculty members in March.
The three finalists’ application materials are available at http://web.ysu.edu/presidentialsearch.