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Campus, Valley laud Tressel pick

Published: Sat, May 10, 2014 @ 12:01 a.m.

RELATED: UA faculty, student opposition to Tressel likely triggered Scarborough’s selection

By DENISE DICK | denise_dick@vindy.com


Youngstown State University trustees’ selection of Jim Tressel as the university’s next president met with approval, excitement and high hopes for the future across campus and the Mahoning Valley.

Trustees voted unanimously Friday morning to offer Tressel the job, and he accepted in principle, said Dr. Sudershan Garg, trustees chairman. Contract terms must be negotiated.

“The future is bright for YSU if all of us work together,” he said.

Tressel tweeted: “Excited about the opportunity at YSU! It’s all about student success. Going to miss all the wonderful Zips at UA.”

In a later statement, he said: “On behalf of Ellen and the entire Watson/Tressel family, we would like to thank Dr. Garg and the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for the confidence they have demonstrated in us by their actions today. We are honored and privileged to accept the board’s offer, and we are humbled by this opportunity to return to the area and school that we deeply love.

“We look forward to working with the board, the faculty, staff, students and the entire

Mahoning Valley community to build on what has been more than a century of service and success at the university.”

A special trustees meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday in the Tod Hall meeting room.

“Ellen and I plan to be on campus for that meeting. Until then, out of respect for the process, I will reserve any further comment, and we will celebrate the glory of commencement weekend for the wonderful graduates here at The University of Akron,” he wrote.

Campus reaction

Allen Hunter, chemistry professor, believes Tressel is a great choice.

“I came here 22 years ago with a very negative opinion about the relationship of athletics in academics,” he said.

At that time, Tressel was head football coach. One of Hunter’s students, a star player on Tressel’s team, missed a quiz. Tressel didn’t allow the student to play that week.

“To me, that was like an earthquake,” Hunter said.

Tressel also has a backbone, he said, as well as the ability to set the vision and direction for the university and connect with people in the community. Fundraising is another important skill in a university president, he added.

“Tressel will be really good at that,” Hunter said.

Shawnese Belcher, a YSU sophomore from Youngstown, was also pleased with the news.

“I’m glad he’s coming back,” said the computer science major.

She believes his knowledge of the university and the community will be an asset.

Students Heather McSuley of Boardman and Matt O’Dell of Liberty, both senior exercise majors, and Gianna Marinucci, a sophomore secondary math-education major from Boardman, gathered outside of University Pizzeria on Lincoln Avenue on Friday morning, celebrating the end of finals.

Each of them also believes Tressel is a good choice for president.

“I was excited,” Marinucci said of her reaction. “He did a lot of really great things when he was here before, and I think he’ll be really good for our university.”

O’Dell says Tressel did great things as a coach, and he hopes he’ll be able to accomplish a lot as president as well.

“Everyone knows Tressel,” he said. “Hopefully, he’ll be able to improve enrollment rates and graduation rates.”

Ruigang Wang, assistant chemistry professor, says he’s excited about Tressel taking office.

“He has the ability to lead YSU, and also he knows YSU because he was at YSU before,” he said.

Unanimous vote

Trustees voted unanimously for the former coach, who led both Ohio State University and YSU to national championships in their respective divisions, to become the next president.

Dr. Garg said trustees believe Tressel is the best candidate for the job.

“Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU’s profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation,” he said.

Dr. Garg said the university’s attorneys looked into the show-cause violation imposed on Tressel when he was head coach at OSU, and that it shouldn’t have any bearing on his ability to perform as YSU president.

Nobody is perfect, the board chairman said.

“As long as you acknowledge it and move forward, you have to look at the positive aspects of the individual,” he said.

John Carey, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, said in a written statement that the regents look forward to working with YSU’s new president.

“We look forward to working with President Tressel, and I know he will bring a great deal of enthusiasm to the position, the university and the region,” he said.

About five weeks ago, Youngstown Mayor John McNally met Tressel for a cup of coffee. Before that, McNally had only met the former coach twice.

“I came away very impressed from that meeting,” the mayor said.

They discussed establishing better interaction between the city and the university and the neighborhoods around the university and “making sure over time, there’s a seamless transition between downtown and the university campus,” McNally said.

McNally said he believed Tressel was interested in both the YSU and UA positions.

“In my heart, I believe he was hoping for YSU,” he said.

With the positions that Tressel has had at YSU, OSU and UA, he’s well-suited for a public position like university president, McNally said.

“He’s a good fit at this time,” he said.

Two campuses

Tressel, the executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron, was a finalist for president at both YSU and UA. UA Thursday opted for another candidate, clearing the way for YSU.

In a story published Friday night on cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer’s website, longtime Youngstown resident and former YSU adjunct professor Dan McCauley said several sources close to the search told him Tressel had withdrawn from Akron’s search Thursday afternoon.

YSU trustees announced at 3 p.m. Thursday that they would have an emergency meeting at 7:30 a.m. Friday.

The Plain Dealer said it is not known if Tressel was the front-runner at Akron, but UA trustees’s planned 2 p.m. executive session to discuss the presidential candidates took place Thursday, and they told media at 4:55 p.m. they would announce the new president at 5:45 p.m.

They named Scott Scarborough, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Toledo at that time.

The other two finalists for the YSU job were Gary L. Miller, chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University.

After meetings with the three finalists, the leadership of YSU unions endorsed Tressel’s candidacy.

The presidents of YSU’s four unions representing the faculty, police, classified employees and administrative and professional staff, issued a statement Friday:

“The union presidents would like to welcome Mr. Tressel to YSU as our next university president,” it says. “We expect that he will be an excellent ambassador and an effective fundraiser for the university. We believe he has an understanding of the past, is in a position to evaluate the present and will strive to create a future that brings us together as a well functioning, nationally recognized urban research institution. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Tressel in what we hope will be an exciting new beginning for YSU.”

Shortly after Randy J. Dunn, YSU’s short-term eighth president, announced that he was leaving for another job, community, business and union leaders, led by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13th, of Howland, launched a campaign supporting Tressel for YSU president.

They wrote a letter to YSU trustees endorsing the former coach and urging his appointment.

Top supporters

Ryan praised Friday’s decision to hire Tressel.

“This was a community-wide effort in which Democrats and Republicans, business and labor came together to change the trajectory of our communities’ future. This is another chapter in how, by coming together, we are writing the great comeback story of the Mahoning Valley,” he said in a news

release, adding “The challenges are many, but with our collective intellect, creativity and determination, we will meet these challenges and transform our region.”

Bruce Zoldan, president and CEO of B.J. Alan Co., was another leader in that campaign.

“I just bought my bottle of champagne,” he said.

Before he even starts working, Tressel already has started doing something sorely needed: Building the morale and excitement in the Mahoning Valley, Zoldan said.

Tressel’s return to Youngstown sends a message to others who have left the Valley, he said.

“One of the greatest coaches in college football came back to Youngstown, Ohio, in a different capacity,” Zoldan said. “I think he sends a message to come back to our Valley, and let’s make this a great place to come and to want to live and have opportunities. I commend the board — the YSU trustees — for making this decision, and I’m happy as a businessman in the Mahoning Valley.”

Tom Humphries, president and CEO of The Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, who also signed the letter, praised YSU trustees’ decision.

“The board is to be commended for completing a thorough and expedited process to bring new leadership to the university,” he said in a news release.

“I believe they chose a person who will provide outstanding leadership to the university and will work in a united front with other Mahoning Valley business and community leaders to improve university’s performance, our students’ educational attainment and help grow our economy. I stand ready to work with Jim to propel our Valley forward in the months and years ahead.”


Glenn Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the Lordstown General Motors plant, and Don Crane of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council, were among the labor leaders who joined the Tressel-for-president campaign.

Johnson pointed to Tressel’s leadership skills and good community stewardship as positives for the Mahoning Valley.

“He has the leadership ability it takes and he has the connections it takes to do the things necessary to take Youngstown State into the next chapter,” he said.

Crane said Tressel has the relationships both within the area and outside of it to lead YSU into the future.

“He has been so successful in the past in his career as a coach, and there’s a ton from that that he can apply to this position as well,” Crane said. “He has the skills to lead us down the right road.”


1willinnyny(118 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

When and where did Tressel earn his Ph.D.?

In what field is his doctorate?

How many papers has he published in his field of expertise?

How many books has he written and published?

What experience does he have as a university president/professor?

Is he qualified for this job?

Seems not to be.

Sad for YSU.

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2pulaskifarm(26 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.
Henry James

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3questionreality(728 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Will he fix the potholes? Will he convince our neighbor to paint her house?

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4Photoman(1246 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I wish Mr. Tressel and YSU nothing but the best. It does, however, sadden me to see that we have once again stayed with the Valley's methods and the good ole boys running the show. Not much changes in our area it seems.

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52muchtax(895 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations to mr tressel and YSU finally a President that will think more about the university than himself! (Like Dunn and others) Screw the PHD! We finally will have a president with name recognition, 95 % percent of the Ytown people never even heard of Dunn till he quit! Many people that have PHDs are not meant to lead anyone! Rich dads or did not want to leave school in allot of cases! Go Tressel!

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6valleyred(1103 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

The enthusiasm, pride, and excitement the announcement of President Tressel has brought to this community is simply amazing. You will not find a better person to bring our community together across political, racial, and economic lines, etc.

With everything locally, there will always be naysayers looking to "rain on the parade." For whatever the reason, these naysayers love to infuse pessimism into everything good that happens locally. Sometimes you have to wonder why these individuals even live in this community if they wake up every morning so depressed that they have to browse Vindy.com all day to post negative comment after negative comment to make them feel real good about themselves. Thank God these people aren't leaders of our community.

Nonetheless, this morning, a quick glance on Google News shows over 400 articles published in newspapers, magazines, online websites, etc. across the United States talking about Jim Tressel being named President of Youngstown State University. This is nationwide publicity for YSU and the Mahoning Valley that we have never seen before. Americans are waking up this morning and reading about YOUNGSTOWN, OH.

Congratulations President Tressel. The hundreds of thousands of people locally that want to see our area grow, flourish, and prosper are 100% behind you and we all know you will surround yourself with the right team to lead YSU to the next level!

From this PROUD Youngstown State Graduate,

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7topsailwatch(79 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

PhD.....doesn't that stand for "Piled Higher and Deeper" ?? I know many PhDs and believe you me they couldn't find their way out of a paper bag. I would stack Jim Tressel up against most PhDs when it comes to intelligence and common sense.

The die is cast. Let's all join with Jim and the administration and make the best of this situation for the sake of YSU and Youngstown..

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8glbtactivist(320 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I hope he does well. In reality, I won't be mentioning I live in Youngstown even when I visit my friends in Columbus. They threw him out as a crook. Now he adds to the reputation of Youngstown being run by crooks. Every since the Dann fiasco, politicians will not touch Youngstown politicians. Now academics will be avoiding YSU. Good bye to better professors. Good bye to better students. Plan on another scandal involving YSU to hit the newspapers in a couple of years.

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9GuinsFootball4Life(4 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

It would be nice if the Vindy asked more than one faculty member for an opinion regarding Tressel's appointment. The comments to a Chronicle of Higher Education blog post, linked below, are probably more representative of what the "industry" thinks of the situation.


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10valleyred(1103 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Boardman_Jeff, google Jim Tressel Republican. If you think Tressel is a liberal Democrat, you are sadly mistaken.

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11Seriouslee(148 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Guins, That, to me is the big unsaid. In yet another brilliant comment, Sunderson Garg, BOT chair says, “Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU’s profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation.” The first part I get, but beyond Ohio, and certainly in higher ed, this move is hardly going to give YSU national prominence, at least not in a good way. Since it's done, maybe it should be spun as a kind of "bold experiment," rather than pretending this is based on any kind of rigorous process as he claims, “After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community..." When Garg and company suggest that this was done based on a sound analysis of qualifications, YSU sounds absurd.

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12GuinsFootball4Life(4 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Seriouslee, your assessment of the Board's PR strategy(or lack thereof) is dead-on. If the Board owned up to the fact that Tressel is a very unusual candidate, who has been hired primarily on name recognition and, with it, a presumed ability to schmooze, the outside world might not think the choice quite so preposterous. I wish Tressel and the University success. The fact is, though, that even were this a corporate setting, it's a very "outside of the box" hire. The Board does itself no favors when it pretends that Tressel was hired on the merits.

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13GuinsFootball4Life(4 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

123goz, not to split hairs...OK, to split hairs, Randy Dunn is an Ed.D., not a Ph.D. More to the point, though, while a presidential candidate's lack of a terminal degree raises eyebrows and concern, it's the utter lack of experience that has raised ire and condemnation.

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14YSUguins(19 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I can't wait until all of you negative and simplistic fools eat crow. Tressel is tremendously qualified to do the job of President of a university. The idea that a PhD makes you qualified is moronic. I work with many successful people in my business every day. If I told you what percentage of them don't even have a college degree, you probably wouldn't believe me. If you have ever been around him, you would understand what the board of trustees saw in him. Try talking to anyone who has interacted with him and ask what they think of his abilities to lead, motivate and give direction.

And by the way, the board members aren't exactly idiots either. They did not get where they are in life by being puppets or naive. These are qualified and successful people who I doubt would lower themselves to being manipulated. They would have nothing to gain and everything to lose in regards to their reputation. For once, why don't all of you give someone some credit. Maybe, just maybe, all of you haters can get that through your heads.

Welcome home Tressel's. We are lucky to have you back.

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15harleydog(243 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Boardman jeff, you seem to blame the republicans for the problems in this area. Please tell me who has been in charge of the y town area for the last 50 yrs. The dumbocrats. I highly doubt that people are actually going to go to YSU now because Tressel is there. You are an idiot and you are what is wrong with this area.

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16harleydog(243 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

By the way, don't you people realize that Tressel was fired from Ohio State because he was breaking the rules that he signed on to uphold. Typical Youngstown thinking.

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17mrblue(1175 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Right now, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. What will he do about enrollment, tuition, and the unions after the honeymoon is over? Time will tell.

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18kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

I like what Kernal has to say- running a major football program like Ohio State's takes big time administrative chops. I don't think the average academic- Phd sheepskin notwithstanding- could handle it. I said a few harsh things about Jimbo in the past but maybe the BOT made a good choice this time- has to be light years better than Carpetbagger "Weasel" Randy- let's hope so because were stuck with Tress for at least four years.

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19kurtw(1759 comments)posted 2 years, 1 month ago

Jeff Says: " Bible-thumpin' Tea Party scum who ruined our region. Tell all those weirdos to move to rural Alabama with their bigoted frackpot beliefs!"

Jeff, I don't know what the hell you're talking about? What region of "La La Land" do you inhabit? The ruination of the Mahoning Valley has been the virtual dictatorship of one organization- the Democrat Machine- for as long as I can remember- and that process started a long time ago- way before anybody heard of the "Tea Party" or fracking- (and "bible thumpers"? There aren't that many of them around here- most locals are either Catholics, main-line Protestants, or agnostics, i.e. people who sleep in Sundays and like to drink).

Harley Says (to you): " You are an idiot and you are what is wrong with this area." Right on to that! Couldn't agree more.

P.S. I've read a few of your comments now and they all have a common theme- you don't like somebody- "Bible-thumpin' Tea Party Scum" and you blame "them" for all that's wrong with this area- and tell "them" to "move out".

Your comments could be a paraphrase of the speeches of a guy named Adolf who used them to scapegoat people he didn't like either. Heil Jeff!

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