Tressel said he'd take less money for YSU presidency


Jim Tressel, newly chosen ninth president of Youngstown State University, will be paid $300,000 to start, under terms of a contract signed Monday night.

His three-year contract begins July 1. Tressel will earn $300,000 the first two years with third year salary undetermined, the university announced.

YSU will pay reasonable relocation costs. Tressel will also get a car and housing in the Pollock House.

The former YSU and Ohio State University head coach said he was offered more money by YSU but declined.

He is coming to YSU after former president, Randy Dunn, left after eight months on the job to become president at Southern Illinois University. Tressel’s salary is less than Dunn and Dunn’s predecessor Cynthia Anderson.

If Tressel terminates the contract within a year, he’ll pay $200,000; he’ll pay $175,000 if he terminates within two, and $150,000 if he leaves within three years.

A special YSU Board of Trustees’ meeting brought closed-door discussion on the terms of the president’s new contract, then Tressel and his wife, Ellen, joined an open meeting. Members of faculty, staff and administration and some students were among attendees.

Tressel and YSU Board Chairman Sudershan K. Garg then signed the contract, shaking hands — with the board chairman welcoming the Tressels “home to YSU.” He introduced his wife and then his in-laws, Frank and Norma Watson.

“Ellen and I know how lucky we are. We know we have a lot to prove,” Tressel said. “It’s up to us to make a tremendous impact on this region,” he said of the university at large.

“Each one of us is insignificant without each other,” he said. “With tradition comes responsibility.”

Citing an “amazing outpouring of encouragement,” he said it took him seven hours to return all of the texts he’d received.

He said he thought about the late Carmine Cassese from MVR, and the importance of people, on his visit last week to campus. Cassese died last July. As the third generation Cassese to serve Youngstown, Carmine gradually transformed a small family restaurant in the Smoky Hollow into a destination spot.

Tressel said a mentor of his reminded him of phrase, “Increase excellence,” and it’s an imperative.

At a news conference, Tressel said he’s “blessed” to be back at YSU. He stressed the need collaboration with businesses, schools, the Catholic diocese and non-profit organizations — as well as new leadership at Hiram College, Kent State University and the University of Akron. “Northeast Ohio has been one of the extra-ordinary shining lights of our country,” he said.

He said YSU needs to improve its graduation, retention and placement rate. “That’s the scoreboard,” he said — stressing that student success is “No. 1,” he said.

Tressel also said said he thinks Randy Dunn was doing a great job doing his brief tenure.

He said the university needs to make sure, with fundraising, that YSU is affordable for many students. The No. 1 reason someone selects a university is affordability, he said, noting scholarships can help with that.

At the same time, officials need to address student debt.

Tressel noted that the Valley is moving from an industrial area to a technical one. YSU faculty is engaged with students, he added.

YSU can’t assume state subsidy will go up and needs to come up with ways to make a difference. “We’re going to count on the things that we can do,” Tressel said. “The most important thing we can do in retention is believe it’s every person’s responsibility.”

A public reception was held afterward for the Tressels in the Chestnut Room, a meet-and-greet for his supporters. Many Valley business and political leaders had lobbied university trustees to choose him.

After recommendations from these Valley leaders, YSU’s union leadership and others, Tressel was selected over Mary Cullinan, president and professor of English at Southern Oregon University, and Gary L. Miller, chancellor at University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Tressel was selected by the trustees in a unanimous vote Friday morning. The former head coach for YSU and Ohio State University football teams and current executive vice president of student success at the University of Akron was also in the running for the presidency at Akron, but Scott L. Scarborough was selected as the 16th president there on Thursday.

Scarborough was offered a five-year term on the base salary of $450,000, and he will also receive $80,000 in deferred compensation for housing. Scarborough serves as the provost at the University of Toledo. He will start at UA on July 1.

Tressel declined to say whether he withdrew UA application.

Tressel says his wife will be involved in fundraising at YSU. “I hope we got two darn good presidents,” he said.

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