YSU | State of the University addresses enrollment drop

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Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel is discussing enrollment during this morning’s State of the University address in YSU’s Chestnut Room.

Citing the closure of the Lordstown General Motors plant as a factor, Tressel said the university has lost about 400 students since this date last year.

Moving forward, he said the university must work to not just attract students, but also retain students.

‘’Enrollment is partially how many students we attract, but primarily how many students we keep. Retention is key,’’ he said.

The retention rate of students who stayed at YSU at least for their second year was 68 percent, but this past year it was 74.8 percent, he said. Average student debt is below $20,000.

"If I were a student with the quality of academic programs here, the kinds of majors we have and the tuition cost and the scholarship availability, I don’t know why you wouldn't look at this university," he said.

Thanks to the Youngstown Foundation, about $8.55 million was available in scholarships to YSU students this year.

Tressel discussed furthering collaborations in the community, including a pending partnership with the newly-formed Lordstown Motors Corp., which seeks to purchase the idled Lordstown GM plant.

‘I think they felt that the right kind of people who could make that plant successful are in the location and want to live here, so that’s why they requested that meeting to talk about the software people we are turning out, the engineers, the workforce they will count on if they are going to be successful.’

When questioned at a news conference after the speech about partnering with a company that doesn’t have a track record of making money or products, he said there were hurdles that had to be cleared before the partnership is even relevant, including the approval of the United Auto Workers union.

‘If all that occurs, the key will be how quickly can we pivot and meet the needs... I think we will know before 2019 is over, and we may know how we can be helpful by May 2020,’ he said. ‘I don’t think you have time to not be optimistic you have to be constantly thinking if what if this opportunity comes will we seize it.’

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