Husted Touts Tressel’s Leadership as YSU President’s Tenure Nears End

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Calling President Jim Tressel “an Ohio treasure,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted visited the Excellence Training Center at Youngstown State University and commended Tressel for his contributions to the university and the state of Ohio.

Husted presented Tressel with a proclamation Monday congratulating him on his nearly 50-year career in Ohio higher education.

“He has committed himself to the young adults of our great state, whether that’s on the football field, in the classroom or whether it’s out there in the economy as people come back to look for additional job training opportunities,” Husted said. “He’s been a leader. He’s been somebody that people around the state have come to respect.”

Tressel announced last summer he plans to step aside as YSU president Feb.1. Husted said when he read Tressel’s letter about that decision, he believed Tressel has left the door open to continue serving people at YSU, the Mahoning Valley and across the state.

On Monday, Tressel denied he has any interest in the recently opened president’s job at Ohio State University, where he spent a decade coaching and led the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship.

As he steps aside as president, Tressel said he is excited for the future of the Excellent Training Center and the Mahoning Valley’s manufacturing and electric vehicle revival.

The ETC is a one-of-a-kind workforce, education, research and commercial center focused on advancing manufacturing. Students can earn certifications in areas of industrial manufacturing through programs that feature ETC’s $10 million in advanced manufacturing equipment.

Tressel said YSU and the ETC have had the support of Husted, Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio Director of Development Lydia Mihalik, as well as the administration of former Gov. John Kasich.

“We’ve tried to do what the state will need to really repopulate, reinvigorate and take the lead,” Tressel said. “We’re trying to play our role, and it’s awfully nice of them to recognize that.”

It was not Husted’s first time visiting the ETC, and he said he learns something new every time, including how essential the center is to the Mahoning Valley’s economy.

“It is a place where not only students are getting an education, but businesses are finding their workforce,” Husted said. “Businesses are learning how to solve manufacturing process challenges and create more productivity both from their workforce and the things that they learn and new techniques and automated systems they can use to improve the way that they work. And it is becoming not just a workforce asset, but an economy development asset.”

Tressel, along with Jennifer Oddo, executive director of strategic workforce education and innovation at YSU, and Jackie Ruller, director of the ETC, walked with Husted through the facility. They went through the foundry and robotics areas and spoke about the difference automation training is making in the region. They started in the industrial maintenance area, which is something Tressel says that every company, big and small, needs.

Tressel explained to Husted they are going to need one or two more rooms of industrial maintenance training equipment with three companies on a waiting list to get the time-intensive industrial maintenance training. Tressel said when the new EV training center is completed in Lordstown, industrial maintenance training equipment will be much needed there.

Husted said he wants people in the community to know the ETC is a great facility and the place to start, get retrained or upskilled, leading to some of the great jobs being created here in the Mahoning Valley.

“Right now in Ohio we’re creating jobs faster than we can find people to fill them,” Husted said, adding as of Monday morning there were 189,000 open jobs paying $50,000 or more on OhioMeansJobs’ website, which is more than three jobs for every person getting state unemployment.

Husted predicted the economy is on the rise in the Mahoning Valley with the Voltage Valley and modern additive manufacturing. He credited places like the ETC and the local career centers providing people the needed training, which in many cases can be at little or no cost to them.

“We feel as if we’ve made steps, and we’re a long way from the end of the journey,” Tressel said of the goals of the ETC as he nears the end of his tenure at YSU. “We’ve got great young leaders here. But I have every intention of being here to support whether it’s right here in the Valley or, like the lieutenant governor said, statewide or whatever we can do to help. I do feel good about the steps we’ve taken, the progress we’ve made, and I’m as anxious as anyone to watch where this is going to lead us.”

Pictured at top: Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, right, presents Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel with a proclamation recognizing his years of service to higher education in the state.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.