Tressel to Retire as YSU President

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Jim Tressel is stepping down as president of Youngstown State University and will retire in February, the university announced Wednesday evening via an email letter to students, staff and faculty.

Tressel has served as YSU president for eight years.

“It is with an abundance of gratitude and thankfulness that Ellen and I plan to step aside as President and First Lady of our beloved YSU, effective February 1, 2023,” Tressel’s letter begins. “It has been truly a blessing and labor of love to serve Youngstown State University in a number of capacities, and we will continue to do so, in whatever fashion that the YSU Board of Trustees sees fit.”

YSU Board Chair John Jakubek said details regarding a plan to identify Tressel’s successor will be released as they become available.

“The YSU Board of Trustees extends our deepest gratitude and appreciation to President Tressel and First Lady Ellen for their decades of service to Youngstown State University, the Mahoning Valley region and the entire state of Ohio, Jakubek said in a prepared statement. “The Tressels’ contributions of time and treasure are immeasurable and will be felt across the region for years and years to come. We wish them well.”

Trustees are scheduled to meet this morning. At its conclusion, Tressel is expected to take questions from local reporters.

Throughout Tressel’s time at YSU, the university saw enrollment increases, an improvement in academic quality and better student retention rates. 

In praising Tressel’s leadership, Gov. Mike DeWine noted that “he is often referred to as a champion, and he has embodied that term in his leadership as president of Youngstown State University. Not only has he championed the cause of YSU, but he has been a champion for the Mahoning Valley, a champion for investing in Ohio’s workforce and furthering economic development through university partnerships, and a champion for higher education across Ohio.”

A native of Northeast Ohio, Tressel first came to YSU in 1986 as head football coach. In 15 years, including six as executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics, YSU won four national championships. In 2001, Tressel left YSU to become head football coach at Ohio State University. In 10 seasons, he guided the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship and seven Big Ten Championships.

After leaving Ohio State and after a short stint as executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron, Tressel returned to Youngstown to become YSU’s ninth president.

Ellen Tressel is a YSU graduate and an accomplished businesswoman and philanthropist engaged in charitable causes and community organizations. She began her own financial career in her family’s business in Youngstown and served 17 years at Butler, Wick and Co.

Here is the remaining text of Tressel’s letter to the university community:

“Nearly sixty (60) years ago, I landed a job to deliver newspapers for the Cleveland Plain Dealer…seven mornings per week. This was appropriate training for a career in teaching, coaching and administration to follow, as I have spent the last forty-seven (47) years in Higher Education positions, working seven days per week. I cannot thank my family enough for allowing my schedule, and the needs of our University,  to take priority and center stage. It is now only fair to have Ellen, our wonderful children and grandchildren, extended family, friends, and former students set the schedule.

“I am so thankful to our students, faculty, staff, YSU Board of Trustees, and YSU Foundation, as well as the entire Mahoning Valley, as you have ALL been patient and kind as I have learned on the job. I am particularly proud of our dramatic rise in the graduation rate, numbers of graduates, fundraising dollars, and the physical transformation of our beautiful campus and city. It has been a blessing to serve alongside so many people that love and believe in the impact and importance of YSU.

“I plan to work seven days a week for the next seven months to assist our transformation and ensure that we truly “Take Charge of Our Future”. These are extremely challenging times in Higher Education and in our world as a whole; however, the opportunities are many, and together we will continue to make great things happen.

“Education is the key to our future, and I look forward to continuing our strong partnership in the educational and business communities. Our students and our future leaders are the keys to NE Ohio, the Buckeye State, and our great nation.

“Go YSU!

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.