YSU Board Extends Tressel’s Contract as President

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The president of Youngstown State University, Jim Tressel, has extended his contract to lead the urban research institution through June 30, 2018, and possibly through June 30, 2021.

Tressel agreed to remain as president at the same salary as when he took the helm July 1, 2014 — $300,000 – but committed to only one additional year with an option for three one-year extensions.

In meeting with reporters after the quarterly meeting of the YSU Board of Trustees Thursday, Tressel repeated his denials of any interest in returning to coaching and denied any interest in running for political office or becoming the president of another college or university.

“I’ll be 64 on Monday,” he told reporters, and so is loath to commit to any obligation he can’t fulfill, whether as president or an individual. “Nothing in the back of my mind [says], ‘Only one more year,” Tressel stated.

Asked about inquiries to lure him away from YSU, the president said he “get[s] emails from search firms,” but has responded to none. “There aren’t as many reach-outs as you might think,” he added, and emphasized he has no agent or representative working in his behalf and is “not involved in any discussions.”

During the trustees’ meeting, Chairwoman Carole Weimer praised Tressel’s performance, turning a $10 million deficit into a balanced budget, reversing the decline in student enrollment – it rose this fall for the first time in six years — adding student housing (which is at capacity) and securing a new student bookstore.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers will run the store.

The board applauded the president when its executive committee wrapped up the tentative contract with Tressel just before the trustees opened their meeting.

In fiscal 2016 (ended June 30), Tressel oversaw raising $20.5 million in private gifts that included $1 million from himself and his wife, Ellen.

In addition, this year’s freshman class has the highest standardized test scores and average GPA in the 108-year history of YSU.

Because they thought Tressel’s performance as president merited a raise, trustees tried to grant him one, Weimer said, as was allowed in his first three-year contract. He refused and refused to accept a raise in his new agreement.

In other business, the trustees approved the revision of the university policy on granting benefits to same-sex partners of faculty and staff.

The revision was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June to allow same-sex marriages, Weimer said, and basically changes the term “domestic partner” to husband or wife. Ohio does not recognize common law marriages and so married couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual, will continue to have the same paternity and maternity benefits as before.

Trustees also revised and modified the university’s drug-free policy. Because Ohioans voted to allow the use of medical marijuana, which conflicts with federal law, “The university is saying, ‘If you have a prescription [for medical marijuana], you may not bring it on campus or use it on campus,’ ” Weimer explained. Those with a prescription must consume the drug off campus.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.