Education

YSU Extends Tressel’s Contract; Approves Tuition Guarantee

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown State University Board of Trustees this morning voted unanimously to extend President Jim Tressel’s contract through June 30, 2019.

“I was honored that four years ago, the university would roll the dice with a relatively unknown administrator,” Tressel said in reference to the board’s decision to hire him in 2014 after the abrupt departure of former YSU President Randy Dunn.

Tressel said that he assessed his administration’s progress over his first three-year contract, and then thought it was fair to everyone that his team ensures the same success year-to-year.

Last year, Tressel signed an agreement to extend his contract through June 2018. That contract calls for three separate additional one-year renewal options that could take his employment through June 2021. Tressel’s salary is $300,000 a year.

“That kind of adds a sense of urgency sometimes,” Tressel said. “The list of goals they give me each year is significant, and I’m just pleased and honored they want us to continue the trajectory we’re going, and go another year to see if we can keep great things happening at YSU.”

Among the priorities Tressel said he and the board would focus on over the next year is the Higher Learning Commission’s accreditation in March, as well as the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center downtown, and the “We See Tomorrow” $100 million capital campaign the university kicked off last month, the largest in its history.

“But the most important one, the one that we talk most about, is to continue to build this collective team in this entire region,” Tressel said, incorporating YSU as an active partner in the community and developing a cohesive relationship with staff and faculty.

“It’s more than a vote of confidence,” YSU Board of Trustees Chairman Leonard Schiavone said of Tressel’s contract renewal. “It’s an acknowledgement of the progress that’s been made. We want to make sure that the things that he’s set in motion will continue and be brought to fruition. We’re very pleased he agreed to that extension.”

Under Tressel’s leadership, YSU’s freshmen enrollment has increased 25%, and the most recent freshmen class boasts the highest standardized test scores and grade point averages in the university’s history.

Over the last three and a half years under Tressel’s direction, the university has created a new Honors College, and has raised more than half of its historic $100 million fundraising campaign. More recently, a Barnes & Noble student bookstore opened on the West Side of campus, along with a privately funded student housing complex, and the university approved its first operating budget in five years without a deficit. Standard & Poor’s, one of the nation’s top credit-rating agencies, upgraded YSU’s bond rating to A+.

YSU trustees also approved the “Penguin Tuition Promise,” which guarantees that all first-time undergraduate students would pay the same amount of tuition for four years as they pursue degrees at YSU.

The program begins with freshmen entering YSU during the fall of 2018. Tuition and mandatory fees for those students will remain at $8,899 per academic year for four years, while student-housing costs will remain at $9,400 per year for the four-year period. The program does not include returning students, and out-of-state students would continue to pay the out-of-state surcharge, which is not included in the four-year guarantee.

Additional program fees, lab and materials fees, and college fees are also not part of the guarantee program.

Also at the meeting, the board reversed its decision earlier this year to increase the student transportation fee by $40. The action was taken at the direction of the Ohio Department of Higher Education to comply with new language in the state budget on fee increases. Neal McNally, vice president for finance and operations, said students who have paid the fee would be refunded.

The fee increase was part of YSU’s long-term strategic plan to build plant reserves to fund the future replacement of the 1,278-space Fifth Avenue parking deck on campus.

The board also approved a resolution for the university to recruit a special assistant to the president to lead a new Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning.

The new office will include the Division of Student Success and the Office of Institutional Research. The special assistant to the president will provide direction for an array of initiatives related to institutional research, strategic planning implementation and an integrated approach to institutional effectiveness.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.