YSU Trustees Honor Tressel by Creating Endowed Chair

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A group of Youngstown State University trustees has contributed $250,000 to create an endowed graduate fellowship in the new James P. Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork.

“President Tressel is renowned across the state of Ohio and the nation for his skills in leading successful teams, from the locker room to the board room,” said Chuck George, vice chair of the YSU Board of Trustees. “This fellowship will allow those skills and those successes to be ingrained in generations to come.”

George and other trustees announced the gift and fellowship at Thursday’s meeting of the board on campus.

The YSU Trustees Graduate Fellowship will work within the Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork at YSU, currently being formed through private donations. The idea for the Tressel Institute grew out of a fundraising effort earlier this year by the trustees of the YSU Foundation, the university’s fundraising arm.

That effort resulted in $1.6 million in donations from a group of foundation trustees to establish an endowed faculty or executive administrative position in honor of Tressel and his 35 years of leadership at YSU and across the region.

George and YSU Trustee Joe Kerola picked up the momentum from there, leading an initiative that resulted in gifts of at least $25,000 each from YSU trustees George, Kerola, John Jakubek, Michael Peterson and Eric Spiegel, as well as former trustees Charles Bush and David Deibel. In all, the gifts total $250,000 and will be used to create an endowment to perpetually support a graduate fellow at the Tressel Institute.

“Trustees have seen first-hand President Tressel’s exceptional leadership and are pleased to support the new Tressel Institute at YSU,” Kerola said.

Under Tressel’s guidance and design, the Institute will empower students, community leaders and business directors to make meaningful differences wherever their paths take them. The institute will support opportunities through credit courses, workshops, symposiums and more to prepare students and participants to become strong, impactful leaders. Additionally, participants will be surrounded by an atmosphere centered on teamwork for their group or organization’s well-being.

A native of northeastern Ohio, Tressel graduated from Berea High School in suburban Cleveland in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master’s degree in education from the University of Akron in 1977. He also holds honorary degrees from YSU in 2001 and Baldwin-Wallace in 2003.

He came to YSU in 1986 as head football coach. In 15 years, including six as executive director of intercollegiate athletics, YSU appeared in the playoffs 10 times and won four national championships.
In January 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, Tressel served as executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron, and then returned to YSU in 2014 as president.

Under Tressel’s leadership, YSU’s enrollment increased for the first time in five years, the academic quality of freshmen classes has continued upward, and graduation rates are up. In addition, the university has set new fundraising records, held down tuition increases, expanded scholarship opportunities and increased both university and private housing options across campus.

Tressel has worked with local, state and federal leaders to boost economic development in the region, including major improvement projects along main corridors through campus and workforce development partnerships that include the new Excellence Training Center now under construction on the south end of campus.

Pictured: YSU trustees Michael Peterson, Joe Kerola, Eric Spiegel, Chuck George and John Jakubek present a check to President Jim Tressel for the new Tressel Leadership Fellowship.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.