YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel announced he will be stepping down next year.
Tressel announced his decision at Wednesday afternoon’s YSU Board of Trustees committee meeting.
Tressel attended Thursday morning’s Board of Trustees meeting, telling them he still has lots to do.
“We’ve got so much work to do in the next seven months. It’s like, you know, I even hate to be having this discussion because, you know, I’m not going anywhere,” said Tressel.
But Tressel has decided to retire after serving nearly nine years. He was first appointed in July 2014. During his tenure, he was often seen at University functions as well as events throughout the community.
“My problem honestly is that work is more fun than fun,” said Tressel.
But eventually, after talking with Trustees and others and leading the University through the COVID pandemic, he decided to make a change.
“I reflected back on the fact that it seemed like I was missing some things that I perhaps wanted to have time for,” said Tressel.
Although he will be stepping aside in his role as president, Tressel expects somehow, some way he will continue to have a role here at the university or with the community as a whole.
Tressel said one of his top priorities before and after retirement will be finding ways to — as he puts it, “re-populate” the Valley and YSU.
“Which means we’ve got to turn out people who can do the jobs so that people will live here, work here, have families here. Then send their children to YSU,” said Tressel.
Something he hopes to be able to do for as long as he lives.
On Thursday, he addressed the media and said he is going to take some time and see where he can be helpful. He said he had been thinking about stepping down for some time, but the pandemic slowed the timing of his decision.
He said he has been missing out on events with friends and family.
“I might be the only person in this lobby that doesn’t have Netflix. Everybody’s talking about these Netflix shows. I don’t even know how you get Netflix, or did you see this movie or that movie or have you ever been anywhere – I’ve been to Lowellville,” Tressel said.
He said challenges for the university are to grow the Valley’s population, enrollment and working with local partners.
He plans to step down on Feb. 1, 2023.
Board Chair John Jakubek said details regarding a plan to identify Tressel’s successor will be released as they become available.
“It has been truly a blessing and labor of love to serve Youngstown State University…I cannot thank my family enough for allowing my schedule, and the needs of our university, to take priority and center stage,” he added. “It is now only fair to have Ellen, our wonderful children and grandchildren, extended family, friends and former students, set the schedule,” said Tressel in a press release.
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 in 2014.
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.
Tressel is the father of three accomplished adults Zak, Carlee and Whitney, stepfather to Eric and has two grandchildren, Jonathan James and Rose Marie Alson.
In a letter to the staff and students at YSU, Tressel said, “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-OEA, the faculty union representing faculty at YSU, wished Tressel and his wife the best of luck in their future endeavors and thanked them for their service to YSU.
In a press release, YSU-OEA urged the YSU Board of Trustees and Administration to conduct a national search and appoint a hiring committee made up of all the unions on campus for the hiring process.
“We have some big shoes to fill, and hiring the next President will be of paramount importance for all of us at YSU. Faculty are eager to work toward a seamless transition in our leadership and to carry on President Tressel’s good work,” said YSU-OEA President Susan Clutter.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Thursday that Tressel is a champion and 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,” he said.
DeWine went on to say that Youngstown has always been an asset to the Mahoning Valley and that Tressel’s work at YSU has solidified that.
“He will be deeply missed,” DeWine said.