YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown State University alumni and supporters are calling for a familiar face to become the next president of the university.
In a letter to the university’s Board of Trustees, U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Niles, pledged his support for former YSU football coach Jim Tressel. Ryan, along with 31 other local leaders, are backing Tressel.
Current YSU president Dr. Randy Dunn was chosen as president of Southern Illinois University on Monday. His last day at YSU will be Aug. 16.
“Invest in the young men and women coming into the school to give them opportunities that they may not otherwise have at Youngstown State. To me, that is an exciting proposition. You win with people, and there is not a better leader around right now and I think you have to be aggressive and go after him,” Ryan said.
His letter states:
“As long time supporters of Youngstown State University, we are writing to offer our full and unequivocal support behind Jim Tressel to be the next President of Youngstown State University. We hope that the Board considers moving expeditiously to make this happen. We all have known Jim personally for many years and strongly believe that he will bring all of the skill and experience needed to lead Youngstown State University forward. He understands the importance of YSU’s relationship to the cities of Youngstown, Warren, our surrounding communities, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the role of STEM in our future economic initiatives. He knows the importance of university collaborations with the private sector and local workforce. And he has the relationships and obvious leadership skills to build both the financial and organizational support for the YSU initiatives that will grow the University and broader economy.”
“Given the current circumstance, we hope you would consider making an offer quickly so that we can move forward and build upon the great progress that has been made in the Mahoning Valley. The world is a very dynamic and complicated place today, but the most important indicator of the success of any institution today is leadership. If an institution has strong, visionary and resilient leadership, it will succeed. We believe Jim Tressel will provide that kind of leadership and take YSU and the Mahoning Valley to the next level,” Ryan’s letter continued.
Youngstown City Council President Chuck Sammarone agrees with Ryan.
“His management skills are outstanding. His public relations skills are outstanding and I thin he would be a great candidate for the position,” Sammarone said.
Among those signing the letter were Sam Covelli, Mike Broderick, Denise DeBartolo-York, Tom Humphries, Ed Muransky, Diane Sauer and Bruce Zoldan.
“When you look at the names on the letter from businessmen and women, union leaders, community leaders, he has a lot of support here,” Ryan said.
Tressel is currently the Executive Vice President for Student Success at the University of Akron. He has held that role since December of 2013, but has been at the university since May of 2012.
Although Tressel’s academic resume is not extensive, Ryan believes his other qualities set him apart.
“He has the strong leadership skills, the vision. The ability to build levels of collaboration that a lot of leaders do not have,” Ryan said.
Our station reached out to Tressel over the phone and through text message, but requests for a statement were not returned Wednesday evening. YSU Trustee Harry Meshel said when you get that many important people in the community saying something, you have to listen to them.
He also said there are a lot of factors involved in making the decision, but he said Tressel would make a terrific president.
There has been no word from Tressel on whether he is even interested in the position.