YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Jim Tressel spoke with the media and Youngstown State University officials on Monday, refusing to express a preference for the president’s job at either Akron University or YSU and reminiscing about his time spent as the school’s football coach.
But he said he really does not wake up wishing he was still a football coach.
Tressel also said that he has not thought much about a choice between the two universities, as he has applied for both, but has not been offered either position.
“I haven’t concerned myself with making any decisions because I haven’t been offered anything,” Tressel said. “The only thing I want for Youngstown (State), the only thing I want for Akron, is for them to get the best president.”
At Monday’s forum, he answered a number of questions from students and reporters about what it takes to make a university successful.
Tressel said that if he were hired, he would probably not make a lot of big decisions over the summer, choosing to wait for his faculty to return to campus to do so.
Tressel mentioned the student retention rate as a key part of raising funds.
“Your rentention rate is the key and that’s everyone’s responsibility on the campus. And secondly, and it’s where I think we’re very fortunate in the valley, is that your ability to raise funds outside of the institution,” Tressel said.
He also commented on former YSU President Randy Dunn’s departure.
“Sometimes things like that occur and the unusual happens,” Tressel said about Dunn, who was announced as Southern Illinois University’s president Feb. 17. “Everyone thinks that the things Randy had in place…were really good.”
Gary L. Miller, chancellor of the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, will be in town Tuesday. Finally, Southern Oregon president Mary Cullinan is up on Wednesday
Each candidate will participate in a variety of meetings with school officials, including an open forum for the university community.
The forums begin at 2 p.m. at Tod Hall on campus. Media availabilities will begin at 1:30 p.m. with each candidate. Watch live updates on WKBN First News at Noon, 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
WKBN.com will steam the event live beginning at 1:30 p.m.
The meeting room only seats about 100, but an audio feed will be provided so attendees can listen to the forums just outside the room.
People who didn’t get a seat on Monday pretty much pressed their faces up against the glass wall at the back of the room, listening to an audio feed of Tressel’s remarks during a nearly hour-long question and answer session.
People we spoke with after the speech said they appreciated Tressel’s answers, and his plans, if named the next president at YSU.
“I thought he was very natural, very genuine and very honest, answering every question he was asked and very real about our situation here at YSU, and also his situation,” said YSU employee Andrea Tharp.
“A lot of presidential candidates want to come in, give the public what they want to hear, but he had a very good idea of where he wanted to go and I was impressed by what he had to say,” said student Corey Crisan of Masury.
Tressel told the crowd for 15 years he lived and felt what YSU means to the region and the Valley, admitting he daydreamed Monday on his drive to campus about what it would feel like to return to Youngstown State.
Tressel told the crowd his plans for the evening include dinner with the Board of Trustees and more meetings until about 9 p.m.