YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It may be a bit early, but Jim Tressel already has taken over the reigns at Youngstown State University as “acting” President until his term officially begins on July 1.
On Friday afternoon, Tressel sat down with reporters to discuss his goals and plans. He readily admits with both enrollment and state funding on the decline, this is a “tough time” for YSU.
He said in the face of potential cuts on campus, one of his priorities will be to make sure administrators and staff are in the positions for which they are best suited.
“The worst thing you can do is sit and micromanage everything that everyone is doing. Best thing you can do for them is give them things they are very capable of doing, they enjoy doing and they are passionate about doing and they will make an impact for us,” Tressel said.
Because of the vacation and pending retirement of Interim President and Provost Ikram Khawja, Tressel will spend the rest of the month as “acting” President. He said university trustees still need to establish a clear vision for the future, which has been lacking in the recent past.
“Now remember we have gone through administrative and leadership changes that make it a little harder to get consistent because everyone comes in with a couple of their own ideas and so you lose some consistency,” Tressel said.
In the months ahead, Tressel and other university officials will have to deal with hiring a new provost as well as ironing out contracts with different unions.
“We have a lot of strategic planning to do so that we hit this next academic year headed in the direction we would like to go,” he said. “We have a lot of budget issues to confront.”
Among them are declining enrollment at a time when other schools are growing, state funding reductions and rumors of campus-wide budget cuts.
Tressel said he has spent the last four or five weeks since his hiring meeting different people and group with ties to YSU to listen to their ideas and concerns. He said being so well known on campus and around the community has both its advantages and its drawbacks.
“All the people you know and all the people you have great respect for want ‘I just need a couple minutes.’ Well, the couple minutes turns into 90 minutes or whatever and I have never been very good at stopping and keeping my mouth shut,” Tressel said.
For now, Tressel thinks there will not be much to change state funding, saying he and other administrators will be looking to do a better job of working with less.