YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Tuesday marked the official start to Jim Tressel’s presidency at Youngstown State University. And to kick it off, he hosted three different social events at his new home.
From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., Tressel and his wife Ellen hosted a breakfast for faculty and administrators where they greeted about 500 employees at the Pollack House. At noon, a cookout was held where Tressel said he was able to talk with 80 to 90 students who are attending summer classes at the university. And at 3 p.m., the Tressels met with several YSU boards.
Tressel has been acting as YSU’s president for almost two weeks, but said Tuesday’s theme at the Pollock house was “colleagues, students, and boards” because he wanted to start his term with the people who are really important.
Students who gathered for a barbecue to get to know Tressel sang his praises and said they are excited and encouraged with the new president.
“It feels like a fresh start. I mean the city knows the stuff we have been going through, and now I really, truly feel that he is going to make a difference around here,” said YSU senior James MacGregor.
“I’m excited to see what he is going to do here. I’m excited to see his views and what he going to do with Youngstown,” said YSU junior Cattie Mullen.
Tressel said he has been welcomed back with open arms, and he is extending the hospitality by hosting the meet and greets. He said students are a top priority and the university needs to work towards their success.
“Just trying to get to know people and build relationships and learn and listen. Just try to put things together as to how we need to go forward,” said Tressel. “When it comes to it, what we can do to help raise the bar and help get them ready to reach their dreams. They came here, they invested in us to find a way to reach their dreams, and we have to come through for them.”
Students are putting their faith in their new leader knowing Tressel has a lot to tackle in the coming months. Budget and staffing cuts have already happened and union negotiations are looming in the future.
“I think it is just going to get even better as it goes on, and I’m sure they are going to bring a lot of stuff for us and pretty much make it all good,” said YSU junior Jacob Sullivan.
Tressel said it is great to be back in Youngstown and a lot has changed in the 14 years he and his wife have been gone. He said the resurgence in the downtown will be a catalyst for the university to “broaden its footprint” in the area.
“There are so many wonderful memories. So many wonderful people. I am a Northeast Ohio guy. Ellen is from Canfield and a YSU graduate. It couldn’t be better,” said Tressel.
Tressel replaces Randy Dunn who left after only seven months to take a position at Southern Illinois University.