YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Days before he’s officially installed, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel shook hands and introduced himself to everyone attending what he calls a “visit” with the faculty.
The nearly 90 minute meeting happened behind closed doors and away from department chairs and media.
“I didn’t learn a lot that I didn’t already know, but I did hear a couple three things that I didn’t know. That is something we can work on,” Tressel said.
Psychology Professor Molly Jameson-Cox said Tressel seemed sincere and thoughtful and said she feels that he cares about what the faculty has to say.
One subject not discussed at the meeting was the status of contract negotiations on campus. Since Tressel is not part of the University’s bargaining team, he is prohibited from getting involved in negotiations.
“I have a lot of confidence in those teams,” Tressel said. Those teams have been working extremely hard.”
Philosophy Professor Michael Jerryson said he was left wondering about the timing of the meeting with classes beginning and contracts expiring over the next few weeks.
“What is his purpose of getting our concerns at this point then?” Jerryson said. “It is a mixed bag for me. I can’t read it as political or if it is well intended. I think if this was staged after the contracts were done, I would be able to get much less politically.”
For now, faculty and support staff are faced with starting the fall semester without new agreements. Some faculty members fear that will have an impact on the classroom.
“It is disconcerting and cause for concern. We want to be able to teach. We want to be able to go into the classroom and do what we need to do for our students,” Jameson-Cox said.
Union leaders said they are pushing to get back to the bargaining table before the end of the month.
Tressel will officially be installed as president of YSU on Monday.