YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - Youngstown State University’s new president is now officially on the job even though he has been back in the Valley for most of the summer.
Jim Tressel was sworn in Monday afternoon as YSU’s ninth president, first taking his oath of office and then being presented with the ceremonial president’s medallion. Before all the pomp and circumstance, Tressel met briefly with reporters, where he said attracting and keeping students on campus is a key priority.
“Obviously, the first one you want to think about is the students who have chosen to come. How are we going to do a great job so the students have a great experience and also being very successful in the classroom. So student success is huge,” Tressel said.
But he said it is equally important to sell the university and community to those outside the area as well and then work to ensure those students also succeed and graduate.
Over the past couple months since he was appointed, Tressel has spent time “listening” to various local interest groups. He said the experience served as a reminder.
“You can never remind yourself often enough how important it is to get a gauge on how everyone is thinking and feeling. That is so important in a group,” Tressel said.
As part of Monday’s events on campus, Ohio Gov. John Kasich made the keynote speech for the event just before Tressel was formally installed. Kasich told the audience the president’s own life story parallels the history of the Mahoning Valley, with its successes and disappointments.
But Kasich said that as the region is making a comeback, Tressel’s appointment could be another great moment in the Valley’s story.
“Because we got somebody back home who is a doer, who has integrity, who has energy, who has vision, who understands teamwork,” Kasich said.
The governor gave credit to local business leaders and Congressman Tim Ryan for pushing the University’s Board of Trustees to hire Tressel, saying he will bring the spark that YSU and the community needs.
After his formal installation, Tressel told the large crowd inside Beeghly Center, as well as those watching online, that his greatest lesson in life came from his parents, Lee and Eloise.
“Both of them taught my brothers and I that leadership is not a position that you hold but it is action that you take to serve others and then they demonstrated that each and every day in their lives,” Tressel said.
With the formal ceremony now complete, Tressel will be busy. Interviews are planned this week with candidates for YSU provost and classes begin on Wednesday.
A schedule of events for the week at YSU can be found here.