YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As the spring semester winds down, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel took time Tuesday morning to offer a glimpse into the University’s future, or as he put it, things administrators are dreaming about.
Tressel spent about 40 minutes explaining “Next YSU: A New Look for a New Era,” which includes plans for more student housing. The president’s remarks on campus may have been seen as part “State of the University” and part “looking into the future.”
“Some of them are beginning now, some of them may begin six months from now, some of them a year from now, some of them we’ve got a lot of work to do for them to even happen,” he said.
Tressel spoke to a couple hundred people at Kilcawley Center, including students, staff, state lawmakers and community members.
Some student housing projects are already under construction, like the apartment complex on Rayen Avenue.
Across campus, Melnick Hall has been remodeled as the new home for the YSU Foundation and WYSU-FM.
Other ideas, such as a new look for Fifth Avenue, are still on the drawing board. Tressel says administrators are applying for a $20 million federal grant to help pay for that.
“We’re trying to show through our various partners that we’re going to match in the neighborhood of $6 to $7 million is our goal.”
At one point he talked about potential for a new $30 million “Innovation and Commercialization Center” that would link YSU, the cities of Youngstown and Warren, as well as local schools and businesses. Tressel says lawmakers included it in the state’s new “Capital Budget” with the possibility of more funding in the future.
While some of the plans would require state or federal funding, millions more would need to be raised through philanthropy. Those in charge of that say Tressel’s presence the last two years is already helping.
“There are some donors I’ve been reaching out to for 20 years with little success. We’re not having a chance top gain audience with them and having success,” said Paul McFadden of YSU Foundation.
A number of the projects are aimed at enhancing the areas surrounding campus, offering a better first impression for potential students.
“To do that, we really believe that they have to have a great first impression as they come to campus. They have to feel that it’s a vibrant place. There’s things to do to have the student experience they’d like to have,” Tressel said.
“You’re going to bring in more students, hence more revenue and more things that you can do in the future. So it all builds upon itself,” said YSU freshman Anthony Lattanzio.
With declining state funding, Tressel says the future will be about recruiting more students and retaining them through graduation.