Ellen and I cannot begin to express how honored and fortunate we feel to be back on the campus of Youngstown State University. While we’ve stayed in close contact with so many at the university and in the community over the last 14 years, there’s nothing like again being part of the YSU team. We are humbled to return home, and we want to thank everyone across the region for their outpouring of well wishes and support.
It has been a whirlwind couple of months – from the interview process, to the Board of Trustees vote, to moving into the beautiful Pollock House, to getting about, meeting folks, learning, listening and renewing connections with the proud and talented people that make up the university and the Mahoning and Shenango valleys. We have had a successful and busy transition, in large part due to the wise counsel and steady leadership of Ikram Khawaja, retiring interim president. His enduring dedication is unparalleled, and we all owe him a great deal of thanks.
As you know, these are, indeed, demanding financial times for the university. The challenges are not unlike those at dozens of other universities across the state and nation. We cannot, however, allow those challenges to paralyze us. Through working together and in collaboration, we will make a difference for our students, we will discover new knowledge and we will have a lasting impact on the entire region.
You may have already heard one of my mottos: Macte virtute. It’s Latin, an imperative, that means: “Increase excellence.” The world is shrinking. Competitionis stiffer. There’s a paradigm shift across the higher education landscape. We must respond decisively. It’s imperative that – as an institution and as individuals – we set our goals high and increase excellence in everything we do here. I am committed to macte virtute and am excited to make that spirit a vital, lively part of the campus culture.
Another one of my mottos is: “With tradition comes responsibility.” We have many great traditions here at YSU. There’s not a place on this campus that doesn’t bring back pleasant memories and that doesn’t conjure some kind of Penguin pride. We will embrace our history, we will celebrate our traditions and we will work tirelessly to create new memories and new successes for our students and our community.
There is no question that Youngstown State University is a vital asset to this region. We will work hard together to continue to make this asset a difference-maker for all of the great people that are counting on us.
Jim Tressel became YSU’s ninth president on July 1.