Though Jim Tressel took office in July, he was only just officially installed Monday as Youngstown State University’s ninth president.
The Board of Trustees’ decision to hire Tressel — a famed former head football coach — garnered national media attention last spring, placing considerable responsibility into the hands of YSU’s recently selected president.
During Monday’s installation ceremony, Tressel formally assumed this responsibility, taking the oath of office, accepting the presidential medallion and addressing a large crowd in YSU’s Beeghly Center.
“It’s with a great deal of gratitude and humility, that I accept this wonderful representation of what this institution means to this valley and to the people that have passed through these halls,” Tressel said. “[My parents] taught my brothers and I that leadership is not a position that you hold, but is action that you take to serve others.”
Tressel went on to describe YSU as an institution of excellence, pointing to recent successes that each of the university’s colleges have experienced.
“Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of our excellence,” he said.
Despite his heavy emphasis on the university’s achievements, Tressel also recognized that he takes the helm during a time of trials for the university. YSU’s enrollment has declined; cuts to the budget have been made; several administrators have departed from the university; and union contract negotiations are in full swing.
“Even though these are challenging times … if we raise our excellence, we’ll be able to handle those challenging times,” he said. “We got to set goals and dreams that are way beyond what’s ever been done.”
Governor John Kasich also spoke at Monday’s installation. He described Youngstown as a city in the midst of a comeback, citing Tressel’s homecoming as one of many positives for the community. As was expected, Kasich also made affirmative comment regarding Tressel’s credentials, calling him a “remarkable man.”
- President Jim Tressel takes the oath of office at Monday’s installation event. Photo by Dustin Livesay/The Jambar.
“The leaders of this community demanded that Jim Tressel come home, demanded that Jim Tressel come back here and interject that same energy, integrity and spark right here in Youngstown State,” Kasich said.
Students who attended the ceremony expressed support for their new president. Student Trustee Eric Shehadi was no exception.
In an introductory speech, Shehadi indicated that institutions of higher education must form relationships with community partners and that Tressel’s name recognition and commitment to student success will help YSU build these partnerships.
“We now have an excellent asset in this task ahead of us — President Jim Tressel,” he said. “I’m confident in President Tressel’s ability to build a bright future for this university by mobilizing relationships and cultivating new partnerships, partnerships that will not only bolster the university but the education that it is able to provide for its students.”
Robert Voland, a freshman chemistry major, attended Monday’s installation. Like Shehadi, Voland expressed enthusiasm toward Tressel’s presidency.
“I thought [the installation] was great. I think Jim Tressel is a great speaker, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to YSU,” he said. “I’m excited about it.”
Christopher McComas, a freshman civil engineering major, also spoke positively of the installation ceremony.
“I thought all of the speeches were very impressive,” McComas said. “It was a great honor to be able to have Governor Kasich here as well. I think they all had great comments about improving Youngstown State University and about taking the university in a positive direction.”