Ohio

Eye on Education

Youngstown’s Community Leaders Are Pushing to Bring Jim Tressel Back to YSU

Former Ohio State football coach listens during a March 2011 press conference in Columbus.

Jamie Sabau / Getty Images

Former Ohio State football coach listens during a March 2011 press conference in Columbus.

It’s been a merry-go-round regarding the top posts at many of Ohio’s universities. Ohio State, Kent State, and Hiram College each recently made new presidential hires, while The University of Akron and Notre Dame College continue their searches for new leaders.

And now they’ll be joined in that hunt by Youngstown State after current president Randy Dunn surprised the school when he said he’d be leaving after just seven months on the job.

Even though it’s only been a few days since Dunn’s announcement, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan sent a letter to YSU’s Board of Trustees with support from over 30 of Youngstown’s community leaders, all voicing their unanimous opinion for their pick for the next potential president.

Their potential candidate doesn’t have a doctorate, or years of scholarly research under his belt, or any of the implied requirements universities typically look for when appointing a new leader.

But he does have a sweater vest.

The Democrat from Howland is pushing for Jim Tressel to return to YSU, where he was the head football coach for 14 years before heading to Ohio State to coach their team from 2001 to 2010.

“He has a long history in Youngstown,” Ryan explained. “The people know him, the people love him. And I think he can raise the kind of money you need to raise at that level to reinvest back in the school.”

Ryan adds that Tressel’s leadership skills and high profile would be a big plus for the school.

But those don’t necessarily make up the typical qualifications for a university president.

The American Council on Education says more than 78 percent of current presidents hold a doctorate, and 34 percent of those leaders served as a chief academic officer before assuming their presidency.

Tressel’s highest level of education is a Masters Degree in Education from The University of Akron, where he’s currently working as the school’s executive vice president for student success.

It’s that campus where his name has been thrown into the ring to take over when Luis Proenza steps down in June.

But it’s not just Akron. Students wrote in Tressel’s name as a suggested candidate during Ohio State’s presidential search earlier this year.  And outside of the education world, he was rumored to be in contention to take jobs with both the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions.

Akron spokeswoman Eileen Korey declined to comment about Tressel taking any new roles and only said he’s “extremely busy and focused” in his current position.

As for Youngstown State’s next move, board of trustees chairman Sudershan Garg says they’re hoping to move quickly to replace current president Randy Dunn, who’s leaving to take the helm at Southern Illinois University.

Garg says the school has contacted a search firm to find the best candidate as soon as possible.

“Hopefully we’ll find someone before June,” he said.

Dunn has given Youngstown State 180 days’ notice as required by his $375,000 yearly contract, but Garg says the board may ask him to leave earlier if they find a replacement.

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