Jim Tressel told an appreciative crowd Thursday at the Akron Roundtable that the University of Akron wants to give students everything they need to succeed in work and in life.
The UA vice president of strategic engagement said he is helping to develop the Akron Experience — the personalized journey for success that the university aims to handcraft for each student.
For the last six weeks, Tressel has overseen 11 students who have developed a mobile phone application called Successful U that should be ready by the fall semester in August.
Tressel focused on the app during his 25-minute talk before the luncheon crowd of more than 500.
But he also veered off into comments on his approach to life. He punctuated his speech with jokes and friendly jabs at fellow UA staff members.
“I’ve always been a believer that paradise is where I am,” he said in his seemingly off-the-cuff speech.
In introducing Tressel, UA Provost Mike Sherman said, “It was academics that brought Jim back to Akron.”
Sherman was referring to Tressel’s stretch as a graduate assistant and assistant coach at UA in the late 1970s before moving on to other colleges and universities to perfect his football coaching skills.
When Tressel left his job at Ohio State under a cloud last year, UA quickly brought him back in a newly created job to do what he has spent a lifetime doing — working with students.
“I used to have 100 [kids],” he said. “Now I have about 30,000.”
Tressel said the mobile phone app is the perfect way for the university to connect with today’s students.
“If they’re kickin’ in — is that what they’re doing? — they’ve got their phone with them,” he said.
The app will offer “road maps for success” in six areas, Tressel said — academics and career, personal relationships, financial awareness, health and fitness, leadership and volunteering and personal growth and wellness.
“Any help you need will be at your fingertips,” he said.
In leadership and volunteering, for example the app will lead students to places they can volunteer, to testimonials from other UA students who are volunteering and a video of how volunteer work appears to employers, according to the Power-Point presentation that illustrated Tressel’s comments.
He wore a yellow tie dotted with kangaroos, not the sweater vest he was famous for at Ohio State.
He also demonstrated he was quick on his feet.
A audience member asked him if it was true that UA President Luis Proenza knows more about football than Ohio State President Gordon Gee.
Tressel hesitated only a fraction of a second: “Thanks for coming. Drive safely.”
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.