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Congressman urges Youngstown State to offer president’s job to Jim Tressel

By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer

A congressman has stepped into the hunt for a new president of Youngstown State University, and he is proposing one of the most well-known names in Ohio.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, sent an open letter to YSU trustees Wednesday urging them to consider Jim Tressel, the former Ohio State football coach who now is a vice president at the University of Akron.

Ryan wrote that Tressel “will bring all of the skill and experience needed to lead Youngstown State University forward.” He listed about 30 “community leaders” whom he said also supported Tressel’s appointment as president.

“We hope you would consider making an offer quickly so that we can move forward and build upon the great progress that has been made in the Mahoning Valley,” Ryan wrote.

YSU spokesman Ron Cole could not be reached for comment.

Tressel’s name came up last year when YSU’s search for a president led them to pick Randy Dunn, then-president of Murray State in Kentucky.

Tressel coached football at Youngstown State before moving to Columbus to coach the Buckeyes for several successful seasons that included a national championship. He and his wife, Ellen, have been longtime financial backers of YSU.

Dunn threw YSU a curve ball this week, announcing after only seven months on the job that he will leave to become president of Southern Illinois University in August.

Ryan now wants YSU to do what he believes it should have done last year.

“We hope the board considers moving expeditiously to make this happen,” Ryan said of Tressel’s appointment in the letter that his office made public.

For his part, Tressel, 61, has been mum about this and other offers that have come his way — or at least that are rumored to have come his way.

He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said that Tressel “is extremely busy and focused on his role as executive vice president of student success. ... It would be inappropriate for me or for him to comment on any outside inquiries.”

Tressel’s name also has been raised as a possible successor to UA President Luis Proenza, who is stepping down in June to take a yearlong sabbatical before returning to a full-time teaching job at the university.

The window has yet to close for applications, and UA has not interviewed anyone for the job, UA trustee Chairman Dick Pogue has said.

Coincidentally, the company handling the UA search, R. William Funk and Associates, is the same one that reached out to Dunn for the Southern Illinois job.

Meanwhile, Tressel has not indicated his intentions. In the past he has said he has talked with some unnamed colleges or universities about their presidencies.

Tressel does not hold a doctorate, which is usually required — or at least preferred — in many college presidencies. His bachelor’s degree is from Baldwin Wallace University and his master’s degree is from UA.

Ryan’s 13th congressional district covers parts of Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage and Summit counties.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at or 330-996-3729.


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