2018 Executive of the Year
President Jim Tressel
James P. Tressel became the ninth president of Youngstown State University in July 2014 and has been busy moving the campus forward on many fronts ever since.
Under President Tressel’s leadership, enrollment increased for the first time in five years and the university attracted its most academically-accomplished freshman class ever. In addition, the university revamped its development operations and hit record fund-raising levels, announced its first Rhodes Scholar recipient, reconfigured its executive leadership organization, froze tuition for two consecutive years and expanded its scholarship offerings. The university is also partnering with two private developers to construct new apartment-style student housing on campus and is working with the city to improve major gateways to YSU.
Prior to becoming YSU president, Tressel was executive vice president for Student Success at the University of Akron, where he was charged with restructuring and leading the efforts of a newly created division dedicated to the academic and career success of students.
A native of Northeast Ohio, Tressel graduated from Berea High School in suburban Cleveland in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Akron in 1977. He also holds honorary degrees from YSU in 2001 and Baldwin-Wallace in 2003.
He first came to YSU in 1986 as the head football coach. Within two seasons, the Penguins were in the NCAA Playoffs. He was named the executive director of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1994. In his 15-year tenure as head football coach, Tressel’s teams amassed a record of 135-52-2, appeared in the playoffs 10 times and won four national championships.
Tressel left YSU in 2001 to become the head football coach at Ohio State University. From 2001 to 2010, he guided the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship, six Big Ten Championships, nine bowl appearances, seven 10-win seasons and an 8-1 record against Michigan. His record at Ohio State was 94-21.
Prior to YSU, he was an assistant football coach at Ohio State, Syracuse University, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Akron. In all of his coaching posts, Tressel also taught in the classroom to remain engaged with the student body.
Tressel has published two books: “The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life” (2008) and “Life Promises for Success” (2011). His lengthy list of awards includes the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1991, 1994 and 2002, the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year in 1994 and 2002, Chevrolet National Coach of the Year in 1997, 1994 and 1993, the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year in 2002 and the Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2002. At YSU, he received the Heritage Award in 2008.
He was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame, both in 2015. He entered the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
In 2015, Ellen and Jim Tressel made a $1 million pledge to create the Ellen and Jim Tressel Student Work Opportunity Endowment Fund at YSU, an initiative to help expand student employment opportunities on campus. It was the latest in an extensive list of fundraising and philanthropy activities for the Tressels. They also participated in the YSU campaigns for the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center, the expansion of Stambaugh Stadium and the Watson and Tressel Training Site. In 2007, Frank and Norma Watson and Jim and Ellen Tressel donated a combined $1 million to the YSU Centennial Campaign to help fund the WATTS. He also was co-chair of the $110 million campaign for the renovation of Ohio State University’s William Oxley Thompson Library. Along with his university fundraising, Tressel has also been called upon to lead many campaigns for the entire community and its needs.
Ellen Tressel is a YSU graduate and an accomplished businesswoman and philanthropist who remains engaged in charitable causes and community organizations in cities where she and her husband have built careers and raised family, including Youngstown, Columbus, and Akron. She began her own financial career in her family’s business in Youngstown and served 17 years at Butler, Wick, and Co.
They are the proud parents of four accomplished adults: Zak, Carlee, Eric, and Whitney.
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