A native of Northeast Ohio, Jim 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 Doctoral degrees from YSU in 2001 and Baldwin-Wallace in 2003.
After serving as an Assistant Football Coach at the University of Akron, Miami (OH), Syracuse and Ohio State, Tressel was named YSU Head Football Coach in 1986. In his 15 year tenure, including six as Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, YSU appeared in the playoffs 10 times and won four National Championships. In January 2001, Tressel left YSU to become the Head Football Coach at The Ohio State University. In 10 seasons, he guided the Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship and seven Big Ten Championships. After leaving Ohio State, Tressel served as Executive Vice President for Student Success at the University of Akron, and then returned to YSU in 2014 as President.
At YSU the academic quality of freshman classes continued upward; retention and graduation rates rose dramatically; the Honors College grew from 300 students to over 1200 students; the university hit record fundraising levels; the physical plant was transformed with the addition of private housing options and state-of-the-art academic research and workforce training facilities. Jim and Ellen are currently leading the Capital Campaign to build the new Zoldan Family Student Center on the YSU campus.
Among his many honors: Chevrolet National Coach of the Year, the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year, the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year, and the Sporting News National Coach of the Year. Tressel was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015. At YSU, he received the Heritage Award in 2008 and was inducted into the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013. He was enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2015. Jim and his father, Lee Tressel are the only Father-and-Son to have both been named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tressel has published two books, has given hundreds of presentations and lectures across the country, and has had extensive involvement in fundraising and philanthropy, including the recent $1 million gift to create the Jim and Ellen Tressel Student Work Opportunity Endowment Fund at YSU. Currently, Jim and Ellen serve on the Board of the newly created James P. Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork.
Tressel’s wife, Ellen, is a YSU graduate and an accomplished business woman 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, OH. She began her own financial career in her family’s business (Youngstown Welding and Engineering Co.) and served 17 years as a Vice President at Butler Wick and Co., Inc.
They are the proud parents of four accomplished adults: Zak, Carlee, Eric, and Whitney. Their grandson, Jonathan James, and granddaughter, Rose Marie Alson, are the apples of their eyes; along with a new addition coming in 2023.
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