James P. Tressel became the ninth president of Youngstown State University in 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, the academic quality of freshmen classes has continued upward, student retention is up and the university has solidly focused on student success - graduating on time, with little or no debt and with a job or plans for further education. In addition, the university is hitting record fund-raising levels, keeping the lid on tuition costs, expanding scholarship opportunities and increasing both university and private housing options across campus.
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 came to YSU in 1986 as head football coach. In 15 years, 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 head football coach at 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.
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. He was inducted into 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.
He has published two books, has given hundreds of presentations and lectures across the country, and has had extensive involvement in fund raising and philanthropy, including the recent $1 million gift to create the Jim and Ellen Tressel Student Work Opportunity Endowment Fund at YSU.
Tressel’s wife, Ellen, 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. Their grandson, Jonathan James, and granddaughter, Rose Marie Alson, are the apples of their eyes.
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