Continuing dedication: The Tressel Institute

The Tressel Institute appeared at the 2022 Homecoming Parade. Photo courtesy of Jenna Binsley

By Raeghan Hilton

The Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork aids Youngstown State University students in developing skills beyond the classroom to make them more marketable as job candidates. 

The Tressel Institute was established in 2021 because some students lacked “soft skills” necessary for career success. Some of these “soft skills” include continuous learning, time management, decision-making, collaboration and emotional intelligence. 

Former President Jim Tressel serves on the board for the organization and is featured in a video speaking about the institute.

“Our vision is to really have four avenues as we build out this institute. The first and most important — that is going to take a lot of our time in the early going — is to create a Personal Leadership Track for our students here at Youngstown State University,” Tressel said.

Jenna Binsley, program manager for The Tressel Institute, said it’s funded through donations from the community. 

The first initiative, which falls under the Personal Leadership Track, is the online-based Personal Leadership Badge Program available for the institute’s partners which are the Sokolov Honors College and the YSU Athletic Department. 

“It has been our first initiative we are focusing on, so with that we have been able to partner with [the] Honors College, athletics on campus, as well as different groups too, such as DEI with our programming,” Binsley said. “We have been able to help over 626 students actually go through our program.”

Binsley said the Personal Leadership Badge Program includes five different badges, which highlight the “soft skills” that students learn outside of the classroom. 

The five badges are My Personal Journey, My Commitment To All, My Healthy Habits for Life, My Career Path and My Financial Game Plan.

All of the badges are available to students who complete at their own pace. Students do not have to complete all of the badges, but won’t receive the Personal Leadership certificate that is given after completing all five of the badges. 

Della Toliver, a sophomore nursing major and peer coach, further explained the Personal Leadership Badge Program. 

“The students watch an introductory video about the badge that they’re going to learn about. Then they watch the key concept videos, which basically goes more into detail about what the badges are about,” Toliver said, “Then … they watch our guest servant leader videos, which our guest servant leaders are members of the community or YSU alumni, that volunteer their time and kind of talk about their experiences relating to the badge.”

After the students have watched the guest servant leaders, the peer coaches are brought in, Toliver said. The institute has about 20 peer coaches, whose job is to work with other students and evaluate their goals to make them as attainable as possible. 

Binsely said peer coaches are required to complete the badge program and additional training to become a peer coach for The Tressel Institute. 

Recently, The Tressel Institute held a Financial Networking Night so students could talk with certified financial professionals on a personal level. 

Binsley said, moving forward, they hope to make the Personal Leadership Track available for all students as well as create a speaker, leadership and teamwork series. Going into the next school year, it’s also a goal for the institute to be more engaged on campus by hosting events. 

Binsley said The Tressel Institute hopes to offer services to local businesses as well.