Final Three Candidate Names Released

The Youngstown State University Presidential Search Advisory Committee has released the names of the three finalists for the presidency.

James Tressel, executive vice president of Student Success at the University of Akron, Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University, and Gary L. Miller, chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, have been named finalists in the presidential search.

The finalists will be visiting the campus during the week of May 5, during which they will hold open forum discussions and participate in interviews.

“I really hope that all sections of campus, students, faculty and administration come out for these sessions because we really do want to have their input while making these decisions,” Melissa Wasser, student trustee, said. “We’ll have Survey Monkeys handed out during the forums and the results of those surveys will be taken into account for the final decision.”

The Advisory Committee used a variety of metrics when determining the finalists, with each member of the Committee bringing their own concerns to the decision making process. For Committee member Harry Meshel, the most important aspect to consider was the leadership capacity of the applicant.

“Others had other metrics of their own, but I looked for very, very strong leadership — that’s number one. Then they have to have the understanding of a university and its needs, especially the faculty and students and community it represents,” Meshel said.

For Student Trustee Eric Shehadi, commitment to YSU was a necessary trait in determining the finalists.

“I talked to a lot of students before we had these interviews, trying to get a feel for what they wanted — what they were looking for — and it seemed like students really wanted someone who was ready to commit to YSU. Someone who had demonstrated commitment elsewhere. … As a student trustee, that played a factor into my assessment,” Shehadi said.

A common theme throughout the Advisory Committee’s decision-making process was searching for candidates who could rise to the unique challenge of acting as president of a school situated in the center of a city and all the additional pressures that brings.

“There are special conditions that exist in a valley such as ours. … We’re not like Kent [University], for example, where you don’t have a town around it. We’re in the middle of a city, in the middle of a county, in the middle of a four, five county area, with two states represented here. We have special needs and special recognition responsibilities, so you look for people who can operate in a city such as that,” Meshel said.

The final decision is set to take place during the third week of May, a timeline Wasser said the Advisory Committee is on track to uphold.