By Henry Shorr
Youngstown State University recently added a new member to the school’s board of trustees. Laura Lyden, sales and operations manager at Lyden Oil, has been named as the university’s newest trustee.
Lyden, who received her bachelor’s in chemistry from YSU, has a long history with the university. She managed the environmental and analytical services for the YSU Center for Engineering Research and Technology as well as for YSU’s Technology Development Corp. Lyden is excited to serve the school and community in this new position.
“It’s the highest honor. Yes, I know it. It’s a big commitment of time, and the reason that I was willing to do it is because, you know, YSU was like home to me — it’s really, really important to this community,” she said.
She has also served on many boards in the area, including the United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, the Ellsworth Township Zoning Board and the Mahoning County Mental Health Board. YSU President Jim Tressel believes that her experience with the school, serving on boards in the area and her time spent at Lyden Oil has provided her with the perfect experience to excel in her new position at YSU.
“The first thing we want in a board member is someone that loves the university, and obviously, she does and has for a long, long time. The second thing we need is someone who believes in the importance and because we happen to think that this university, for this region, is so, so important,” Tressel said. “The third thing that makes it neat is that we’re fortunate to have a board that has a variety of expertise that has been out in the world.”
Tressel believes Lyden’s time on the Mahoning County Mental Health Board will be very useful to the university as students and faculty alike begin to emerge from the collective trauma that was the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s nothing that has taken our attention more right now than the mental health needs of our students. Yeah, you throw COVID in there, throw what’s going on in the world. You know what’s going on in the minds of our students, the challenges they have,” Tressel said. “It’s something we think about every day, and how can we better serve the mental health needs of our students, our faculty, our staff, the community at large.”
Lyden had similar thoughts on how the pandemic affected and will affect students long-term.
“Everyone — well, most people — fear what they can’t control. But COVID, you know, was so big and affected literally everyone. It’s not like it’s something that affected only a small portion of that population — it affected everyone. Those long-term effects are going to go on for years to come,” she said.
Lyden has another connection to YSU — more specifically, The Jambar. Her great-uncle-in-law, Burke Lyden, founded the Jambar in 1931. She spoke fondly of Burke Lyden’s love for the school into his old age.
“We used to bring him, even when he was in his well into his 80s, to the YSU games to the loge. He lived at Park Vista … he would come up to the loge for the games, and then we’d take them home, but he was really an interesting guy,” Lyden said.
She fondly recalled how even though he was getting older and could barely walk, he was still “trucking himself out there” and going to YSU football games. Burke Lyden may have also been in possession of Pete the Penguin after he died and was stuffed by a taxidermist, according to Marion Resch.
Lyden is ready and eager to begin her role as an advocate for students and the community as a whole in her term as a trustee. She wanted folks at YSU to know that she is taking her position very seriously and will strive to make campus life more meaningful to students and faculty
“I’d like them to know that, you know, I have a history with YSU, obviously, and that I am committed to making sure that we do the best we can for the student community and the university community,” she said.
Lyden’s first board meeting will not be until June, so she will have time to get acquainted with her new position.