Take Charge of YSU’s Future: State of the University Address

By Alyssa Weston

President Jim Tressel emphasized Youngstown State University’s recent accomplishments, budgeting, enrollment woes and the YSU Board of Trustees’ new initiative “Taking Charge of Our Future” in his annual State of the University Address on Wednesday, Aug. 16. 

Tressel started his speech on a high note by congratulating the Ohio Small Business Development Center at YSU on receiving the national SBDC Excellence and Innovation Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Alicia Prieto Langarica, a mathematics and statistics professor, was also recognized for receiving the national Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of 

Additionally, the YSU Board of Trustees was praised for earning the John W. Nason Award for Board Leadership from the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. 

“You cannot have a great university without a great board … it’s impossible,” Tressel said.

A main topic of discussion during the speech was enrollment. The enrollment for fall 2018 was 12,280 students. This fall, it is 11,886, which is a 3.21% decrease.

Tressel addressed the enrollment decrease and put an emphasis on retention. In Tressel’s opinion, enrollment is the most important revenue variable for the university.

“Every student who does begin here, let’s not lose any of them,” Tressel said.

One way the board of trustees are focusing on student success is with the “Taking Charge of Our Future” plan. 

This initiative will focus on increasing efficiencies of operations, increasing educational quality, focusing on research in a strategic manner, collaborating with community stakeholders, using new technology and reliable data to create well-informed decisions, the alignment of policies and procedures and the enrollment of new students. 

During the speech, Tressel welcomed Victoria Woods as the newest student member of the YSU Board of Trustees. 

Photos by Rachel Gobep/The Jambar

Woods, a junior nursing major, said the experience has been eye-opening.

“I didn’t fully comprehend the scale of work it takes to run an organization the size of the university,” she said.

Woods said she has a greater appreciation for the work the administrative staff has to do to keep the university running. 

“I believe it is vital for universities to have students on their board of trustees as this gives the students representation and a voice. I really want to use my position to encourage fellow students to attend a board meeting,” she said. 

Tressel also formally welcomed the new provost, Brien Smith.

“[Smith] is thoughtful, he’s collaborative,” Tressel said. “He has taught us a lot of lessons in the last month or so.”

According to Tressel, Smith often references “momentum gainers” to jump-start strategic action on campus. 

These “momentum gainers” include efficiencies, governance enhancements, revisments in the retention and completion plan, integration of a student success technology plan, the implementation of a new degree audit system, redesigning first-year experience and redesigning advising.

The speech ended by urging the audience to “take charge of our future.”

“If it’s going to be, it’s up to we,” Tressel said.