Tressel, First Ward Councilman Oliver Reflect on Changes at YSU

By Rachel Gobep

Jim Tressel has seen numerous changes at Youngstown State University since he began his tenure as president of the university in July 2014, and said once he no longer is in the position, he hopes the university has made an impact on the area and continues to flourish.

“I would really like it to feel as if we’ve got that strategic plan, physically, but also programmatically, collaboratively. That we have totally connected with the region and make an impact in the region, most especially the city, but beyond,” Tressel said.

He said he wants to feel as if everything is in place, but the progress of the university will have to be executed over time.

“When I left the university in 2000 and came back in 2014 there was a lot of changes. I’d like to [leave and come back] to the reunions … and say, ‘Wow, look at this,’” Tressel said.

Youngstown First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver reflected with Tressel about the progress that the university has brought to Youngstown, and said he believes Tressel will leave a living legacy in the area.

“The things [Tressel] has done since [he’s] been here have echoed throughout the community and basically changed Youngstown,” he said.

Some of those advancements to the university include the renovation of Wick and Lincoln Avenue, the addition of off-campus housing through the University Edge and The Enclave, Wick Primary Care and much more.

There is currently continued development for the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center. The projected construction start date is in August 2019, with the completion being in Fall 2020. Mike Hripko, associate vice president for External Affairs, Government Relations and Economic Development, updated the Board of Trustees on the center at their meeting in early March.

He said the current focus is maintaining partnerships, ensuring sustainability, establishing operations and constructing the building itself.

The board also approved a resolution for Interfund Transfers at the university, which moved $412,800 for the North Central Parking Lot to the indoor tennis center project. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Additionally, $950,000 from the North Central Parking Lot to the Cafaro Field project.

Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel (left) and First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver (right) take a drive around the university in Tressel’s YSU-themed John Deere Gator and reflect on the changes at YSU. Photo by Rachel Gobep/The Jambar

The Cafaro Field will be used for intramural sports, club teams, special events and various campus activities. It will also act as a face of attraction for opposing teams for recruitment purposes. The Cafaro family donated $1.5 million for the field.

With these changes, some may be worried about parking on campus, but Tressel said the university plans on adding more parking.

The Don Constantini Multimedia Center at Stambaugh Stadium is projected to be completed by the first week of September.

Don Constantini, a YSU alumnus, helped to fund the project with a $1 million gift to the university. The center will be similar to a press box and will house a classroom, space for the sports broadcasting program and football radio booths.

Additionally, a $10.8 million federal infrastructure grant, SMART2, was given to the university in December through the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will completely renovate Fifth, Rayen and Park Avenues and Federal, Front, Boardman and Commerce Streets.

Tressel said the farther the university extends to downtown and toward Belmont Avenue, the better off it will be.

Oliver said he is enthusiastic to continue and enhance the collaboration of YSU and downtown because it can give Youngstown a more inclusive feel.

He also said he would like to see Youngstown become a university town.

“I think it gives an even greater identity to the city. When people think about Youngstown State University, they’re not thinking about the past, what was or bad things,” Oliver said.