Jim Tressel, YSU provost Brien Smith contracts extended

YOUNGSTOWN — Contract extensions for Youngstown State University’s top two executives — President Jim Tressel and Provost Brien Smith — unanimously were approved Thursday by the YSU Board of Trustees.

Tressel’s salary is $375,000, while Smith’s is $250,000, according to the university.

“We are happy to have the leaders of our executive team securely in place to continue their great work in service of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the greater Mahoning and Shenango valley communities,” board Chair Anita Hackstedde said.

Tressel was named YSU’s ninth president in 2014, agreeing to a three-year contract and then one-year extensions through June 2021. The latest extension says that, starting July 1, 2021, Tressel’s contract as president will continue until terminated by either party with 180 days prior written notice.

“We have accomplished much in seven years, but there’s more work to be done,” Tressel said. “We look forward to continue moving the university ahead on various fronts.”

Smith was named YSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs in 2019, becoming the university’s second-highest ranking officer and overseeing all academic operations. He came to YSU in 2019 from Indiana State University, where he was dean of the Scott College of Business for seven years. His contract at YSU was extended to 2025.

Under Tressel’s leadership, the university said enrollment increased for the first time in five years, the academic quality of freshmen classes has continued upward, and graduation rates also are up. In addition, the university has set new fundraising records, held down tuition increases, expanded scholarship opportunities and increased both university and private housing options across campus.

Tressel worked with local, state and federal leaders to boost economic development in and around the region, including major improvement projects along main corridors through campus and workforce development. He and his wife, Ellen, have been involved in extensive fundraising and philanthropy throughout the region.


YSU also announced Thursday it is planning in-person commencement ceremonies this spring and a return to “near normal” operations in the fall, including more face-to-face classes, more students in residence halls and more activities and events on campus.

“As treatments improve, protocols are more closely followed and vaccine distribution expands, we are hopeful that, come August and the start of fall semester 2021, YSU will be at a new stage of our COVID-19 pandemic response,” Tressel said. “That said, our goal is to return to near normal operations this coming fall …”

He also said with updated COVID-19 guidelines announced last week by Gov. Mike DeWine, YSU is planning to conduct in-person spring commencement on May 8 at Stambaugh Stadium, with May 9 as a rain date.

“Safety is our top priority,” he said. “Protocols such as face coverings and social distancing will remain in place. We are looking forward to gathering together to recognize the tremendous work of our graduates.”

Tressel emphasized that plans for the Fall semester and for commencement remain tentative.


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