The vision of the future of Youngstown State University by president Jim Tressel does not include six lanes of traffic speeding past Stambaugh Stadium like it does now.

In his State of the University address delivered on Monday, Tressel gave an update on the latest effort to get a government grant to turn Fifth Avenue into a tree-lined, two-lane thoroughfare with bicycle paths.

The project is contingent on getting a so-called B.U.I.L.D. Grant from the government.

Tressel likens the proposal to the recently completed redevelopment of Wick Avenue through campus, saying students and the public would need to be patient be completed.

Other plans for the university include turning parking lots into new university facilities.

A lot on the northern end of campus would be turned into a recreational area while existing tennis courts would become a 300-space parking area accessible to the WATTS center.

Another parking lot near Belmont Avenue would become an indoor tennis center, complete with six tennis courts, pickleball courts, six bowling lanes and a pizza shop.

President Tressel says surveys show that students are looking for more activities on campus, and bowling is one of those activities.

More parking would be added south of what is known as the main tailgate lot.

A former county-owned building at the corner of Commerce Street and Fifth Avenue is being renovated into a 75,000 square-foot Innovation Center for engineering and business to come up with ideas to help develop the workforce.

Tressel says the center will also include a place to get a beer.

As part of a continuing plant to develop partnerships revolving around economic development, Tressel talked about working with Eastern Gateway Community College and area technical schools.

Tressel announced that the Higher Learning Commission has affirmed Youngstown State University’s accreditation through the year 2027, noting that the university is well-managed, extensively engaged and clearly focused on student success.

Tressel also announced that YSU is in the midst of a process to develop a new strategic plan emphasizing academic excellence and student success that will guide YSU over the next several years.

“The Higher Learning Commission’s stamp of approval means that students attending YSU can rest assured that they are receiving educational services, both inside and outside the classroom, that meet or exceed quality standards set for institutions across higher education,” Tressel said at the address that traditionally marks the start of the academic year.

Tressel’s address focused on many of the university’s successes in the past year, including: faculty and staff earned $8.9 million in grants, the most in seven years; the historic $100 million “We See Tomorrow” fundraising campaign hit the $75 million mark, including funding for new endowed faculty chairs and professorships; and incoming freshmen recorded the highest-ever ACT scores and high school GPAs.

One of the bigger successes was HLC reaccreditation, the culmination of a campus-wide, continuous improvement process to assess the university’s operations, from academics and student success to facilities and budget. HLC is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the nation, covering 19 states in the North Central region.

The HLC report noted that YSU “has made tremendous progress in overcoming previous major challenges, most notably in the areas of fiscal health and enrollment,” making difficult decisions to eliminate a structural deficit and taking steps to reverse declining enrollment.

During the address, Tressel also announced that a new strategic planning process, led by a group of faculty, staff, students, and administrators, is underway across campus. The university’s last strategic plan was developed in 2011.

“We aspire to develop a strategic vision that facilitates positive change, builds on our current strengths, improves the culture of the community, and positions YSU to be more successful in the face of a constantly changing higher education landscape,” Tressel said.

The 18-member Strategic Planning Organization Team will design the planning process, gather information and input, and guide implementation.

A new website,, provides further details, including links to articles and books focusing on higher education, academics, and socio-economics. The site also includes an online method to “Join in the Conversation” and give input on the planning process.