Youngstown State University faculty reflect on President Jim Tressel's legacy that began before he became president when he was coaching the penguins as they dominated football in the 90s and everybody rallied around YSU.

"It was a time not long after the fact that we lost the steel mills and so forth and just to see the community, fill Stambaugh stadium with 20,000 people," YSU Board Chair John Jakubek said.

Jakubek said Tressel has a way of bringing people together and his history helped him to connect with so many students, faculty and families in the Mahoning Valley.

"He had the advantage of the fact that he was here for 16 years," he said, "People knew him... he knew the community."

Faculty said Tressel clicked with students, promoted positivity and rooted for their success.

They added Tressel has worked to make the student experience more exciting, as well as a place they can call home by bringing in more money to the university for new additions like student housing and innovative centers for learning.

"I think the biggest takeaway would be the amount of financial contributions that have come the way of the university to strengthen its future," attorney and last term trustee Ted Roberts said. 

Tressel's term wasn't immune to criticism, though. Amid a series of program cuts, a number of faculty members and alumni held protests and believed academics were not enough of a priority.

"It's been very difficult, it weighed heavily on his mind," YSU Director of Nursing Nancy Wagner said, "It was not an easy decision to make those cuts."

The YSU faculty OEA-Union President sent a statement in regards to his decision to step down as the university president.

The union said Tressel was "the best fundraiser and spokesperson the university has ever had," adding "We have big shoes to fill."

YSU-OEA's full statement is below:

YSU-OEA, the faculty union representing faculty at Youngstown State, would like to wish Jim and Ellen the best of luck in their future endeavors and thank them
for their service to YSU.

"Jim Tressel being President improved the public profile of YSU, and he has worked tirelessly to improve the campus as well as our surrounding community,” YSU-OEA President Susan Clutter said. “Jim Tressel is the best fundraiser and spokesperson that YSU has had, and we hope the YSU Foundation will find a spot for the Tressels so they can continue to promote the value of YSU.”

YSU-OEA also urges the YSU Board of Trustees and Administration to conduct a national search and appoint a hiring committee made up of all the unions on campus for the hiring process. “We have some big shoes to fill, and hiring the next President will be of paramount importance for all of us at YSU. Faculty are eager to work toward a seamless transition in our leadership and to carry on President Tressel’s good work,” Clutter said.