YSU offers Congressman Bill Johnson position of University President
Youngstown State University has voted 8-1 Thursday afternoon to offer U.S. Congressman, Bill Johnson the position of University President following the retirement of former President, Jim Tressell
During an emergency meeting held Thursday afternoon, University Trustees made the decision to consider Johnson as president. Trustees will be contacting Johnson following the meeting.
"Congressman, Johnson is a strong, innovative, servant leader who we believe will be well-positioned to guide the university as we take charge of our future," said YSU Board of Trustees Chair Michael Peterson.
In an official statement released to media, Johnson said he was honored to be offered the job.
"...I wasn’t looking for another job, because I love serving the people of Eastern Ohio. When I was approached about leading this great university, with student success at the forefront, and helping to prepare the next generation of Americans to lead, I listened."
"I continue to be honored and humbled to serve the men and women of Eastern Ohio in Congress, and if I determine this opportunity to lead YSU is a good fit, I'll have a very difficult decision to make. In the meantime, my focus will remain on representing Eastern Ohio in the U.S. House."
The one dissenting vote was cast by YSU Trustee Molly Seals, who voted no and added, "I do not think the congressman is right for this job." 21 News reached out to Seals, who said she had no further comment beyond her no vote and her comment during the vote.
Some local leaders 21 News reached out feel like Johnson would be a good fit.
"The Congressman has been a Valley guy," Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown said. "We've been in partnership with him for some time so it will be a welcome addition to this community. For me, he won't be a stranger, we've always had a good relationship, so this will be a plus for the city."
"You don't become a member of Congress without raising lots of money to win campaign after campaign and you know that is the most critical point of being in that position, that ability to raise money but it's also bringing the community together and I have not met to many members of Congress, to many leaders at all that can bring people together to the degree that Congressman Johnson has brought people together," Guy Coviello, President of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber said.
However, not all were on board with this choice. YSU faculty union spokesperson, Dr. Mark Vopat issued a statement to 21 News slamming this decision. The statement can be read in full below.
"The Board of Trustees have acted with next to zero transparency and are now going to offer the presidency to someone with no higher education experience or background and does who also does not hold a terminal degree in any academic field."
"Additionally, the faculty, staff, and student did not have the opportunity to meet and or question any candidate. This action shows a blatant disregard and lack of respect for the university community."
"As a point of comparison the climate we have had with Lafferty was one that was working to improve the climate at YSU and embrace shared governance. This unilateral decision, made behind closed doors, undermines the progress made on campus."
Vopat later told 21 News over a phone call that "zero people are happy about this."
Johnson has served as a Republican in Ohio's sixth Congressional district since 2011, but before that, he's served in the U.S. Air Force in 1973, eventually retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Troy University in Alabama in 1979 and earned his master's degree from Georgia Tech in 1984.
Following his retirement from the Air Force, Johnson co-founded IT Consulting Company, Johnson-Schley Management Group, and in 2003 formed J2 Business Solutions, where he focused on providing IT support as a defense contractor to the U.S. Military.
Between 2006 and 2010, Johnson served as Chief Information Officer of a global manufacturer of highly engineered electronic components for the transportation industry headquartered in Northeast Ohio, managing a multi-million dollar department budget.
In 2010, he was elected into his position of Congressman, which he began serving in January of 2011.
During his time in Congress, Johnson has been a staunch ally of the GOP's right wing, including being one of the Congressman to vote against certifying the 2020 election in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump, even after a violent insurrection disrupted the proceedings.