(WKBN) – One week ago, Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel announced he will retire next year. He leaves behind a university that has gone through a lot of changes in his eight years leading it.

“My circuitous path is different than probably any of the presidents that have been here. Obviously, I got to come here in 1986 as the coach and I was not from here. I was from Ohio. Northeast Ohio had always admired Youngstown State, and when I had the good fortune that Joe Malmisur and the Board of Trustees hired me to be the coach,” Tressel said.

He said when he arrived in 1986, it was an interesting time as it was not long after the steel mills era.

“I just recognized when I got here what an amazing opportunity we had as a football program to see if we could help on this next chapter that the region was having. It became very apparent to me how important the university was,” Tressel said. “We had our little bit of the piece with entertaining the community from a football standpoint and serving the community in a lot of different ways. Our student-athletes spent a lot of time in the community and so forth.”

At that time, YSU was still basically a commuter campus.

“Yeah, we were. We had 200 beds on campus at that time when we got here. One of the things we did while we were here was really pushed for the building of Lyden House in 1991, added another 350 students. Then the Cafaro House in, I think, ’95 or ’96 added another 300 and some students,” Tressel said. “So, we really thought we were booming. But in my 15 years, it was so much fun to see the university grow in its importance. It was always important, but it became even more important.”

Tune in Thursday to First News at 5 for the continuation of our interview with President Tressel.