YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Monday, the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees decided who will take over as interim president when Jim Tressel leaves next year.

It will be Dr. Helen Lafferty. She is a Youngstown native with two degrees from YSU. She has spent 40 years at Villanova University in Philadephia. Dr. Lafferty will take a sabbatical and help YSU until a permanent president is hired.

The board of trustees met for nearly two hours — most of it in executive session — before voting unanimously to hire Dr. Lafferty. Afterward, board chairman Dr. John Jakubek talked about why Dr. Lafferty was selected.

“She is a very vibrant, very outgoing, very easy to communicate with. She’s very articulate. We really feel that she’s got the repertoire and the caliber to continue the momentum that we’ve had going on here for the last eight years,” Dr. Jakubek said.

Those eight years covered Tressel’s presidency, who will be done on Feb. 1. Tressel announced in June that he would be stepping down after serving nearly nine years as president of the university. He said he plans to have a role at the university or with the community as a whole moving forward.

Dr. Jakubec says Tressel and Dr. Lafferty will meet in the next few weeks to work on the transition. She has agreed to take a sabbatical from Villanova and does not want to be YSU’s permanent president.

“We appreciate Villanova University allowing us to have her for the time being. But she mentioned she will be going back after the interim presidency is over,” Dr. Jakubek said.

Dr. Lafferty knows Youngstown. She graduated from Ursuline High School and has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from YSU.

“You know, it’s always nice when people have an understanding of the area where they’re going to be coming to work — the people, the culture and so forth. That played a little bit of a part in it,” Dr. Jakubek said.

Most recently, Dr. Lafferty was a national/global member of the YSU Trustees.

“This made us even more comfortable. I think that transition will be a quick transition. She knows of the issues that we’re facing and so forth, and she knows what the issues are in higher education,” Dr. Jakubek said.

Dr. Jakubek would only say that a handful of candidates were considered for the interim presidency. He would not give a specific number.

He also said the search for a permanent president will not begin until next year, which he says could take from a year to a year and a half to complete.

Patty Coller contributed to this report.