YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown State President Jim Tressel told faculty and staff Wednesday morning what he thinks the university needs to be doing to attract new students and keep them on campus into the future.
In his sixth State of the University address since becoming president, Tressel’s message to faculty and staff frequently came back to familiar themes — enrolling new students and keeping them through graduation.
“We’ve been trying to expand a little bit. We’ve been trying to,” he said.
But Tressel admits demographic trends are declining for colleges and universities in the region, saying early projections for YSU are for a decrease this fall of nearly 400 students.
Enrollment at YSU had steadily increased over the last three years and international student enrollment had increased significantly over the past two years.
Tressel said the closure of the General Motors Lordstown Complex played a large role in the decrease.
“We don’t have enough data on what they’ve been since Lordstown because you lose a number of families, you lose the companies that supply them and you just don’t know.”
Looking ahead, he said as business needs to change, the university has to be able to offer what students are looking for.
“Then we have to align our education, whether it be a two-year, or four-year, or certificates, or apprenticeships or whatever happens to be.”
Tressel also touched on last week’s meeting with executives of Lordstown Motors Corp., who want to build electric trucks at the former General Motors facility. Tressel said while the company has a number of hurdles to overcome, YSU and other colleges in the region need to be ready to help.
“Are there some things they need that we’ve got to figure out how we can do ourselves? Eastern Gateway, Manufacturers Coalition with apprenticeships, whatever because if it happens, we have to be ready to be helpful.”
He said that could also bring new students to YSU.
Fall semester classes begin August 19.
Watch the video above for the full State of the University address.