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SOU president a runner-up for new job

Trustees at Youngstown State University in Ohio voted Friday to offer the school's top job to a candidate other than Southern Oregon University President Mary Cullinan.

Cullinan had been one of three finalists for the position, which was instead offered to Jim Tressel, executive vice president for student success at the University of Akron and Youngstown's former football coach.

The third candidate was Gary Miller, chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

Cullinan told the SOU campus through an email last week that she was being considered for the position and had been nominated by a colleague outside of Oregon.

She applied for the position in early April, and after being selected as a finalist, Cullinan toured the 13,500-student campus Wednesday.

Calls to Cullinan's office were not returned Friday.

The search for a new president at Youngstown was conducted by a search committee that failed to report to the trustees that Cullinan was the subject of a no-confidence vote at SOU, according to numerous Youngstown-area news outlets.

In March, 63 percent of faculty at SOU voted that they were not confident in Cullinan's leadership. The vote was just below a two-thirds threshold that faculty needed to make a formal recommendation to the Oregon chancellor for Cullinan's removal.

The vote came a few weeks after the SOU administration settled a new contract with faculty, which didn't include any cost-of-living increases. SOU had also finalized a retrenchment plan, aiming to cut $6.1 million from the annual budget and eliminate 80 positions through layoffs and retirements over the next five years.

Faculty stressed that the vote was based on the administration's behavior over a long period of time, not just recent events.

News outlets in Youngstown reported last week that the YSU Board of Trustees was unaware of the confidence vote.

The YSU union leadership endorsed Tressel as the next president Wednesday, the same day that Cullinan visited the campus and spoke in a public forum.

During the televised forum, Cullinan said she would love to move into a more urban environment and didn't feel that she would be abandoning SOU if she had been selected.

"I've been there eight years, that's really not jumping ship," said Cullinan. "Presidents don't typically last that long."

The YSU Board of Trustees unanimously voted to offer Tressel the position.

"After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community, the Board of Trustees believes Mr. Tressel is the right individual at the right time to lead Youngstown State University," trustees Chairman Sudershan Garg said in a release.

The appointment of Tressel won't be official until a contract is signed, according to the release.

Cullinan said last week that she hadn't applied for any other positions.

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at teresa.ristow@gmail.com.

SOU president a runner-up for new job