I was able to attend Youngstown State because of Howard W. Jones. He was the principal reason that there was a Youngstown State as the first and longest sitting president from 1935 to 1966. He retired when Youngstown University was on the verge of becoming a state university, which happened in 1967. To protect the university’s private endowment, he became the president of the Youngstown Education Foundation (now the YSU Foundation). He served in this position until 1975. In 1972, I received a scholarship from the Youngstown Education Foundation (full the first year, and partial the remaining years). That scholarship, along with part-time jobs and low tuition, allowed me to graduate in 1976 without any loan debts.
Who was this man whose leadership was so crucial to the growth of Youngstown College, later Youngstown University? Jones was born September 25, 1895 in Palmyra, Ohio. He served in the Navy during World War I and completed his Bachelor’s degree at Hiram College in 1920. He later completed a Masters degree at Western Reserve University in 1938, and was granted an honorary degree in Pedagogy in 1943 from Westminster College. He worked as an athletic trainer, coach, and school principal before returning to Hiram to serve as assistant to the president at Hiram.
He came to Youngstown in 1931 at the invitation of the YMCA. You may recall that Youngstown College got its start when the YMCA starting offering college level courses at the Youngstown Association School. In 1921, it became the Youngstown Institute of Technology, then in 1928, Youngstown College. In 1931, Jones was the associate general secretary of the YMCA and was appointed to direct Youngstown College, essentially to serve as president. He presided over construction of a new 35 room classroom building that would one day bear his name, at the corner of Wick and Lincoln Avenues, built at a cost of $350,000 and dedicated October 1, 1931. Enrollment at the time was 200. He formally was named President in 1935. He brought the Dana School of Music from Warren to become part of Youngstown College. Over the next 20 years he led the expansion of the college into a university, the growth reflected in the name change to Youngstown University in 1955. By the time he retired in 1966, the university had grown to 12,000 students with new science and engineering buildings under construction. He was succeeded by Albert Pugsley, who was YSU’s president when I enrolled in the fall of 1972.
Howard W. Jones died February 25, 1982 at the age of 86. He oversaw a transformation from a small, mostly night school to an urban state university. His work at the Youngstown Education Foundation made it possible for many of my generation to be the first to obtain college degrees. The campus I encountered in 1972, much less developed than today, was fundamentally a result of his leadership. I wish I had met him. It occurs to me that I have a good deal for which I could thank him.