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Tags: bill johnson | youngstown state university | president | reelection | congress | board | trustees

Rep. Bill Johnson to Exit Congress for YSU Presidency

By    |   Wednesday, 22 November 2023 09:10 AM EST

Rep. Bill Johnson, after accepting an offer to serve as president of Youngstown State University, says he will not be seeking reelection to an eighth term in Congress but will continue to serve in the House for several more months.

The Ohio Republican also vowed that politics won't come into play with his new position at the university.

"As I've stated previously, I wasn't looking for another job, because I love the one I have serving the people of Eastern Ohio in the U.S. House," Johnson posted on X. "This was an extremely difficult decision."

Johnson added, "This is not a goodbye."

"I will continue serving in the House for several more months, and you will see no let-up," he said. "My offices are open and my staff remains ready to serve you. There is still much left on my agenda to do before I depart Congress, including doing all I can to help pass tax exemption legislation to benefit the people of East Palestine as well as a broader rail safety bill, streamline America's LNG export process, and advance a responsible budget and spending package for the remainder of this fiscal year. It's business as usual."

Johnson told reporters in Youngstown on Tuesday that he knows some people are questioning his politics, as well as his professional and educational experience, reports The Vindicator.

"My history in politics will not be reflected in the decisions that I make for Youngstown State University or its students," Johnson said. "I am committed to an inclusive and respectful environment at the university regardless of politics, religion, or personal affiliations."

The YSU Board of Trustees on Tuesday, after meeting in executive session for more than an hour, voted 8-1 to hire Johnson. Trustee Molly Seals, the only board member voting against authorizing negotiations with Johnson last week, was the lone vote against hiring him.

Board President Mike Peterson commented that "we're not hiring a politician" but a president for the college who "must work with every YSU stakeholder — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners."

He acknowledged that there was opposition to the decision, but "we also firmly believe that, in short order, Bill will show our YSU family why he's the leader we need right now."

Johnson said he plans to resign from Congress during the first quarter of next year before his March 15, 2024 start date as the university's president.

He has signed a three-year contract paying him $410,000 annually, including yearly reviews that could give him salary bumps. As a congressman, he is paid $174,000 a year.

The contract terms allow for a 25% bonus if Johnson meets "goals and metrics" determined by the YSU board of trustees. If Johnson and the board agree to extend Johnson's contract after three years, his base salary will rise to $512,500.

He will also receive a $750 monthly automobile allowance, paid membership to a local country club and a civic organization, and he'll be reimbursed for entertainment, travel, and other "necessary and proper" expenses he and his wife, LeeAnn, incur.

They will also live rent-free in the YSU president's home.

Five alumni, including YSU's only Rhodes Scholar, Ashley Orr, wrote in a letter opposing Johnson's hiring that the decision was "not simply a procedural failing [but] a moral failing," as the Republican lawmaker has "wielded the power of the federal government in a polarizing and exclusionary manner."

More than 2,600 community members, mostly alumni from the college, signed the letter, and Orr, after the vote, commented that she feels "disappointed" and that she is "hurt and uncertain for the future of YSU."

There were reportedly about 15 candidates for the job, but the process in hiring Johnson has drawn criticism, as other candidates and finalists for the job weren't announced publicly, The Vindicator reports. There were also several complaints about the congressman's lack of experience in higher education.

However, outgoing YSU President Jim Tressel, also a former Ohio State University football head coach, said that Johnson's "leadership experiences will serve him well at YSU."

Trustee Anita Hackstedde, a member of the presidential search committee, said often, the best candidates don't want it known they are looking for other jobs, so "that is why we chose to undertake a confidential search."

Johnson retired from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after serving for more than 26 years, after which he created and built high-tech businesses before running for Congress in 2010, his online biography states.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Rep. Bill Johnson, after accepting an offer to serve as president of Youngstown State University, says he will not be seeking reelection to an eighth term in Congress but will continue to serve in the House for several more months.
bill johnson, youngstown state university, president, reelection, congress, board, trustees
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2023-10-22
Wednesday, 22 November 2023 09:10 AM
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