Rick and Joni Blase, the owners of Boot Factory Outlet, have made a $100,000 gift to the James P. Tressel Institute for Leadership and Teamwork. Rick Blase is a member of the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees, and the Blase Family established the Blase Scholarship in 2017 to enhance the YSU Athletics Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Originally known as Rick’s Ranchwear, Boot Factory Outlet is a chain of eight retail stores operating in Ohio, Tennessee, Florida, and Nevada since 1978. The Blase Family recognizes the enormous impact Youngstown State University, President Jim Tressel and First Lady Ellen Tressel have on the community.

Rick Blase has served on the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees since 2018.  He is currently Chair of the Human Resource Committee as well as a member of the Finance and the Executive Committees.

The James P. Tressel Institute of Leadership and Teamwork will be designed to empower students, community leaders, and business directors to make a meaningful difference wherever their paths take them. It will support opportunities through credit courses, workshops, symposiums and more. The objectives are to prepare students and participants to become strong, impactful leaders, and to create and foster an atmosphere of teamwork for the well-being of their group or organization.

“Rick Blasé represents the American success story of what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication,” President Tressel said. “His support and service to YSU students through his generosity and volunteer services to the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees are making a lasting impact.” 

The Institute is expected to enroll its first cohort of students in the summer of 2022. YSU President Jim Tressel has been a motivating, transformative leader in his coaching and administrative roles in higher education throughout the regions he has lived and worked. He has shown that he can bring the team, the members of the community, and his colleagues together to work for the good of the group and address the issues at hand.