Welcome Class of 2015!


We hope your years here at UA will be successful as you pursue your degree, make friends and discover new interests. To help you get started on your college journey, three very wise faculty members — Dr. Coleen Pugh, Dr. Bridgie Ford and Dr. Phil Hoffman — have some advice for you, based on their own personal and professional experience.

Be open to all possibilities

By Dr. Coleen Pugh, professor of polymer science

Dr. Coleen Pugh

College is an exciting journey of discovery, challenges and surprises. My main advice is to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities the University has to offer. This means not just looking for new adventures, but also looking at "old" things in new ways.

Take my case for example:

I hated chemistry in high school; I found it both abstract and boring. It was the last topic I intended to study in college. I planned to be a fashion designer, but wanted a broad education.

Following two years at Santa Rosa Junior College in my hometown, I knew I would transfer to the University of California at Davis, which was the only UC campus that offered design and textiles. The program required chemistry, but not at the level required for majors. However, the JC only offered majors-level chemistry, and a series that did not transfer to UC campuses.

Welcome, students!

Whether you are a new or returning student, we here at The University of Akron welcome you, as a new academic year gets under way. As you prepare to settle into your routine of classes and studying, please make time to explore some of the many opportunities you’ll find here on campus. This is a great time to develop new interests, new talents and new friendships.

For freshmen, you can learn the most about UA by making the most of our Week of Welcome activities.

When you’re not in class, the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and the Student Union are great places to spend time with friends.

Get involved! UA has more than 200 student organizations, and they will be ready to welcome new members in the weeks ahead.

Bookmark UAEvents.com. It’s a great place to learn about the many events held on campus each week.

  Remember — you’re a Zip now! Students are admitted free to home games with valid Zip Cards. For schedules and more, visit gozips.com.

All of us here at The University of Akron wish you a happy and successful academic year!

So, I started at the JC in a sequence of chemistry classes for majors. The classes were taught by wonderful teachers, and I found them both stimulating and challenging. After transferring to UC Davis, I continued to take more chemistry classes and found that I also enjoyed chemical research. I spent six months of each year interning at the U.S. Customs Laboratory in San Francisco, and six months working on a polymer chemistry research project on campus.

I ended up graduating with baccalaureate degrees in both textile science and chemistry. Chemistry, and polymer chemistry in particular, now enables me to synthesize and characterize novel polymeric materials with a research group of talented students. I also get to travel, and have presented seminars in places such as Hawaii, Germany, France, Romania, Korea, Japan, China and Mexico.

Make the most of your ‘defining moment’

By Dr. Bridgie Alexis Ford, professor, Department of Curricular and Instructional Studies, and director, Center for Urban and Higher Education

"Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." — Malcolm X

Dr. Bridgie Ford

The college experience is a critically defining moment. Thus, successful navigation through the college process demands commitment and a customized plan of action. I offer these tips as a preventive and resiliency building framework to maximize your college experience.

  • Action Plan for Academic Success: Make academics a priority. With assistance, create an action plan that includes regular meetings with your academic adviser, meetings with class instructors (as needed) and a list of campus academic resources. Building rapport with your content adviser and professors may assist you with career opportunities.
  • Time Management: Create a system that helps you to balance the appropriate amount of time needed to successfully meet academic requirements and also allows you to engage in campus activities of interest to you.
  • Affirming Support Groups: Engage in campus organizations that affirm your sense of identity and belonging. These "safe haven" groups may provide you with forums for the cultivation of leadership skills and overall affirmation.
  • Mentoring: Use campus sponsored adult or peer mentoring programs.
  • Health: Attend to your physical, mental and emotional health. Use the University's resources, such as the Rec Center, Natatorium, counseling centers, etc.
  • Diversity: Engage in campus activities that expand your understanding of our culturally diverse and global society.

Your success begins with good decision making

By Dr. Phil Hoffman, School of Communication and general manager of Z-TV

Dr. Phil Hoffman

"College is awesome!" This is what I was thinking as I sat in my friend Marty's ugly gold Chevy van, reading the latest "Daredevil" comic book. It was our first semester at The University of Akron. Marty and I had been friends in high school, and through a miraculous scheduling accident, we wound up with almost the exact same schedule of classes.

At first, we went to classes and dutifully tried to read our textbooks and do all the things you're supposed to do as a college student. But after a month or so, we made an astounding discovery: college professors did not follow us around asking us for hall passes. They did not ask us why we missed class. They were treating us like adults.

Ha! Their mistake! Our daily discussions became: "Go to class? Or go get pizza?" "Go to class? Or go to a movie?" "Go to class? Or read comic books and listen to music?" Oddly, going to class generally did not win most of those decisions. We had a blast. I can remember saying one day, "If this is what college is like, we are about to have a great four years."

I know you can already guess the ending to this story. A blue envelope arrived in mid-December. Four Cs and a D. I never got Ds.

This called for drastic action. I would, apparently, have to show up to classes if I expected to pass. So I did. And I did. Today, I even have a doctorate. And I still like to read comic books.

The fact is, you will be faced with these same "micro-decisions" every day. Go to class, or sleep in? Go to class, or go have a pizza? These micro-decisions add up. And at some point, you won't be able to get yourself out of the hole you've dug, one decision at a time.

There are many things you need to do to be successful in college — reading, studying and participating. But the simple fact is: if you're not in the classroom, the odds of your success are not good. So, if you commit to just one thing this year, commit yourself to showing up. After that, things should take care of themselves.