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The University of Akron Unveils $200 Million Campus Development Plan

Akron, Ohio, Sept. 9, 1999 – A $200 million transformation of The University of Akron will begin in a few months, creating a “New Landscape for Learning.” The announcement followed approval of a Campus Development Guide Plan by the University's Board of Trustees during a special meeting this morning.

The campus remake will begin in spring 2000 with simultaneous projects totaling more than $24 million, including construction of a new Arts and Sciences Building and an annex to the Sidney L. Olson Research Center, which houses the Department of Polymer Engineering. Both projects should be completed in 2001, approximately a year later.

Under the Campus Master Plan, new buildings, laboratories, work and recreation centers and other facilities will be created or renovated over a six-year period. Nearly 20 campus projects are slated – seven new structures, eight extensive renovations, two major building additions and at least one 1,000-car parking deck will be erected.

The plan also calls for nearly doubling the amount of open, park-like green spaces on campus. With this addition, the University's total green space will exceed 60 acres. Officials said implementation of the plan will effectively redefine The University of Akron. At a news conference following approval of funding, University President Luis M. Proenza said the institution's academic excellence is a solid base on which to build the new campus. He pointed to accomplishments in the University's world-renowned polymer science program and other achievements in the business, psychology, law and arts programs as examples of the institution's academic excellence.

Proenza said he intends to take the University to a greater level of service to its students and to the communities that it impacts.

“As a result of this historic decision and a $200 million investment, we will present to prospective students all the reasons they need to make The University of Akron their school of preference, both academically and from the perspective of their physical surroundings. This new University will be a remarkable place to pursue an education.”

The University is committed to its plans for what it called a bold move into the future.

“We have dreamed of a redefined institution; we have dared to commit to an ambitious course of action that will bring our dreams to reality. The construction we are about to do will accelerate our journey toward greater academic excellence for tomorrow,” said Proenza.

The president also cited strides made recently to advance the University's capability of high technology instruction and communication as a framework already in place to accommodate growth.

He referred to installation of Ohio's only dedicated fiber-optic network with an ultra-high bandwidth, which has become a national model; creation of more than 50 Technology Enhanced Classroom facilities that feature advanced Internet and multi-media technology, and the addition of facilities and hardware to allow the institution to enter Internet2, the next generation of Internet connectivity.

The expansion program also can move the University closer to its goals of gaining Carnegie Teaching Academy and Carnegie Research II Classification, Proenza said. Achievement of those goals improves recognition of the school, enhances student learning, and creates a more desirable institution that can attract talented students and researchers.

“It is our vision – our dream – our commitment – to build on a solid foundation of educational excellence,” Proenza said.

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