Preparing for the academic year
MONDAY, AUG. 4
As I begin my second month on campus, I am feeling more settled, and yet energized by the sense of excitement that is building as the new academic year approaches. Our employees in student affairs, student success and throughout the campus are preparing to welcome thousands of new students -- and there are thousands more students returning to UA who will need our ongoing support to be successful in and out of the classroom. I am grateful for the dedication demonstrated by our faculty and staff as they prepare for the new academic term.
'I look forward to meeting with faculty in the colleges to learn about their plans and strategies so that we can align financial and human resources with faculty hopes and aspirations.'
On August 16, such dedication will be demonstrated again as more than 1,000 graduates receive their degrees. It will be my first commencement ceremony -- a turning point of sorts during my first 100 days during which I've spent most of my time listening, learning and connecting with our campus community and external stakeholders. Commencement is always a great occasion, conveying the hopes and dreams we have for our graduates just as we are welcoming those first-timers like me who arrive with aspirations and dreams of their own.
It’s a great time of the year, and we have great people doing great work. The regional business publication, Crain's Cleveland Business, recently noted a "boost" in the "financial mood" on campus, brought about in part by two bond rating agencies affirming a stable outlook for The University of Akron amidst a bleak report for the general higher education sector. Because we were able to refinance our bonds, we saved about $2 million in interest payments. Congratulations to our financial staff for this achievement.
Finally, I am enjoying the opportunity to meet everyone on campus. I met with the academic leadership of our colleges last week. We discussed plans for me to get to know the university at the college level beginning with the fall term. I look forward to meeting with faculty in the colleges to learn about their plans and strategies so that we can align financial and human resources with faculty hopes and aspirations.
During the conversation with the academic leaders, I shared a "strategy paradigm" -- a framework for the discussions about college plans -- to help them think about the right mix of programs and activities that are
- high quality,
- distinctive and
- economically sustainable.
For a university like ours to survive and thrive in the future, most of what we choose to do must satisfy all three criteria. We have to make wise choices about how we allocate our limited resources while, at the same time, we work diligently to grow the sources of our resources: enrollment, retention, graduation, grants, contracts and gifts.
It has been a good start. Thank you, again, for welcoming me to your university -- our university. I am happy to be here working with you. Go Zips!
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