Members of the University Community
Thank you, Dear Colleagues . . .
. . . for your expressions of support and enthusiasm during my first 100 days in office. I have spent considerable time trying to visit every school, college, and major administrative unit to learn as much as I can about our university. In the process, I have had the privilege of meeting most of you and have begun to hear your ideas and your concerns. I appreciate your energetic and candid communication, since it has helped me to learn about our university in a timely manner.
As we now begin to work together in creating a common vision and pursuing our aspirations, we must create a context and climate wherein we can move forward boldly. To that end, today I want to share with you some of my early observations and thoughts about how we might work together to create a framework through which we can enhance the excellence of The University of Akron. In a few days, I will provide you a summary of ongoing projects and their anticipated dates of completion so that you can gauge some of the progress we have made already.
Many of you may have heard me speak about shared leadership, a concept that I believe will make the difference in the times ahead.
Shared leadership is a process that derives its power not from the authority vested in the president, but from a community working together toward a common vision . . .
It is a process that learns from mistakes and welcomes change as the challenge of opportunity . . . where communication is not from the top, but throughout the University, especially across units, and is disciplined by ambitious goals and aspirations . . .
A process that is inclusive of all -- faculty, staff, and students -- because information is shared, and each person comes to know how her or his actions contribute to the pattern that is collaboratively woven, like a tapestry . . .
A process that values diversity, because two heads are better than one, and because complex organizations require multiple sources of expertise and of creativity . . .
A process wherein values are integral to a vision and where commitment to the University is eagerly advocated because shared dreams challenge and inspire . . .
A process wherein there is no limit to what one can accomplish, because there is no need to take personal credit.
Before us lies the exciting opportunity of envisioning what The University of Akron can yet be.
And this we will soon begin to do through a strategic planning process that will, in due time, involve all of the members of our university community.
To this end, our responsibility is to create the context and direction wherein the University can productively focus its energies.
Let us become engaged intellectually and emotionally in the quest for building one of the best universities in the nation.
Let us generate ideas so bold and so powerful so as to generate passionate commitment to a common vision.
Let us be driven and disciplined by ambitious goals.
In the words of Goethe:
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic to it
In closing, I thank you for telling me about your hopes for The University of Akron. And I appreciate the opportunity to share these brief thoughts with you, because integral to the process of shared leadership is the initial step of creating a partnership between the president and the trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the University.
And if there is one thing that we must constantly and actively remember, it is this:
If you and I are to succeed in advancing the obvious promise of The University of Akron, we shall have to do it together, in cooperation, you and I together with the Board of Trustees, our students, and our alumni -- and all in concert with the people of Akron and of Ohio.
To that end, I pledge to you my energies and, above all, my willingness to learn from you, to work with you, and to earn your trust and your continued support.
With every good wish,
Luis M. Proenza
In a lighthearted nod to J.K. Rowling's novels, Dr. Proenza offers graduates a final lesson of "A Defense Against the Dark Arts of Derision, Disrespect and Insult!"
If inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is correct in his predictions for the near future, "a lifetime of learning" has new meaning for today's graduates.
Dr. Proenza offers graduates in the College of Health Professions a more expansive view of the effects of their work with patients and clients
Employers seek three specific qualities in graduates, and a common element to all is simplicity.
Dr. Proenza reviews the recent history of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, its current status and position for future growth.
Graduates are urged to "lean into the winds of changes and turbulence" in a commencement address on the nature of risk, emotional resiliency and "antifragility."
Dr. Proenza offers graduates lighthearted advice that compares healthy reading habits to a healthy diet.
Dr. Proenza explains to graduates that you will best compete and thrive in this knowledge-based economy if you utilize the arts and sciences to tap into every asset of your brain.
In his 13th State of the University Address, Dr. Luis M. Proenza reviewed the accomplishments of the past academic year and decade, and discussed the challenges and opportunities inherent in the disruptive changes occurring in higher education today.
Dr. Proenza encourages graduates to use this milestone event in their lives to examine their life goals and purpose.