January 18, 2012


Remarks before the Board of Trustees

Jan. 18, 2012 - Dr. Sherman began by saying he would comment on student academic success, enrollment and the University’s distinction.

Student Academic Success

Through the University’s involvement in the Talent Dividend Prize, which is an initiative of CEOs for Cities, funds were made available to award $550 scholarships to a number of individuals who most likely would not have enrolled in spring semester due to financial need. Dr. Sherman added that, in most cases, this assistance helped to keep recipients on track for graduation either this spring or summer.

Dr. Sherman reported on successful outreach efforts to students who have earned 150 or more credit hours through targeted advising to assure progress toward degree completion. At the fall commencement ceremonies in December, 246 of those students walked across the stage to receive their diplomas. He thanked Associate Provost Karla Mugler for making that initiative so successful.


Dr. Sherman said that, previously, students on academic probation at other institutions were admitted to The University of Akron as transfer students. In an effort to facilitate student success, the University changed some admittance practices for spring 2012. As a result, 50 students who requested transfer admission while on academic probation were deferred and provided with information on how to improve their academic performance first. Dr. Sherman said that interactions with those students will continue in order to identify pathways leading to a degree program at The University of Akron.

In response to questions from Mrs. Brennan and Mr. Woolford, Dr. Sherman said that deferred students receive individual advice on how to improve from academic probation either at their current institutions or through other academic opportunities. He said data indicate that probationary transfers have a very low likelihood of completing a degree program. That is why the University is working with those individuals to optimize their academic success. Consideration is given to performance patterns from high school as well as from other institutions. Dr. Sherman added that recent changes resulted in 70 additional qualified students being admitted as transfers for this spring compared to last spring.

Dr. Sherman reminded the Board of last autumn’s interaction with the deans asking for their outreach support of student persistence from fall to spring semesters. He reported that, because persistence in Summit College and in College of Business Administration graduate programs are below expectations, he will have further interactions with those deans to identify the reasons and develop action plans to address them. Dr. Sherman said that the remaining colleges are expected to have enrollment at or slightly ahead of projections.

Dr. Sherman reported that, compared to this time last year, applications for fall have increased by 6 percent, and 22 percent more students with ACT scores of 25 or higher have been admitted. He cited the Board’s endorsement of increased scholarships beginning this fiscal year and the redistribution of scholarships within the program for creating the anticipated higher yield of better-prepared students. He said that the scholarship-distribution strategy is being reviewed to optimize the yield of better-prepared applicants to the University.

In regard to the University’s Pathways Initiative for students who do not enroll at The University of Akron as their first step in college but who may find their way here, Dr. Sherman said that he is working with Associate Provost Bill Kraus to specifically craft and design the nature of our interactions with those students and our sister institutions to optimize a seamless transitional process.


Dr. Sherman highlighted the following two recent examples of distinction:

  • The 2011 Talent Dividend Annual Report, published by the Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education, featured the University prominently and highlighted the protocols for student academic success that have been discussed and implemented for the coming year.
  • The University’s rate of program growth in the state-funded eTutoring collaborative—which provides free online tutoring in areas such as mathematics, calculus, statistics and writing to any Ohio college student—is about to be recognized by the University System of Ohio. Not only is the University using internal resources to support student success, it also is pointing out and encouraging students to use resources provided by the state of Ohio to help facilitate their success.

Finally, Dr. Sherman referred to the proposed appointment of Mr. Neil Sapienza as interim dean of Wayne College. Dr. Sherman reported that very positive consultations had taken place with the faculty and staff of Wayne College, as well as with community leaders including district superintendents, chairs of chambers of commerce, mayors and others. Mr. Sapienza was introduced to the Wayne College Advisory Committee at its meeting the previous week. Dr. Sherman noted that the Board would be updated on plans to recognize the 40th anniversary of Wayne College sometime during this year.