Meet the Student Success Steering Team

Dr. Beate Gersch

Assistant Professor; Coordinator of Instruction Services, University Libraries,

Beate Gersch"I feel strongly about empowering students to carve out their own educational and professional path. As a first-generation university student I stumbled along my own path for a while and owe my academic success and professional happiness in large part to passionate and engaged professors I met along the way. Since joining UA I have been fortunate to work with faculty and staff from all across campus who care deeply about student success. I am excited to be part of this collaborative effort to support students in their academic, professional, and personal growth."

Dr. Paul Levy

Professor; Chair, Department of Psychology; Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences,

Dr. Paul Levy"Having been at UA for 25 years and having seen us make great strides, I want to see us take the next big step – greater success for our students. Students have to do the heavy lifting, but faculty get to work with them to mentor, advise, teach, retain, and graduate them. There aren’t many things more exciting than being a part of their success."

Dr. John A. Messina

Associate Vice President, Student Affairs & Chief Housing Officer,

John Messina“I am responsible for the many programs and services designed to enrich the lives of students living on and off campus through social, personal, health and wellness development. I oversee a wide array of services and programs engaging the student experience on campus including Residence Life and Housing, Student Recreation and Wellness Services, and Off-Campus Student Services. I believe that there is nothing more exciting than watching thousands of new students arrive each year... and nothing more powerful than watching them graduate. The 'in between' matters and has been the focus of my work.”

Dr. Deborah L. Owens

Associate Professor of Marketing, College of Business Administration,

Deborah L. Owens"I have always loved three things: Akron, learning and young people, and I feel so blessed to work here. I spent the first half of my career in the 'real world,' first as a management engineer at the Ohio State University Health System, and then at Children’s Hospital Medical Center here in Akron.

"I have spent the second part of my career as a member of the Marketing Faculty in the College of Business Administration, where I teach in both the undergraduate and graduate programs.

"It seems I have always been drawn in some capacity to helping young people, or at least trying! I enjoyed my seven years on The Ohio State Board of Education, serving as Co-Chair of the Quality High School Sub-Committee, and chair of the Physical Fitness and Wellness Advisory Board. I also served as president of the Summit County Education Service Center, and on the boards of Abstinence the Better Choice, and Project Grad Akron, where for three years I served as the volunteer coordinator for a Summer Institute for inner city high school students interested in business careers. My most proud honor though was being selected by our college as its Outstanding Teacher for 2011.

"Education is indeed the gateway to success and we need to support and help more students reach their goals."

Dr. Richard Steiner

Professor, Department of Statistics, Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences,

Dr. Richard Steiner"My teaching career began as a science teacher at a small Christian school in western Pennsylvania. I was the whole science department!

"After graduate studies in biology and biostatistics, I joined The University of Akron in large part because of the value this institution placed on quality teaching. One of my most rewarding experiences was serving with the other dedicated members of the original Student Success and Retention Committee (2006-08). I believe that committee’s work laid the foundation for the current revival of student success efforts, and I’m enthusiastic about having new opportunities to help promote our students’ academic success."

Dr. Julie Zhao

Director of the IDEAs Program; Assistant to the Dean for Diversity, College of Engineering,

Dr. Julie Zhao“As the program director since 2006, I have learned a lot through working with underrepresented student population. I truly believe that our success replies and only replies on the success of our students and their satisfaction. As a proud UA graduate, I am also excited about our culture of diversity and our best practices on inclusive excellence. I am confident that our institute will achieve another success in student learning, retention and completion.” 

Retention champions

The colleges and vice presidential units have identified retention champions to work closely with the Student Success Steering Team.

Sandie Crawford, College of Applied Science and Technology
Sue Hanlon, College of Business Administration
Donna Palmer-Schmitz, Law School
Dee Dee Pitts, College of Applied Science and Technology
Susan Ramlo, College of Applied Science and Technology
Linda Subich, Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences
Denise Testa, Medina County University Center
Don Visco, College of Engineering