President Luis M. Proenza, 1999 – 2014

Dr. Luis M. ProenzaA nationally known spokesperson for higher education and economic development through university-based research, Luis M. Proenza led the University toward capturing its destiny of becoming recognized as the leading public university in northern Ohio and the public research university for northern Ohio.

Through his shared leadership approach, President Proenza engaged the University and much of the surrounding community in embracing and pursuing a new vision for the University, which is outlined in a document titled, "Charting the Course." Under his guidance, the University undertook a $200 million campus enhancement effort as well as aggressive enrollment management and marketing initiatives, and it set three consecutive annual fund-raising records.

President Emeritus Proenza's website


The New Landscape for Learning campus development initiative is launched. With six new buildings and major expansions or renovations of 14 other structures will be completed during the next five years, two main streets that cut through campus will be closed, and 30 acres of new green space will be added.

President Proenza begins a campus-wide strategic thinking process with a two-day retreat in which more than 150 members from all segments of the University community participate.

Dr. James D. D’Ianni, an important figure in the history and development of synthetic rubber, donates $1.75 million -- the largest individual donation ever directed to the University’s research efforts.

The Center for Health and Social Policy is established.

The first annual public-policy forum is held. “Innovations in State Science and Technology Practices: How State Governments Best Leverage and Drive Economic Development” draws participants from throughout the nation.


Jim and Vanita Oelschlager of Oak Associates, ltd., give $10 million to the University to establish an innovative college scholarship program. It is the largest gift in the University’s 130-year history.

The market value of the University’s combined endowments exceeds $250 million.

The University establishes partnerships with seven industry leaders in information technology, including IBM, Cisco Systems, PeopleSoft and Time Warner.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation award a grant to the University to develop an outline for future revitalization of the neighborhood surrounding campus.

City of Akron officials agree to permanently close portions of Carroll and Brown/Union streets in 2001 in support of the University's New Landscape for Learning development efforts.


The University's Center for Health and Social Policy receives a $13.7 million grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create a new, state-of-the-art substance abuse prevention curriculum and test it nationwide. It is the largest grant in University history.

The University posts its fourth-consecutive record year for private giving, receiving donations of more than $20 million for the first time in its history.

On June 8, the first new building of the New Landscape for Learning Plan is dedicated, the Polymer Engineering Academic Center.


The National Jurist magazine names the University’s School of Law as the best value among public law schools in America.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and The University of Akron establish a Collaborative Center in Polymer Photonics. The $2.7 million center begins development of a new generation of electronics that transmit data at the speed of light.

In September the University dedicates the College of Arts & Sciences building, one of the major academic facilities in the New Landscape for Learning plan. The Auburn Science Center Library Addition is also completed, and ground is broken for the new Student Recreation Center and Field House.

The University’s Archives of the History of American Psychology becomes the first archive in the nation to be accepted into the prestigious Smithsonian Institution Affiliations program.


Phase one of the Student Union opens on Jan. 13.

The state of Ohio appropriates $750,000 for the development of The University of Akron Medina County University Center.

The Sidney R. Walker Endowed Scholarship Fund awards $1.2 million to provide scholarships to business students in entrepreneurial studies and marketing.

On April 23, the Board of Trustees approves construction of the 118,000-square-foot, $20.8 million Honors Complex — a living and learning space for University Honors Program students.

Former President Gerald R. Ford speaks on April 22 in E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.

The University is chosen to co-lead one of 12 clusters in the Carnegie Academy Campus Program sponsored by the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and the American Association for Higher Education. The cluster is focused on improving learning and success for first-year college students.

The College of Business Administration is ranked in the top 25 of business schools with an emphasis in entrepreneurship education by Entrepreneur magazine.

On Sept. 17, the North Campus Parking Deck is dedicated, and a groundbreaking ceremony is held for the Student Affairs Building.


Both National Jurist magazine and Prelaw magazine give the School of Law program an “excellent value” rating of 2.7 on a 3.0-point scale — recognizing it as one of the two top public university law programs in the United States.

The College of Business Administration is ranked in the first tier of the top 50 regional business schools in the country offering entrepreneurial education by Entrepreneur magazine.

Akron’s College of Engineering is one of 17 university teams chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corp. to participate in the Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility competition. The goal is to re-engineer a sport-utility vehicle to sharply reduce energy consumption and emissions of pollutants while maintaining performance.

On June 30, the Community and Technical College is renamed Summit College.

The University of Akron is named one of 14 “Schools That Rule” nationwide in the September/October 2004 issue of Careers & Colleges. The magazine praises UA for its “cutting edge curriculum,” reasonable tuition, location and access to a wide variety of cultural, sports and recreational venues.

On Oct. 7-9, the University showcases the completed $300 million first phase of the New Landscape for Learning campus enhancement program. The three-day celebration includes dedications of its four newest buildings — the Student Recreation and Wellness Center/Athletic Field House, phase 2 of the Student Union, Hezzleton E. Simmons Hall (student affairs building) and the Honors Complex.

Alumnus Gary Taylor, chairman of the board of InfoCision Management Corp., donates $1.5 million to fund the Gary L. and Karen S. Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing in the College of Business Administration.

With the support of U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), Congress earmarks $1.5 million for University projects, including the Medina County University Center and the development an undergraduate degree program in aerospace systems engineering.


The University is included in the 2005 edition of The Princeton Review's Best Midwestern Colleges: 150 Great Schools to Consider. The College of Business Administration also is included in the new edition of The Princeton Review's Best 143 Business Schools.

The graduate industrial/organizational psychology program is ranked sixth in the world by U.S. News & World Report.

Summit College — formerly named the Community and Technical College — celebrates 40 years of service on April 6.

In early June, UA engineering students earn a second-place overall performance in the first year of the Challenge X competition for their design of a hybrid sport-utility vehicle. Akron is one of 17 university engineering teams chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corp. in 2004 to participate in Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility. The goal of the three-year competition is to re-engineer an SUV to sharply reduce energy consumption and emissions of pollutants while maintaining performance.

The University of Akron's Board of Trustees on Oct. 12 creates the Honors College — an extension of the University Honors Program established in 1975. Enrollment for the Honors College exceeds 1,000, and the 2005 fall semester marks the largest incoming freshman class, 353.

Intel Corp.’s second annual survey on wireless Web access at U.S. colleges and universities ranks The University of Akron third in the nation.

Groundbreaking for The University of Akron's Medina County University Center is held on Oct. 24.

The men's soccer team advances to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament on Dec. 3, before being eliminated by eventual national champion, the University of Maryland. The team had held the No. 1 spot in all four major college soccer polls for four weeks during the season — another UA and conference first.

The football team clinches its first Mid-American Conference Championship in school history with a 31-30 victory over Northern Illinois on Dec. 1 at Ford Field in Detroit. The win gives the team its first Division IA bowl bid. In the Ninth Annual Motor City Bowl on Dec. 26, back at Ford Field, the Zips take on the University of Memphis Tigers. The contest ends in a 38-31 loss for the Zips.


For the second consecutive year, The Princeton Review recognizes the College of Business Administration among its Best 237 Business Schools.

In February, Campus Activities Magazine singles out the University for having the “Best Campus Program” in the United States. It is the third time since 2000 that UA is selected for this exceptional honor.

The women's track and field program finishes the 2005-06 season as “triple crown winners” by becoming the first Mid-American Conference women's program to win the cross-country title, and the indoor and outdoor track titles in the same season.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation gives its largest-ever single grant, $10 million, to further support The University of Akron’s innovative efforts to revitalize the 40-block area surrounding its campus through the University Park Alliance.


The University of Akron and Lorain County Community College announce in March the creation of the Innovation Alliance. The regional partnership aligns their strengths and resources to accelerate knowledge creation and economic development within an area they call the Innovation Corridor.

In April the Ohio Board of Regents ranks UA first in the state for its rate of return per research dollar leading to the commercialization of technologies. The ranking is based on productive technology licenses, formation of start-up companies and direct industry research support by Ohio companies.

UA purchases the Crowne Plaza Quaker Square complex in June as part of its continuing investment in the revitalization of its surrounding neighborhood. The facility will provide academic opportunities, student housing and office space.

A new era dawns for the football program when UA announces in August its plans to construct a $55 million, on-campus stadium as part of the second phase of the New Landscape for Learning initiative. InfoCision Stadium and Summa Field will be ready for the Zips’ 2009 home opener.

The University of Akron is one of 161 institutions designated Best in the Midwest by the Princeton Review in its 2008 Best Colleges: Region-by-Region edition.

The 2007 edition of The Princeton Review's Best Business Schools recognizes the College of Business Administration.

In time for the fall 2007 semester, the six-floor, apartment-style Exchange Street Residence Hall opens. It is UA’s 15th residence hall.

With the start of fall semester comes a new initiative — Akron Early College High School. Led by Summit College and Akron Public Schools, the program eases the transition to college for high school students. Participants earn up to 72 college credits while working toward high school diplomas right on the UA campus.

In October, The University of Akron embarks on the public phase of a campaign to raise $500 million, placing it among the top five campaigns ever for a public university in Ohio. Having received more than $275 million during the "quiet phase" of the campaign, UA’s endowment is among the top 100 for public universities in the United States.

FirstEnergy Corp., based in Akron, announces in December a $2 million pledge to the University to create the FirstEnergy Advanced Energy Research Center to support the development of new technologies.


With an unprecedented outpouring of support, Zippy rings in the New Year with a national championship — winning the Capital One Bowl Mascot of the Year Challenge.

The state-of-the-art Medina County University is dedicated on March 17. The 100,000-square-foot complex provides workforce development and industry-driven academic programs to adult and traditional age students.

UA learns in March it is the lead institution in a $6.5 million Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) scholarship grant from the Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program, and is a partner in two others.

On April 4, The University of Akron breaks ground for its first on-campus football stadium.

Smart Business magazine presents its Visionary Award to President Luis M. Proenza in September for his advocacy of innovation as a means to strengthen the Northeast Ohio economy.

On Oct. 16, The University of Akron and four other leading educational and medical institutions launch the BioInnovation Institute to make Akron a nationally known center for medical products and procedures.

UA opens its Confucius Institute on Nov. 17, in partnership with China's Henan University. Funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education, the institute offers the campus and community opportunities to better understand Chinese culture and language.

In December, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching awards UA its top engagement classification — recognizing UA’s collaborative initiatives to engage other institutions, industries and communities in mutually beneficial partnerships.


UA is the only public university in Northeast Ohio to have its undergraduate business program ranked in the top 100 by BusinessWeek Magazine.

In March, the men’s basketball team wins the Mid-American Conference tournament and advances to the NCAA tournament.

 On April 21, President Luis M. Proenza announces that the University’s “Aspire. Attain. Advance.” comprehensive campaign surpassed the $500 million original goal, well ahead of the 2012 goal date, raising $606 million.

In May, the University has its largest graduation class in recent years, awarding 2,100 undergraduate and graduate degrees.

On June 18, UA establishes the nation's first baccalaureate program in corrosion engineering to train engineers to understand and manage the effects of corrosion.

InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, UA’s first on-campus football stadium, opens Sept. 12 for a sold-out game. The Zips take on Morgan State University, winning 41-0.

On Sept. 14, UA breaks ground for the 42,750-square-foot National Polymer Innovation Center, where UA researchers will collaborate with industry to fabricate materials and devices of the future.  

In mid-September, the College of Education receives a $3.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a preschool literacy program, “Akron Ready Steps,” created in partnership with Akron Summit Community Action, Inc.

Fall semester brings 27,911 students to campus, continuing UA’s strong enrollment growth for a fourth consecutive year.

UA receives the prestigious NorthCoast 99 Award in September, recognized as one of the 99 best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employers Resource Council.

In November, the College of Nursing is awarded a $1.063 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for a pilot program to improve the oral health of low-income pregnant women, mothers and children in Summit and Portage counties.

The men’s soccer team, ranked No. 1 in the nation, wins its third straight Mid-American Conference title on Nov. 11. The team advances to the National Championship Game on Dec. 13, where the Zips play the University of Virginia Cavaliers to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtimes, then fall 3-2 on penalty kicks.


In early February, the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, of which UA is a partner, awards nearly $700,000 in its first-ever Collaborative Research and Development grants to local teams of investigators. Several of the projects shine the spotlight on the promising work of UA researchers in the College of Engineering, College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, and the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences.

Gov. Ted Strickland announces on Feb. 19 that The University of Akron is one of 14 universities recognized as an Ohio Center of Excellence in biomedicine and health care.

In March, UA is the only public university in Northeast Ohio to have its undergraduate business program ranked in the top 100 by BusinessWeek Magazine.

Steve Dobson, author of “Unusual Hotels of the World,” chooses UA’s Quaker Square Inn in March as one of the top 10 “Most Unusual Hotels in America.” The Inn’s unique architectural features are preserved from the building’s original use in the 19th century as the mills and silos of the Quaker Oats Co.

In March, UA wins the 'Campus of the Year' award from Campus Activities Magazine for its comprehensive campus programming.

Gov. Ted Strickland and Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut visit campus on April 20, to announce that The University of Akron is one of five universities recognized as an Ohio Center of Excellence in Enabling Technologies: Advanced Materials and Sensors.

For the second consecutive year, UA hosts four spring commencement ceremonies, extending its congratulations to a record 2,500 graduating students.

On May 20, a team of four UA civil engineering students wins the Defense Metals Technology Center Titanium Pedestrian Bridge Competition to connect Quaker Square Inn with campus.

At its June 16 meeting, the Board of Trustees approves establishing the FirstEnergy Advanced Energy Research Center at UA, which is dedicated to the research and development of efficient electric power generation technology with minimum CO2 emissions.

In August, UA welcomes its largest freshman class in its 140-year history – 4,796 – a 5.6 percent increase from fall 2009. Overall enrollment is up as well — 4.8 percent, as 29,251 students arrive for fall semester.

The U.S. Air Force Academy and the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight award $6 million to the University’s new Corrosion Engineering and Reliability program in late August. The funding helps launch the program — the nation’s first such baccalaureate program — in the fall semester.

For the second consecutive year, UA receives the prestigious NorthCoast 99 Award. In September, UA is recognized as one of the 99 best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employers Resource Council.

The men's soccer team captures UA's first team national championship on Dec. 12, defeating Louisville 1-0 at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif., in the NCAA College Cup. It was the second trip to the finals in as many years for the Zips.


The men's basketball team defeats rival Kent State 66-65 in overtime on March 12 to claim the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship, its second in three years, and earns the conference's bid to the NCAA Tournament.

On May 11, the University breaks ground for a $14.8 million research facility that will house the National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Performance. Joining in the effort are the U.S. Departments of Defense and Energy, Ohio companies and foundations.

The Akron Early College High School on the UA campus graduates its first class on May 1. Of the 59 members in the "Legacy Class," 17 also receive associate degrees at spring commencement.

UA opens a one-of-a-kind outdoor classroom in early June — the Culinary Teaching Garden — in the courtyard of Schrank Hall South to demonstrate the importance of urban gardening as a source for good quality, locally grown food.

FirstEnergy Stadium–Cub Cadet Field becomes the name of the soccer field on June 15, in recognition of the more than 50-year philanthropic relationship between UA and FirstEnergy Corporation.

On Aug. 1, UA announces a record $46 million in private support is received during Fiscal Year 2010-11.

The University and The Timken Company announce a novel open-innovation agreement Aug 25 to accelerate technology development by combining their expertise in materials and surface engineering in new laboratories in the College of Engineering.

UA and the University of Akron Research Foundation, along with Triangle Group, the largest tire manufacturer in China, and A3T, a research and development company, sign a cooperation agreement Aug. 19 on rubber research, technology development and licensing.

For the third consecutive year, the University receives the prestigious NorthCoast 99 Award from the Employers Resource Council. The award recognizes UA as one of the 99 best places to work in Northeast Ohio.

The University dedicates Musson Military Veterans Lounge for student-veterans at InfoCision Stadium on Sept. 12, the same day G.I. Jobs magazine announces that UA has earned a Military Friendly designation for the third year in a row.

On Sept. 22, UA dedicates it latest satellite campus — Lakewood Higher Education Center in Lakewood, Ohio. The 11,000-square-foot facility is located at the corner of Detroit Avenue and Warren Road in the historic Bailey Building.

University Council is formed to expand UA's collaborative and participatory governance structure.


The University of Akron begins the New Year with a new 104.67-acre outdoor laboratory — the Panzner Wetland Wildlife Reserve in Copley Township — to be used for study by faculty and students in many disciplines. The land, previously altered for farming use, was restored as a wetland by Jerry and Steve Panzner, both UA graduates, before making the gift to their alma mater.

The Board of Trustees approves Vision 2020  on Jan. 18. The plan, which will guide the University through its sesquicentennial in 2020, was created with the contributions and engagement of more than 3,500 faculty, staff, students, trustees, alumni, community leaders and others.

Fox 8-Cleveland opens a broadcast studio in the UA School of Communication so students can observe the delivery of news by reporters and videographers and contribute to the news-gathering process. 

The University of Akron Research Foundation creates its 50th startup company, thanks to the innovations of 85-year-old Joseph P. Kennedy, distinguished professor of polymer science and chemistry, who has 107 issued U.S. patents to his credit.

The University is honored for a fourth consecutive year as one of the 99 best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employers Resource Council.

On Sept. 17, UA's comprehensive academic and support services for returning military veterans earns it a Military Friendly School designation for a fourth consecutive year from G.I. Jobs magazine.

The ribbon is cut Oct. 19 to officially open the Timken Engineered Surfaces Laboratories in UA's new, six-lab Engineering Research Center. The innovative space is designed to speed the path between discovery and commercialization with students, faculty and industry partnered in the process.

WZIP-FM, the award-winning radio station and student training ground, turns 50 in December.


The men's basketball team celebrates one its best seasons in program history with the nation's longest winning streak (19 games), its first national ranking (No. 24 in the Feb. 24 USA TODAY Coaches Poll) and a league-best seventh-straight MAC Tournament title game appearance.

In May, the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, the world's first and nation's largest academic program devoted to the study of polymers, celebrates its first 25 years.

The Board of Trustees expands in mid-year to include two alumni as Advisory Trustees — Sandra Pianalto, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland president and CEO, and Anthony J. Alexander, FirstEnergy Corp. president and CEO.

The University was among a select group of colleges and universities to receive the  Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) award from INSIGHT into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The University also received the honor in 2012.

For the fifth consecutive year, UA learns in September that it has earned the Military Friendly Designation from G.I. Jobs magazine in recognition of its comprehensive academic and support services to student-veterans and service members.

For a third straight year, UA's Diversity Council is singled out by the National Association of Diversity Councils as one of the best in the nation.

In October, President Barack Obama appoints President Luis M. Proenza to serve with 19 other national academic, labor and industry leaders on the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee 2.0. The working group is part of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.


UA forms an American Legion Post 808 — the first-ever post on campus.

In early April, the campus community receives a national Make a Difference Day Award. UA is the only college among several organizations and individuals to be honored for the community service projects organized for Make A Difference Day — America's largest day of volunteering.

The School of Law Mock Trial Team brings home its fourth national title in 11 years after winning the American Association for Justice’s Student Trial Advocacy Competition, held April 10-14 in Santa Monica, Calif.

In the last year of his 15 years as president, Dr. Luis M. Proenza delivers the addresses at the five Spring Commencement ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students. On May 18, he delivers the address at the School of Law commencement.

On May 13, UA is named the 2013-14 Mid-American Conference Reese Trophy winner as the league's top men's athletics program. This is the school's first Reese Trophy since joining the MAC in 1992.