Proenza announces ambitious goals at annual address


University of Akron President Dr. Luis M. Proenza, in his State of the University Address today, introduced six ambitious goals, based on the university's legacy of collaboration, engagement, innovation and relevance to the community.  

Proenza said that as the global economy rapidly evolves, UA is in its "Third Cycle of Expansion," positioned to be a leader, driving change and innovation, and promoting collaboration and inclusive excellence.


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"The university's responsiveness to the region's educational and technological needs has been its hallmark since 1870," Proenza said. "From the outset, the college and the surrounding community were closely tied, with the college addressing the needs of the region and seeing local entrepreneurs assisting the fledgling institution time and time again."

Proenza noted that in 1913, the University's First Cycle of Expansion was ushered in, and for 50 years the Municipal University of Akron saw its enrollment grow from 198 to approximately 10,000.  The Second Cycle of Expansion came about in 1967 when the institution made the transition from a municipal to a state university, allowing for tremendous growth in enrollment and campus facilities.  The Third Cycle of Expansion began in 1999 and continues today, Proenza said.

"Much like our forbearers, we, too, are leading a historic institutional transformation - by continuing to engage with our local and regional community to identify and serve its needs together," Proenza said.  "And that focus, as always, remains the basis for our future."

Proenza said the future of the university will be guided largely through its role as a STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) intensive institution that will drive economic competitiveness throughout the region and define UA as the center of the region's development, protection, marketing and commercialization of new technologies.

He noted the six ambitious goals that will begin to be implemented in 2010 include:

  • Attaining $200 million in annual sponsored research activities; 
  • Achieving world-class recognition in distinctive technologies in fields such as advanced energy technologies, bio-innovation, advanced materials and health care, and other areas of strategic concern for the region and state; 
  • Moving to the Top 10 percent in U.S. annual doctorate degree production in the chemical sciences; 
  • Building on UA's unique mission as a center of excellence for the development, protection, marketing and commercialization of new technologies - to become a nationally distinguished technology transfer and commercialization enterprise; 
  • Becoming a regional economic driver for Northeast Ohio that also is linked with other Ohio universities and community colleges and engaged in regional industry clusters; and 
  • Achieving regional recognition for implementing a unique enriched and engaged undergraduate curriculum in which entrepreneurship and 21st century global competitiveness skills are embedded comprehensively, alongside UA's valued classical education underpinnings in the humanities, arts and culture.  

Proenza foresees significant gains for UA students, as well as the community, region and state, by moving forward in three key areas: enhancing economic vitality, job creation and workforce development; growing talent and capacity; and improving the life and health of individuals, organizations and communities. He cited the recent founding of the BioInnovation Institute in Akron as one of the many examples of the university maintaining and enhancing strong ties with its sponsoring society and extending its strengths in highly relevant innovation.  

Proenza also noted that as a metropolitan institution, UA aligns itself with the city and region to build economic, social and physical health.  It has served as a transformational agent, building on strong ties with the community. 

He also emphasized the university's ongoing commitment to embracing change and opportunity, as well as the importance of UA's legacy of leadership in the community as a metropolitan university.