J.M. Smucker employees partner with UA to develop tomorrow’s leaders


It didn’t take long for The University of Akron to benefit from the generosity of the J.M. Smucker Company. Only 265 days after the Orville, Ohio-based business made a significant gift to launch an Institute for Leadership Advancement in the College of Business Administration, students within the college, as well as Honors College students, have experienced firsthand the outstanding value of the donation.

Thanks to the generosity of the J.M. Smucker Company -- and a commitment from its employees -- UA students will benefit from outstanding leadership training.

For example:

  • To date, more than 850 students have participated in various programs and leadership skills courses designed to develop the well-rounded, principled, holistic leaders that today’s corporations are seeking;
  • The College of Business Administration has enhanced the design and delivery of its course offerings to create a new, more relevant, employer-driven curriculum;
  • A Leadership Advancement Certificate Program was developed and is being offered through the Institute, adding significant skills and value to a degree from The University of Akron; and
  • Numerous students have taken advantage of a leadership experience project, sponsored by the Institute, in the Republic of Ghana in West Africa.

These results – and much more – were presented April 5 to leaders at the J.M. Smucker Company by the College of Business Administration. So impressed were the company’s top executives that they invited UA’s Kevin Smith, director of the Smucker-supported Institute, to lead a lunch-and-learn session for employees on June 4. Nearly 70 Smucker associates attended the session, where they learned more about their company’s commitment to The University of Akron and heard amazing success stories from UA students and staff members. As a result, nearly 30 employees immediately signed up to volunteer as mentors with the Institute.

The Institute for Leadership Advancement at The University of Akron provides the critical skills necessary to help graduates make an impact on their organizations early in their careers. The Institute guides students through a process of personal identity development, progresses into team-process and team-leadership skills, and then challenges students to apply each of these in different contexts where the rules may change.

For example, the Institute offers Personal Leadership Skills, a one-credit course during which students spend one day in the classroom in traditional leadership training and one day engaged in team problem-solving with a local U.S. Army base. What’s more, students have the option of taking individual courses or programs within the Institute or electing to participate in the Institute’s comprehensive certificate program.

For more information about the Institute for Leadership Advancement, contact Smith at leadership@uakron.edu.