Pianalto to deliver firsthand, real-world education to UA business students


When University of Akron classes resume in August, students majoring in business and finance will be on the receiving end of an education that goes far beyond the classroom.

Alumna Sandra Pianalto, recently retired president and CEO of the Fourth District Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, will begin a one-year term as the FirstMerit Chair in Banking in the College of Business Administration, sharing with students her wealth of expertise and experience in banking and finance.

Funded through a gift from FirstMerit Bank, this executive-in-residence position will significantly impact both undergraduate and graduate students and calls for Pianalto to:

  • provide guest instruction regarding markets and institutions, banking, financial strategy, and monetary policy, among other topics;
  • collaborate with faculty to develop curriculum and explore new synergies among the College’s degree programs;
  • support student interaction and engagement through mentoring and professional connections; and
  • engage in programs aimed at increasing recruitment and retention of finance students, with a particular focus on increasing diversity.

Pianalto retired from the Federal Reserve Bank earlier this year after serving in the role for more than a decade. She joined the bank as an economist in 1983, was appointed assistant vice president of public affairs in 1984, vice president and secretary to the board of directors in 1988, and first vice president and chief operating officer in 1993. Prior to joining the bank, she was an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and served on the staff of the Budget Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The University of Akron is extremely fortunate for the opportunity to capitalize on the remarkable career of Sandra Pianalto,” said Ravi Krovi, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration. “She will bring to students leadership experience and insights that align with the College’s mission of providing a solid business education with a real-world perspective.”

Campus and community

Pianalto graduated from The University of Akron in 1976 with a B.A. in economics, earned a master’s degree from The George Washington University, and later graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She also holds honorary doctorates from The University of Akron, Baldwin-Wallace University, Kent State University, Ursuline College, Notre Dame College, Cleveland State University, John Carroll University, and the University of Toledo.

In addition to her new classroom duties, Pianalto has served the University since 2013 as an Advisory Trustee to the Board of Trustees – the first person to hold the position, which was established by the Board in 2012. Interestingly, in 1975 she was among the first students at The University of Akron to sit as a student representative on the UA Board of Trustees.

Pianalto also is vice chair of the board of University Hospitals, was recently nominated to serve on the board of directors for the J. M. Smucker Company, serves on the board of Eaton Corporation, and the boards of numerous community organizations, including Greater Cleveland Partnership, Team Northeast Ohio, and College Now Greater Cleveland.

About the college

The College of Business Administration is one of a select few academic institutions to hold dual international accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the mark of excellence in education for business schools worldwide. The College also boasts a national reputation as a top business school, as ranked by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review, and the Public Accounting Report.

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Media contact: Eileen Korey, 330-972-8589 or korey@uakron.edu 


Sandra Pianalto

Sandra Pianalto