Shammas Malik Swearing-In Ceremony


Shammas Malik Swearing-In Ceremony
Saturday, Jan. 6
Doors open at noon, 2 p.m. program start
E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall

Approximate time: 5 minutes

Thank you Tyron, and welcome to E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall and The University of Akron! My wife Georgia and I excited and deeply grateful to be here this afternoon to witness the swearing-in of the next mayor of this great American legacy city.

It is particularly exciting to welcome a new mayor with such a strong appreciation of the importance of Akron’s great university.

As many of you know, Shammas has a very special tie to UA because he spent a good deal of time on campus when his mother, Dr. Helen Qammar, was a professor in the chemical engineering department.

Dr. Qammar taught at UA for 23 years, and her impact extended far beyond her work as a professor.

From 2006 until her passing in January 2012, she served as director of UA’s Institute for Teaching and Learning.

She was also a founder of Rethinking Race, our annual series that offers events to engage campus and the Akron community with topics related to social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a woman who received a doctorate at a time when few women were in her chosen field, Dr. Qammar also was committed to increasing female participation in engineering and the sciences. 

Her influence is still felt on campus. To honor Dr. Qammar, family, friends and past students established the Dr. Helen Killory Qammar Memorial Endowed Scholarship, which continues her lifelong mission of providing outstanding educational opportunities to UA students.

Having talked with Mayor Malik many, many times, I know he has been deeply impacted by these wonderful examples of public service and of the importance of education and hard work.

His own record of public service and dedication to education and hard work will be an example for the students on the UA campus.

I’m very pleased to let all of you know that we have already started to build connections with the Mayor and his team during the transition period, a continuation of the regular meetings we had with Mayor Horrigan and his staff.

One of my highest priorities when I arrived at UA in 2019 was to work closely with the mayor’s office to find common ground and explore shared goals for the University and the City.

As I have shared on many occasions, I firmly believe there is no scenario of prosperity for the City of Akron or The University of Akron that does not depend on a close collaboration of the two.

It is very encouraging to see that one of the pillars of Mayor Malik’s Together for Akron platform is the Learning Together plan.

One of the priorities of that plan is the idea of higher education as an engine of economic growth – a concept on which we certainly agree.

The Mayor knows that UA already plays an important role in the economy of the region. The results of an economic impact study released last year showed we contributed $3 billion to the economy of a six-county area that includes Summit County.

The University takes its role as an economic generator very seriously.

We rigorously support workforce development, and we champion innovation and entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio and the City of Akron.

I am eagerly anticipating big steps forward in the next few years as the City, under the leadership of our new mayor, and University work together on some important initiatives.

As you may have heard, one of those projects is the transformation of the former Polsky Building, which we now refer to as the Knight Building, in recognition of a 20 million dollar commitment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Our vision for the building is the reimagining of how an urban university and its city work together to create community and economic prosperity through new configurations of architecture, technology and programming in the downtown space. Shammas has been very involved in this planning.

We are also very excited to support a state-level transformational plan for economic growth and development in downtown Akron.

The City, supported by our new mayor, is leading this effort to expand the district energy system for downtown, including the University, which will result in millions of dollars in energy savings.

These are the types of collaborative projects that will shape the UA and Akron communities. As Mayor Malik shared in his Together for Akron plan, it is vital to ensure that Akronites will benefit from the transformative impact of The University of Akron and other higher education institutions for years to come.

Through collaboration and partnership, we can bring this to fruition.

Mayor Malik, congratulations on this momentous occasion.

We wish you and your administration all the best, and I look forward to working closely together in the future.

And remember … Go Zips!