Board names Dean Matthew J. Wilson from law school as interim president
Following weeks of conversations within the campus and the community at large, the University’s Trustees tonight named School of Law Dean Matthew J. Wilson as interim president.
Wilson, whose 18-month appointment begins today, has increased enrollment and employment rates at the School of Law in a challenging environment for legal education.
“We are convinced (Wilson) will help the entire University achieve the same kind of successes that have been realized within the School of Law,” said Board Chairman Roland H. Bauer.
Wilson said he was humbled by the appointment.
“My commitment to serve as interim president stems from my firm belief in the greatness of this institution, my faith in the University and local communities, as well as my genuine desire to see The University of Akron excel,” Wilson said. “We have exceptional students, faculty, staff, programs, and opportunities here at The University of Akron. We also have an alumni base and community that truly care.”
Areas of focus
In announcing Wilson’s appointment, Chairman Bauer described areas of focus for Wilson to address that include:
developing a sustainable budget;
accelerating our progress in increasing student retention;
rebuilding and strengthening relationships with our various constituencies; and,
significantly growing our development efforts.
“Achieving those goals will require a strong and capable leader,” Bauer said, “and we believe we have found that person.”
Wilson called for the campus and community to unite to solve the challenges.
“I am confident that things will be much better tomorrow so long as everyone can quickly come together, collectively seek sustainable solutions to budgetary challenges, exercise patience and understanding in the process, and work as a team going forward,” Wilson said. “Dwelling on recent events will only serve to compound existing challenges. It is my intent to work collaboratively with our outstanding faculty and staff. My door will always be open. I invite everyone to join with me in not only working to conquer existing challenges and rebuilding relationships, but also to innovate and explore new opportunities.”
Bauer said Wilson’s accomplishments at the School of Law prepare him well for the interim position. Wilson and the faculty and staff at Akron Law have:
increased the school’s enrollment as other law schools recorded declines;
developed innovative program offerings, including a unique dual country, tri-city study abroad program;
helped students excel in both bar passage rates and national competitions for client counseling and trial advocacy; and,
provided practical experience for students through a new, intensive course in which leading trial attorneys and judges from around the region participate and help students learn how to conduct a trial from beginning to end.
“Employment preparation and placement are important priorities for the School of Law,” Bauer said, “and success has been seen there as well. The employment rate (within nine months of graduation) for the 142 Akron Law graduates in the Class of 2015 – excluding four students who were pursuing additional graduate degrees and four students whose status was unknown – was 92.5 percent.”
Wilson, who also is a tenured faculty member, came to UA in 2014 after serving as professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Dean of Student Affairs at The University of Wyoming College of Law. He is a graduate of the University of Utah with a B.S. in Political Science and a B.A. in Asian Studies and holds a J.D. from Temple University School of Law. Full bio.
Discussions and consultations
Throughout June and this month, the Trustees met with representatives from campus groups to hear about their desires in an interim president. Groups consulted included faculty, staff, students, deans, department chairs and school directors, the leadership of the University Council, the Faculty Senate and the AAUP. Several members of the community at large also provided priorities.
“These discussions were very constructive, productive and positive,” Bauer said. “Uniformly, we heard a key message – that we must all work hard together to move The University of Akron forward. Indeed, that phrase – “move forward” – was heard time and time again.”
Interim dean appointments
Separately, the Board also approved interim leadership for the College of Engineering and the School of Law. Dr. Donald Visco will lead the College of Engineering, and Sarah Cravens and Ryan Vacca will jointly lead the School of Law. More