Report to the Board of Trustees


Thank you Mr. Chairman.

As this is my first official Board of Trustees meeting as interim president, I hope you will indulge me with a few observations and thoughts about the University.

I already knew this, but over the last six weeks I learned again first-hand that The University of Akron is a venerable, a valuable, and a vibrant institution. And despite some of our challenges, our future is bright.

I have said several times that I view my job as interim president as one of getting the institution in as good a shape as possible so that the next president will have the best prospects for success.

Sesquicentennial Anniversary

While this is a time of meeting the contemporary challenges and planning for the future, it also is a time to reflect on our past. In 2020, about 18 months from now, we will celebrate our University’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Anne Hanson, who is the director of community relations and community engagement here at the University, will chair a 150th anniversary committee. The committee will be charged with developing a strategy and a timeline for the commemoration, and ensuring campus and community involvement is appropriate in the process. This process will include a representative cross-section of students, faculty, staff and university partners.

But this celebration will be more than just a walk down memory lane, it will be a review of our venerable history as an institution.

Founded just five years after the American Civil War, The University of Akron has been a participant in a wide variety of important changes: the rise and fall of various industries; sweeping cultural, economic and political changes; and technological advances that have carried us from canal boats to space stations.

Today, the world is smaller and our reach is farther, but our essential purpose is unchanged. It is found in the University’s motto, Fiat Lux: Let there be light. It is our responsibility, and indeed our privilege, to ensure that The University of Akron continues to enlighten people in the broader community with information, insight and innovation for many years to come.

Forward Ohio Campaign

Yesterday I was in Columbus for a press conference by the Inter University Council as part the “Forward Ohio campaign” to raise public awareness of the value of public higher education.

If you would like to find out more, you can go to the Forward Ohio website and find many facts, figures and personal stories that demonstrate the immense value of public higher education in Ohio.

University of Akron Economic Impact

According to a statewide study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists for the Inter University Council, The University of Akron has an annual economic impact in Northeastern Ohio of $2.7 billion. Let me repeat that: A current annual economic impact of $2.7 billion. That’s billion with a “B.”

This same study indicated that UA graduates will have a lifetime return on their investment in their education that almost five times the cost of their education. In fact, the increased lifetime earnings of UA graduates, along with the increased productivity of the people who employ them, are estimated to be $12.8 billion.

These figures support, directly or indirectly, 36,000 jobs in our region. That is more than one out of every 47 jobs of all kinds.

Academic Program Review/Administrative Activities Review

This summer the University will complete the Academic Program Review and set the stage for a vibrant strategic planning process beginning in the fall of 2018.

The APR –that’s part of the alphabet soup of universities – began back in the spring and summer of 2017. When we bring it to conclusion this August, we will have done with very, very rapid speed for universities, which have a tradition of moving very slowly and with deliberation to make sure we get things right.

The Academic Program Review began with self-studies of the faculties with their own academic programs in their units. They then submitted their studies to the deans, who then evaluated them.  And then eventually this went to a faculty committee university wide, that evaluated each academic program and prioritized them. This spring, the Faculty Senate considered all the materials produced by APR and sent the materials to the president’s office, where the senior administration is now evaluating them.

Meanwhile, we have begun an Administrative Activities Review, which will be conducted this summer as a counterpart to the Academic Program Review. The Administrative Activities Review will be co-chaired by Provost Rex Ramsier and CFO Nathan Mortimer, and be conducted for all academic support units and auxiliary units.

We expect to bring a series of specific recommendations to the Board for the August board meeting, based on the findings of APR and AAR. These recommendations will include the identification of opportunities for investment in our academic programs, a possible resource reallocation in various degree programs; and opportunities for streamlining some academic and administrative units.

This process of reviewing the activities of the University is the beginning of the second phase of our “Stabilize, Invest and Grow” program initiated by my predecessor in 2016.

Spring 2018 Commencement

Traditionally the president’s report concludes with a review of faculty accomplishments and student success. But due to the length of my remarks I want to touch upon just one thing, the most powerful symbol of what we are all about here at The University of Akron, and something that our chairman referenced in his remarks.

Last month we held The University of Akron’s 222nd Commencement, graduating 2,736 students. I’m pretty sure that’s the right number because I shook every one of their hands. At the same ceremonies, some 10,600 guests came to the University to help celebrate our students’ achievements.

In ways big and small, these new graduates will bring light into our world—joining past graduates they can never know and future graduates that are not yet born. 

The University of Akron is indeed a venerable, valuable, and vibrant institution, and what’s more, it has a bright future.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  That concludes my report.