ACROSS THE COMMONS > Fall 2011 issue home page

Across the Commons


'Vision 2020' will make us distinctive on a global scale

Provost Sherman

Provost William M. "Mike" Sherman

Dear Colleagues:

When I imagine our University and its influence in the year 2020, I am optimistic. Our work will benefit more people, across longer distances, and in ways that are more efficient and effective than today.

Over the last two years, our attention has been on listening and discussing what kind of a university we want to be in 2020. Now, our focus pivots from strategic planning to strategic doing as we build and strengthen the structures, relationships and collaborations necessary to achieve the goals, objectives and aspirations declared in Vision 2020.

In this issue of Across the Commons, we will explore aspects of this "strategic doing."

Student success

Consistent with the proposition that we, as a university, succeed  when our students succeed, we have begun a comprehensive review and reform of our General Education model. The General Education Transformation Committee has convened and will provide a general framework for further consideration. Read about the committee and its work.

Other planned initiatives will enhance the academic profile of our incoming students. These include a targeted scholarship program and the creation of an inclusive pathway process to optimize student success by addressing students’ academic needs depending on their college readiness. The basis for this approach was discussed at two campus forums (see video).

Another major initiative will be introduced to faculty and staff in the spring and to students in fall 2012. The Akron Experience — poised to become our signature undergraduate experiential-learning platform — will promote the development of the whole student through transformative learning that integrates academic experiences with social, cultural and personal development. We believe it will have a material impact on our retention and graduation rates, and will become a significant draw for prospective students and their parents.

Above all, however, we will create a welcoming and inclusive community in which our students, faculty, staff and alumni will succeed.

Interdisciplinary distinction

Vision 2020 emphasizes interdisciplinary collaborations, and this issue of Across the Commons focuses on three leading exemplars:

  • the integrated biosciences Ph.D. program;
  • the faculty members in nursing and family and consumer sciences who are improving the oral health of children from low-income families; and
  • the far-reaching Synapse Center for the Interaction of Art & Science.

See the slideshow.

Faculty achievement

The work of our faculty is central to our mission. It creates human capital through teaching, research and service. Annually, we honor faculty members whose work in those areas has been exemplary. Please take time to view a series of videos honoring:

  • Aigbe Akhigbe, professor of finance;
  • Tom Beck, general manager of WZIP-FM;
  • Carolyn Behrman, associate professor of anthropology and classical studies;
  • Lance Svehla, associate professor of English; and
  • Shi-Qing Wang, professor of polymer science.

Global relevance

Vision 2020 calls upon us to expand international learning opportunities for our students. Our students benefit directly from studying abroad and through interactions with international students on the Akron campus.

In this audio slideshow, international student Jon Montemayer of Spain talks about his life on our campus, his decision to attend Akron and how Akron has prepared him well for a career in medicine. We hope to increase the exchanges of faculty and students to further enrich the teaching, learning and research environments and to extend The University of Akron community.

Community and campus enhancement

Over the last decade, the physical transformation of our campus has created an enriched learning environment that has yielded increases in enrollment and degrees awarded. The transformation has been guided by a master guide-plan that was implemented as the Landscape for Living and the Landscape for Learning.

To meet our ambitious goals for 2020, we are now updating the master-guide plan. The renowned Sasaki Associates of Boston is assisting; its recommendations will be based on research and on input from faculty, staff and students. Please join the conversation, as we seek your ideas about how to make more efficient and effective use of classrooms, labs and meeting spaces across campus. Join the discussion.

For six years, the Academic Leadership Forum has developed leadership skills in its 114 "graduates." Forum graduates are now unifying behind a single goal: Advancing the University's strategic goals. Read more.

Assuring excellence, achieving distinction

Vision 2020 reflects our collective thinking about our shared values and our aspirations for the next decade.

It is a plan that will strengthen our communities, foster economic vitality and expand our global reach. It is a plan that will assure our continuing excellence, and set us on a trajectory toward greater distinction. It is a plan that will make you proud to be associated with The University of Akron.


William M. "Mike" Sherman
Senior Vice President and Provost
Chief Operating Officer

Go to the next story: "Transforming the General Education curriculum"

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