The University of Akron Strategic Plan

Promises and Aspirations​


Inclusive Excellence & Belonging

Promise III

To increase our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.​​

1. Enhance students’ sense of belonging and their ability to work and live in a complex
global environment.

  1. Establish baseline data on student engagement and belonging via administration of the National Survey of Student
    Engagement (NSSE).
  2. Expand opportunities for student engagement, including evaluating and enhancing the peer mentoring process and
    increasing the percentage of first-year students participating in learning communities.
  3. Support Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and Graduate Student Government (GSG) in efforts to enhance
    belonging by elevating the campus experience and sharing UA’s history and traditions.

2. Foster an inclusive and equitable educational and work environment.

  1. Revise academic policies to support student success.
  2. Leverage ‘Complete College America’ partnership to further close institutional performance gaps with a focus on
    developmental education, online learning, institutional research and four-year guided pathways.
  3. Improve training for employee awareness of and ability to engage with a broad variety of perspectives

    2023 Progress Highlights


    A. Reducing, with the goal of eventually eliminating, disparities in educational outcomes.

    PROGRESS 2023:

    • Expanded Peer Mentoring: Through our Office of Multicultural Development, UA offers a Peer Mentoring Program that mentors students through their first academic year with a focus on campus engagement.
    • Specialized Learning Communities: UA offers specialized Learning Communities, including the Diverse Male and PASSAGE Learning Communities, which continue to serve marginalized and underrepresented groups.
    • Promoting Inclusive Excellence in STEM Education: As part of the HHMI Learning Community Cluster 3, UA committed to enhancing student belonging and inclusion in introductory STEM classes.

    Key Contact Area: Office of Inclusion and Equity

    B. Recruiting a more diverse student body that is representative of Akron and our region.

    PROGRESS 2023:

    • Offered Diversity Recruitment Day: The Office of Inclusion & Equity has partnered with the Office of Admissions to offer Diversity Recruitment Day and to institute monthly meetings.
    • Supporting Transfer Students: Three committees and one working group are (I) supporting financial literacy of transfer students, (II) developing additional transparent information on transfer pathways and costs, (III) collaborating with community college partners, (IV) improving transfer student onboarding and creating additional pathways, and (V) expanding articulation agreements with other colleges and universities.
    • Enhanced Scholarship Opportunities: Through the Office of Multicultural Development, UA continues to award scholarships to historically underrepresented students and promote the Goodyear Driving Opportunity Scholars Program.
    • Building Strategic Partnerships: UA is engaged in strategic partnerships with local organizations and non-profits including Upward Bound, the Akron Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, and I Promise Scholarship Night.
    • Underrepresented Male Students: The Office of Multicultural Development revitalized and expanded the Black, Brown, and Beyond Male Academy (BBBMA), offering underrepresented male high school students yearlong programming and support to prepare and excel in college.
    • Helping students ADVANCE: The Office of Multicultural Development sustained the ADVANCE JumpStart New Student Orientation program, facilitating the smooth integration of diverse and historically underrepresented students into the UA campus community. Through interactions with current students, mentors, faculty, and administrators, participants gained valuable insights to tackle challenges commonly faced during the first-year experience.

    Key Contact Area: Academic Achievement Programs

    C. Increasing the number of faculty and staff job applicants from marginalized populations.

    PROGRESS 2023:

    • Increased Campus Collaboration: Implemented monthly meetings to leverage the expertise in Human Resources and the Office of Inclusion and Equity towards greater awareness around diversity hiring.
    • Enhanced Training: Developed Inclusive Excellence training for deans and department chairs.
    • Fair Hiring Practices: Human Resources conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the University’s job classification system and job catalog. By eliminating overly restrictive job requirements and emphasizing transferable skills, unnecessary barriers were removed, leading to a wider and more diverse pool of applicants.
    • Opportunities to Advance: Newly established job profiles include clear pathways for career advancement, creating an environment that encourages individuals from marginalized groups to pursue opportunities and professional growth at UA.
    • Search Committee Training: Developed and provided Inclusive Excellence training for all faculty search committees within the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences focused on building applicant pools from marginalized populations.
    • Increased Minority Faculty: New faculty hired for FY 23 and FY 24 in Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences increased by more than 50% underrepresented minority faculty.

    Key Contact Area: Office of Inclusion and Equity

    D. Providing high-quality programs that will involve faculty, students, contract professionals and staff, both majority and minority, in deliberative and reflective conversations about how to advance diversity, equity and inclusion at The University of Akron.

    PROGRESS 2023:

    • Named a new Chief Diversity Officer: Dr. Sheldon Wrice was named Vice President of Inclusion and Equity and Chief Diversity Officer in April 2021.
    • Developed a Social Justice Task Force: A social justice task force was convened in 2020 and released a final report with recommendations to the UA community in March 2021. Out of this work, a DEI Advisory Council was established with broad representation across campus.
    • Created a Diversity Roadmap: The DEI Advisory Council launched a Diversity Roadmap strategic plan for the University meetly monthly to implement the goals and strategic actions.
    • Increased Diversity Programming: The Office of Inclusion and Equity continues to provide an annual slate of high-impact diversity programming for the University and greater Akron community. Featured events include Rethinking Race, Diversity Dialogues, and the Black, Brown & Beyond Male Summit.
    • Integrated Approach to Equity and Inclusion: University Libraries and the Office of Equity and Inclusion partnered with the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio for a series of workshops to support an integrated approach to racial equity and inclusion at UA.
    • DEI in the Library: The University Libraries Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group plans, creates, and executes monthly displays that focus on DEI topics, authors, characters, etc. Displays are located on the first floor of Bierce Library by the main entrance and online via a LibGuide: https://libguides.uakron.edu/c.php?g=1244152.
    • Inclusive Excellence Faculty Training: Working collaboratively with the Institute for Teaching and Learning, and in conjunction with the Office of Inclusion and Equity, developed and provided an Inclusive Excellence in Teaching workshop and learning community for 30 Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences faculty who revised their undergraduate courses to incorporate inclusive teaching practices.
    • Social Justice Fund: OIE received an anonymous $1 million estate gift for the Social Justice Fund housed in the Office of Multicultural Development.
    • Honors Colloquia: OIE collaborated with the Honors College to offer Rethinking Race through Courageous Conversations – Spring 2023 and Courageous Conversations Promoting Inclusive Excellence – Summer 2023.
    • McClain Gallery Opening: Renovations of the Dr. Shirla McClain Gallery were completed with a grand opening in September 2023.

    Key Contact Area: Office of Inclusion and Equity

    Promises and Aspirations​

    Strategic Plan


    Well-Being & Stewardship​


    Academic Opportunity​


    Inclusive Excellence & Belonging​


    Research & Innovation​​


    Community & Connections​​