Making a Difference and Moving Forward Campaign (scholarships)08/29/2016
Today is the first day of fall 2016 semester classes at The University of Akron. Last week, we welcomed thousands of new freshmen to campus and the UA family. It was truly an honor and privilege to interact with our new Zips as they moved into residence halls, cheered on our No. 1 ranked soccer team on Friday, and attended a host of kick-off events. The energy and promise of our new Zips combined with the passion and dedication of our continuing Zips has energized the entire campus. In fact, there is a renewed sense of optimism and resolve as classrooms fill up, students crowd the walkways, and the practice strains of the marching band echo through campus.
Over the past year or so, The University of Akron has weathered a rough patch of turbulence that resulted in a significant decline in our enrollment. Unfortunately, this decline will impact us for years to come absent quick action.
Since I was named as interim president on July 11th though, I have been incredibly encouraged by the energy and atmosphere on campus. It is a new day at UA. Although we may face some difficult decisions ahead, I personally believe that the University community will join me in creating a new spirit of collegiality, pride, commitment, and confidence.
At the same time, we have been energized by the outpouring of support for The University of Akron from the community. It is as though a dam has burst and a wave of goodwill and encouragement has flooded our campus. Alumni and friends of the University repeatedly tell me they want to make a difference as we move forward. They ask, "How can I help?" My answer is simple – help us help our students. Although there are many ways to accomplish this, I would like to invite you to contribute to our scholarship funds. This is an urgent need that will enable us to retain and attract students.
The majority of UA students hold jobs to defray the cost of their education. One in four of our student body are first-generation college students. As funding sources dwindle, a scholarship of even $1,000 can determine which university a student attends. For some, a donation can be the difference between completing a degree or abandoning their dream.
So, as of today, we are launching our "Making a Difference and Moving Forward Campaign." This new initiative will enable you to support our students directly and immediately on a tax-deductible basis. If you contribute now, we will make the donation available next semester. You have told us this is what you want to do. And we are structuring the process to allow you to do just that.
We have targeted the amount of $20 million for this campaign. In kicking off this scholarship initiative, I can share that we have already received pledges of several hundred thousand dollars from our pre-release conversations. We sincerely hope that you will join these efforts as we look to rebound from recent events.
Your scholarship support will help us attract new students. It will allow current students to remain focused on their studies; increase retention rates and decrease the burden of student loans; and shorten the road to graduation for many.
As a companion program to the many endowed gifts that benefit generations of our students, this initiative seeks to generate funds that will be applied directly toward scholarship support. In short, the gift you make today can help pay for a student’s education this academic year. (If you prefer to establish an endowed scholarship or supplement your current scholarships, our students would naturally welcome this support as well.) You will soon hear more from our representatives, but for now visit the campaign website for information on how to participate. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for you to support University of Akron students.
As I have already told the University community, my focus will always be our students. If we focus our efforts on student success and constantly strive for excellence, I personally believe that we can overcome our challenges and open new doors to greater success.
I am extremely excited to serve our students going forward together with your support. Thank you for your encouragement and friendship. Your willingness to help us help our students through this scholarship campaign and other means is greatly appreciated.
Matthew J. Wilson
The University of Akron