The EXL Center at The University of Akron Experiential Learning Center for Entrepreneurship and civic engagement

EXL Directors

EXL Center at The University of Akron

Carolyn Behrman, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Email | 330-972-5477


EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Annal Vyas, J.D.

Co-Director, Visiting Professor of Law

Email | Phone: 330-972-6789


EXL Student Assistants

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Haliunaa Baasankhuu

Haliuna is a Sociology Major. She is a student assistant at the EX[L] Center. She is passionate, diligent, and funny. One of her best characteristics is her optimism, it makes her challenge the impossible. Haliuna loves calligraphy, playing table tennis and doing Zumba. She is excited to learn more about good leadership qualities, communication and computer skills.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Elisha Banks

Elisha Banks is a Cultural Anthropology Major and a Nutrition Minor. She is the Student Manager of the Akron Community Internship Program (ACIP). She thrives to be a change agent in her community and looks forward to working in social impact, health equity, and healthy eating and active living. Elisha is driven and compassionate. She also loves to sketch and read. At EX[L] she is learning how to write grants and project coordination to further her education. She plans to attend graduate school mastering in Public Affairs with a specialization in Social and Economic Policy.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Lily Brubaker

Lily is Child and Family Development Major as well as getting a certificate in Conflict Transformation and Social Entrepreneurship. She works directly with the Unclasses in the EX[L] Center and is the Student Engagement Student Assistant. She is adventurous, curious, and an advocate for children in poverty. Her hobbies are photography, yoga, reading and gardening. She hopes to gain leadership skills as well as be able to work with the community partners at EX[L].

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Mitaya Collins

Mitaya is an Anthropology Major and a Psychology Minor. At the EX[L] Center she is the Photography and Design Student Manager. She can be described as creative, wise, chill, and ambitious. Mitaya’s hobbies include writing, videography, and graphic design. She is looking forward to organizing the center.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Asia Hudson

Asia is a Nursing Major with a Minor in Psychology. At EX[L] she is the Event Coordinator. She is organized, goofy, girly, and determined. She is great at seeing things from multiple perspectives. Asia loves doing makeup and hair. She is looking forward to strengthening her leadership skills.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Prerna Narayanan

Prerna is the marketing communication specialist of the EXL Center. Energetic, enthusiastic and expressive, communication is her forte. She is currently doing a double major in integrated marketing and communication and marketing management, she is great at organizing and conducting events. She is an amazing team player and when needed she can also play the role of the task manager. She also was the event manager of the Indian student association and organizing and conducting events is her favorite thing. She loves the EXL Center because it makes her work to her fullest and also made her realize her complete potential. Her favorite hobby is meditating and spending time with pets. Simple yet special, she is the typical girl who believes in unicorns and loves rainbows.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Yuvraj Subedi

Yuvi is a Computer Science and Mathematics major. He is the Data Manager Student Assistant at the EX[L] Center. He is adventurous, curious and social. He likes to dream and believes in what he dreams. He loves to watch movies, TV series and reading novels. He is learning about web development and leadership skills.

EXL Center at The University of Akron.

Savannah Sprankle

Savannah is a double major in Marketing Management and Graphic Design. She is the Senior Student Manager at the EX[L] center. Savannah can be described as imaginative, industrious and a humanitarian. She is always growing and becoming a more empowered version of herself. She loves to crochet, paint, participate in haunt acting and public speaking. She is working at leadership, professionalism and community engagement.

Learn more about EXL

Student Advisory Council

Purpose Statement:

The EX[L] Student Advisory Council currently operates differently from other student organizations.  There are no traditional roles such as President, Vice President etc.  Instead, we function as sounding boards by offering ideas, suggestions, or feedback as it pertains to the operations and programs of the EX[L] Center. We also function as project managers who meet to discuss student-driven and collaborative project ideas. We offer each other advice about how to best implement those ideas. We also serve as ambassadors for EX[L] reaching out to new students and faculty.

2017-2018 Student Advisory Council Members

EbaNee Bond
Sam Borick
Dom Bruno
Dee McCall
Corey Cargill
Whit Woodruff

2015-16 Student Advisory Council Members

Justin Cohen (co-chair)
Andrea Rupley (co-chair)
Trevor Allen (subcommittee chair: Hackathon)
Kevin Karas (subcommittee chair: EX[L] Integration)
Dylan Hansen (subcommittee chair: Internal Outreach)
Taylor Swift
Ricky Angeletti
Sterling Galehouse
Isabella Bartholemew
Akhila Gopal
Clarissa Santana

Faculty Steering Committee

The EX[L] Center operates with a Faculty Steering Committee.

Faculty Steering Committee, 2018-19

Name Field Term
Parizad Dejbord-Sawan Modern Lan. Spring 2020
Amanda Booher (co-chair) English Spring 2020
Juan Xi Sociology Spring 2021
Hunter King Polymer Sciences Spring 2020
Peter Niewiarowski Biology Spring 2019
Sarah Hamilton ZipAssist Spring 2021
Rob Peralta Sociology Spring 2020
Andy Platt CBA Dean's Office Spring 2019
Terry O'Sullivan Political Science Spring 2021
Christin Seher (co-chair) Dietetics Spring 2020
Gopal Nadkarni Mechanical Engineering Spring 2021
Jacob Farrar Taylor Institute Spring 2021
Jodi Henderson-Ross Wayne Campus Spring 2021

Faculty Steering Committee, 2017-18

Name Field Term
Parizad Dejbord-Sawan (chair) Modern Lan. Spring 2020
Amanda Booher English Spring 2020
Curtis Clemons Math Spring 2018
Hunter King Polymer Sci. Spring 2020
Peter Niewiarowski Biology Spring 2019
Deb Owens Business Spring 2018
Rob Peralta Sociology Spring 2020
Andy Platt Business Spring 2019
Pam Schulze Family Sci. Spring 2018
Christin Seher Dietetics Spring 2020
Dick Steiner Statistics Spring 2020
Don Visco Engineering Spring 2018
Deb Wallace Pan Afr. Studies Spring 2019

Faculty Steering Committee, 2016-17

Name Field Term
Matt Lee (chair) Sociology Spring 2017
Hazel Barton Biology Spring 2019
Curtis Clemons Math Spring 2018
Parizad Dejbord-Sawan Modern Lan. Spring 2017
Brant Lee Law Spring 2017
Peter Niewiarowski Biology Spring 2019
Terry O’Sullivan Poli. Sci. Spring 2017
Deb Owens Business Spring 2018
Andy Platt Business Spring 2019
Pam Schulze Family Sci. Spring 2018
Markus Vogl Art Spring 2017
Don Visco Engineering Spring 2018
Deb Wallace Pan Afr. Std. Spring 2019

Founding Faculty Advisory Committee, 2015-16

Name Field
Bill Lyons (chair) Political Science
Matt Lee Sociology
Carolyn Behrman Anthropology
Hazel Barton Biology
Brant Lee Law
Terrence O'Sullivan Political Science
Andrew Terrence Business
Pamela Schulze Family and Consumer Science
Deborah Wallace Pan African Studies
Parizad Dejbord-Sawan Modern Languages
Peter Niewiarowski Biology/Biomimicry
Deborah Owens Business
Markus Vogl Art
Donald Visco Jr. Engineering
Matt Kolodziej Art
Rebecca Erickson Sociology
Jodi Henderson-Ross Sociology
Charles Waehler Psychology
Robert C. Schwartz Counseling
Kathryn Feltey Sociology

Faculty caucuses

In development.


The mission of the EX[L] Center is to help students emerge as civically-engaged, adaptable leaders, ready to join in the enterprise of building strong and sustainable communities by promoting hands-on, community-based, problem-centered learning.


To address this mission, EX[L] seeks to:

  • support, expand, and create new experiential learning programs on campus,
  • assist faculty with barriers to innovative, interdisciplinary, experiential teaching,
  • be a resource for students reaching out from their curricular homes to explore interdisciplinary or other innovative pathways, and
  • sustain existing, and develop new community partnerships that bring UA students and local business and non-profit change-makers together.


The University of Akron has a long history of strong hands-on and problem-based learning, as well as community-engaged activity by faculty and students; but, many of these activities have developed and function in silos. Founding Director, Jeff Hoffman joined the university in July 2015 to launch an initiative in experiential learning that addressed these silos.

Hoffman, an entrepreneur of global repute, entered the field of higher education "perfectly" according to one faculty member who continued, "He went on a listening tour, meeting with faculty in small groups, exploring the terrain of disciplines, projects, and partnerships that had evolved organically here at UA but which lacked a strong sense of identity and connectedness across campus." Hoffman and EXL resource director, Ian Schwarber, then met with the most interested faculty from across the university. Hoffman shared his impressions and enlisted their assistance in advancing the development of the EX[L] Center.

Meanwhile, Hoffman and Schwarber reached out to community and student leaders as well, eventually establishing a three-part structure for EX[L] drawing from the strengths and perspectives of student, faculty and community advisory councils. Schwarber's skill at event conceptualizing and marketing helped raise EX[L]'s profile, opening opportunities for collaborations with entrepreneurs and local secondary schools. Energetic and charismatic, Hoffman and Schwarber sparked entrepreneurial, social entrepreneurial, and community development-oriented events both on and off campus in 2015 and 2016. These included BluPrints to EX[L], entrepreneurial panel discussions held in Akron hotspot the BluJazz nightclub and an immersion week for area high school students. In 2016, they selected a faculty collaboration director, Carolyn Behrman, to join them in overseeing EX[L] activity. Having launched EX[L], Hoffman and Schwarber separated from the University of Akron in Fall 2016.

Behrman and Anoo Vyas were appointed as co-Directors of the EX[L] Center in Fall 2016. A tenured faculty member, Behrman has 18 years of experience in community-based research and service-learning linking University of Akron students with organizations and groups across Akron. At EX[L], Behrman concentrates her energies on academic-community engagement and works with faculty and students to enhance existing and foster new community-engaged experiential learning through the curriculum. Vyas employs his significant experience with business incubation, business law and creative and entrepreneurial community partners to develop new opportunities for students within the greater Akron area.


EXL Center is located in Bierce Library, Room 168 (see map)

Office: 330-972-8153