Vice Presidents

Dr. John Wiencek

Executive Vice President and Provost

Dr. John Wiencek, Executive Vice President and Provost at The University of Akron

Dr. John Wiencek, an accomplished chemical and biochemical engineer, experienced academic administrator and Northeast Ohio native, joined The University of Akron as  executive vice president and provost on April 30, 2020. He is the most senior administrator reporting to the president.

As provost, Wiencek has the lead role in redefining and implementing the priorities for the Office of Academic Affairs and bolstering UA’s research prominence and productivity. He also has responsibility for sharpening the University’s enrollment strategy and practices, including exploring new markets and expanding delivery models; assessing and optimizing the academic affairs structure and processes; recruiting and developing an exceptional academic leadership team; and contributing to UA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

An experienced academic leader, Wiencek most recently served as provost and executive vice president at the University of Idaho. While there, he developed and implemented a strategic plan and executed new improvements in communication to build trust between the faculty and administration for a stronger campus community.

Wiencek previously served as interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. There he was the driving force behind many significant accomplishments, including resolving initiatives such as enrollment planning and fundraising; completing several searches for key roles; and establishing a Strategic Enrollment Council.

Earlier in his career, Wiencek served as dean of the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida. He also has served in a variety of positions at The University of Iowa, including department chair, graduate director, graduate admissions chair, and professor of chemical and biomedical engineering. Wiencek began his career as an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University.

Joining The University of Akron has been something of a homecoming for Wiencek, who grew up near the Portage Lakes and graduated from Walsh Jesuit High School.

Wiencek went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy, both in Chemical Engineering, at Case Western Reserve University. As a researcher, he has focused on protein biophysics with applications to drug formulations.


Dallas A. Grundy

Senior vice president, CFO

Dallas A. GrundyDallas A. Grundy is senior vice president and chief financial officer.

A critical role within the University, the senior vice president for finance and administration/CFO provides leadership, management and oversight of all activities within the finance and administration division of the University and serves as treasurer and chief financial officer of The University of Akron Foundation. The SVP/CFO also works with various internal and external constituencies to improve the effectiveness of the University’s financial and business operations in its efforts to become more innovative and strategic in its financial practices.

Most recently, Grundy served as vice dean and CFO of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he oversaw the strategic operations and management of the School’s $400+ million endowment and budgets for more than 30 departments, offices and institutes. While there, he contributed to many efforts to bring about efficiencies using technology solutions. He led campus-wide efforts to bring together finance and technology leaders to develop new reporting tools to better manage gifts and endowments; was part of the institution’s inaugural university-wide Technology Investment Committee; reviewed and selected components of the university’s strategic roadmap to be financed from the newly created university fund; and led local change implementation of a university-wide Human Capital Management Initiative.

Grundy’s higher education experience also includes nine years as associate dean of finance and administration at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education where he was responsible for the school’s accounting, finance, human resources, administration, facilities management and information technologies. He also previously served as director of business affairs at Somerset Christian College in Somerset, N.J.

More about Dallas Grundy.

Kimberly M. Cole

Vice President of Development
Executive Director, The University of Akron Foundation

Cole-Kim-headshotIn her role as vice president of development for the University and executive director of the Foundation, Kimberly M. Cole oversees all central fundraising staff, partners with the University’s academic leaders, and collaborates with key community volunteers to increase support for UA.

Her work encompasses all aspects of fundraising, including the development and management of campaigns; solicitations via major gifts, the Center for Gift and Estate Planning, and the Annual Fund; and the reporting and recording of all gifts to the University and the Foundation. Her work with the foundation includes overseeing its endowed investments, working closely with its board of directors, and stewarding gifts to ensure donor wishes are always honored.

Additionally, Cole oversees all staff members in the Office of Alumni Relations. They, together with members of the Department of Development, support the needs of the University while engaging alumni and other stakeholders in the mission of the University.

Cole, who joined UA in 1997, is an alumna who earned a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in psychology here.

M. Celeste Cook

Vice President and General Counsel

celeste-cook-uakronAs General Counsel to The University of Akron, and subject to the authority of the Ohio Attorney General, M. Celeste Cook coordinates and directs the legal affairs of the University.

She became vice president and general counsel, as well as secretary to the Board of Trustees and chief ethics officer, on Jan. 1, 2017.

Cook joined The University of Akron on June 2, 1997, as associate general counsel. She most recently served as associate vice president and deputy general counsel, and assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees.

As general counsel, Cook is the chief legal advisor to the Board of Trustees, the Universitys president, and to UA’s officers and administrators. The office is responsible to the Board of Trustees and to the president for the direction and supervision of all legal matters of The University of Akron.

 An alumna, Cook earned both a Juris Doctor in 1987 and a B.A. in Business and Organizational Communications in 1984 at UA. 

Tammy Ewin

Vice President, Chief Communication and Marketing Officer

Tammy Ewin, vice president for communication and marketingTammy Ewin joined UA as vice president, chief communication and marketing officer in January 2020.

She is responsible for managing a team of 16 professionals responsible for media relations, marketing communications, advertising, social media, and internal and digital communications.

Ewin has extensive experience providing strategic communication counsel, building consensus and achieving solid marketing results in the higher education, health care, corporate, not-for-profit, agency and public safety arenas.

Ewin spent more than 10 years in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh as a valued communication leader where she held positions of increasing responsibility. As associate vice president for marketing and communications, she led a team of 24 professionals responsible for all internal and external marketing and communications. Accomplishments during her tenure include the management of an award-winning team responsible for a more than 300% increase in media coverage; development of successful strategies to address significant crisis management issues; and completion of a large-scale website redesign, among others.

Ewin earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Dayton.

She is a member of the American Marketing Association as well as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) where she served as a member of the PRSA Counselors to Higher Education Section Communications Committee. She is also a board member of Zoe’s New Beginnings, a nonprofit organization assisting families of premature babies.

Wayne Hill

Vice President and Chief of Staff

Wayne HillWayne Hill was named vice president and chief of staff on Aug. 21, 2019.

Hill first joined the University in November 2011 as associate vice president for marketing in the Department of University Communications and Marketing. He subsequently was named vice president of communications and marketing on May 1, 2017, managing a team of 22 professionals responsible for media relations, marketing and advertising, publications, and internal and digital communications.

Prior to joining UA, Hill had a long career with a Cleveland-based public relations firm. He also worked in public service in the Ohio Senate, the Office of the Secretary of State and the Office of the Attorney General, and in television news.

Hill has long been active in a variety of community and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Ohio, including the Greater Cleveland Food Bank Board of Directors and the Greater Cleveland Film Commission Board. Currently, he serves on the executive committee for the Downtown Akron Partnership, representing UA. He is a graduate of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2003.

Hill is a graduate of Hiram College with a degree in sociology. 

Dr. John A. Messina

Vice President for Student Affairs

John Messina

Dr. John A. Messina serves as the vice president for student affairs, responsible for oversight of the many programs and services designed to educate, engage and enrich the lives of students through social, personal, health and wellness development, academic engagement and retention.

Messina joined The University of Akron in 2004 and has served in multiple roles during his tenure, including director, associate vice president, senior lecturer and vice provost. He assumed his current role in 2015 and has oversight of a wide array of student support units across the University. These departments include Dean of Student’s Office, Esports, Residence Life and Housing, Student Life, Student Union, Student Conduct and Community Standards, Student Health Services, and Student Recreation and Wellness Services, whose team members collaborate to provide an engaged campus community. Student success is supported resources offered through Exploratory Advising, Military Services, Military Science and Leadership, International Programs, Study Abroad, Registrar, Career Services, Student Employment, Counseling and Testing, Accessibility, Tutoring, ZipAssist, New Student Orientation and Undergraduate Student Government.

Messina serves on the executive leadership team within the University, responsible for supporting the student experience from admission through graduation with oversight of both New Student Orientation and Commencement. He leads efforts toward collaborative engagement and retention activities that span the campus and community. Messina serves as primary investigator on a number of grants, including mental health, college transition, sexual assault response and financial literacy.

He has served as a member of graduate faculty in the Education Administration program.

Messina also holds an M.B.A. and a B.S. from Rider University and an M.S. in Instructional Leadership from Robert Morris University. He completed his doctoral degree in 2011 at The University of Akron and his dissertation showcased the impact of participation in living-learning communities on student academic performance and persistence.

He holds memberships with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and Association of College Personnel Administrators.

Messina is a certified spinning instructor and instructs weekly early morning classes at the Shaw JCC of Akron. He also serves as a Trustee of the JCC and is involved in a number of community events. He shares his groovy 1970’s “Brady Bunch” style home in Akron with his rescue dog, Drusilla, and is an avid supporter of Doberman rescues.

Dr. Sheldon Wrice

Vice President of Inclusion and Equity and Chief Diversity Officer

Sheldon Wrice

In this critical position within the University administration, Wrice will provide strategic leadership for campus diversity, program oversight, diversity advising and mentoring, community relations and outreach, and policy duties that result in a learning and workplace environment that is welcoming and supportive to all.

As chief diversity officer, Wrice supervises the Office of Inclusion and Equity, Office of Multicultural Development, Multicultural Center and the Women's and Gender Resource Center. The Office of Accessibility has dual reporting lines to Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusion and Equity.

Wrice earned his Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration in 1995, Master of Science in Technical Education and Master of Arts in Multicultural Education in 1994, Master of Arts in Urban Studies in 2013 and Master of Public Administration in 2014, all from UA. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from South Carolina State University in 1988 and a Master of Library Science from Clark Atlanta University in 1990.