It was a great honor to share the extraordinary news of Jean Hower Taber’s bequest to the University in excess of $20 million during the annual meeting of The University of Akron Foundation in October. (Above, I’m joined by the University’s Chamber Choir, which led the singing of the Alma Mater).
Jean Hower Taber was a longtime community volunteer, philanthropist and friend to our University. About two-thirds of her gift will go to scholarships; recipients will be known as Hower Scholars. The balance will support Hower House and its programming.
Two of my passions are basketball and engaging with students. I was able to do both in early September. Students could challenge me to a shooting contest or a game of one-on-one. Winners earned a Starbucks gift card. Everyone got my business card and my gratitude for attending UA.
A Selfie With New Friends
The 2017-18 academic year got off to a great start with Move-In Days, Week of Welcome activities, and New Student Convocation at FirstEnergy Stadium on Friday, Aug. 25. An overflow crowd of more than 2,000 new freshmen joined us at Convocation, so I commemorated the event by doing a selfie with our newest Zips.
UA President Matthew Wilson (first row, far left) and Vice Provost Sarah Cravens (second row, second from right) pose at the Supreme Court of Korea with UA and other law students in the two-country, three-city, four-week study abroad program.
Akron Law Returns to Asia For Summer Study Abroad
FOR A SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR, I'm leading a two-country, three-city, four-week Study Abroad program in South Korea and Japan. Above, we are visiting the Supreme Court of Korea. Full story.
Congratulations Zips Grads!
What a weekend! Six graduation ceremonies Friday through Sunday (May 12-14), at E.J.Thomas Hall. About 3,000 degrees awarded, tens of thousands of cheering family and friends made proud, and far too many smiles to ever count. See some of the pictures for yourself. Congratulations, Class of 2017! Go out there and change everything!
Kudos to the NIHF STEM High School Class of 2017
I had the honor and privilege of addressing the 2017 graduating class of the National Inventors Hall of Fame® STEM High School during its commencement ceremony at our very own Student Union Grand Ballroom. It was a pleasure speaking to this wonderful group, and I am very proud to say we will see many of these graduates on campus this fall as new freshman. Welcome STEM High alumni and future Zips!
STEM Day with A.P.S. students and teachers
We had a great visit April 6 from Akron Public Schools teachers and students who came to campus for a STEM Day sponsored by our student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). The 8th graders got a taste of engineering through such activities as writing code to create a video game, building towers out of raw noodles and marshmallows, mending a broken “bone” made of Styrofoam, and creating ice cream from scratch. Great job, NSBE!
Akron Guarantee Scholarship Debuts
On Feb. 22, we rolled out an exciting new opportunity for prospective students, the Akron Guaranteed Scholarship initiative. It is intended to help more students graduate in four years with less debt, and has three key features: annual renewal as long as the recipient is a student in good standing (2.0 GPA); automatic scholarship upgrades at 30, 60 and 90 credits; and a larger, total eight-semester scholarship than the traditional option. I instituted a similar, successful scholarship program as dean of the University’s law school, and was encouraged by students, high school administrators and others to extend it to all qualified freshmen for Fall 2017 Semester. We have even offered it to prospective students who already have accepted a traditional scholarship. So far the response has been great. Visit the Akron Guarantee Scholarship website and learn more for yourself.
Striking Out With Students
I had a great time bowling and visiting with students in the Student Union Feb. 24. This was one of those times when the weather worked against us by being beautiful: 77°F in Akron in February! But there was plenty of competition. I had to dole out some Starbucks cards before I warmed up, but once I got in the groove, even members of the Bowling Club couldn’t stop me. I better start practicing my jump shot, soon we’ll have the hoops out for one-one-one competitions.
Rethinking Race and Ancestry
Our annual Rethinking Race Forum had an irresistible idea: gather 30 seemingly disparate members of our campus community to participate in Ancestry.com’s DNA test to learn about their respective backgrounds and often surprising commonalities. Participants were asked beforehand to tell us what they expected to learn, and were filmed as they got the results. I was happy to participate, and also took the opportunity to demonstrate something we all shared in common: Zip pride! Watch the video below and see what we learned about ourselves and each other.
Testifying on Behalf of Higher Education
I was honored to be asked by the Inter-University Council of Ohio to testify on behalf of Ohio’s regional public universities recently. On March 7, the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts about how HB49, the proposed biennial budget bill for the State of Ohio, could affect the state’s public universities. I also fielded several questions from the committee about college completion, textbook affordability and other topics.
During winter break I traveled to Vietnam January 8-11 with Dr. Patrick Gaughan, School of Law, to sign memorandums of understanding with two universities in Hanoi and one in Danang. The agreements lay the foundation for future collaborative relationships between our institutions, primarily involving law, economics, business and social sciences.
Look for more announcements as UA aggressively extends its global activity in 2017.
Black Male Summit Academy
Our Black Male Summit Academy launched in October, with more than 200 students from Akron, Canton and Cleveland public schools in attendance.
At the first meeting, they learned how to prepare for college, including a mock classroom session during which they learned lessons from our freshman orientation course curriculum.
We hope they will join us as students in a few years!
Meeting and listening to high school principals
I’m in the process of visiting as many high schools as I can in Summit and surrounding counties, meeting the principals to better understand how we may best serve their students and faculty. Above, visits to Revere, Our Lady of the Elms and East. More to come!
MESSAGES AND MORE
In the news media:
- UA offers scholarships that grow as students rack up credits | Ohio.com, Sept. 30
- University of Akron welcomes freshmen and returning students | Ohio.com, Aug. 23
- UA president strikes out to bond with students at bowling alley | Ohio.com, Feb. 27
- UA offers new Akron Guarantee Scholarship that increases in value as students earn credits | Ohio.com, Feb. 22
- UA president answers the call, helping panicked student; tells audience ‘we are about family’ | Ohio.com, Jan. 18, 2017
- UA students, staff fan out across Akron for Make a Difference Day | Ohio.com, Oct. 23
- UA’s interim president Matthew Wilson is very visible on and off campus | Ohio.com, Oct. 12
- UA students give the interim president a thumbs up for his first Q&A town hall meeting | Ohio.com, Sept. 7
- University of Akron returns to roots with interim president, #UANewDay campaign | Cleveland.com, Sept. 6
- Interim UA president’s personal touch wins high marks from students and parents on dorm move-in day | Ohio.com, Aug. 25
- UA’s interim president, the law school dean, has a full calendar | Ohio.com, July 26