Akron will rise


By Gary L. Miller, President of The University of Akron
Published in the Akron Beacon Journal on July 18, 2020.

Akron Will Rise

When The University of Akron opens this fall, students will study in more than 230 undergraduate majors and 120 graduate programs.

Our world-class faculty and staff will continue to demonstrate their deep commitment to student success. Our faculty research programs will continue, many of which involve student scholars.

The University’s extensive co-op and internship programs, delivered in partnership with dozens of businesses in Northeast Ohio, will be available to help students merge their studies with future careers.

Students will find extensive academic, health and career resources to help them navigate their college experience.

The University will continue its partnership with the City of Akron, Summit County, local school districts, Stark State College and the regional business and non-profit community. 

The University of Akron is here to serve Akron, the region and the world as we have been for 150 years.

But now we face extraordinary new challenges. 

The COVID pandemic has required us to take immediate action to secure the future of the University.  This past week the Board of Trustees approved a reduction in force effective this summer. This difficult and heartbreaking action was taken only after all other available cost reduction measures were instituted and after all other options were analyzed. 

The action will place the University in a strong position to grow. But the unpredictability of our current situation and the inevitability of the declining demographic trends in Ohio cause us to continue our efforts to find innovations and efficiencies for a prosperous future. 

The actions taken have not eliminated academic programs, diminished the quality of our faculty or waivered from our deep commitment to student opportunity and success. 

We reorganized our academic programs into five colleges to place similar programs in proximity, create new opportunities for synergy and growth, and save money.

We continue our efforts started last fall to transform ourselves from an admissions-based university to an opportunity-based university with the goal of vastly increasing access to college for regional students. 

We have reshaped our financial models to focus on research university benchmarks.  

We are extending our academic program delivery models to reach learners wherever they are. The new UAkron Online offers 15 fully online programs at the master’s, bachelor’s and associate degree levels. 

Indeed, as we have made difficult decisions, we have also applied our Zips creativity and determination. 

As wrenching as it was to eliminate faculty, staff and contract professional positions, it was also absolutely necessary. But in order for the decision to have its intended effect, the Akron AAUP union must ratify the agreement during voting over the next two weeks. Failure to do so will place the University in serious financial jeopardy at a time of great uncertainty and when it is poised to emerge from this pandemic into an era of innovation and growth. 

The University of Akron, the City of Akron and Summit County must overcome the current situation and begin to grow together. We know our city and county colleagues are working with great creativity and energy to make this happen. The Board of Trustees has taken a difficult action that will foster this important interaction. 

Now, it is my sincere hope our AAUP faculty colleagues will set aside their deep and understandable disappointment and approve the agreement.   

The future of our University depends on it.

Gary L. Miller
The University of Akron