2020 Fall Convocation, President's Address to Freshman


University of Akron 2020 Fall Convocation
August 21, 2020 · Hean Hower Taber Student Union
President’s Address to Freshman
Gary L. Miller

Good morning everyone and welcome to The University of Akron Fall 2020 Convocation.

Let me begin by thanking Dr. John Messina and his fantastic student affairs team for all the great work they have done to prepare our campus for opening during this very challenging time. Thank you!

On behalf of The University of Akron and our nearly 180,000 Zip alumni world-wide, I want to congratulate you on your academic achievements and welcome you to The University of Akron.

You are also joining one of the most resilient and engaged research universities in America. A university with a world class faculty and staff. A university with world class academic programs. A university linked to one of America’s greatest cities.

The University of Akron is 150 years old this year. We are a university committed to its urban roots. We are a university committed to providing opportunities to all kinds of learners. We are a university that believes in opportunity, partnerships and engagement.

Every fall we gather at convocation in order to get to know each other – which is a bit harder to do this year – and to make commitments to one another about your education, this university and this community.

As we begin this very strange academic year, we as a university are committed to your safety, committed to your education, and committed to your development as a citizen of this community and the world.

Hundreds of faculty and staff have worked all summer to prepare for your arrival. They are prepared to deliver the best academic programs in the world in new ways. They are prepared to meet with you and provide you with the answer to your questions and the support you need to succeed.

We also have expectations of you. We expect you to get involved on campus. In a minute you will hear from Undergraduate Student Government President Kevin Feezel. He will tell you about some of the many opportunities for you to become involved at The University of Akron. Introduce yourself to Kevin and his leadership team. They will help you find what you are interested in.

We expect you to get involved in this community. You are attending college in a great American city. Get to know it. Become part of the broader community. Shortly you will have a chance to hear from the mayor of the City of Akron and the county executive of Summit County. Get to know these leaders and their teams.

We expect you to provide service. There are many people in this community who need assistance, especially in this time of pandemic. You have talent and energy. Find a way to use that to make a difference in this community.

We expect you to change this university in a positive way. You come here with great ideas. Put them to use to make this University better. Here is your first assignment. Sometime between today and the day you graduate from The University of Akron I want every one of you to introduce yourself to me. I want to know what you think about this University I love.

One of the most important things we expect of you this fall is to be a full participant in our plan to keep everyone safe. We are in the middle of a pandemic. To manage it we must take care of one another and ourselves.

To help us all remember the rules, we have developed the A.K.R.O.N. Pledge. You can find a copy of the pledge at uakron.edu/return-to-campus/pledge.

So, here is your second assignment of the day: I want everyone to go to this webpage today. Download the pledge. Sign it. Send a photo of you with the pledge to the link designated. My wife Georgia and I signed the pledge last week and you can find our photo there.

We are asking everyone to follow the simple rules on the pledge. These rules are known to be effective in significantly reducing the spread of the virus. These rules even work with marsupials! So, to make sure we have everyone covered I want to ask Zippy to come up here and recite the pledge with me.

[Zippy joins President on stage.]

Zippy, I am going to recite the pledge and I want you to show me you understand: Remember, she can’t talk.

Always wear a mask while on campus.
Keep at least 6 feet away from people.
Refrain from touching my eyes, nose and mouth.
Often wash or sanitize my hands and keep my space clean.
Notice any symptoms? Stay home and call my doctor or Health Services right away.

Thank you Zippy. How ‘bout an elbow bump?

[Zippy exits]

One of the most important features of The University of Akron is its very close connection to the City of Akron and the surrounding Summit County. Indeed, at one time in its history, the University was owned by the City of Akron. One of our most important opportunities and obligations at The University of Akron is to serve the City of Akron and Summit County. It is very important for you to join us in that commitment.

It is my great honor this morning to be joined by the distinguished Mayor of the City of Akron, the Honorable Dan Horrigan. And, the distinguished Summit County Executive, the Honorable Ilene Shapiro.

I have asked each of them to greet you, welcome you to the community and share some of their thoughts about the special time we are now in.

Before I move aside and let them speak, let me say how happy and excited we are to have all of you with us at The University of Akron.


Go Zips!

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