In a letter to the University of Akron community, President Matthew Wilson announced that he will step down from his role as President, effective July 31, 2018, saying he will rejoin the school of law as a full-time faculty member.
Read the letter President Wilson wrote below:
Over the past few weeks, there have been many conversations about what my inclusion as a finalist in the University of Central Florida presidential search might mean. My sincerest apologies for any concern that this may have caused. With the search now complete, I want to address these conversations and talk about the future.
As I previously mentioned, the invitation to apply for the UCF presidency caught my interest due to our roots in the Orlando area and the opportunities associated with this once-in-a lifetime chance at the largest university in the country. Please know how much I sincerely appreciate those who reached out with words of gratitude, understanding, and support during the search process. I strongly believe that my inclusion as a finalist in the UCF presidential search is a testament to The University of Akron (UA), its strengths, and its recent progress. In fact, many eyes across the country focused on UA’s achievements, academic programs, research, and innovative initiatives and they were impressed with our University.
As I look back over my past four years at UA, it truly has been an honor to dedicate my heart, strength, soul, and mind to serving the institution in an effort to assist students, stabilize matters, overcome challenges, generate new opportunities, and lead UA to even greater heights. I first served as Dean of Akron Law until the Board of Trustees approached me nearly two years ago about serving as interim president. From the start, my family and I have tirelessly committed ourselves to UA and its success. Of course, the road has been very demanding, especially as we concurrently helped our youngest son successfully fight through a battle with an aggressive pediatric cancer. It has been a privilege to join so many extraordinary people within the UA family to collectively make a difference for our students and community.
Through the efforts of many in the University community, we have made remarkable progress amid challenging circumstances. We have continued to help students succeed and strengthened vital relationships. We have reminded the community, state, and world about the University’s value, benefits, and advantages. We have made progress on the budgetary front, including a $42 million one-year budgetary turnaround last year and increased donations. We have enhanced affordability (Akron Guarantee Scholarship) and international opportunities (International Center) as well as added innovative approaches (esports program and Five Star Fridays), new degrees (Cybersecurity), and flexible learning options. UA has returned to a state of positivity and optimism. Going forward, I am confident that bright times are ahead for UA, particularly if everyone maintains an innovative and creative mindset.
Our short-term strategies have been noteworthy. We also have laid the foundation for longer term plans. Last fall, UA initiated a comprehensive, faculty-led review of our academic programs. That effort is proceeding as scheduled. The Faculty Senate will receive the results soon, prior to determinations by the administration and Board. Additional initiatives (especially our dashboard tools) provide us with the data and analysis needed to engage in a thoughtful, collaborative process to determine our future direction. In keeping with our commitment to shared governance, successful strategic planning requires a university-wide, inclusive process. To that end, I hope that we can appoint a Strategic Planning Council (including representation from across UA and the community-at-large) to help lead these discussions. As we collectively work to prepare for the future, the likelihood of our success increases as the UA community works together, exudes positivity, and embraces these initiatives.
After four years of intense commitment and with the confidence that UA is on the right track, I have decided to shift from my role as President to join the full-time faculty, effective July 31, 2018. This decision came after much thought and consideration and is based on a host of personal and family considerations. Pursuant to my agreement with UA, I intend at this time to return to my faculty position with Akron Law at a substantially reduced salary, in recognition of ongoing financial challenges for the University.
Over the next four months, my efforts to ensure UA’s ongoing success and a smooth transition will continue in full force, especially as we continue to implement new initiatives. As I have said previously, it is an honor to be here at UA, as I thoroughly enjoy the UA community and students. I value the chance to contribute to a world-class university that is again on an upward trajectory.
Finally, I want to personally thank all who have supported me in my role as dean and president over the past four years. We can all be proud of UA and its achievements. Hopefully, everyone can redouble their efforts to unify and move UA forward.
Matthew J. Wilson
The University of Akron