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
Facing a nearly $29 Million budget shortfall, the University of Akron is looking for more innovative ways to bring in more revenue.
With that in mind, UA President Matthew Wilson is looking to the sports side of the school, and says that with in-state recruitment of athletes lies more fiscal opportunity.
The state provides public universities with subisidies for completion of credits and graduation of in-state students. The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that "Course completion, based on a calculation of full-time Ohio students and the total number of credit hours taken, generates $1,800 to a school for every 30 credit hours completed."
Not including the funding from the state, President Matthew Wilson says there are other factors involved when considering bolstering the university's efforts on Ohio recruitment, including fans that you might attract, controling costs, locations where the team plays, and more. President Wilson makes a point to say that it's not about making Akron football or basketball or baseball, that's recently been restored at the school, ALL Ohio, but more about a balance. "Preserving our competetiveness (in the MAC and in the region), but in terms of our competetiveness across the country, we don't want to lose that, but at the same time Ohio really has a great talent base to draw from," President Wilson commented on the Jasen Sokol Show.
Since the first college class schedule at the first college, students have (probably) done everything they can to eliminate Friday classes.
Well, starting in the Fall semester of 2018, University of Akron is taking it upon themselves to remove Friday classes for almost all students.
According to a press release, the new initiative at UA, is not meant to give students a three-day-weekend, but to open the door to more opportunities for lab work, practical work experience, volunteering, and more on Fridays.
UA President Matthew Wilson says, “Quality learning and student success are the primary focuses of Five-Star Fridays,” said UA President Wilson. “Courses will be taught for the same amount of classroom time and involve the same academic rigor. They will just be organized a bit differently to allow for a more concentrated and purposeful set of experiential learning opportunities for students as a result of making Fridays available in this manner. The innovative approach is consistent with workplace flexibility trends.”
You can read the full press release from UA below:
University of Akron (UA) President Matthew J. Wilson today announced UA will move towards implementing an innovative class schedule this fall to better prepare and serve students. The schedule is unique to universities in the area, as it will enable most students to focus on classes Monday through Thursday and then participate in practical, career-focused experiences on Friday. In conjunction with this initiative, UA will look to continue enhancing its weekend, online, and evening scheduling as well.
The new initiative – composed of a “Five-Star Friday” and “Four-Day Core” scheduling – is intended to give as many students as possible opportunities each Friday to participate in cooperative education, gain practical work experience, and engage in internships, co-curricular activities, research, lab work, community service, advising, tutoring and more without worrying about scheduling conflicts.
Students also will be encouraged to use Five-Star Fridays to attend special events, collaborate with faculty and peers, and take advantage of expanded academic counseling, tutoring, career fairs and other career services. As a result, students also can have three days of concentrated time to prepare for classes, engage with study groups, and participate in meaningful study and research.
“Quality learning and student success are the primary focuses of Five-Star Fridays,” said UA President Wilson. “Courses will be taught for the same amount of classroom time and involve the same academic rigor. They will just be organized a bit differently to allow for a more concentrated and purposeful set of experiential learning opportunities for students as a result of making Fridays available in this manner. The innovative approach is consistent with workplace flexibility trends. ”
After an in-depth review by the colleges and the Registrar’s Office, it was determined that classes that had been scheduled for three days per week (typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday) could either be offered on two days during the week – by extending the typical 50-minute class to 75 minutes – or alternatively, by moving to a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday schedule, as an example. For many years, many other courses at UA have been scheduled for two days per week (typically Tuesday and Thursday), and those will be able to continue in that manner.
For pedagogical reasons, some courses, (for example, music, dance and art) need daily engagement with students and those can continue in that way. Deans, department chairs and school directors are working with faculty members to make those types of accommodations.
“Five-Star Fridays is an innovation in undergraduate education, featuring real-world experience and career preparation that enhance the value of traditional course work,” said Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences Dean John C. Green. “It will give our students flexibility to complete and enhance their degrees. Our chairs and directors carefully reviewed all of our course offerings and they found that nearly all classroom instruction can be implemented on a Monday – Thursday schedule while maintaining academic quality. In the few cases where a revised schedule would be problematic, we will either maintain the current schedule or make additional arrangements."
Since last fall, the Five-Star Fridays concept has been talked about at college and administrative unit town hall meetings on campus, at UA’s Faculty Senate and with University Council. It has been discussed among University leadership and within colleges and departments. A survey was conducted of approximately 15,000 students, with nearly 5,000 responses recorded, and conversations have been held with dozens of high school counselors and numerous high school principals.
“We’ve received a lot of favorable feedback about the Five-Star Fridays concept,” said Wilson. “The new scheduling will assist students with their organization and class preparation, facilitate greater preparation for entering the workforce, make possible more flexible learning opportunities, and be yet another of UA’s distinguishing features for prospective and current students.”
Wilson continued, “Among many benefits, Five-Star Fridays will reduce the number of missed classes for student athletes, our elite engineering design teams, academic competition teams and other students who need to travel. It will make scheduling job and internship interviews easier for all students. UA will join departments at a number of major universities in the Washington, D.C. area, for example, that do not schedule Friday classes so that students can intern with government agencies for the entire day. When students use Five-Star Fridays wisely, it will certainly enhance their experience and increase the value of their degree.”
“After surveying thousands of students, the consensus is clear – students support the Five-Star Fridays academic week,” said Taylor Bennington, president of UA’s Undergraduate Student Government. “The idea is innovative, creative, and is just another way UA is setting itself apart in Northeast Ohio.”
The Five-Star Fridays schedule begins with the Fall 2018 semester.
After a two-year layoff, it looks University of Akron is ready to 'play ball' here in the near future.
The school is looking to restore the men's baseball team and add a women's lacrosse team for the 2019-20 academic year.
University President Matthew Wilson joined the Sam and Brad Show Tuesday afternoon to talk about the recommendation which will be presented to the Board of Trustees October 11.
Akron disbanded the program after the 2015 season amid financial issues.
The University of Akron Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to remove the "interim" tag and make it official, naming Matthew Wilson the President of the University.
Wilson was named Interim President back on July 11, 2016, after a tumultuous two years at the university under then President Scott Scarborough. At the time of that appointment, the Board of Trustees put five primary responsibilities on Wilson's plate, the two most important being improving enrollment numbers and improving student retention and relationships with faculty and staff.
In their announcement Wednesday, the board said that Wilson is well on his way to meeting or exceeding all of the goals they set for his term.
Wilson, who was formerly the Dean of the College of Law at the University of Akron, will see his term run through June 30, 2018, per the board.
Also in the meeting, the Board of Trustees removed the "interim" prefix on Sr. Vice President and Provost Dr. Rex Remsier.
Below is the release from the University of Akron Website:
The University’s Trustees voted today to name Matthew J. Wilsonthe University’s 17th president and Dr. Rex Ramsier as senior vice president and provost. Both had been serving in those roles on an interim basis.
Before the votes, Board Chair Roland H. Bauer praised the work done by both.
“In the months since (Wilson’s interim) appointment, he has brought new energy and enthusiasm to all corners of the campus and the community,” Bauer said. “He is personally visiting area high schools – 20 so far with another two dozen scheduled the rest of this semester – talking with students and engaging with principals and counselors to help with our recruitment and enrollment efforts. He has had well over sixty meetings with donors, business and community leaders and public officials. He is conducting “town halls” with the colleges and academic units to foster free-flowing conversations. And, as has been well documented, he has actively engaged with students in the usual and some not-so-usual ways, such as basketball contests and late night email exchanges to provide guidance to students who have asked for help. As he says it so well… ‘It’s all about the students.’”
Speaking about Ramsier, Bauer said, “In similar fashion, stabilizing the academic leadership of the University is critical to our success going forward. Dr. Ramsier’s depth of experience as a faculty member and administrator, his personal devotion to the University as an alumnus, and his broad knowledge of national accrediting agencies and their procedures have secured the confidence of the Board as well. We recognize that as provost, he serves an important ‘gatekeeper’ function to both oversee and push forward the academic mission of the University.”
Read more at UAkron.edu.
The University of Akron will reportedly decide on whether or not they'll make Interim President Matthew Wilson the university's 17th President.
A special meeting of the U of A Board of Trustees is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, at 4:30 p.m., to discuss the matter.
Wilson has been with the University of Akron since 2014 when he was hired as Dean of the College of Law. He was named interim president back in July after former President Scott Scarborough was dismissed after only two years on the job. During his time on the job, Wilson has already made a significant impact, establishing a direct relationship with incoming students and upperclassmen. As part of his effort to better connect to University of Akron students, Wilson even gave out his personal cellphone number at a meeting with students on campus.
At Wednesday's meeting, the Board of Trustees will also consider removing the interim tag on Senior Vice President and Provost Rex Ramsier.
The head of the University of Akron's Experiential Learning (EXL) Center submitted his letter of resignation today. Interim UA President Matthew Wilson confirmed that he received an email from EXL founding director and Priceline.com co-founder Jeff Hoffman stating that he would be stepping down at the end of the month.
"We wish Jeff the best," said Wilson "Part of Jeff's letter to me was very sincere and very kind, offering to continue to assist as we move forward so that's very encouraging."
But there's no word on what will happen to the career-focused program that was launched earlier this year.
"In terms of whether or not it's going to stick around in its own current form or fashion, that's something that we're going to need to explore."