Proenza to step down as president next year

By Heather Beyer, Editor-in-Chief

After 15 years of serving as president of The University of Akron, Luis M. Proenza announced a transition plan to complete his presidency on June 30, 2014 at a regular meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees earlier this month.


The new agreement between President Proenza and the Board states that he will receive an annual base salary of $500,000 beginning Jan. 1, 2014, an increase from his current base of $425,000, which became effective January 1, 2012.

According to the contract, there will be no salary review and no merit increases for 2013 or 2014, nor will he receive any bonus payments in 2014 or 2015.

The agreement also states that President Proenza remains eligible under his contract to receive a retention bonus ($60,000) and performance bonuses (up to $65,000) for work completed during 2012 and 2013.

After his sabbatical, when he returns to campus as a tenured full-time professor, his salary will be equal to the highest paid full-time faculty member or will be reduced to 65 percent of his base pay (whichever is greater).

According to university officials, “this salary reduction is not uncommon in academic presidential transitions to faculty and represents a larger reduction than previously agreed to (from 80 percent of base pay in retirement according to the original contract to 65 percent of base pay in the new agreement).”

Proenza’s credit load will be commensurate with that of a nine-month full-time tenured faculty member.

His tenure rights will expire no later than July 1, 2026.

When his term as president ends, he will return the car provided under his previous agreements. He will also vacate the President’s University Residence on or before Sept. 1, 2014.

According to university officals, Proenza had been discussing the timing and nature of his plans with the Board of Trustees for the last few years.

This official announcement will provide the Board time to search for a successor.

In his 15th and final year as president, Dr. Proenza said he plans to continue steering the university toward achieving the goals stated in Vision 2020 which includes building The Akron Experience.

“The Akron Experience was coined quite some years ago and it was intended to communicate to students and to the public that we were accomplishing a great deal in terms of providing our students with relevant real world experience through internships, co-ops or work study opportunities,” Proenza said in a phone interview.

The Akron Experience, as its name suggests, is distinctively for Akron and is also distinctive for each student on campus.

Jim Tressel, vice president for student success, oversees The Akron Experience and has created a personalized path for students, from their first time on campus through a lifetime of achievement.

According to the university’s website, The Akron Experience begins before students arrive on campus, with an assessment that identifies student expectations, interests and aspirations. Each student’s interests, talents, hopes and dreams are built into an individualized curriculum.

The goal of The Akron Experience is to help students establish connections with advisers and mentors on campus and they will assist them in establishing connections relevant to their career aspirations by finding them co-ops and internships.

“Engineering has always been a shining example because all of our students are expected to do a co-op, and it gives them a huge advantage when they go looking for a job,” Proenza said. “Often, the company that the students do the co-op with is the company that hires them. So we wanted to extend that to a broader cross section of students and also to communicate to prospective students that if they came to The University of Akron, they would increasingly have the opportunity in all areas.”

For continuous coverage of the president’s goals for the 2013-14 school year look in future issues in the Buchtelite.