President discusses state of UA

” The University of Akron’s State of the University Address was held Wednesday at 3 p.m. in E.J. Thomas’ Stage Door. As the audience mingled shortly before the speech began, they were entertained by a group of three music students on piano, bass and drums.”

The University of Akron’s State of the University Address was held Wednesday at 3 p.m. in E.J. Thomas’ Stage Door.

As the audience mingled shortly before the speech began, they were entertained by a group of three music students on piano, bass and drums.

Three projection screens around the room featured slideshows of Zippy throughout the years, sports pictures throughout the years and the 2008-2009 UA highlights.

The address began with a short video about UA’s history.

Proenza took the podium following the video and promptly welcomed the audience members, which included members of local and state federal officials and their representatives, four members of the board of education and members of the law enforcement agencies.

He briefly mentioned Infocision founder Gary Taylor, who was hospitalized last month, noting that hearts go out to his family.

Today, we gather to celebrate our progress and consider how we can pave the way to an even brighter future, Proenza began.

He introduced five groups of students and faculty members, who he described as exemplifying success.

He began with UA’s new athletics director, Tom Wistrcill, along with three student athletes.

Proenza then introduced the Engineering Robotics team, who earned four medals in the International RoboGames last summer.

A small group of archeologist, business and polymer students were also introduced and had the chance to explain what they are currently working on.

As you can see, these students and faculty members demonstrate truly exemplary achievements and yet they represent just a fraction of the important learning, discovery and transformation taking place every day throughout the university, Proenza said.

He listed some of the university’s recent accomplishments. These include the opening of the Infocision Stadium, being chosen in 2008 to host one of only 42 Confucius Institutes in the country and being honored by Minority Access, Inc. as one of 43 national universities that strive to be role models in promoting diverse academic environments.

Proenza also noted that the Carnegie Foundation recognized UA with a Community Engagement Classification in Curricular Engagement and Outreach and Partnership. The only other public university in Ohio to have such an honor is Ohio State University.

UA has also been recognized as one of the 99 best places to work in Northeast Ohio by the Employers Resource Council.

Proenza proudly listed the achievements of the ongoing renovation campaign, Landscape for Learning, which includes 16 new buildings, 17 major additions and renovations and 34 acres of new green space.

Let us first remember that these accomplishments are possible only because of everything that each and every one of you does to contribute to this success, he said.

For that, a grateful university salutes you.

Proenza stated that the university’s administration should earn and create its own success.

He informed the audience that Akron originates from the Greek word for highest and that being located in Summit County further emphasizes this.

They both reinforce the respect we have gained as well as our aspirations to succeed, he said.

Proenza stated five major goals of the university. These included enhancing student access, creating a vibrant, healthy and diverse campus that is deeply engaged in its surrounding community and establishing selective cross-disciplinary clusters of academic distinction.

The fourth goal is to be nationally recognized for a curriculum in which entrepreneurship innovation and 21st century global competitiveness skills are comprehensively embedded. The last one is to be a primary driver of economic competitiveness in northern Ohio.

We are facing an economic recession and an increasingly competitive environment for higher education, he said.

The current situation is not something that we can simply sit around and wait out. The worst of effects of the major recession is yet to come to Ohio.

UA is one of the few institutions that have not had to lay off employees as a result of the economic recession.

Our students, their families, our faculty and staff have all made significant sacrifices to help us weather this economic storm without abandoning our own plans to advance our university and better serve our students, Proenza explained.

He said that we know from impressions of our visitors that we are ahead of many in addressing significant challenges.

By 2020, Proenza aims to have at least three additional academic and research buildings, between two and three new parking decks and three or more residence halls.

Near the end of his speech, Proenza talked about the new gold standard, which includes being measured by how much value we had in enabling the success of our students.

We must be the instruments of our own success. No one else can or will do it for us, he said.

To conclude his speech, Proenza explained that he decided to restate a quote he said 11 years ago when he was accepted as president of UA.

In realizing our destiny, we recognize that we build upon the shoulders of those who have come before us. We recognize that we build our future together, he said.

Before us lays the exciting opportunity of fulfilling this university’s destiny, he continued.

Let us join together and change the future.