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Wilson, president at perfect time

By Megan Hanft,

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Professor Matthew Wilson transformed into President Matthew Wilson within a matter of months. He has created a whole new aura for The University of Akron that makes people feel comfortable on their campus, and he regularly engages with students and always appears at as many events as possible.

Wilson has broken down a wall that was formed between students and [the previous administration]. He makes every effort to be supportive and attentive to students’ needs, and they can tell that he truly cares about the University and all past, present, and future Zips.

Being a UA ambassador has its perks, one of which is getting the opportunity to listen to [Wilson’s ideas]. I loved [the one] of driving an ice cream truck around campus and giving out free ice cream while playing the University’s “fight song.” (However, his co-leaders did not have the same excitement about the idea, so do not get too excited fellow Zips.)  I developed a large amount of respect for Wilson through his genuineness and leadership.

On “Fall Visit Day,” where prospective students toured UA, he was mingling among the visiting families. The majority of people did not know he was the [interim] president of the University until after their conversation due to his approachableness. Wilson is making his best effort to connect with all students.

The new president is the opposite from boastful, and most of his work is behind the scenes. Students get the opportunity to interact with the president daily when he plays basketball at the rec. Zips began to recognize the outgoing president after he played basketball with students outside the Union and gave away gift cards to students who could beat him. His office is not just a room, but the whole campus itself.

Personally, I have yet to hear a negative remark about the new president. My friends frequently tell stories about their own interactions with Wilson. It could be as simple as a “tweet” back from him on Twitter, but most of the time the stories are about how awesome they think the president is and that he attended their event.

Wilson is a down-to-earth person that came to be president at the perfect time UA needed him. Not many people have the confidence to take on such a leadership role as his and at such a vital time. Wilson has already made great strides for UA in his short time as interim president and has proven that he will do greater things in his new, permanent presidency.

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3 Responses to “Wilson, president at perfect time”

  1. Jeanne Semilia on October 25th, 2016 3:34 PM

    I agree….President Wilson is awesome!! He has responded to every email I’ve sent to him…and I’ve sent him many (both as a UA employee and as the parent of a UA student). In the short time he’s been in office, he has made such a difference in morale on this campus. If he was in the running for President of the United States, I’d totally vote for him in this election….but then we wouldn’t have him here. President Wilson will make UA great again!!

  2. Priscilla R. Smith, Ph.D. on October 25th, 2016 6:55 PM

    In an effort to honor the institution’s established hiring process and even more importantly, shared governance, Matthew Wilson would do well to decline the Board of Trustees’ unilateral promotion. This would contribute to rebuilding trust with the students, faculty, and community. See the Akron Beacon Journal’s editorial from Saturday, 10-22-16 on this.

  3. Dave Witt on October 26th, 2016 12:03 AM

    Regarding UA Ambassador Megan Hanft’s Oct. 24th guest viewpoint “Wilson, president at perfect time”: While all indications may be that the previously interim administrators (Interim President and Interim Provost) are capable managers, making them permanent officers without formally discussing the move with faculty violates an almost sacred pact in higher education, that of shared governance. Shared governance necessarily means bringing such fundamentally important decisions into formal discussion with official governing bodies such as the Faculty Senate, the faculty and the staff labor unions, and student government, then weighing input while making an informed decision.

    Without a complete rehash of the previous administration’s track record, the failure of the Board of Trustees to engage in shared governance is precisely what got the institution into the dire straits in which it currently finds itself. And now they are at it again – nothing has fundamentally changed with the Board.

    Had the Board asked the opinion of either of the faculty governing bodies, they most likely would have heard two things: First, there would be the question “Why is there such a rush to appoint, when neither officer was asking for a change in their appointments”. Second, there would be the reminder that the Board owes the university community a chance to share in their decision and perform national searches so that the university community could vet the candidates, make their own recommendations, and feel a part of the process. Certainly both the interim officers could make their respective cases if they wished to do so.

    The idea of such searches is to provide an opportunity through shared governance to select the very best officers the academic world has to offer. That door is now closed. More importantly by making unilateral decisions without even bothering to ask for other opinions, the Board is priming itself for continued failures while robbing the two appointed officers of the mandate a search would afford them.

    That said, I do wish both President Wilson, and Provost Ramsier good fortune going forward. I hope they will be reminded from time to time that they have partners in the success of the institution, whether or not the Board of Trustees wishes to acknowledge them.

    David Witt,
    Emeritus Professor and Senior Lecturer