'It’s An Extraordinary Time:' University of Akron Reduces Colleges To Five

The front of the University of Akron School of Law building with signage
The University of Akron School of Law is among the five colleges in the restructuring plan. [Annie Wu / ideastream]

The University of Akron is eliminating six of its 11 colleges, University President Gary Miller said, as part of a series of cost-cutting measures, including a drastic campus restructuring plan, passed by the school’s board of trustees Friday.

Projections show the university may see a possible $65 to $70 million loss due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The reimagined University of Akron will include “a large College of Arts and Sciences,” said Miller as well as the College of Engineering and Polymer Science, the School of Business, the College of Health Sciences and the School of Law.

“It puts academic programs that are closely related under the same administrative unit,” he said. “There's a chance there for collaboration. It will save us quite a bit of administrative costs. It gives us a lot more flexibility to respond to needs and makes our management team more efficient.”

The University’s Board of Trustees on Friday also approved a series of cost-cutting measures related to personnel, including furloughs, salary reductions and increasing the contribution staff make to their university healthcare plans.

Miller said in all his time in higher education, he’s never seen the blows that universities and colleges are taking right now because of the pandemic. But he remains confident about how administrators have responded and said the restructuring will increase the chances for the University of Akron “to grow” in the future, he said.

“You know, it's going to be a challenge for all of us. There are going to be a lot of sacrifices we have to make,” said Miller. “We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. But it's also bringing out the best parts of many of us.”

According to the process summary included in the trustees' restructuring plan, Miller and his team have tried to keep the University of Akron community as informed and involved in the changes as possible.

The academic deans were charged with developing a new academic structure in April, “with a reduced number of colleges having a unified intellectual and pedagogical approach,” the document said. The draft plan was shared with The University of Akron community on May 6, 2020, according to the summary, and feedback was solicited through discussion boards as well as a confidential submission form, which gathered more than 280 pieces of feedback.

 

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