The University of Akron is a public research university in Akron, Ohio. It is part of the University System of Ohio. As a STEM-focused institution, it focuses on industries such as polymers, advanced materials, and engineering. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".
The University of Akron offers about 200 undergraduate and more than 100 graduate majors and has an enrollment of approximately 18,000 students. The university's School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is housed in a 12-story reflective glass building near downtown Akron on the western edge of the main campus. UA's Archives of the History of American Psychology is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
The university has three branch campuses: Wayne College in Orrville, Ohio; the Medina County University Center, in Lafayette Township, Ohio; and UA Lakewood, in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio. In addition, the university hosts nursing programs in affiliation with Lorain County Community College.
In 1867, at the annual convention of the Universalist Church of the state of Ohio, the Committee on Education expressed an interest in founding a college compatible with Universalist religious principles. It was announced that the location would be given to those who could find an appropriate location and also supply $60,000 for the college. John R. Buchtel, a prominent Akron businessman and Universalist, promptly contributed $25,000 to the endowment fund and $6,000 to the building fund. This led other Akronites to donate, setting the goal and securing Akron as the location for Buchtel College, named after its greatest supporter. John R. Buchtel continued to be the college's most significant contributor, giving $500,000 over his lifetime, approximately equivalent to $16 million today. When the university opened in 1872 it was a single-building campus, housed in what is now known as "Old Buchtel." George Washington Crouse donated $10,000 of the $20,000 needed to build a new gymnasium, completed in 1888. It was named Crouse Gymnasium in his honor, and was known as "the finest gym west of the Alleghenies."
Tragedy struck the small college on December 20, 1899, when Old Buchtel burned to the ground. Insurance only covered $65,000 of the estimated $100,000 in loss. While new campus buildings were being constructed, the Crouse Gymnasium was divided into seven classrooms and served as the college until a new Buchtel Hall was opened in 1901. The new Buchtel Hall, which itself was gutted by fire in 1971, survives to this day but had some blackening on the exterior up until a 2011 restoration.
In 1907, the college shed its Universalist affiliation and became a non-denominational institution, in order to be able to receive funds from the Carnegie Foundation, which would not give funds to religiously affiliated schools. In 1913, Buchtel College trustees transferred the institution and its assets to the city of Akron, and Buchtel College became the Municipal University of Akron. At this time, the enrollment was 198 students. Tax money levied for the school and Akron's growing population led to strong growth for the university. Over the next several decades the university continued to add new buildings to accommodate its growing student population, acquiring more land through purchases and donations. In 1963, Governor Jim Rhodes approved the university as a state-assisted institution. Enrollment in 1964 was 10,000 students. In 1967, it fully became a state university, providing its current name as The University of Akron. In 2015, 25,117 students were enrolled at the University of Akron.
University of Akron's Student union at night
During the tenure of its 15th president, Luis M. Proenza, the University of Akron underwent a $627 million construction project, called "A New Landscape for Learning." A new football stadium, InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field, was also constructed on campus. The new stadium opened for its first game on September 12, 2009. The stadium replaced the Rubber Bowl, which is 3 miles (4.8 km) from campus and was built in 1940.
The university purchased the Quaker Square Crowne Plaza Hotel and shopping complex and uses it as a residence hall space. The university did a land-swap with the city of Akron so that the city may find a new downtown hotel. This means the University of Akron campus is made up of 82 buildings on 222 acres (0.90 km2) near downtown Akron with a total property value of $1.84 billion.
In 2015, the university eliminated over 200 positions as the result of a $6 million budget deficit. Subsequently, in May 2016, Moody's Investors Service, downrated the university's bonds from stable to negative, because of low enrollment and high debts and pension burdens. Moody's upgraded the university's outlook to stable in 2018, citing improved enrollment, rising donations and steps to reduce expenses.
In May 2020, president Miller announced that the university will consolidate its eleven academic colleges into five due to budget issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic; the cut is meant to reduce administrative costs, and "the plan does not cut or change any degree program offerings."
Relationship with tire and rubber industry
The tire and rubber industry and the University of Akron have an overlapping history. Historically, several rubber corporations, such as Goodyear, Firestone, General Tire and Rubber Company, and Goodrich, had their headquarters in Akron. In 1909, the world's first courses in rubber chemistry were offered at the university. The university is also credited with featuring the first College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering in the world, which was founded in 1988.
The University of Akron offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees, ranging from certificate to doctoral programs. The largest college of the university is the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences. Bierce Library is the main campus library. It is named for Lucius Bierce, a Civil War era General, whose personal library constituted the first collection of the University Libraries.
The University of Akron comprises the following colleges, schools, and campuses:
- Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences
- College of Business
- College of Engineering and Polymer Science
- College of Health and Human Sciences
- The Graduate School
- School of Law
- School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering
- Williams Honors College
- Wayne College
The university offers about 200 undergraduate majors. In conjunction with the Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), the university offers an Early Assurance Pathway to the NEOMED MD program. The University of Akron is also the first and only university in the nation to offer a baccalaureate program in corrosion engineering.
Williams Honors College
The University of Akron Honors College students earn degrees from any of the four-year accredited colleges in the university while receiving special advisement and having the opportunity to live in the Honors Complex, a resident hall exclusively for honors students. The University announced on February 3, 2016 that the college was renamed in honor of Dr. Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams.
The University of Akron currently offers more than 105 graduate degrees to approximately 4,000 graduate students. The graduate schools at the University of Akron variously offer the Master's degree, PhD, J.D., and LL.M., among others. The Cleveland Clinic and University of Akron have formed the Integrated Bioscience Fellowship in Biomedicine. Fellowships will allow students to conduct cutting-edge research at the University of Akron and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute while pursuing a PhD in Integrated Bioscience. Recipients of Fellowships will be able to work with faculty at both institutions.
The University of Akron School of Law was founded in 1921 as Akron Law School and became affiliated with the University in 1959, becoming fully accredited by the American Bar Association in 1961. It has both day and evening full-time and part-time programs that lead to the J.D. and LL.M. The University of Akron School of Law is also one of only 22 institutions in America to offer the LL.M. in intellectual property, and one of two such programs in Ohio.
Goodyear Polymer Center
The Goodyear Polymer Center (commonly referred to as "the polymer building"), is a 146,000 sq. ft. research facility, located at the university. Built by Richard Fleischman & Associates and completed in 1991, the center comprises two 12-story and nine-story towers connected by glass-enclosed walkways that serve as areas for informal interaction. It is the 8th tallest building in Akron. It contains eight large polymer synthesis groups, computer simulation and modeling capabilities, a microscopy suite, molecular and morphological characterization labs, surface analysis facilities, and thermal analysis and mechanical properties testing equipment.
The Goodyear Polymer Center houses both the Department of Polymer Science and the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. The building houses classrooms, approximately 60 labs, 20 faculty offices, and 25 offices with 200 modules arranged in clusters for students and researchers. It contains the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center, the Paul J. Flory Reading Room, The International Rubber Science Hall of Fame portrait gallery, The Applied Polymer Research Center, and the 213-seat Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company Auditorium.
Research at The University of Akron involves all colleges and numerous multi-disciplinary centers and labs. UA is perhaps best known for the application of polymer and advanced materials expertise in the fields of manufacturing, medical devices and technology, air filtration, advanced energy, emerging green technologies, and microelectronic and optical devices. Prominent research centers include:
- The National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance (NCERCAMP). Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, NCERCAMP is the only center of its kind providing multi-disciplinary approaches to help government and industry develop solutions for corrosion and materials performance challenges. UA is also home to the nation's first corrosion engineering degree program in the country.
- The Conquer Chiari Research Center is focuses on Chiari malformation and improving the outcomes of patients.
- CenTiRe, the Center for Tire Research, is a National Science Foundation/University Cooperative Research Center and consortium of tire and tire-related industry members.
- State of Ohio Center of Excellence: Polymers and Advanced Functional Materials.
- The Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics is a bipartisan research institute dedicated to increasing understanding of the political process with emphasis on political parties, grassroots activity, and ethical behavior.
The University of Akron's athletic teams are known as the "Zips," originally short for "Zippers," overshoes with zippers made in the 1920s and 1930s. The university's mascot is "Zippy," a kangaroo. Zippy is one of eight female college mascots in the United States. Zippy won the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year in 2007.
Akron facilities include InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field, the James A. Rhodes Arena, and the FirstEnergy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.
In football, Akron's major rivalry is with Kent State University. In 2005, the Akron Zips football team won their first MAC championship, allowing them to compete for the Motor City Bowl, Akron's first Division I-A bowl game appearance where they lost to the University of Memphis.
In soccer, the Akron Zips men's soccer team, ranked number one throughout the 2009 regular season, went undefeated, making it to the NCAA Men's Division I Soccer Championship. The following season they secured the 2010 "College Cup" against the University of Louisville. This was the first NCAA national team championship won by the University of Akron.
In 2009, the men's basketball team won the MAC Tournament title, defeating Buffalo in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena 65–53, thus qualifying Akron for its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1986 and first as a MAC member. In 2010, the team reached the MAC Tournament Championship game for the fourth straight year, but lost in overtime. The Zips played in the postseason CBI tournament where they lost to Wisconsin–Green Bay 70–66.
The University of Akron is home to more than twenty fraternities and sororities.
- Kappa Kappa Gamma is the oldest continuous sorority chapter on the campus, locally founded in 1877.
- The Lone Star Fraternity (Pi Kappa Epsilon) is the oldest local fraternity in the United States,
and the only chapter in existence. Lone Star Fraternity was founded by W.V.N. Yates on February 22, 1882. The 135th anniversary was celebrated in 2017.
- Alpha Delta Pi was founded on the University of Akron's campus as "Sigma Delta Theta" in 1920 and at the time it was the oldest local sorority on campus. Sigma Delta Theta later became the Beta Tau chapter of Alpha Delta Pi in 1938.
- The Ohio Epsilon chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, founded in 1875, serves as the oldest continuous Greek-letter organization on campus.
- Former Akron Zips football players Chase Blackburn, Charlie Frye, Domenik Hixon, Dwight Smith, and Jason Taylor have each gone on to find success in the National Football League. Blackburn and Hixon were members of the 2008 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, while Smith won a Super Bowl Ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and was named the NFL's Man of the Year in 2007.
- Baseball players Mike Birkbeck and Mark Malaska have gone on to find success in Major League Baseball. Birkbeck played for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1986 to 1989 and the New York Mets in 1992 and 1995. Malaska played for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2003 and was a member of the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Former Zips baseball player Keith Dambrot went on to become a distinguished college basketball coach.
- Soccer players in the MLS (23) include Colorado Rapids (1): Dillon Serna (2012); Columbus Crew (2): Chad Barson (2009–12), Wil Trapp (2011-12); D.C. United (2): Perry Kitchen (2010), Chris Korb (2008–10); Houston Dynamo (1): Kofi Sarkodie (2008–10); Montreal Impact (2): Evan Bush (2005–08), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (2004-06); New England Revolution (1): Scott Caldwell (2009–12); New York Red Bulls (1): Eric Stevenson (2009–13); Philadelphia Union (2): Robbie Derschang (2012–13), Aodhan Quinn (2011-13); Portland Timbers (6): Bryan Gallego (2011–13), David Meves (2009–12), Darlington Nagbe (2008–10), Michael Nanchoff (2007–10), Steve Zakuani (2007–08), Ben Zemanski (2006-09); Seattle Sounders (2): Blair Gavin (2007–09), DeAndre Yedlin (2011-12); Sporting Kansas City (2): Reinaldo Brenes (2010–13), Teal Bunbury (2008-09); Vancouver Whitecaps (1): Darren Mattocks (2010–11).
- Track and field athlete Shawn Barber, went professional in 2015, signing with Nike, after winning the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Men's Pole Vault. Clayton Murphy is a professional middle-distance track runner with Nike, and earned the bronze medal in the 800m in the 2016 Olympic Games.
- Cheerleader Alexis Kaufman, known as Alexa Bliss, has held a combined total of seven championships in WWE. She is also both the second and youngest woman to be named a WWE Triple Crown (professional wrestling).
- Basketball player Kwan Cheatham plays for Ironi Nes Ziona of the Israel Basketball Premier League.
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