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Alum says UA should be better appreciated

6/5/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Over the past four decades, I have witnessed my alma mater, The University of Akron (UA), transform itself on numerous levels. Others, too, have experienced this positive growth and rightly express their delight at seeing how the community and region benefit by UA’s presence.

We now have a beautiful, well-defined campus as we should. Gone are the days of a drab, disintegrated footprint with inner-city streets chopping it up, compromising its identity.  

This physically integrated transformation has opened the door to a more community-friendly institution where many non-UA people come from all over the region to enjoy UA’s hospitality. This is evidenced by more of the public from this and other areas visiting campus sub-venues from E.J. Thomas Hall to Rhodes Arena, to InfoCision Stadium-Summa Field to Hower House and more.

But there is another important aspect of our city’s crown jewel that deserves to be recognized. Our University of Akron continues to be at the forefront of collaboration with this and surrounding communities. Added to this is UA’s well-respected reputation for its regional, national and global partnerships. The success of these partnerships is the litmus test for a university’s ability to effectively reach out beyond the physical campus. The University of Akron has more than passed this test. In fact, I would go so far as saying it invented it.

Currently, we have numerous collaborations between UA and other entities in this community as well as neighboring, regional, national and global communities. Together these efforts have been proudly dubbed “The Akron Model” and include: The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, The University of Akron Research Foundation, University Park Alliance, The National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance, the Timken Engineered Surface Laboratories, STEM middle and high schools, the National Polymer Innovation Center, the Confucius Institute and more.

Additional collaborations in other communities take the form of partnering with Lorain County Community College, Stark State College in Canton, The Medina County University Center and centers in Lakewood, Brunswick, Millersburg and, of course, our Wayne College satellite in Orrville.

As these partnerships in other communities increase in size and number, UA was asked to share “The Akron Model” for higher education with others in academics and businesses across the nation and overseas. The fact that others want to emulate our university’s ability to go beyond its physical boundaries for the sake of the common good is something of which to be proud.

The institutions that have invited us to share our “Akron Model” include: the National Academy of Sciences, The International Economic Development Council, The Brookings Institute, The German Institute for Economic Development in Berlin, The University of Western Ontario in Canada, The Czech Republic and the city of LeMans in France, among many others.

Yet, some in our backyard need to be a little less myopic about UA’s successful relationships with this and other communities. They would do well to shed the benighted, parochial thinking, which prevents them from having a better appreciation of “globe-and-gown.”

It is time for many in our community to gather facts that would help them to appreciate UA’s presence in the city, region and world.

David Culp, West Akron

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