University of Akron sees increase in donations, names student center for donor

AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron has seen a significant increase in donations, officials said Wednesday.

Vice President of Development Kim Cole told university trustees that the $16.2 million in gifts, gifts-in-kind and pledges received from July 1 to Dec. 31 2017 was a 57 percent increase over the same time period last year.

That figure does not include a $20 million gift from the Jean Hower Taber estate. 

In addition, 47 percent more new donors were added during that period, compared to last year, the university said.

More than $300,000 was raised for the Making a Difference, Moving Forward scholarships and an additional $4.2 million was raised for other endowed and on-endowed scholarships.

Support has improved since May 2016, when President Scott Scarborough resigned. Alumni, faculty, students and community leaders lost trust in Scarborough as initiatives such as rebranding the university as Ohio’s Polytechnic University did not succeed.

In other news, trustees:

Named the student union the Jean Hower Taber Student Union in recognition of the $20 million gift last fall from her estate.

University of Akron receives largest gift ever – $20 million for scholarships

Taber was a longtime community volunteer, philanthropist and supporter of the university.

Approximately two-thirds of the gift will support the scholarships. The remainder will underwrite maintenance for UA’s Hower House, the Hower family mansion that offers exhibits and programs to the public, and fund programming.

“The naming is the best way to acknowledge and remember our enduring gratitude to Jean Hower Taber and her family,” President Matthew Wilson said at the meeting. “The building is at the very heart of campus; it’s a hub of activity and a gathering place for all. And from now on it will be named in honor of a remarkable woman whose benevolence will forever change our university and countless students.”

Received an update on the budget. The university is taking efforts to reduce the planned $29 million budget deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Nathan Mortimer, vice president for finance and administration, told the board. Revenue from tuition and fees is expected to be in line with projections, but the state will provide $1.6 million less than expected. By holding down expenditures, it is estimated that approximately $20 million will need to be withdrawn from the reserve fund to balance the budget.

Approved a certificate in social media. A 12-credit hour certificate in social media was developed by the School of Communication. Current students will be able to add to their distinctiveness with this certificate, while professionals can update their skills and knowledge.

Approved bonus payments. Eleven bonus payments totaling $132,434 were awarded to head football coach Terry Bowden and assistant coaches for winning the Mid-American Conference East division title and appearing in the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. Bowden received $50,000.

Three bonus payments totaling $26,833 were made to head men’s soccer coach Jared Embick and assistant coaches for appearing in the NCAA tournament and team achievements. Embick received $21,000.

Athletic Director Larry Williams received two bonus payments totaling $13,500 for the football team winning the Mid-American Conference East division title and for a postseason bowl appearance and for the soccer team receiving a top sixteen seed in the NCAA tournament. 

Received an update on student initiatives. UA Scholars Day, an event for admitted high school seniors and their families, drew 580 students on Jan. 20, compared to 548 students in 2017 and 461 students in 2016.

The Student Emergency Financial Assistance program, supported by the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates – DASH Emergency Grant, has provided more than $62,000 in emergency assistance to 85 students. Support included helping students pay for car repairs and new tires.

 

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