The University of Akron has seen an increase in the "college-readiness" of its incoming freshmen this year. That's the message delivered to the University's Board Of Trustees Wednesday.
Jim Tressel, UA's Vice President for Strategic Engagement tells AkronNewsNow.com the percentage of students deemed college ready has increased to 58% from 53% heading into the Fall Semester.
The percentage of preparatory students, those with ACT scores of 16 and below, is expected to be 11 percent this year, down from 15 percent last year.
Tressel says UA's new 'Inclusivee Pathways" program is also addressing another problem, the length of time students pursue a degree. "College careers are taking too long. Then all of a sudden out students are accruing way too much loan debt. We really need to focus on being as efficient as we can possibly be," says Tressel.
Tressel credits the University working with more local school districts, and offering more college prep courses in high schools for helping to reduce the time it will take to get a college education.
News Release From The University Of Akron
More "college ready" students will attend UA this fall than last fall, Provost Mike Sherman told the University's Trustees today during the Board's regular meeting.
The improvement is a direct result of the University's new "Inclusive Pathways" model for admissions. The model has been designed to help more students succeed at UA and as post-graduates.
Under the model, each prospective student has a pathway into the University.
"College ready" students, who have an ACT of 21 or more, are admitted directly to their majors.
"Emergent" students, with ACT scores of 17 to 21, are admitted as pre-majors and will receive intentional and intensive support to enhance their readiness.
"Preparatory" students have ACT scores of 16 and below, and increasingly, they are being guided to Wayne College or other partner community colleges for the initial stage in their pathways to the University.
The percentage of incoming college-ready students is estimated to be 58 percent of the class this year, up from 53 percent last year. The percentage of preparatory students is expected to be 11 percent this year, down from 15 percent last year. Learn more about the pathways.
The Strategic Engagement Division has been redesigned to support student success. Jim Tressel, the vice president for strategic engagement, told the Trustees about four appointments:
Dr. Stacey Moore has been named associate vice president for student success. Moore will manage the division's strategic projects, including the new university-wide retention initiative, The Akron Experience. She will also oversee the Office of Accessibility, Off-Campus Student Services, the Counseling Center and the Career Center.
Adam Smith, Fedearia A. Nicholson and Nancy Roadruck have been named assistant vice presidents for student success, taking on additional significant responsibilities.
Smith will oversee the advising, academic support and wrap-around services for emergent students, with the goal of speeding their entry into their degree programs. He will continue to design and manage programs that increase the graduation rates of historically underrepresented students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Prior to this position, Smith was the special assistant to the Office of Academic Affairs and director of STEM student initiatives in the Office of Academic Affairs, where he has designed and implemented institutional and state models of student inclusion and retention.
Nicholson will oversee such student success areas as Financial Aid, the Registrar’s Office, the Student Services Center as well as the academic components of the Office of Multicultural Development and UA’s Learning Communities Program. Prior to assuming her new role, Fedearia served as the director of the Office of Multicultural Development, where she directed first-year programs related to the retention of multicultural students including three learning communities, a supplemental advising program, as well as peer-mentoring services. She led the national award-winning Black Male Summit, which has brought together hundreds of students, educators and policy makers from around the country to discuss African-American males and their success in college.
Roadruck will oversee programs and services that help college-ready students persist and graduate in greater numbers. She had been director of the Academic Advisement Center in University College, and in her new role, she will strive to further improve the consistency and quality of advising services across campus.During her time as director, Roadruck has collaborated with the advising offices in the degree-granting colleges, branch campuses and satellite advising offices to share information, develop best practices and help improve advising for students.
Oelschlager gift helping UA seniors
The Trustees expressed their gratitude to James and Vanita Oelschlager, who donated $60,000 to enable about 100 UA seniors to enroll this fall. Specifically, the seniors would have been unable to continue their education because they were on financial hold, unable to pay for their courses.
Jim Tressel has a new job, but his lifetime goal remains the same as he will continue to work with students.
"I always wanted to be a teacher and coach and for many years I had 150 students, but now I have about 35,000 and that is great," Tressel said.
Monday night, Jim Tressel was the featured speaker for the 10th Annual Shaw Jewish Community Center Sports Dinner in Akron. The former Ohio State University Football Coach is now the vice president for strategic engagement at the University of Akron.
"This is something I have always wanted to do, but I will say that I did not have it planned this early," Tressel said.
Tressel described the past year and a half as stressful for him and his family, but he considers himself lucky to have coached the Buckeyes for 10 years.
"When I was hired, I told my family that I would be lucky to last five years at that level and it would be a dream to last 10 years," Tressel said.
Tressel had a great 15-year run as the head football coach at Youngstown State University before he moved to Columbus to guide the Buckeyes.
In 2002, Ohio State finished 14-0 and won a National Football Championship under his direction.
He says that was a special and memorable moment, but all the teams and big games are different and important to him.
Will he ever coach again?
"Ever is a long time," Tressel said.
After the announcement that Jim Tressel is returning to the University of Akron as vice president of strategic engagement, questions follow surrounding the duties he will hold in his new position.
UA President Luis Proenza says the focus will be on what he calls the "student experience." He says Tressel will be recruiting students and linking them back to the university as alumni.
"His career has consisted of, not so much of the hours on the field, but the countless days, months and years of working with students to elevate their aspirations, to create the opportunity for success and to build their character," said Proenza.
In 1977, Tressel graduated from the University of Akron with a master's degree in education. Prior to hiring Tressel, Proenza contacted the NCAA and made a decision to follow through with plans to bring Tressel to the university.
Many are questioning whether Tressel will have any impact on athletic programs, but Proenza says Tressel will not have any direct involvement.
Before closing out 2011, UA introduced Terry Bowden as the new UA head football coach.
"We have a new coach and they know each other, and they very much respect each other. We don't need two coaches. Mr. Tressel will be focused on helping us build the Akron experience for our students," said Proenza.
Proenza says Tressel's long history working with students will help create a new atmosphere at the university.
Jim Tressel got his first big assistant coaching job at the University of Akron while he earned his Master's degree here; now the journey comes full circle.
Tressel will not be on the football sidelines, at least not in an official capacity, however. The longtime coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who resigned in the wake of the tattoo scandal that sidelined the best players for nearly half the season and sent their star quarterback to the pro ranks early, will be back on the Akron campus as vice president of strategic engagement.
Unlike his appearance as OSU's head football coach, Tressel didn't wear a vest for today's announcement. Instead, he wore a blue jacket and yellow tie -- more in keeping with the University of Akron's school color scheme.
Tressel describes his new job as a coaching position that focuses on education and student success.
"Coaching is not out of my blood. Just like coaching is serving, teaching is serving and administrating is serving. So, that's not out of my blood," said Tressel.
Tressel will help the university identify and support strategies and efforts to promote student success. He will also collaborate and partner with community organizations that will impact students.
Football programs at universities and colleges across the nation who may have been interested in Tressel for his football strategic prowess may have been nervous over engagement in a different venue, with the NCAA, if they hired Tressel for their athletic programs.
The move by the University of Akron appears to avoid those issues by focusing Tressel's efforts on working with various groups, including students, alumni, and stakeholders.
When asked what legacy he would like to leave in Akron, Tressel says he just wants to show people how much he cares about education and student success.
"The legacy I would like to leave is that we truly cared about every student and that the University of Akron is a place of opportunity," said Tressel.
After approval from the Board of Trustees, Tressel will begin working on campus in May with a starting salary of $200,000.
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