AKRON—The University of Akron is moving forward with a redesigned plan for overhauling the makeup of the institution, including the possibility of turning the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering into a school within another college.
The new plan, being considered as part of the university's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, envisages combining programs into new colleges and decreasing the number of colleges it supports across the university to reduce overheads.
UA Executive Vice President and Provost John Wiencek said the revised proposal is based on feedback from faculty after the release of the original proposal earlier, the university said in an email to the campus community
As for the internationally recognized College of Polymer Science, it's likely the new college would somehow include the "polymer" name, the plan said. The earlier version of the plan intended to turn the college into an institute.
The revised plan has been submitted to the university's faculty senate for additional feedback; specifically, the university is looking for feedback on where to put the mathematics and statistics program and the cybersecurity and digital forensics degrees.
University President Gary Miller and Wiencek intend to present a plan at a special meeting of the board of trustees on May 29.
Formally established in 1988, the College of Polymer Science's tradition as a leader in polymer science and polymer engineering began as early as 1909 when C. M. Knight, a professor and chemical consultant at Buchtel College—the university's forerunner—introduced a rubber chemistry course to help serve the then-burgeoning rubber industry in Akron.
Other milestones include establishing the Ph.D. program in polymer chemistry in 1964; the Department of Polymer Science in 1967; and the Department of Polymer Engineering in 1984; and opening the distinctive 146,000-sq.-ft. "twin-tower" Goodyear Polymer Center as the college's home in 1991.
Among its assets are the National Polymer Innovation Center, a facility specializing in functional multilayer film processing and advanced materials development for applications in electronics, coatings, membranes, biomedical, and specialty products; and the Akron Functional Materials Center, an initiative designed to facilitate "value-added engagement" with industrial partners to accelerate research discoveries towards commercialization.
Throughout the past couple of decades, the college has attracted a distinguished faculty and built a wealth of knowledge that is core to Northeast Ohio becoming known as "Polymer Valley." It's one of only a dozen or so universities in the U.S. to offer degrees in polymer science and one of just a handful offering degrees in elastomer studies.