2015 a Year of Turmoil at University of Akron

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University of Akron sports had a good year with its football team winning a Division One bowl game for the first time,  its soccer team getting to the NC-double-A semifinals, and its pole vaulter, Shawn Barber, winning a World Championship in Beijing.

But for school president Scott Scarborough it’s been a tough year.   We have a look back from Ideastream’s Mark Urycki..

 

Scott Scarborough is a numbers guy; he started as an accountant. Almost immediately after he arrived at Akron he began looking to make changes.  It didn’t take long before rumors flew that he would change the school name to Ohio Polytechnic. 

After that caused an uproar the school only added it as a tag line to its name. 

But Scarborough insisted changes need to be made, saying regional colleges in the Midwest may not survive. . .

“You’ve got institutions like ours that are kinda stuck in the middle that need to make this move  - either to a niche university or more of a national university.  That’s the choice. “ 

That comment sparked protests from officials at other state colleges in Northeast Ohio who felt slighted.  But it was minor compared to the complaints over solving what Scarborough called Akron’s “$60 million dollar challenge.”

That’s a $30 million dollar deficit with $30 million in new spending, mostly for building renovations.

In July he cut 161 non-teaching positions and left some faculty positions vacant.    

The president of the faculty union John Zipp argued those budget moves should have been done through the University Council.

“If we want this university to succeed, the road to success is with the faculty not over the faculty.”  

The administration also dropped the baseball team, and eliminated the staff at EJ Thomas Performing Arts Hall.   Now, community leaders were angered due to the importance of the arts hall to the city.  

Scott Scarborough will start the new year with some help. He’ll get advice from a new group known as the University of Akron Business Executive Advisory Council made up of CEO’s from the likes of Goodyear, FirstEnergy, and GoJo industries. 

 

Mark.Urycki@ideastream.org

 

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