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University of Akron President Considers Governor's Call for Cuts

Scott Scarborough
Scott Scarborough

The University of Akron president Scott Scarborough began his career as an accountant and says the tightening of school budgets is one reason why people with financial backgrounds like himself are being hired. The governor has complained that the cost of higher education is too high. Scarborough explains why tuition in Ohio has gone up faster than inflation.

“It’s because state appropriations have gone down; it’s not because the cost structure of higher education has gone up.”

Scarborough just started contract talks with his faculty at the same time that the governor wants a freeze in tuition. Some state legislators argue that a 5 percent CUT in tuition would be better. That puts Akron in a difficult position.

“We might look for the first time to talking about incentive-type pay rather than straight across the board types of adjustments. If you’re looking at a 2% or zero increase there isn’t a big pool of money for an across the board solution. But what it might do is shift the conversation to: 'OK, if things get better how does everyone participate in that improvement?'”

And at a time when Akron would like to build a new basketball arena on campus, the governor is calling for schools to sell off assets. Scarborough hopes that idea is not simply to solve a short-term problem.

“As long as you’re not selling assets to fill a one-time need then it’s something that could be a legitimate decision that a university might make. You don’t want to sell an asset that has a 30 year revenue stream in order to solve a one year problem.”

Scarborough says it’s unclear whether Akron will renovate its old arena or build new but he says they’ll a need a donor to make it happen.