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University of Akron Interim President John Green Says He'll Focus on Finances, Programs

John Green
M.L. Schultze
John Green will be the fourth person to the leadt the University of Akron in four years when he takes over on May 1.

Correction: This story originally referred to John Green as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

The University of Akron's incoming interim president, John Green, is the fourth person to lead the school in four years. And he’s reflecting on what he intends to do when he takes office next week.

Green has been with the university for more than 30 years, and is currently dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. He’ll be working on a transition plan with current President Matt Wilson, who is stepping down to teach at Akron’s law school.

Engaging staff, reviewing programs
In 2016, Wilson succeeded Scott Scarborough, who had a tumultuous two-year reign that included friction with faculty over programs slated for cuts. Last year, the university began reviewing all of its programs, which Green says will be a major focus during his time leading the university.

'We can't however, cut our way out of those problems. We have to find a way to grow our way out of the problems.'

“We want to engage the faculty, the staff, our alumni and members of the community to use this Academic Program Review to chart a way forward for the university. This sort of thing needs to be done from time to time. And I think it’s a great opportunity to do it now.”

Green says the school’s finances will be one of the main things he’s focusing on during the year-or-so he’ll be at the helm. He says the school’s $20 million budget deficit is already being helped by re-financing and delaying debt payments.

Balancing the books
“We certainly are going to have to deal with some financial problems. We can’t, however, cut our way out of those problems. We have to find a way to grow our way out of the problems. So, part of my job is to try to lay the groundwork for those changes so that, as we move forward, we’ll arrive at a position of being financially stable.”

Green adds that a recent round of faculty buyouts not only provides some financial relief, but it gives Akron the opportunity to hire younger faculty, which he says will attract more students.

In addition to finances and the program review, Green says he'll be helping to implement some of the programs started by Wilson, such as a four-day week and an e-sports program, which Green says will be attractive to the university's large number of engineering and science students.

Green says he will not be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.