UPDATE 11:07a --- The man accused of killing Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner was found guilty of aggravated murder Thursday morning. 

KenanIveryAtTrial1015Kenan Ivery was found guilty on all the counts against him, with the exception of the tampering with evidence charge. (photo courtesy Summit County Prosecutor's Office)

There were 15 counts in all -- including the aggravated murder charge and two counts of attempted murder.

The guilty verdict returned in the aggravated murder charge means the death penalty is still on the table.

The same jurors will consider if Ivery lives or dies in the penalty phase, which starts on Tuesday morning.

The potential sentences for the aggravated murder conviction are the death penalty, life in prison with no parole, or life in prison with parole eligibilty after 20, 25 or 30 years behind bars.

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The verdict in the murder trial of Kenan Ivery, the man accused of killing Akron Police Officer Justin Winebrenner and wounding several others, is expected to be read this morning.

According to court officials, the verdict will be read at 10:30 a.m.

Ivery is facing 15 charges, including one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. 

The 36-year-old is accused of killing off-duty cop Winebrenner during an argument after Ivery was kicked out of Papa Don's Pub last November. 

Ivery admitted on the stand to firing the shots, but he claims it was in self defense and he feared for his life. 

The prosecution insists that Ivery came back into the bar, with a gun, for revenge.

Previous Coverage: 

Jury Deliberates In Ivery Murder Trial

Self-Defense Claim Could Negate Death Penalty

Ivery Claims Self-Defense In Murder Trial

UPDATE Trial Begins For Accused Akron Cop Killer

 

 

University of Akron President Dr. Scott Scarborough took center stage at a town hall meeting-style discussion on campus Monday.

Nearly one hundred students showed up to the Student Union to ask the president anonymous questions by sending text messages which displayed on a monitor.

Scarborough touched on about 25 topics during the two hour meeting. One of the most popular issues was the cuts made at E.J Thomas Hall.

"When we looked at the economic performance of E.J. Thomas it was losing in any year anywhere between one-point-two and two millions dollars," said Scarborough. "And given the financial challenges that we had overall we need to find a way to continue with E.J. Thomas, but not lose that much per year."

Many students were also looking for answers about the elimination of the varsity baseball program.

"Our commitment to intercollegiate athletics is very strong, but the question is always going to be 'what is the appropriate level of investment ?', said Scarborough. "We are an academic institution first and foremost , so we're always going to make those decisions that we believe are going to keep this university stronger."

Something that will not be dismissed anytime soon, according to Scarborough, is the name of the university. He addressed that once again as well.

"The name of the university does not change, so the degree will continue to say 'The University of Akron'," said Scarborough. "What we're trying to do is to take the University of Akron's great name and all of the equity and strength that it has and make it even stronger."

And don't worry, Zippy isn't going anywhere either.

"I've never heard of one person that wants to get rid of Zippy, not one," said Scarborough. "And I've heard many different ideas, so I think that suggests that Zippy is beloved. In fact, she is on our list of university strengths ."

Senior PR major Sofia Syned was one of the students in attendance . She says she wasn't very satisfied with how Scarborough answered the questions.

"I believe he did not answer those questions," she said. "I feel like they were scripted and a lot of people's questions weren't answered that were texted in."

Fellow student Israa Eddeb agrees and thinks the school is being run more like a business and less like...a school.

"I feel like what the university is currently doing is trying to market the school as opposed to helping the students ", she said. "I feel like the student are less priority, the current students especially. They're looking just towards the future students. So I really want to know how are they going to help us now and not the future students coming up?"

Undergraduate Student Government Chief of Staff Megan Bodenchatz, who helped put on the event, says even though there may still be some concerns, she was satisfied with Scarborough's answers.

"I think that there still is a little bit of murky water, but overall I think that he did a really great job of trying to communicate with the students what's going on in the university and what the future of the university holds." she said.

Other topics that were addressed included campus safety, a possible k-12 laboratory school, the impact of LeBron James' partnership, the reduced cost of gen-ed courses, and the infamous olive jar.

Sunday, 04 October 2015 17:49

VIDEO 500 People Share Meal On Akron Innerbelt

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It's not the first time San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks has done something like this -- but it is his largest project. 

With help from the Knight Foundation, Franks was able to bring together 500 Akronites together for one shared meal on a 500-foot long table. Oh -- and it's sitting on Akron's Innerbelt.  

Monday, 14 September 2015 12:17

Photo Raises Concerns Over Possible UA Name Change

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There's been a lot of back-and-forth as to whether or not the University of Akron is changing its official name. Northeast Ohio Media Group published a story last week about the University of Akron Women's Committee who were upset with the new band uniforms that no longer feature the word "Akron" or the letter "A". The committee is concerned that it could be the next step in the direction of a name change.

UA officials responded, stating that "Z" is unique, and helps UA with its marketing. But concerns only grew when NEOMG published a photo of a slide that was reportedly shown by university officials at presentations. It showed three different logos -- with the business name as "The Ohio Tech University."

University officials are once again working to clear up any confusion or rumors circulating the web.

In an email, UA spokesman Wayne Hill says the slide referenced in NEOMG's story was introduced several months ago when the university was exploring "a name change as part of strategic planning conversations." But he says the name change was "considered and then discarded." That's when UA decided to move forward with rebranding the university as "Ohio's Polytechnic University."

Also -- there are currently no active trademarks related to a possible name change, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) online database. But there are trademark files related to updating the university's logo to include "Ohio's Polytechnic University" -- which is currently being used on the university's website and in publications.

The most recent logo/design was issued on September 3rd -- which featured UA's mascot, Zippy, who appears to be wearing the athletic logo "Z" on his shirt instead of the letter "A."

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Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office

Friday, 11 September 2015 17:46

UA Women's Committee: Where's "Akron"?

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The University of Akron Women's Committee is upset about UA's marching band uniforms - which are missing the word "Akron" and the letter "A".

And committee president Louise Harvey says that kind of change could be a sign that the University of Akron will indeed change its name at some point.

Harvey says the Committee donated $11,000 for some new band raincoats and bags...which don't have name Akron or "A" on them either.

"We are very unhappy to learn that the name 'The University of Akron', and not even the word Akron," Harvey tells WAKR.net, "is anywhere on the new uniforms, or the raincoats we purchased, or on the carrying bags."

The new uniforms feature the same "Z" logo adopted by the athletics department.

The women's committee sent a letter to UA president Scott Scarborough, Gov. Kasich and state education officials decrying the changes, and the rebranding of the University of Akron as "Ohio's Polytechnic University".

Harvey says she's concerned that a full name change is still in UA's future.

In a statement, UA Vice President for Advancement Lawrence Burns says:

"Using the 'Z' on the band uniforms – just as is being done on the football uniforms – along with the well-recognized 'Zips' and the blue and gold uniform colors, helps leverage our branding and marketing efforts, as no other school is using the 'Z'."

"We believe that the distinctive positioning of the University as 'Ohio's Polytechnic University' – not a name change, but a way to showcase its many strengths – encompasses the breadth and depth of the University and embraces its heritage of providing opportunities for generations of students to pursue the American Dream."

Burns says the university appreciates the Women's Committee's support over many years.

Tuesday, 08 September 2015 11:35

UA Uses Video To Explain Polytechnic

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The University of Akron has been using the brand "Ohio's Polytechnic University" since May...but now, the university is reading a more extensive campaign.

UA president Scott Scarborough, in a letter to the university community, says the new branding's link to the university catches on with people when explained individually.

But he says that process "is too slow" and that the new campaign needs to reach many to explain what makes UA different.

The campaign starts with a two-minute video Scarborough says will be the "first brush stroke" painting the larger polytechnic experience at UA.

The new video is posted on a website named "AreYouOutThere.com" and uses the tagline "The Power of Many". 

No relief for the University of Akron and its president Scott Scarborough with a new YouTube video that uses paper sack puppets in a parody of Scarborough and others. The video was uploaded by a group that calls itself Graduates over Greed.

As of 6:00 this morning, the video was well on the way to nearly 3,500 views; the group also has a Facebook page. The now-famous antique olive jar that decorates the Scarborough bedroom makes the cut. There were a couple of violinists outside a recent board of trustees meeting that are also part of the joke. 

ADVANCE NOTICE -- some of the language in the video clip may not be welcome with the kids listening.

 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015 13:32

UA Protesters: "Akron Is Scarred"

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Ode to an Antique Olive Jar:

"O Olive Jar! You are empty while I am sad. 

I cannot afford to fill thee with expensive imported olives."

The poem, written by University of Akron graduate and retired educator Wendy Duke, was intended to symbolize the feeling of disgust that many are attaching to an $556 decorative olive jar recently purchased for the university-owned presidential residence.

Duke and dozens of others waited nearly two hours outside the doors of room 339 inside the Student Union. UA Board of Trustees were scheduled to meet in a public session around 9 a.m. The nearly two-hour wait was plenty of time for protesters to voice their opinions and express their concerns surrounding UA's recent budget cuts, including the elimination of 213 jobs. 

28-year veteran English professor Antonia Forster made it very clear why she showed up.

"Generalized rage about the way the university is being destroyed by this attitude that money is the only thing that matters," said Forster.

People like Forster are mad about the elimination of staff and proposed reconfiguration of the UA Press, EJ Thomas Hall and the hiring of an inexperienced company to provide success coaches to students.

"The faculty is being treated like morons and lied to all the time and each time one lie gets pointed out, they come up with another one," said Forster. "There's a pattern of getting rid of all the people who know how to do things and replacing them with cheap people who don't know what they're doing."

Kristie Kern and her 10-year-old son, Kenton, were also in attendance outside the board of trustees meeting, using their violins as a way to express their concerns and present a symbolic message to represent the changes and job cuts at EJ Thomas Hall. Kern's husband, Kevin, is a UA history professor and also a member of the UA Press board.

"We, most especially, are upset about the situation with EJ Thomas Hall," said Kern. "This is why we brought our violins, my son and I, to represent the loss of performance opportunities at EJ Thomas."

Olive Protest2 Amani

But much of the attention was placed on the support offered for president Scott Scarborough, drawing snickers from people who were hoping to hear the opposite.While it was business as usual inside room 339 as UA board of trustees.

"We believe Dr. Scott Scarborough has appropriately and effectively addressed the issues presented to him," said Pavloff, who was then interrupted by the crowd's laughter. reconvened following an executive session Wednesday morning, Scarborough and Board Chairman Jonathon Pavloff did admit to making mistakes -- saying the administration could have done a better job delivering the message.

The board of trustees did not hear or answer questions from the public.

Previous Coverage:

Olive Jar Discussion Continues

Scott Scarborough: Unplugged

Eliminate UA Football: Not So Simple

UA President's House Repairs Cost More Than It's Worth

UA Planning To Cut Jobs, Baseball Program

 

 

Thursday, 06 August 2015 15:56

Scott Scarborough: Unplugged

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The University of Akron is offering a more detailed explanation about its budget crisis that has dominated social and traditional media the last couple of weeks.

The university's method to fill a $60 million two-year hole is well-publicized but offering insight to media and the community has been reactive and sporadic until today. UA President Dr. Scott Scarborough agreed to answer our questions. Just hours after the exclusive conversation, the university began spreading the link to a new page on its website that is dedicated to giving a different take to some media reports.

The interview is mainly about the budget but also focuses on some specific criticisms, including that $556 olive jar that sets somewhere in the newly renovated home that Scarborough (or any UA president) is required to live.

 

Here's a synopsis of some of the topics we discussed:

Road to recent budget deficit: UA was spending more than it could afford; enrollment has been declining, which Scarborough says is a trend in the Midwest; state budget cuts and recession are factors.

Confidence in plan: Scarborough is confident and says it's difficult to protray optimism in the days after eliminating jobs but he says right-sizing the budget will allow UA to thrive.

Mistakes: The fee hike but mainly in the way they went about it. Scarborough says invoices went out before UA told anyone it was coming; he says it could be revisited.

Communication: Scarborough defends some of UA's communication strategy but admits that it fell short in some areas, too.

Program Cuts: EJ Thomas, Multicultural Center, Off Campus Student Services and UA Press are among the biggest losers; Scarborough explains how they can survive, including hiring some people.  Yes, UA may actually create some new posititions related to the ones that were just eliminated.

Athletics: Following some calls to partially dismantle or eliminate football may not be prudent; he explains the many variables.

Success Coaches: Scarborough explains why he okayed a committee recommendation to hire TrustNavigator to provide success coaching rather than a company that has actually done it before.

Wednesday, 05 August 2015 06:32

UA Defends Decision To Hire Trust Navigator

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The University of Akron is defending its decision to hire an outside company to provide student success coaches in the midst of a projected $60 million shortfall. Associate Vice President of Student Success Stacey Moore was part of the committee that recommended approving an $843,000 contract with Trust Navigator, a company with no prior experience working with a success coaching program. 

campus archesTrust Navigator was picked over InsideTrack, a nationally recognized program with around 15 years of experience. UA officials were impressed with InsideTrack's record, but the univeristy wanted to team up with a local program that would provide on-campus resources. Despite Trust Navigator's lack of student coaching experience, the university was interested with the company's goals -- including hiring UA graduates and working directly with students on campus. Moore said there's already research that proves direct and consistent contact with students improves retention. And that's what she said Trust Navigator is offering.

"We're not flying blind on Trust Navigator, even though they don't have a proven track record in higher education," Moore said. "It is attractive to us that they're hiring our own graduates, recent alumni. That means they're contributing to our student success after graduation."

Moore said tackling a program, like the one offered by Trust Navigator, on their own would require more money, more time and create a larger, more permanent risk.

"Keep in mind that this is a pilot [program], so we also want the ability to watch it, judge if it's successful and if it's not, then we can move outside of our contract pretty quickly, in a way that would not be as easy if we hired a whole set of people internally," said Moore. 

Moore estimates that it would have cost UA about $1.3 million, possibly more, to launch the program on their own. While InsideTrack would have cost the university around $1.66 million, Moore said one of the major disadvantages with the program would be the lack of on-campus coaching to provide face-to-face communication with students.

As for Trust Navigator's lack of prior experience in higher education, Moore continued to reiterate the fact that the university has the ability to terminate the contract at any time if they're not happy with the service. That's something Moore said wouldn't be easy if they hired their own staff. 

The program doesn't replace the role of advisors or counselors at the university. Moore said it's a service that adds a more personal coaching method that students can utilize both in and out of the classroom.

Moore admits that the committee didn't take a look at Trust Navigator's website before picking the company to launch the program at the university, but she says they focused on the responses to the request for proposal that was released in late June. Despite the university's recent budget cuts, including eliminating 213 jobs, Moore believes the process of making investments remains crucial.

"As challenging as it is, and we are certainly living the challenge of difficult fiscal times, if you fail to invest in anything, then I don't know how you move forward."

UA plans to take the lead on the project and oversee how Trust Navigator coaches are trained before meeting with students. 

Previous Coverage: 

InsideTrack: "We Had 8 Business Days To Respond"

REPORT: Trust Navigator Questions Building

Who -- Or What -- Is Trust Navigator?

UA Trustees Agree To Cut Jobs, Rescind Course Fee

 

 

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