Monday's University of Akron Board of Trustees meeting was packed with those who wanted to weigh in on budget cuts.
The fact that none of them were able to provide input was frustrating to UA Director of Orchestral Studies Dr. Guy Victor Bordo, who attended the meeting.
"It was a pretty frustrating experience to observe," Bordo tells WAKR's Jasen Sokol. "There didn't appear to be any discussion, and there certainly wasn't any opportunity for anyone who came there, to comment."
Bardo says he feels for those who are losing their jobs in the cutback.
"Basically, what's going to happen is, a lot of people will be losing their jobs that didn't create the problem," Bardo says.
He's worried about the impact on E.J. Thomas Hall, which won't see any UA-supported events that aren't rented out or paid for by outside money.
Bardo points out that E.J. Thomas Hall sees around 400,000 visitors a year, where InfoCision Stadium sees just a few thousand a game.
University of Akron board of trustees agreed to reverse the university's decision to impose a $50 per credit hour fee on upper-level courses -- but also agreed to cut 213 positions.
UA spokesman Wayne Hill said employees will be notified on Monday and Tuesday.
The moves were made after the university announced plans to eliminate a $60 million dollar shortfall over the next few years.
Trustees didn't take any questions from faculty, staff and students. Some waited two hours to speak after trustees held an executive session.
The University of Akron is planning to reverse its decision to add a $50 per credit hour fee on higher level courses.
President Scott Scarborough released a statement this morning announcing the change and plans to ask the Board of Trustees to remove the "upper-division program fee."
Scarborough plans to make the official recommendation at a special board meeting on July 27.
The Ohio Department of Higher Education was looking into the fee increase to determine if the fees were being used to get around Ohio's tuition freeze.
(UA President Scott Scarborough) "Following the passage of the state budget, The University of Akron has worked with the Chancellor's Office of the Ohio Department of Higher Education and with legislators to address how best our institution can achieve a sustainable financial position that protects academic quality and ensures the investments necessary to enable the University to fulfill its mission going forward.
"The University's Board of Trustees approved a FY2016 budget on June 10, prior to the adoption of the state budget. In addition to reducing expenditures significantly, the budget included several fee increases, including an upper-division program fee. The state budget adopted on June 30 contains an increase in the State Share of Instruction for higher education, with approximately $4 million in additional funding to UA. We are grateful to the legislature under the leadership of Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger and to Governor John Kasich for the additional funding.
"We also appreciate the intention of Chancellor John Carey and State Representative Kirk Schuring to work with the state legislature to resolve a unique financial burden on UA resulting from its status as the only university participating in the School Employees Retirement System of Ohio (SERS). Due to SERS regulations, UA is forced to pay a 'surcharge' on its contribution to the system that artificially increases the university's payment by more than $1.2 million annually.
"I am asking our Board of Trustees to approve retracting the upper-division program fee previously established and amending the FY2016 operating budget accordingly. I will make that recommendation at a special Board meeting on July 27. The net change to the University's budget will be relatively flat due to the increase in state funding and the planned changes related to SERS."
Jonathan Pavloff, Chairman of UA's Board of Trustees, said, "The conversations with Chancellor Carey and legislative leadership have resulted in them better understanding and appreciating the steps we are taking to strengthen our financial position so that we can maintain our academic excellence and invest in the growth of the University. Their support of our efforts is very much appreciated."
The University of Akron announcing a three-year plan to address financial concerns...and that means some 40-million dollars in budget cuts that'll cut 215 non-faculty jobs and end UA's baseball program.
UA vice president for advancement Larry Burns says that the nine month budget process ended up out of balance.
"And as we looked into the budget, it became clear that we had a 60 million dollar difference in balancing the budget," Burns tells WAKR.net. "So, that was a major concern, a lot of debt that the university has."
Burns says the baseball program ended up on the cutting block because the University of Akron can't afford needed renovations to the baseball facilities.
"Our baseball facility, you might know, needs a great deal of capital investment, that the university is not in a position to do," Burns tells WAKR's Sam Bourquin.
Also ending, non-academic programs at E.J. Thomas Hall that aren't rented to outside providers. And dining services will be outsourced.
The 40-million dollars in cuts are part of a plan to close a projected 60-million dollar deficit. The rest would come from recently announced student fees and projected enrollment growth by the third year of the plan.
(University of Akron) University of Akron (UA) President Scott Scarborough announced today a three-year plan to address the university's significant financial challenges.
The plan was drafted following a 9-month review and analysis of University finances. Leadership of the Faculty Senate, the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors, and a representative of department chairs, participated weekly in the budget process that led to the development of the plan.
"The University of Akron's future is bright, but first we need to fix its finances," President Scarborough said. "Our review indicates UA has a $60 million financial problem, and we have developed a three-year plan to solve that problem."
The plan protects the University's core academic mission, its quality, and its connectedness to the community and the region it serves. It reduces University expenses by $40 million, raises graduate tuition and undergraduate fees by $10 million, and projects profitable enrollment growth in the third year of the plan by $10 million.
UA Board of Trustees Chair Jonathan Pavloff said, "These actions reinforce our ability to invest in those things that move our University forward on the path to significance and strength."
The $40 million of expense reductions include the following:
Eliminating 215 positions via a planned reduction in workforce. No faculty layoffs are occurring.
Eliminating non-academic programming in EJ Thomas Hall, except for rentals.
Outsourcing dining services.
Renegotiating healthcare plans.
Increasing the cost share of retiree dependent coverage.
Changing the University's retire/rehire policy.
Centralizing course scheduling.
Reducing central costs, such as legal fees and University memberships.
"The most painful but necessary reduction is the abolishment of filled positions," said Scarborough. Affected employees will be notified later this month, after the University ensures it has complied with all applicable government regulations and contractual agreements.
"We are working hard to ensure that our colleagues whose positions will be eliminated are shown the respect and courtesy they deserve," Scarborough said. "We owe them our thanks and appreciation for their years of service to the University."
The University's financial plan and budget funds new college strategic plans, leverages UA's historic strengths, funds new initiatives to grow future revenue streams, and includes funds to maintain and enhance academic quality consistent with its goal of becoming a great polytechnic university like Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
In a message to campus, Scarborough said, "We know that the next few weeks will be tough. After that, we will refocus our efforts on the mission ahead—to become a great public university for all of Northeast Ohio and the world."
A Stow couple has waited 31 years for this day.
"It's like I won the lottery," said 66-year-old John Marshall.
Marshall couldn't hold back the tears while explaining the meaning behind getting a marriage license to legally tie the knot with his partner, 65-year-old James Neilsen.
"It's just like all of your life you've been denied something that you know in you heart is right," said Marshall. "And finally the door swings open."
First male couple in Summit County to apply for a marriage license... pic.twitter.com/mM5Tq5sKjR— Amani Abraham (@AmaniAbraham) June 26, 2015
According to the Summit County Probate Court, Marshall and Neilsen were the first male couple to recieve their marriage license in Summit County.
Marshall called it a historic day -- breaking down barriers and giving same-sex couples equal rights.
Within a two hour period, four couples applied for a marriage license Friday afternoon.
In a statement loaded with apologies to a city hall employee he's known for 14 years, his wife of 25 years Sandy, his cabinet members, the Moneypenny family and the citizens of Akron, Garry Moneypenny's political ambitions flamed out because of inappropriate touching of a female co-worker at City Hall who was congratulating him on his appointment as interim mayor during the transition following then-Mayor Don Plusquellic's resignation a month ago.
"I take full responsibility for my actions," Moneypenny said, adding he would not run for Mayor but would serve the remainder of the term he assumed only five days ago. "I turned a good-bye hug into a too personal encounter...I clearly violated a professional and personal boundary." In the Q&A following the statement, Moneypenny noted no charges or complaints had been filed.
"I regret violating the very same principles I've spent my entire career upholding," Moneypenny said, noting his career as a law enforcement officer included working with victim assistance programs.
Reporters pressed Moneypenny about whether it's okay to remain in office if it's not okay to run for a full term.
"I have been elected to this position by my peers on council and put into this position as our charter (provides)," said Moneypenny. I believe that I am still at this point the best to move forward with this city on an interim basis."
If it's okay to remain in the position for six month, then why not run for a full term?
"I've made a mistake here," said Moneypenny. "There are people who got out of this election race so I could run and this gives them plenty of time to go out and get their signatures at this point."
(City of Akron) In my last week in office as president of city council, I behaved inappropriately with a city employee, who came to my office to wish me well on my transition to mayor.
In the emotion of the moment, I turned a good-bye hug into a too-personal encounter. I have known this employee for over 14 years. We have always had a very professional relationship. And I clearly violated a professional and personal boundary.
Words cannot describe the remorse I feel for my actions.
I spent 37 years in law enforcement. I've spent years in service to Victim's Assistance. I regret violating the very same principles I've spent my career upholding.
I offered my unconditional apology to this employee. I apologized to my wonderful wife of 25 years. I apologized to my cabinet members. And now, I offer my apology to the citizens of Akron who trust me to serve as mayor.
I take full responsibility for my actions. I know this incident calls my character and my trustworthiness into question. For this reason, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for election to mayor and I will not appear on the ballot in September.
I will do my best to serve as the city's interim mayor and will pledge my support to the new administration when the new mayor is elected.
A group of forensic archaeology students will be spending the next few weeks uncovering a mystery that lies beneath a pair of shallow graves in a wooded area in Bath Township.
It's a crime scene -- but it's not what you think. It's not real.
Everything has been set up -- including the remains of two pigs purchased from a local butcher. The animals were buried about a year ago in shallow graves in a wooded area staged as a mock crime scene.
"One of the reasons we developed this is it gives [students] practice mapping something very complicated," said KSU Assistant Anthropology Professor Dr. Linda Spurlock.
Archaeologist and UA professor Linda Whitman is one of the instructors in the three-week course designed to introduce students to forensic work and hands-on experience in the field.
"We take the bones back to the lab where they get washed and reconstructed and they look for the manner and cause of death," said Whitman.
While the story behind the pig's death is made up, the process is real -- including the smell left behind as students slowly uncover the decomposing fat, bones and clothing.
"This is what I like to do. I like to dig up bones," said UA Anthropology student Paige Dobbins. "It's kind of exciting to go from learning about it in the classroom to actually getting to dig to it."
Although it may appear to have some of the same qualities as a recent episode of Law and Order, there are still plenty of differences when compared to the real-life, forensic process.
"It's not quite as sexy as it is on television," said Dobbins. "It's a lot of dirt and decomposed fat."
For those who were concerned about a possible name change at the University of Akron, UA's president says it's not happening.
In a message sent across campus today, university president Scott Scarborough said it directly: "Let me state clearly: We are not proposing a name change. But we are seriously discussing how to reposition The University of Akron for greater distinction."
Scarborough's statement says that it is time to, "put an end to rumors and speculation about a name change that serve only to misinform and divide."
He says talks with a wide group of those involved with the University of Akron show that UA must do "a better job differentiating itself from other universities" and "distinguish itself in the higher education market."
(University of Akron, president Scott Scarborough message) THOUGH THE CAMPUS has been engaged for months in budget review, strategic planning and conversations about our future, nothing has captured the imagination of the entire community as much as the rumors of a name change.
Print and broadcast media, bloggers and petitioners, commentators and pundits are talking about The University of Akron. This should not come as a surprise. People care about our university. People are emotionally attached to certain names (which is why so many still refer to us as Akron U). And there is deep interest in our future.
But there is also a great deal of misinformation fueling the rumors. Let me state clearly: We are not proposing a name change. But we are seriously discussing how to reposition The University of Akron for greater distinction.
The need for repositioning UA emerged from three Vision 2020 Summit meetings that included representatives from the student body, faculty union and faculty leadership, staff, alumni, community, business and industry—historic gatherings of a diverse group of stakeholders discussing our future and the future of this region. During these meetings, I heard many different ideas on how to strengthen and grow our university, but everyone agreed that:
We must do a better job differentiating ourselves from other universities.
We must distinguish ourselves in the higher education market.
We must act now.
Please take a few minutes to listen to the thoughtful and insightful takeaways from the Summit participants, including faculty, in this brief video (courtesy University of Akron/YouTube):
Along with the Vision 2020 Summits, there have been open and transparent discussions across campus about budgets, operations, challenges and strategies to reposition and strengthen the university to better compete in the marketplace. Faculty and union leadership have been involved every step of the way. This is the purest form of shared governance in academia. Most recently, I have hosted strategic planning sessions with faculty in all colleges.
Let me state clearly: We are not proposing a name change. But we are seriously discussing how to reposition The University of Akron for greater distinction.
The budget and strategic planning processes focus on meeting the significant and sobering financial challenges facing our university and on strengthening areas of distinction—from polymers to applied politics, from dance to engineering, from scientific research to technology.
Those individuals who know us best know that UA is especially strong in preparing our students for successful careers, in taking what they learn in class and applying it to work that gets done in the real world.
That is why the word "polytechnic" has come up often in many discussions.
The most well known polytechnic universities (Georgia Tech, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, etc.) are defined by their career-focused, rigorous academic programs in the sciences, arts and humanities; emphasis on critical thinking and complex problem solving; applied and experiential learning; and deep connections to industry and community. We already have many polytechnic programs, approaches and strengths at UA that distinguish us and add tremendous value to a UA degree.
Let's put an end to rumors and speculation about a name change that serve only to misinform and divide.
We can do better. We will do better. Let us uphold the purest ideals of shared governance as we work together to reposition and distinguish The University of Akron to deliver on our promise to be this region's great public university.
(signed) Scott Scarborough
University of Akron President Scott Scarborough appears to be mulling over the idea of changing the name of the school.
The Beacon Journal reports that he'll address the issue at a speech at the City Club of Cleveland on May 15.
No one would confirm the details of the speech, but there's been talk of plans to change the name to reflect the university's strengths in the "polytechnical and professional fields."
There's a petition on Change.org to stop the name change from moving forward. More than 4,100 people have signed the petition as of 8:45 a.m.
The petition states that the president's plan is to change the name to "Ohio Polytech Institute" -- although that has not been confirmed.
More on the web: www.ohio.com
University of Akron President Scott Scarborough has confirmed that there has been discussion on possibly changing the university's name.
He tells the Northeast Ohio Media Group that it was an idea thrown in a brainstorming session, but no word on possible suggestions on a new name.
Scarborough said the new name would reflect the university's strengths in the "polytechnical and professional fields."
On the web: www.cleveland.com
Fashion can be used as a way to express yourself. For Neighbors Apparel, it's a chance to become the neighbor of a refugee living in Akron.
Tessa Reeves wanted to do more with her fashion degree from Kent State University. She wanted to make a difference in the community -- and that's exactly what she's doing.
Reeves teamed up with the non-profit group Urban Vision to help create employment for refugees in the North Hill area and to bring cultures together with fashion.
"What I don't want to do is create pity. We're not doing this because 'Oh, they need us," said Reeves. "We're doing this to celebrate the fact that we have these survivors living alongside us as neighbors."
Neighbors Apparel focuses on bringing two cultures together by blending traditional fabric with American design.
"One thing our people really like is our Ohio Tee," said Reeves. "Basically, we take the fabric from Thailand and we cut out a shape of Ohio and then paste it on a t-shirt. That's my favorite product because I think it tells our story the best."
Among those working at Neighbors Apparel: Head seamstress Ka Naw, a Karen refugee woman from Burma, and Chandra Rai, a Bhutanese refugee.
"There's lots of people who want to come to America, but they don't get a chance to be here due to economic problems," said Rai. "We are lucky that we get a chance to be here in America and I'm happy to be here."
In about six months, five local retailers have picked up the clothing/accessory line -- including the Market Path at Highland Square and the NOTO Boutique in Downtown Akron. Reeves hopes it's just the beginning.
The bridal shop that as at the center of the Ebola scare in the Akron area has decided to close its doors for good. Coming Attractions Bridal Shop is closing in May after not being able to recover from their financial loss following Amber Vinson's visit.
Coming Attractions employee Kayla Litz talked to WAKR's Jasen Sokol about the news.
"You know, people say 'Oh you got your dress from the Ebola store,'" Litz said. "It's a bad stigma that just hasn't seemed to go away."
Coming Attractions posted the news on their Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
No word on whether or not Coming Attractions will move somewhere else for a fresh start.
Heroin continues to be a problem in the state and across the country. Akron's police chief has decided to tackle the growing problem by forming a unit targeting heroin dealers for possible murders charges in cases of fatal overdoses.
Police Chief James Nice says the department has worked to track high level dealers - those involved with large amounts of drugs - but now they're also coming after the low level dealers that are directly handing the drugs to the users.
"People are dying weekly from heroin overdoses. It's outrageous. It's unlike some of the other drug problems we've had," said Nice.
Nice said low level dealers barely get any jail time for carrying a small amount of drugs, but he believes they should hold some responsibility in cases of fatal overdoses.
"These people, to me, are the most egregious people that are convincing people to use heroin, giving it to them and they're dead an hour later," said Nice. "Nothing is being done with those."
Nice said the department is working to build homicide cases against the dealers. He said they currently have one case pending, but details of the case were not released.
Nice is working to convince state lawmakers to consider the importance of having tougher laws against dealers in fatal overdose cases. He said
"Those are things as a chief that I can speak out on and have word on, but the laws need to change significantly."
The new heroin unit will consist of two detectives that will have a primary mission to focus on heroin overdose investigations and to track the dealers involved in the case.