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