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.