The University of Akron continues to go through a transition process, specifically after the resignation of former president Scott Scarborough back in May. But the effort to push through the poor publicity continues.

The dean of the University of Akron College of Law, Matthew Wilson, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to talk about him being named interim president. Wilson will tackle the presidency until the trustees pick a permanent choice.

Wilson has been with the university since 2014. Prior to coming to Akron, he held a similar position with the University of Wyoming College of Law.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Monday, 11 July 2016 14:44

New UA Interim President To Be Named

There could be an interim president named at the University of Akron tonight.

The announcement is expected to be made this evening in public session after a 5:30 PM executive Board of Trustees session

Interim senior vice president and provost Rex Ramsier has been performing the duties of the office, after the resignation of now-former UA president Scott Scarborough.

UA says it will conduct a search for permanent president, after the interim president is named.

Published in Local
Thursday, 07 July 2016 17:53

UA Dean The Latest Exit

There's another exit at the University of Akron.

UA has "terminated without cause" the contract of Dr. Todd Rickel, who has been the dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology.

He'll get a 120 day paid leave and is no longer performing those duties, per his contract.

Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Rex Ramsier made the move, as he is performing the duties left behind by former UA president Scott Scarborough.

(University of Akron) Earlier today, Interim Senior Vice President and Provost Dr. Rex Ramsier met with the leadership of the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) to inform them that the University has exercised its option to terminate without cause the contract of Dr. Todd Rickel as Dean of CAST.

In keeping with his contract, Dr. Rickel has been placed on paid leave for the next 120 days and has been relieved of all duties and responsibilities as dean.

Dr. Ramsier will work with the CAST leadership to coordinate the College's programs and activities until an interim dean is named.

Published in Local
The parting of ways with Scott Scarborough was certainly not surprising, but it was not without its concerns. Those concerns are being heard throughout the Akron community, and the local leaders are listening.

Mayor Dan Horrigan joined the Ray Horner Morning Show on Thursday, two days after the announcement from the University of Akron. Horrigan talked about the search for the new president and the challenges it can bring, as well as what it means for the region.

In addition to the university, Horrigan also touched on the food truck popularity and the state softball tournament at Firestone Stadium.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
The University of Akron has had some public relations difficulties of late, but a group of local business leaders are looking to help their image.

Chuck Jones, the CEO of FirstEnergy, stopped in the WAKR studios with UA president Scott Scarborough to discuss their efforts to come together to help the university and the community. Jones joins executives from FirstMerit, GOJO, Goodyear, and other area companies to address these issues and tackle the criticism and PR problems surrounding UA.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

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.

Published in Local
Friday, 21 August 2015 07:10

UA's Troubles Hit YouTube Parody Stage

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.

 

Published in Local
Thursday, 06 August 2015 15:56

Scott Scarborough: Unplugged

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.

Published in Local

One phase of budget cuts at the University of Akron is over, at least as far as a statement from University President Dr. Scott Scarborough is concerned. He acknowledges the pain caused but has noted the situation was dire with a massive $60 million dollar defecit first identified. The furor over belt-tightening, however, is getting more fuel to the fire over costs renovating the President's residence.

By contract, the University President is required to live in the home at 465 Burning Tree Drive, purchased in 1999 at a cost of $850,000 in a neighborhood marked by large homes and wealthy neighbors. The University maintained the home needed repairs and renovations left behind after Dr. Luis Proenza's departure after 15 years in the home, and also cited allergies suffered by Scarborough's family that prevented them from fully moving in. The family had been staying at a local hotel at a reported cost of $25,000 while repairs and renovations were being made. The Scarborough's moved into the home in January, according to the report.

The family provided their own furniture for their living quarters on the second floor of the home; the first floor is used for entertaining and meetings and more public use.

The new report from Northeast Ohio Media Group shows the costs of repairing the home -- with a property valuation now listed at just over $733,000 dollars -- is actually $950,000, more than the home is worth. The report notes some of the work includes renovations and repairs from University of Akron construction employees who were part of layoffs proposed by the Administration and approved by the Board of Trustees earlier this week in decisions that sidelined 161 employees and abolished 213 positions from the University's budget.  

Among the items going into renovations: a modernized first floor bathroom at a cost of $40,000 and more than $141.000 for furnishings and decorations including window treatments.

In contrast, a report by student media at Kent State University in November 2014 compared the various perks other colleges and universities provided their Presidents. Kent State's Beverly Warren lives in a home built by her predecessor, Dr. Lester Lefton, and KSU pays an annual lease of $56,000 annually on a deal extending to 2033. Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, who was a finalist for the Akron job but criticized by faculty for not having a doctorate, lives in Pollock House, an 1863 mansion gifted to the University in 1950. 

Source: Google Maps

 

 

Published in Local
Monday, 04 May 2015 16:34

VIDEO UA President: No Name Change

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."

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(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.

Unified conclusions

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.

Defining 'polytechnic'

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.

Sincerely yours,

(signed) Scott Scarborough

Published in Local

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

Published in Local