As one of the four students that attended the Akron Press Club Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 18, I noticed something that I have not seen with President Scarborough before: he seemed more engaged with the audience and ready to be transparent.
Scarborough started the event off with first asking the audience what topics they were interested in hearing about and — thankfully — did not come with a list of topics that were previously decided by administrators. When thinking in terms of trying to gain community relations, which has been an area of improvement for the president, that was a smart move.
Scarborough proceeded to sum up in 30 seconds the main points of his four previously major speeches and then spoke on the topics suggested by the audience for roughly 15 minutes until it was time for the forum. This forum was a little different from the one that I attended earlier in the semester with UA’s Undergraduate Student Government. At the Town Hall Meeting students were asked to text in their questions to a given phone number and the mediator would then read them from a screen. While still a beneficial experience and a good way to get students acclimated with President Scarborough, prior to the event he was briefed on what kind of questions would be asked, which led some to believe that he wasn’t as transparent as the event led on.
At the Akron Press Club Luncheon, attendees were encouraged to write out their tough questions on sheets of paper. The questions were collected and a mediator read them on the spot — no filtering. This allowed for the audience’s voices and concerns to be heard.
Scarborough was not notified ahead of time on these questions and he had to answer them as they were read off, which allowed for greater transparency. He answered honestly and passionately. A few of the questions caused a rumbling with the audience, such as administrative salaries and the decisions he has previously made that maybe weren’t presented in the best way.
But, what made his answers so impressive was his way of relating it to the bigger picture. President Scarborough stated that any university has to go through failure and mistakes to allow growth. Yes, he has made mistakes, but who hasn’t made a mistake in their life while trying to grow? Yes, administrators make significantly more than faculty does, but would you pay a third baseman for the Rubber Ducks the same as you would someone who played third base for the Cleveland Indians?
Overall, I found it to be incredibly valuable and wish more students were able to take advantage of such a worthwhile event to be able to see how passionate he really is about The University of Akron. Scarborough is going to move this university forward in such a positive way and as a soon to be alumni, that makes me feel proud that I received my education here.