UA President Scott Scarborough began his Akron Press Club speech yesterday by pulling out the dry erase markers and telling the audience he was going to run it like he does “normal meetings” with “faculty, staff, or students.”
He asked audience members to raise their hand and propose topics, which he would then go through and address in “context” to UA’s state of affairs, before moving on to the Q&A portion of the event with the moderator.
If the Akron Press Club event was indeed anything like “normal meetings,” then it is clear why there is so much dissension between UA’s constituents and UA’s administration and Board of Trustees.
Credit must be given to Scarborough for doing something new and mildly courageous — interacting with his audience. But the answers given were either reiterations of familiar arguments, unclear explanations to direct questions, or inconclusive evasions.
Scarborough has a message — that UA is embroiled in a higher education crisis sweeping the country; that it needs to become distinctive, unique and nationally-known to survive; and that cuts and changes are painful, but necessary.
The problem, however, comes when that message is used to equivocate in response to every more contentious or specific issue facing UA, regardless of its stance on the national stage of higher education calamities. And his failure to address those questions, especially when given such a grand opportunity to do so at yesterday’s Press Club meeting, is disconcerting.