What you might have missed

By Grant Morgan, Managing Editor

Finals week is demanding, and it’s often difficult for students to keep up with anything other than studying, finishing final projects, and taking tests. Then, when winter break comes, many take full advantage of the respite from classes by directing all their focus to other aspects of their lives.

Yet UA is in a time of a tremendous change, and it is up to – and necessary for – the informed reader to judge for themselves whether that change is good or bad. Here, then, are some important things that happened while you may have been gone, physically or mentally, during finals week and over winter break.

Ads, Ads…

On Nov. 29, seven top Akron businessmen signed a black-and-white full-page ad in the Akron Beacon Journal urging the community to give changes at UA “an opportunity to succeed.” The ad said it was paid for by “Friends of The University of Akron,” who many thought to be the business leaders who signed it; but it was later revealed that its $5,000 price tag was paid for by the The University of Akron Foundation, which is the University’s fundraising division.

On Dec. 15, or the Tuesday of finals week, a different ad campaign began with goals contrary to the former. This campaign, funded by “Advocates for The University of Akron, Students and Faculty,” ran three different three-quarter-page ads two times each, exhorting the UA administration and Board of Trustees to “STOP” their “dubious decisions,” “PLEASE…re-evaluate the current course of action, and “HELP” reform the way top decisions are being made. The first ad was signed by more than 300 community members. This group has since run duplicate ads in The Devil Strip as well.

On Dec. 20, another full-page ad appeared in the Beacon Journal, this time supporting the changes at UA, and urging the community to “come together with the University and work as one team to ensure the success of this great institution.” The ad said it was paid for by FirstEnergy Corp., and contained the signatures of 39 corporate leaders in Akron, many of whom have ties to UA.

Business Council:

Why is FirstEnergy involved?

On Nov. 30, one day after the first full-page Beacon Journal ad mentioned above, UA announced the formation of a Business Executive Advisory Council that would assist and counsel President Scott Scarborough and the UA Board of Trustees. Charles “Chuck” Jones, FirstEnergy’s president and CEO, was to head the council along with the six other business leaders who signed the ad the day before. FedEx President and CEO Virginia Albanese and Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO William Considine were also on the council, but did not sign the ad.

The council first met privately on Dec. 14, or the Monday of finals week. Soon after on Dec. 18, the Beacon Journal reported that member Virginia Albanese was leaving the council because of her position on the Board of Trustees as Kent State University.

“The Business Executive Advisory Council continues as a sounding board for President Scarborough and the Board of Trustees. Discussions and interactions with the members of the group are private conversations and they will remain that way,” UA spokesman Wayne Hill said when asked if the council had a second meeting scheduled.

Building Construction:

If they have ever walked through main campus, students cannot help but notice the massive construction going on at what was formerly Zook Hall, and is now the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education, which is right next to Buchtel Hall and the Buchtel Statue.

The building’s $18 million dollar renovation is in its final stage and was scheduled to be completed on Feb. 10. But on Jan. 13, both the Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that UA had ended its $5.1 million contract with general contractor Mid-American Construction LLC, each blaming the other for delays.

According to the media outlets, Mid-American had to be off the construction site by Jan. 8; however, some other contractors are still working on site. It is unclear if the Feb. 10 deadline will be met.