Out with the old

By Logan Lane, Managing Editor

Over the summer, Scott Scarborough ended a short but controversial tenure as The University of Akron’s president.

The Board of Trustees, the governing body of the University, announced Scarborough’s resignation on its May 31 board meeting.

“The Board is charged with ensuring the effective governance, leadership and management of the University and, along with Dr. Scarborough, determined that new leadership is needed for the University to move forward and achieve sustained success in the future,” former board Chairman Jonathan Pavloff said.

Scarborough was hired in July 2014 to address declining enrollment and financial problems, including what the Board called a $40 million budget problem. He left after a year of unpopular decisions, such as rebranding the University as “Ohio’s Polytechnic University,” cutting the baseball team, eliminating 215 positions, and raising course fees during a statewide tuition freeze.

Scarborough’s critics — who protested vocally outside every Board meeting —  said that he and his administration lacked transparency and did not value shared governance (sharing power between the administration and faculty).

The administration’s approval plummeted in February, when the university’s Faculty Senate passed 50-2 a vote of no-confidence in Scarborough. The undergraduate and graduate student governments released surveys that showed disapproval ratings as high as 61 percent among students.

In the last six months of Scarborough’s presidency, local business leaders ran an ad campaign in the Akron Beacon Journal urging the community to give changes at UA “an opportunity to succeed.”

In response, a group called Advocates for the University of Akron launched its own campaign expressing concern at the direction Scarborough was taking the University. Its ads featured signatures from concerned students, alumni, donors, and community members.

Scarborough was replaced on July 11 when the Board named law school Dean Matthew Wilson as UA’s interim president. He will serve for an 18-month term while the Board selects a permanent candidate.

Meanwhile, Scarborough has joined the faculty as a professor in the business college. He is teaching two courses on strategic management and health care this semester.

In the wake of Scarborough’s departure, the University has rolled back many of the former administration’s changes. UA’s website will no longer feature the polytechnic tagline. It will not renew its contract with TrustNavigator, a company to which the University paid $800,000 to hire “success coaches,” which some criticized as unnecessary. The University restored “Akron” to the school’s marching band uniforms, which was replaced by the letter Z during a marketing campaign. In addition, the University reopened EJ Thomas’ box office, which had been closed in the 2014 summer during staff layoffs.

Additionally, the positions of former Vice President of Advancement Larry Burns and Dean of the College of Science and Applied Technology Todd Rickel – both hired based on recommendations from Scarborough – were terminated.