How we got here


Kristina Aiad-Toss

Ashley Bair silently protests by holding up the Akron Beacon Journal “Scarborough must go” ad at a Board meeting.

By Logan Lane, Managing Editor

The original online headline of this article, “What you missed,” was incorrect. 

Over the summer, The University of Akron’s 16th president, Scott Scarborough, resigned after almost two controversial years in office. The following timeline follows the events that led to his resignation.

May 8, 2014: The University of Akron Board of Trustees unanimously vote to name Scott Scarborough as the next president. He beats out two other candidates, Jim Trussell and Ron Nykiel, for the position.

July 1, 2014: Scarborough takes office. Shortly after, he releases a two-page management policy to UA administrators and faculty. The document includes 15 bulletin points for success and 28 common mistakes.

April 14, 2015: The University announces its “GenEd Core” program, which reduces the price of several “blended learning” general education courses to $50 per credit hour.

May 15, 2015: In a speech before the City Club of Cleveland, Scarborough says UA will rebrand itself to “Ohio’s Polytechnic University.” Online petitions opposing the rebranding garner over 10,000 signatures.

July 6, 2015: UA announces that it will put a $50-per-credit-hour fee on higher-level courses during a state-imposed tuition freeze. The Undergraduate Student Government writes a letter opposing these new fees. Later, the Ohio Department of Education says that the University should reconsider.

July 10: In a news release, Scarborough announces a list of cuts to address the University’s “$60 million financial problem.”

The cuts include:

  • Eliminating 215 positions
  • Eliminating the baseball team
  • Eliminating non-academic programming at EJ Thomas Hall
  • Renegotiating health care plans
  • Outsourcing dining options

July 23: The University changes the athletic logo by removing the mascot Zippy and the word “Akron” and replacing them with the letter “Z.”

July 27: The Board of Trustees removes the higher-level course fee and approves the abolishment of 213 positions. The Board also hires Trust Navigator for $840,000 per year to provide “success coaches” to all freshmen. Some faculty members criticize the decision as unnecessary given similar services on campus.

July 31: A UA staff painter reveals that the University spent $950,000 renovating the president’s home during the summer. A $556.40 olive jar sparks outrage on social media. A satirical Facebook page is created for the jar and used to criticize the administration.

Aug. 10, 2015: The Devil Strip, a local arts magazine, reports concerns that Todd Rickel, an administrator hired by Scarborough’s recommendation, falsified his curriculum vitae during the hiring process. The University responds that the errors were simply mistakes.

Aug. 12: Protesters gather outside of the Board of Trustees meeting. Board Chairman Jonathan Pavloff says that “mistakes were made” over the summer. Protests continue at the Board meetings of the following months.

Sept. 16, 2015: The Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) releases a survey saying “70 percent of reporting faculty are not confident in University of Akron leadership.” Additionally, 81.3 percent said shared governance – a model of cooperation between faculty and administrators – was not working well at UA.

Nov. 29-30, 2015: Seven prominent Akron business leaders sign a full-page advertisement in the Akron Beacon Journal supporting President Scarborough. CEO of FirstEnergy Charles Jones and CEO of FirstMerit Paul Greig are among the executives.

The time has come for our community to work together with the University to ensure it is positioned for greater success, growth, and positive economic impact on our community,” the advertisement reads. The $5,000 price tag is paid for by The University of Akron Foundation, according to UA spokesman Wayne Hill.

A second group runs a series of opposing ads, featuring the signatures of concerned students, alumni, faculty, and community members.

A day later, the aforementioned business leaders form the UA Business Executive Advisory Council to assist the Board and President Scarborough.

January 28, 2016: The Devil Strip reports that the University is in talks with ITT Tech, a for-profit higher-ed chain, to take over some of ITT Tech’s campuses. At the time, ITT was charged with fraud by the Securities Exchange Commission.

February 1, 2016: A report comes out from The Buchtelite showing ominous admissions numbers for the fall of 2016.

February 4, 2016: UA Faculty Senate passes a no-confidence resolution against President Scarborough’s leadership by a vote of 50-2.

Feb. 28: Fifteen UA “distinguished professors” sign a letter in the Akron Beacon Journal rebuking President Scarborough and his administration. The letter expresses concern over a lack of transparency and shared governance at UA.

The title of distinguished professor is the highest honor UA’s trustees can give a faculty member. Only 27 professors have received this title.

March 2, 2016: The University announces that it will refund up to $238.80 to each student due to a facility fee that was increased during a statewide tuition freeze the summer before. The total sum of refunds could reach $4.1 million.

May 3: An updated AAUP survey says that 89 percent of faculty members – up from 70 percent – are not confident in President Scarborough’s leadership.

May 11: The University’s financial outlook is downgraded from “stable” to “negative” by Moody’s Investors Service, a bond credit rating business.

May 19: The University says that it will no longer feature the “Ohio’s Polytechnic University” tagline on its website.

May 25: The University announces that it will not renew its contract with Trust Navigator to provide success coaches to freshmen.

May 31: Scott Scarborough resigns as president of UA. He opts to join the faculty teaching business courses in the fall.

July 6: The University parts with Lawrence Burns, UA’s former vice president of advancement. Burns was hired on a recommendation from Scarborough. The day after, the University also severs ties with Todd Rickel, another administrator hired on Scarborough’s recommendation.

July 11: The University names UA law school Dean Matthew Wilson, as interim president.

Sept. 1: The University announces that the EJ Thomas Hall’s box office will reopen on Sept. 9.
Sept. 2: The University says that “Akron” will return to the marching band uniforms.