After budget cuts, outsourcing, administrative hires and other controversies, the faculty is considering a “no confidence vote” against Scott Scarborough. When asked about that, he was philosophical, saying it’s a sign of increasingly difficult times that go way beyond Akron. He cited an article from a higher education journal someone put on his desk recently.
Dr. Scott Scarborough became the University of Akron's 16th president in July 2014. That followed two years as provost at the University of Toledo and seven years at the school altogether, including as executive director of the medical school.
Before that, he was executive VP of DePaul University. His PhD, MBA and BBA came from the University of Texas.
During his time at Akron, he initiated or has seen the completion of a series of budget cuts and program shifts – some celebrated, some lambasted -- including:
- Lower-cost on-line basic courses
- higher upperclass fees (since rescinded)the National Center for Choreography
- The Corps of Cadets and Leadership Academy
- "Success coaches” for incoming freshmen
- Rebranding the college as Ohio’s Polytechnic University
- Promising full scholarships for as many as 2,300 kids via the LeBron James Foundation
- Here's the complete address of Scott Scarborough to the Akron Press Club on Nov. 19, 2015:
“Assuming they were trying to cheer me up a little bit, by essentially saying these are expressions of dissatisfaction with change within higher education. And they’re just a part of the landscape. I think in the end, like everything in life, you just have to view it as an opportunity.”
He gave a much briefer answer when asked why the university trustees gave him no raise or bonus at the end of his first year on the job.
“You’d have to talk to the chairman of our board about that.”
Scarborough did say – after a year of making hard internal decisions such as cutting $40 million from the university budget – he’s been told to spend more time building community and other important relationships.
Scarborough acknowledged the percentage of tenured faculty at his school – and in higher education overall -- has been going down as administrative salaries have been climbing. He said it’s a matter of supply and demand.
“It’s hard to explain why a president might make eight times as much as an English-faculty professor in the same way it’s hard to explain why a power-hitting third basemen makes more than someone playing for the RubberDucks. They’re both playing the same sport. They’re both playing the same position. And yet one makes a thousand times more.”
Given the escalation in administrative salaries, Scarborough said it’s important that universities scale back on the number of administrators. And he said he’s done that during his first 16 months at the University of Akron.
In the 16 months since he was hired, President Scott Scarborough set out to cut $40 million from the budget, introduced lower-cost on-line courses, outsourced food and other services and rebranded the school as Ohio’s Polytechnic University. That’s led to protests and the threat of a no-confidence vote from faculty.
Scarborough acknowledged all has not gone smoothly.
“I think it was reported that our contributions are down. And we’ll monitor that very carefully over time. We’re also putting together a new capital campaign. But I think that we know and you know is that there is some community leadership we need to get on board and we’re working diligently every day.”
For those unhappy with the Ohio Polytechnic branding, Scarborough offered hope. He promised “it will evolve.”