Wednesday, April 2, 2014

UA's crisis: Was it ignored for years?

The published reports from the University of Akron campus continue to tell of a school still in recession.  Proposed cutbacks in 55 academic programs.   Declining enrolment.  Heavy debt. An unimpressive list of applicants for the presidency to succeed  Luis Proenza. Sinking faculty morale.

 There's a growing sense that the winner will be iconic former football coach Jim Tressel, whose career track has been pointing to the job since he arrived on campus from an  awful put-down at Ohio State University.  Tressel, now a  university vice president, is probably the only one on the list who  can tell you where you can find the student center.

These sad conditions don't happen overnight.  I've been told  by former UA executives  that the administration was warned years ago that dark days lay ahead for the budget.   Such warnings were shooed away.

Today, where's the accountability?  Dr.  Proenza?  The apparently passive Board of Trustees?  By now, does it really matter?  Sadly, the University, an important fixture in the economic and academic life of the city, is in crisis (despite its new football stadium,  a team that continues to pile up losing seasons, a couple of celebrity coaches on campus).

Accountability?  Where, indeed?

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 Boy, was I wrong!  I had a strong hunch that Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff would haul  in Gov. Kasich as his speaker for the  annual Lincoln Day Dinner, though  nearly two months later than Abe's birthday. (Not mine!!!)   I did get the month right.  On May 3, the party will host U.S.Rep. Pat Tiberi, of Columbus, who was  on Kasich's staff when the governor  was in Congress.  "His good friend and mentor", Alex wants you to know.  "A real treat". That's what we all need.  More treats from Republicans.

There's one thing  you ought to know, too. I don't know much about the congressman from the safe GOP haven of Columbus,  but I do know that  Tiberi opposed the stimulus bill until it passed.  He then applied for money  provided by the bill. He also wants a full repeal of Obamacare.  Maybe the dinner audience will be asked whether  they would support that position in one of the locals'   annual straw polls.  The outcome won't be surprising.  In 2012, the poll revealed that a top-heavy majority of the  dinner guests supported Rick Santorum, the prize speaker for evening,  for president.

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Well, Columbus didn't make the cut for the Republican presidential convention.    Cleveland and Cincinnati remain in the mix. So does Las Vegas.  Sorry to sound cynical.  But do you think Kasich's billionaire buddy, casino titan Sheldon Adelson, will be in the cheering section for his  gambling Mecca out west?

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