Sunday, August 2, 2015

Are UA brass really listening to the outcry?

 Seems like a lot of outraged people are having their say about the decline and pall of the University of Akron.  Any carefully orchestrated effort to contain the damage by the UA leadership has already failed as the bush league plan to eliminate the school's debt has already gone coastal  through the academic grapevine and published  out-of-town reports.  Never thought that I would  hear the two TV guys  doing the Cleveland Indians games grumbling about the loss of the school's baseball team.

Team Scarborough badly muffed the situation with a series of sophomoric  revisions to campus and city life, not the least of which was the summary execution of E. J. Thomas Hall, a community treasure that belonged as much to the public as it did to UA.  Imported hired guns like Scott Scarborough, or course,  could not have shared the same hometown  attachment to the hall  as the arts denizens  from all around. But didn't he consider the name on the building, Eddie Thomas, the Goodyear chairman who put up $1.25 million, and John S.Knight, who added $500,000 and later, the Knight Foundation, another million.  No, I fear that he didn't. (InfoCision, by the way, will remain the name of the football stadium.)

The thudding blitz on the University turned out to make matters  much worse for the new regime that wss rebranding the campus to...what?

The institutional excuse was that the school is in debt - as it has been for more than a decade - and that had priority over all  other matters.   (Haven't heard anybody denying that it was in debt.)  But the various hunt-and-peck responses revealed the costs of the stadium as a metaphor for the hefty UA  payrolls at the top. In February, the school hired three administrators - two from Scarborough's former University of Toledo  for a total of more than $800,000.

So far, Scarborough has doubtless enjoyed the benefit of Winsocki  pep talks from insiders  who never seem to relate to human fallout.   That would include the editorial page of the Beacon Journal,  which credited a quick strike on the debt as the means  to avoid "lingering morale problems".    Once again the local Ivory Tower resorted to cognitive  dissonance, as it does too often with its  political endorsements so many times.

The paper declared UA " fumbled the handling in too many ways" - wothout naming names.  And it described the building of a new football stadium as a "mistake"..  Anybody remember the rockets' glare when the stadium was born, including breathless "WOW's' by former President Luis Proenza and seconded by the town's only daily newspaper.  The BJ's brain trust shamefully  stressed that the brass  did what it had to do.  Columnist Bob Dyer showed us the upside of competent journalism.

Finally, about the trustees.  They are political appointees, many simply to upgrade their resumes,  who have had an "in" with county chairmen who recommend them.   They have been eerily silent since they approved of the un-fail-safe plan.   If you know any of them, or bump into one  at the town's better restaurants, you might ask them about the mess they helped create.   Their names appear on the Board's homepage.  But I'll save you the trouble of looking them up:

Jonathan Pavloff, chair; Jennifer Blickle, vice chair; Alfred V. Ciraldo; Ralph Palmisano; Roland Bauer, vice chair;  Olivia Demas, Warren Woolford, Richard Pogue, advisor to the powerhouse Cleveland firm of Jones Day.

They would prefer not to hear from you.  But that doesn't really matter, does it?

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