The past week has been the week that was - and will continue to get worse as the University of Akron leaders, past and present, grope for damage control.
Former President Luis Proenza returned to the front page of the Beacon Journal like Jacob Marley's ghost with his version of why it was so utterly important to make the campus more suitable for students, regardless of the debt. He defended a $650 million makeover of the school on his watch for his inviting new "Landscape for Learning". Will those who come later be tempted to affix his name to one of the buildings?
Next up was a rope-a-dope statement in Sunday's Beacon Journal from the collegial Board of Trustees, with apologies for its ineptitude in rolling out its debt strategy from the assembly line. It said it must find better ways to communicate its effort to meet the challenge for more efficiency and economy on the campus.
And, of course, there was the forever upbeat President Scott Scarborough, for whom the trustees chipped in nearly a milion dollars for a This-Old-House update that included an expensive olive jar and the addition of a neat suite for his relatives. He, too, agreed that mistakes were made and promised that Team Scarborough would do better.
Folks, when you're paying a chief executive $450,000 plus endless princely perks, he'd damn well try to do better. On the job training couldn't have been in his contract.
OK, we can all agree that indebtedness is a big problem, even if doesn't impact on a new palace for the CEO.
Still, with a school with little walking-around money, a published report the past week told of the trustees hiring a retired colonel at $100,000 (cheap by UA standards for its executive corps) to direct a newly-created Corps of Cadets. From the Plain Dealer we learned that the new commandant, Bradley Harvey, will preside over a mission "designed to instill discipline, honor and respect and to teach life skills, including personal decorum and time management."
The part of about "personal decorum" is a perfect though worrisome fit for Scarborough's apparent obsession with fashionable dress codes and behavior. You'll recall he had earlier warned the faculty kiddies that those who don't pick up trash don't deserve respect as educators. It's scary stuff from a schoolmaster.
What's going on here? Add the Corps of Cadets to another newly posted entity, Trust Navigator, an outfit inexperienced in its new jackpot role, that will be paid $843,000 for coaching students that were already being coached..
At week's end, staffs at the UA Press and EJ. Thomas Hall were still poking around in uncertainties about their own future despite word from the top that the administration was...um... working on it.
At the athletics department, now managed by the vice president of finance, three potential candidates for athletics director backed away from the job because of the chaos. For now, the eight trustees who seemingly dozed through the debt flood and the subsequent cascading mistakes ought to be shamed for nonfeasance and incompetence.
Guy Bordo, the widely respected conductor of the UA symphony orchestra, called for the resignations of all of the trustees and the guy they hired, Scott Scarborough. But at their clubby level, unfortunately, it's not likely to happen. Loss of credibility is not part of the equation.