Thursday, August 6, 2015

UA Trustees: Take a walk instead of striking out

The absolute ruie in baseball is, three strikes and you're out. Unfortunately, university governance is not baseball and the current regime at the University of Akron may well already be at four or five strikes.  But the umpires, which include the Board of Trustees and local editorial pages,  forever tilt in favor of the ones who fouled off several pitches before an out call, which may never arrive anyway.

Even the former regime of Luis Proenza is  getting a half-million dollar salary after leading the school into a swamp of red ink.  And his succssor, Scott Scarborough, another near-half-million dollar man, laid  down a sacred text that made matters worse. All the while the gatekeepers for  many millions in public money, the Board of Trustees, might just as well have phoned in their approving votes.

As a journalist for more than a half century, I never thought I would be driven to write  such acidic words about a university where people are usually taught to think.    But, folks, it's your money, too, that was so scandalously ignored (Did you read that a painter told the BJ  that the crew was told to lower  speakers two inches in the million-dollar makeover of the new president's home, tearing up walls that had to be repainted? The painter was among those who lost his job in the budget cuts.)

Did I say three strikes?   In launching its hunt-and-peck "plan"  to  reduce UA's  $60 million debt., the front office  (1) first announced that it would not change the school's name, and then proceeded to do so; (2) moved to add a $50 levy on every upper range credit hour before rescinding it after a campus uproar; (3)declared that it would all but close E. J. Thomas Hall by ending all non-academic performances there, and then say never mind, it will be business as usual  at the area's finest culture center.

We await word from the regime's  hall of smoke and mirrors regarding  the shutdown of the UA Press and transferral of its now- director-less operation to the campus library.  In an letter  from the UA Press Board (Published by Grumpy Abe) a spokesperson noted  that the  Association of American University Presses requires a  fulltime director and three employes to earn recognition as a "legitimate academic publisher." _It is protesting the closure at the deep-thinking Board of Trustees next meeting on Aug. 12.

C'mon gatekeepers. It's not that unrealistic to expect you to read the fine print. Instead of striking out, it might be better instead  if you simply took a walk.

As I've asked before:  When does a university stop being a university?

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