Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UA leadership facing a critical test of confidence.

They're turning the page at the University of Akron for the next chapter in the somber tale of the rebranded House of Scarborough.  In a rare process that  could take several months, the Faculty Senate may be asked to deliver a no-confidence vote against the school's president, Scott Scarborough.

Small wonder.  Reaction to Scarborough has been growing for months on the downtown Akron campus among critics of his plan to eliminate a $40 million debt - a  plan that has creaked with notable errors, tactical reversals and questionable remedies. If  the University had been Rome, the Coliseum's beasts would have shattered it in their path.

It will be no simple task for the critics who want to resolve a long list of faculty grievances against Team Scarborough.  The situation worsened this week after  UA's Vice President of Advancement Lawrence Burns, who should have known better,  suggested that the faculty initiative may only be a bargaining  club  during current union negotiations.  His cold response was regarded as just one more example of how the school's top managers were indifferent to the general decline of UA's delivery system to student and faculty since the Scarborough team arrived on cmpus in June 2015.

"Not true! '" said Daniel Coffey, the  associate political science professor who inspired the direct-action idea of a head-on clash with the school's leadership, told me.  He noted  that the no-confidence measure was a reaction against  a number of academic problems caused by faculty and staff cutbacks and other shifts that are making life miserable for everyone affected.

Folks, this is not simply a question of the comfy paychecks that Scarborough and his imported cabinet  are receiving these days in their bizarre attack on UA debt.  Instead it's the kind of harsh stuff that seldom surfaces for the public that is paying the bills. Coffey has the list:

Class schedules on short notice that cramp a working student's efforts to safely take an outside job;   the replacement  of faculty openings with adjuncts (only  18 of 55 new hires are tenure- track level, says Coffey); unavailability of classes required of students even though their tuition is rising;  the departure of qualified professors who find the environment no longer acceptable; the replacement of ongoing faculty instruction with outside companies;  the absence of shared governance with the administration.

"We're not at all happy with this situation," Coffey says, now firmly daring the lion's den. It's easy to see why.

As for the steps that would lead to a Faculty Senate vote,  Senate president Bill Rich said it might not occur until February.

The Senate meets monthly, but none is scheduled for December because of the holidays. Next, it will have to consider a no-confidence proposal from an ad hoc senate committee.  Coffey is confident the measure will have the votes for approval by the entire senate.  Polling by the Akron AAUP indicated strong disfavor with the administration.

At that point, a powerful message could be sent to Scarborough and the fox-holed
Board of  Trustees that changes greater than debt-cutting are immediately necessary to create a healthier university that is now in disarray.

Presidents have been known to resign.  Right,  Missouri?

No comments: