Friday, February 5, 2016

Scarborough on rebranded ropes at UA

The high hurdlers  of the University of Akron Faculty Senate expressed their deep concern about UA President Scott Scarborough's troubled leadership on Friday with a near-perfect 50-2 no confidence vote. So near-perfect, in fact, that it would be hard for Scarborough or the Board of Trustees that has shielded him during months of campus upheaval to dismiss the gravity of  this tenure.

Bursting  into his job as a self-satisfied Mr. Goodwrench from Toledo University, where he had been provost,  less than two years ago, he eagerly rebranded  the school as a polytechnic academic model  while shrewdly talking a good game as a business executive.     But despite the unofficial welcoming committee from the city and the local media,  it soon  became obvious that he had little awareness of how to handle the task ahead, nor the importance of growing faculty and community reaction.  In short, he was making a bad situation worse by   stonewalling his critics as he pushed ahead with his notions of how to eliminate the school's debt - whatever  it is - and remedy falling enrollment.  (He once blithely assigned complaints to nitpicking by those who didn't understand his fail-safe plans.) .

Many on the faculty soon picked up on his  lone-wolf tactics  that ranged from shrinking or even closing some departments, to ending the school's baseball team  and shattering  the iconic cultural presence of E.J. Thomas Hall. At the same time, with the comatose consent of the trustees,  he went  on a spending binge  with  private contractors. When objections to his detached  management style increased  from educators, alumni  and townspeople,  he reached into his bag of metrics to counter that it  was much too early to judge progress.

It all funneled into Friday's  no-confidence resolution. The dissent is palpable. And it will not vanish.  The conditions suggest that his only option is to resign.  When the
Cleveland Cavaliers decided that  its coach had lost the confidence of its players, it fired the coach.  Such action is not unusual in sports or corporate offices.  How much longer can the trustees that hired him, a clubby jury that has proven to be useless as  gatekeepers, tolerate the  facts?

There was no indication  following the vote that the board will do anything .  Chairman  Jonathan Pavloff, a political appointee who owes his seat to the Summit County Republican Party, said in a prepared statement that the board fully concurs with Scarborough's initiatives .  To which I would add:  "come hell or high water".  In  insulting words  he said it was more important for the faculty to work with the administration for shared governance.  But that's what the other side has been advocating all along to no avail.   Who writes his stuff anyway?  

Meantime, Team  Scarborough has rounded up some local businessmen too advise him on call. .

That leaves me with a big question:  Why does a man whose half-million- dollar salary and perks  need someone to tell him how to do his job?



Dave Witt said...

It should be crystal clear at this point that the board of trustees and the Scarborough administration have goals other than education or strengthening the university.

Current and prospective students are beginning to perceive their presence at UA as a convenient source of revenue and nothing much else.

The faculty senate vote is based on widespread disillusion among those who it represents. I've never been more proud of my former colleagues, nor more ashamed of board/administration actions.
Dave Witt
UA Professor Emeritus

Tom Joad said...

Their goal,like all neo-liberal con artists,is to engorge themselves and their friends at the public trough. Scarborough is a perfect example of such a creature. A review of his limited scholarship suggests that he embraces markets and rejects government. After nearly four decades of "markets can solve all problems" we find ourselves in this situation. The University is but a microcosm of what is happening in America. It's fraud on a massive scale in the name choice and privatization. Their goal is degrade education not to encourage it. Why? Because education is the great leveler in any democratic system. Educated people are not easily fooled by the likes of Scarborough, Pavloff and the rest of his board.

I appuald the Faculty Senate's actions. It's not an easy thing to publicly condemn one's boss and it will take a committed faculty, student body and community to save the University.

Jinny Marting said...

As a former professor at UA, I am sickened and saddened by Scarborough's and the BOT's actions. UA is not the university at which I taught for 25 years.

Unknown said...

You nailed it Abe! Let's not forget about the 3 UA students (from student government) who also voted in favor of the "No Confidence" in (Ex) President Scarborough at last Thursday's Faculty Senate meeting. Pavloff needs to go to! He is an even bigger problem than Scarborough--if that's possible! Pavloff claims this vote, which was 50 for and 2 against, was a faculty union ploy in his prepared public statement. He is the kind of guy who, if captain of a sinking ship, would be the first one off!

Jinny Marting said...

Scarborough and the BOT's actions sicken and sadden me. As a Professor Emerita, I find that this is not the university at which I taught for 25 years. I applaud the Faculty Senate
and wish my former colleagues well. I am not hopeful.