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?