Sunday, March 27, 2016

UA: The Polytechnic (?) Empire misfires back

In the midst of further evidence of the University of Akron's woes,  the Akron Beacon Journal not only again called this week for a change in leadership but also dumped the school's critics (like me)  into a class that it described as  "unfair, misinformed and small-minded at times".

Right.  I can only presume it refers to this writer and the thousand or so folks who signed a "Scarborough must go" ad in the aforementioned newspaper.   In assessing the misbehavior of  those of us who have long sensed a meltdown at the downtown campus, the editorial deans should be reminded of their headline  that once asserted Team Scarborough "has a good plan...It really does."

The "really"  part  suggested a plea for approval  from any doubters who remain in our midst.

Having  unfairly sprung that from my system, may I continue?

In the simplest terms for this week's installments of the UA Epic of Biblical Proportions,  here's the narrative.  It really is.

(1) A few days ago veteran reporter Marilyn Miller wrote  a firm  facts-and-figures  front page story telling us of a continuing decline in the school's enrollment. Headline: Enrollment slide is largest in MAC....

(2) Next day, on Thursday, the UA front office emailed the paper, shredding Miller's story as"inaccurate, misleading  and apparently relied on out-of-date information".

(3) On Friday, UA gave the paper later information.

(4) Miller then followed Saturday with  another front-pager that was headlined:
 "UA takes exception to article on future freshmen".

The school came up with new numbers in a vain attempt at triage:

The paper reported the new level was  actually worse than first reported! New student enrollment was at the lowest number  in five years.  Are you as confused as I am? Did tail bite tail?

Never mind, UA said.  It issued  good news through its own filters that called Team Scarborough's "pretty extensive efforts"  on track with recruiting initiatives ranging from social media activities  and letter-writing to one- on- one phone calls to student prospects by Scarborough himself.

Well, to be fair about it, he didn't create the existing problem when he whizzed onto the campus two years ago.  His mismanaged agenda merely made them worse, as he  moved quickly  with ideas that drained millions from the ailing budget for inner circle salaries,  new programs of "student success coaches"   provided by a start-up company with little experience, a new student Cadet Corps amid a couple of hundred layoffs,  and God knows what else is in the fine print. Oh, a nearly $1 million renovation of  the president's
 home that accommodated a suite for his wife's parents. (No, I won't revive the memory of the damned olive jar!)  For a president who often shares his reliance on his  Christian values,  this all sounded a lot like the Prosperity Gospel, right?

When confronted with these not so small matters, Scarborough has said his critics simply don't understand what he is trying to accomplish...That would include the 50-2 no confidence resolution by the Faculty Senate and the local paper's rising impatience from an earlier berth on the Good Ship Lollipop.

And  if he doesn't respond to his many critics, it's because he doesn't understand their idea of vibrant leadership two chaotic years into his calling.

 Time to go, President Scarborough - as the bumper stickers advise  - and  don't take the school with you.

As you yourself once said to a local religious group:

"What  matters most is what we learn from our  failures and how those lessons make us better. I believe  moments of failure are when we are most receptive to actually hearing what God has been trying to say."

And while you're listening, sir, invite your enablers  at the Board of  Trustees to listen with you.

Well?  So much for today' unfair misinformed sermon.

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