Possible University of Akron reorganization pushed back; activists campaign against decision-makers

September 28, 2018

Possible University of Akron reorganization pushed back; activists campaign against decision-makers

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- As the timeline is extended for a possible major University of Akron reorganization, a group of activists are trying to “save” the university from its leadership. 

A group called “Save the University of Akron from the Board of Trustees” released survey results Friday on how people felt about the leadership of the university. The push is in response to proposed major cuts to its degree programs and a forecasted $16 million deficit over the summer. 

The university is also discussing potential reorganization, beginning the process of searching for a new president and starting to develop a new three-year plan. 

Four proposals include creating new colleges for polymer and chemical sciences, computing and data sciences and a new college of technology and engineering. 

The intention of the reorganization, which would shift departments out of the College of Applied Sciences and Technology, is to make it easier for students to find the areas they want to study and to make UA’s offerings clearer, UA president John Green wrote in a letter to the campus community.

Feedback meetings with faculty took place over the past week. Green delayed the deadline for feedback on and evaluation of the new proposals on Friday. 

The original deadline was Oct. 22, but now will be in February 2019. 

Read Green’s full letter about the extension in the document viewer at the bottom of this post.

The Save UA survey, conducted using online polling site Survey Monkey, solicited responses from the university community. The group posted the link on its Facebook page, but it’s not clear how widely the survey was distributed. About 778 people follow the page. 

The organization defined itself as “an independent group of interested university stakeholders who wish to remain anonymous” in an email to media on Friday. 

“We share this information as an indication of how stakeholders, including alumni, are currently reacting to program cuts and other continuing controversies at the university.  It is our steadfast hope that this information will be utilized to inform best practices at the university.”

Of the 117 respondents, just under half identified as alumni. Slightly more than a quarter were alumni, with 19 percent community members and 13 percent staff.

The survey asked if participants would support a vote of no confidence in both the Office of Academic Affairs, including Provost Rex Ramsier, and the Board of Trustees of the university. 

The answer was overwhelmingly yes, at 85 and 82 percent, respectively. 

The survey also asked for written comments, which included “you can’t cut your way to greater enrollment” and that Ramsier has too much power. 

The university is aware of the anonymous Facebook page, university spokesman Wayne Hill wrote in an email.

″(We) prefer to work with organizations such as University Council, Faculty Senate, the Akron AAUP, and student government representatives to address areas of question and concern, which we have been doing productively,” he wrote.

Cuts announced to about 20 percent of degree programs in August caused turmoil on campus and pushback from the Akron chapter of the American Association of Professors, who filed grievances against the university. You can read those grievances here.

Julie Cajigas, acting president, said faculty felt that although they were consulted during the year-long process, once the conclusions and cuts were announced it seemed there was no opportunity for feedback.

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“It damaged trust between administration and the faculty,” she said.

Cajigas met with Green, and said she’s encouraged by extension for feedback on the reorganization proposals and association representation on the steering committee for the new plan.

Faculty have concerns about how the proposed shifts could affect advising and academic requirements. 

“I think (the extension) is a great step in regards to the relationship between the faculty and the administration.” 

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