Students, staff question University of Akron budget cuts - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Students, staff question University of Akron budget cuts

Students and staff want answers after extreme university budget cuts. (Source: WOIO) Students and staff want answers after extreme university budget cuts. (Source: WOIO)
Nearly 100 people gathered to hear what trustees had to say. (Source: WOIO) Nearly 100 people gathered to hear what trustees had to say. (Source: WOIO)
There were musical performances, poems read, and crowds chanting "please act responsibly." (Source: WOIO) There were musical performances, poems read, and crowds chanting "please act responsibly." (Source: WOIO)
Some protested the budget cuts outside Wednesday's meeting. (Source: WOIO) Some protested the budget cuts outside Wednesday's meeting. (Source: WOIO)
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AKRON, OH (WOIO) -

Things remain tense on the University of Akron campus after the university recently made impacting financial decisions. Now students and staff want answers about the decisions that are being made. 

About two weeks ago, roughly 200 jobs were cut, tuition deadlines were moved up and late fees were doubled.

Some students and faculty say they are upset over the changes coming to EJ Thomas Hall and the baseball program being cut. School officials say despite having let all the staff go, they still intend to deliver the programs on the hall's calendar.

University President Dr. Scott Scarborough says the baseball program was cut after factoring in return on investment, limited resources, and Title IX.

Trustees admitted mistakes were made and they didn't communicate with the public like they should have. However, trustees made it clear that Scarborough still has their full support.

"We think we could have communicated better with the community to prepare them for the difficult decisions that we had to make," said Scarborough.

"We probably owed answers to folks in advance of the announcements coming out, and I think that summarizes it. We've tried to move down that path and I think we'll do a better job in the future," said Jonathan Pavloff, chairman of the Board of Trustees. 

The university plans to reduce expenses by $40 million.

That process includes the following: 

-Eliminating 215 positions via a planned reduction in workforce; no faculty layoffs are occurring
-Eliminating baseball
-Eliminating non-academic programming in EJ Thomas Hall, except for rentals
-Outsourcing dining services
-Renegotiating health care plans
-Increasing the cost share of retiree dependent coverage
-Changing the university’s retire/rehire policy
-Centralizing course scheduling
-Reducing central costs, such as legal fees and university memberships

The university also expects to gain $20 million from raising graduate tuition and undergraduate fees by $10 million. It projects another $10 million in enrollment growth.

Scarborough stands behind his unpopular decisions and says the cuts were made to eliminate redundancies, improve efficiencies and reorganize operations. 

"They weren't painless, but they were necessary. All of this was done to try and protect the academic core of the university and to provide a source of funds where further investments can be made," he said.

Pavloff says Scarborough still has the board's full support. But it was clear in Wednesday's meeting, that was not the case among other members of the university community.

"We believe Dr. Scott Scarborough has appropriately and effectively addressed the issues presented to him," Pavloff told a crowd of nearly 100 people after trustees went into a public session following their executive session.

That statement was met with laughs from students and staff who attended the board meeting. But they weren't given an opportunity to speak or ask questions, so they made their voices heard with protests.

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