Akron City Council members will meet with University of Akron President Luis Proenza next week to discuss concerns about changes the university is making to its programming for minority students.
Council members requested the meeting after about a dozen students, staff and community members spoke at the April 29 council meeting, urging council to intervene on their behalf regarding the university’s decision to replace the Office of Multicultural Development (OMD) with a Student Success Center and Multicultural Center in the fall. Students and other OMD supporters are concerned this change would dilute services to minority students.
The meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. May 22 at the university. Akron Council President Garry Moneypenny, who arranged the meeting, will attend with several of the minority members of council and Summit County Councilwoman Tamela Lee.
Akron Councilman Ken Jones, who is among the council members who has been meeting with UA students, said those attending will give Proenza a list of questions that have been raised by students and others.
“We just want some real good dialogue and some answers to questions,” he said.
Eileen Korey, a spokeswoman for the university, said UA has met with students and others concerned about the planned changes over the past two weeks and has taken steps to address their concerns. She said the university has decided to keep the Office of Multicultural Development as the name of the academic programs that have been offered through that office, including learning communities and peer mentoring. She said OMD will be under the Student Success Center.
“It will be part of a broader program,” she said.
Korey said the Multicultural Center will now handle the other programs that formerly were part of OMD. She said many people have raised concerns about whether the programs to help minority students will be as robust with the changes.
“Not only will they remain intact, but there will be some expansion — a broadening of the programs,” she said.
Korey said the university will continue to get input from students, staff and the community as the plans for the new centers take shape between now and the fall semester.
In other business, council:
•Voted to sell 2.2 acres of city-owned land at 1240 Triplett Boulevard for $845,000 to Briarwood Properties Inc. on behalf of J.W. Didado Inc., an Akron electric company. The company, which employs about 55 people and owns other property in this area, plans to use the new property for offices and the maintenance of its vehicles.
Akron, which housed its communications center on the property, will move this operation to 1428 Triplett, where it has its public works offices. The city bought the 1240 Triplett property in 1991 for $700,000.
•Heard from Carmilla Robinson, whose 19-year-old daughter, Taylor, has been missing since May 3. Robinson made an emotional plea for anyone with information on her daughter’s whereabouts to come forward.
“She will always be my baby,” Robinson said, clutching a tissue as tears streamed down her face. “We ask for any help that anybody can give us. ... We ask you not to forget. That will never be an option for us.”
Moneypenny assured Robinson that the Akron police and the FBI are doing all they can to try to find her daughter.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure she is in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts,” he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Akron police at 330-375-2490. Anonymous tips may be left at http://ci.akron.oh.us/ASP/tip.html.
Information also can be provided by calling Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS (2677). Tipsters might qualify for a cash reward.