University of Akron President Scott Scarborough will address the possibility of changing the name of the school during a speech this month at the City Club of Cleveland.
UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey confirmed Thursday that he will deal with the issue, but she would not say what he will discuss.
Rumors have swirled that Scarborough, who took over as president last year, plans to announce a new name for the university to better represent its polymer and engineering specialties.
He is slated to speak before the City Club at noon May 15. His speech is titled More Than Harvard: Building a Great Public University in Northeast Ohio.
The possibility already is being met with resistance, with some opponents latching onto the potential name Ohio Polytech Institute.
A Change.org petition has surfaced to keep the school as the University of Akron. And the UA chapter of the American Association of University Professors says 77 percent of members who responded to a survey are completely or somewhat against the idea.
“It’s clear that there are people on campus that are very concerned, and they want their voice to be heard,” University of Akron AAUP President Steve Weeks said.
The faculty is upset that the issue hasn’t been discussed openly with them, he said.
“It has been rushing forward,” said Weeks, a biology professor. “That’s crazy. This is a huge change to rebrand the university.”
The name-change issue came up during strategic planning meetings held with UA stakeholders.
In a recent interview with the Beacon Journal, Scarborough confirmed that it’s a serious topic but added that it’s not a top issue.
“The top issue is what do we need to do to move the university to the next level,” he said at the beginning of April. “It’s really more of a conversation about repositioning than renaming at this point.”
The Change.org petition, started by 2011 alumna Jessica Kaisk, had been electronically signed by more than 1,000 people as of Thursday afternoon.
“I am against the name change because the university is more than an institute. It is a community,” said Kaisk, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology.
“By changing it to the proposed ‘Ohio Polytech Institute,’ it gives the feel of a second-rate online education, as well as cutting out the vast other programs and departments that are offered by the university,” she said.
To read the full petition, go to: tinyurl.com/ozpgmgl.
Nearly 360 faculty union members — more than half of the union membership — responded to the union’s survey, with 64.6 percent saying they were completely opposed to the idea.
Another 12.8 percent were somewhat opposed, while 14.8 percent said it depends on the name.
Only 4.5 percent thought it is a great idea. It didn’t matter to the remainder of them.
The union also split on whether Scarborough is leading the university in a positive direction. More than 47 percent said no, while 42.2 percent weren’t sure yet. Ten percent said yes.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.