Saturday, September 22, 2007

University Reshuffling in NEO?

Friday the PD broke the news that the University of Akron and Cleveland state might merge. Or might not. Or that NEOUCOM will move to Cleveland. Or Akron. Or will stay in Rootstown.

One thing is for sure -- things will stay the same up to the moment that they change.

Oh, and no one will tell us what's happening.

To back up a bit, the PD story ledes as follows:

    An idea to shake up the state's college system could combine Cleveland State University and the University of Akron and bring a medical school to downtown Cleveland.

    Some of the talk involves moving the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, known as NEOUCOM, from Portage County or expanding its Rootstown-based campus.

The story then checks in with all the players -- Gov. Strickland, University Chancellor Fingerhut, UA Prez Proenza and CSU Prez Michael Schwartz -- all of whom give a version of "no comment." The PD does not disclose who gave them the information in the lede. The story just says this might happen, but no one is talking.

Katie Byard at the Beacon called Proenza and got a story up on Ohio dot com yesterday saying that such talk is premature. Speaking on NewsNightAkron, WAKR's Larry States said the same thing -- Proenza said the discussion is "not ready for prime time." (As of right now AkronNewsNow is offline.)

Byard's breaking story has been replaced with a more extensively reported version in today's print edition. There we learn that:

    University of Akron President Luis Proenza said Friday that talk of combining his school and Cleveland State University has been around a long time.

    In an e-mail to the UA campus community, Proenza wrote that ''the idea described'' in an article in Friday's Plain Dealer ''is merely one of those ideas'' being presented as ''bold proposals that would strengthen higher education in our region.''

Oh, and Mike Rasor, the ABJ's U Akron sports blogger is not amused. He climbs all over Chancellor Fingerhut, resetting the "You say finger" chant. And somewhere Tim Russo smiles.

Most Akronites will side with Rasor at the suggestion of anything like a merger. Despite the fact that Akron is half again as big as CSU, despite the fact that Akron has evolved from a commuter school to a research university with a real campus and a growing community and CSU really hasn't, Akronites will assume that merger means becoming the CSU/Akron campus. As Ed Esposito notes, that's how it is when you "collaberate" with The Big City. And no one around here will accept that.

According to States last night, Chancellor Fingerhut "decries the lack of a world class research institution" outside of Ohio State. Akron certainly has done more to work toward that end than CSU -- to the point that Polymer is truly a world class center.

So while merging Akron into Cleveland State makes little sense, repurposing Cleveland State as a satellite of Akron might. How about Northeast Ohio State University at Akron with a Cleveland campus? Clevelanders are no more likely to live peacefully with that idea that we would tolerate the reverse, but there it is.

Hey, no one said this regionalism stuff would be easy.


Jeff said...

* Ouch! *

You can't have the largest city in Ohio not have a state university.

How about if we merge the two cities and call them Clakron? Or Akland? That's probably more likely than Cleveland agreeing to have only a satellite campus!

I'd write more but I gotta go, I'm doing some Google research on Coco Van.

Scott Piepho said...

Uh, Jeff, the most populous city in Ohio has a university. The Ohio State University in fact:

Anonymous said...

CSU is nothing more than a glorified community college. Any move that results in the complete and total dismissal of their administrative staff will be supported by me.


Ed Esposito said...

Interesting you bring up having an OSU Cleveland or OSU Akron, Pho -- pretty much what California and New York have with their multiple campus approach in the state university system. Michigan and UM-Flint, West Virginia has WVU it time to have a real state university system to coordinate development of centers for excellence (do both CSU and UA need separate law schools - just asking?) but it was great to see your gentle reminder to the Chancellor that the UA does, indeed, have world-class research. Ditto KSU's liquid crystal.

What's the real politics behind this? Why would you merge University programs 35 miles away when UA and KSU are a 20-minute drive apart?

There's got to be more than this than meets the eye...