University of Akron details costs of renovating, repairing president’s house

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AKRON, OH - To eliminate a projected $60-million deficit, the University of Akron in recent weeks has been eliminating more than 200 positions, getting rid of its baseball program and making other difficult cuts.

Overseeing the belt-tightening has been the University's new president Dr. Scott Scarborough, who was hired last year and in January moved into the university-owned President's house on Burning Tree drive in Akron.

As a part of his contract, Scarborough was required to live in the 7,000 square foot, four-bedroom home.

The Chairman of the University Board of Trustees says that has been true of every university president for the past 60 years.

"Yes we do require the president to live in university provided housing. The reason for that is that we expect the president to use the facility for university related events. It might be fundraising or meetings with university constituents. It might be general receptions, something like that and I believe since the president moved in in January there have been somewhere over 50 university events held at the residence," said Jonathan Pavloff.

But before Scarborough moved in this past January, the university spent a huge amount of money, close to $1 million, making renovations and upgrades to the property.

While the university says Scarborough brought his own furnishings for the private rooms on the second floor, the school considers the first floor a public space.

Because it is university-owned property, the school says it is their obligation to maintain the home and the grounds.

But Pavloff says little had been done over the past fifteen years.

"It hadn't been maintained to the point where even if we were to try to sell the property, for example, whether Dr. Scarborough moved into it or not, those items would have to have been addressed," said Pavloff.

The University released documents to Fox 8 News on Monday detailing  work and labor charges.

The maintenance bill for the property, which Pavloff says was budgeted separately from furnishings, carpeting, and draperies, was budgeted as University maintenance.

The list of items that were completed on the home included $127,000 to paint the entire residence, $190,000 for basement ceiling, lighting, cleaning the house and fireplaces, TVs, appliances, windows, refinishing a dining room table, and more.

$11,000 was spent on accent lighting, $12,000 on tree trimming and groundskeeping, $16,980 for new counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms, $7,000 for custom-built furniture to replace existing tables, $5,300 for restoration of marble and travertine flooring in the foyer, 1st floor laundry room, the entrance off the patio and a guest bathroom.

Click here to see a list of renovations

"In terms of maintenance of the facility that's certainly the responsibility of the university because it does belong to us," said Pavloff, who explained, "From a board perspective we looked at these in large buckets and we have a vice president of capital facilities who oversaw the renovation project and things appeared to fit within the budgets that were established so honestly we didn't look at the line item detail but once again the funds that were provided for the acquisition of those items came from private donations."

An additional sum of more than $500,000 was also spent on a list that includes $40,000 on the first-floor guest bathroom, $22,000 for new patio furniture and a grill, $2,700 on two night tables, $5,588 for 5 counter stools and thousands more for carpeting, window treatments and more.

Click here to see a list of maintenance related expensese

Pavloff says all of that money came from private contributions and none of the upgrades to the president's home took money away from classrooms on campus.

"It's important for everyone to recognize that none of the dollars used to acquire the property and renovate the property came out of the university's general fund so those were not tuition dollars, those were not dollars that were given to us in the state share of construction. Those were funds that were provided by private donations, again, specifically for the purpose of housing the university president, so the donors knew exactly where those dollars were going to go," said Pavloff.

He also explained that the money that was spent on the maintenance and updates to the property was budgeted in the previous fiscal year, while the cuts are being made looking forward.

Dr. John Zipp, president of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told Fox 8 News that he does not doubt the home needed some updates, and understands it is the university's responsibility to maintain it, but he said with all of the cuts that have been happening on campus he wishes the university would have been more open before now.

"To be fair with everyone, it would be nice for the university to publish a full and complete accounting," said Zipp, who feels it is a disservice to everyone on campus not to have known the details about where the money was spent and where it came from.

Zipp said he has had a class on campus where the desktops have been missing from several seats and have not been replaced in more than a year.

Pavloff says the work on the president's home does not take away from the classrooms or the facilities on campus.

"Understand that the priorities from the board with respect to the mission of the university we are to provide for our student success so we do not compromise on any item that we think interferes with their ultimate success and by that I mean their ability to take their place as contributing members of society when they leave the University of Akron," he added.​



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