University of Akron is No Longer "Ohio's Polytechnic University"

[image-1]In what should be understood as only the latest squall in a protracted existential nor'easter, the University of Akron is doing away with its "polytechnic" branding.

The move comes just one year after embattled President Scott Scarborough spent upwards of $100,000 to "re-position" the University's identity. Though the name would not officially change, Akron would henceforth be known and managed as "Ohio's Polytechnic University."  

"When it ("Ohio's Polytechnic University") was presented a year ago it was seen more as a tagline that could evolve into something more permanent," Akron's advancement VP Larry Burns backpedaled to "As time went on we felt, based on the reaction from many, that it works as a tagline for certain audiences but not for all audiences."

No kidding.

The move, to put it mildly, was not conceived "as an upgrade" by students and faculty. They clamored against a rumored name change, even starting a petition online. In the face of reassurances from Scarborough, a man and emblem in whom they were disinclined to place their trust, Akron peeps said the re-brand was a gamble.

(Not to mention the fact that students suddenly felt like they were attending something akin to ITT Tech).  

But Scarborough insisted that a re-positioning was necessary. 

“The most risky path is the one that we were on," he said last year in a piece by Inside Higher Ed. "The one where you are not identifying what is unique or strong about your university. [The University of Akron] was at a point in time when it had to make certain changes to remain relevant… to take the university to the next level.”

Or not. After meeting with students last week, the University's board chairman, Jonathan Pavloff apologized for the misstep, saying that the re-brand didn't work and that "it's not something that will continue." 

And though University officials are now spinning the story as if "Ohio's Polytechnic University" was just a tagline, last year it was one step shy of becoming the University's christened name

"The phrase will act as a North Star of sorts," wrote Crain's after Scarborough unveiled the re-positioning at The City Club last year, "and guide the university’s decision making."

On the University's homepage, "Ohio's Polytechnic University" has been removed from its place of prominence. The more factual, if less catchy, "Home of Williams Honors College" is now the tagline in its place
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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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