University of Akron calling for buyouts, recruitment boost
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — The University of Akron plans to offer voluntary buyouts to employees, increase recruiting efforts of international students and restructure its scholarship system to address a looming deficit and declining enrollment.
University of Akron President Matt Wilson outlined a two-year plan last week to shore up the school’s finances. The university hopes to finalize a voluntary buyout program by early next year that is expected to save $8 million in the next budget year, Wilson said.
“We are not looking at personnel cuts or involuntary layoffs or program cuts with this plan,” Wilson told The Akron Beacon Journal.
Some faculty members have declined raises after being promoted to save the university money. Wilson accepted a $370,000 annual salary when he was appointed president last month after being hired as interim president in July. University presidents earn an average salary of $430,000, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The university has also only been filling critical positions.
Wilson’s plan calls for boosting the recruitment of international students and dedicating dormitory space for them. The plan also calls for increasing student retention by locking in scholarships for juniors and seniors and by making more financial help available to them if they began college without scholarships.
“We have to do a better job in guiding and directing how to get our kids to graduate,” Wilson said.
The accounting firm Ernst and Young found university enrollment has gradually decreased from 29,699 five years ago to 23,152 this school year.
“The decline was accelerated by what I’m calling a period of turbulence,” Wilson said.
The university cut $20 million in expenses last year and is expected to withdraw $18 million from its savings to cover an expected deficit.
Wilson said he expects initiatives in the two-year plan will save about $25 million in its first year.