University of Akron President Matthew Wilson resigns

Wilson moved over from the law school and was named President by UA’s Board of Trustees in October 2016 after a three-month stint as interim.

The University of Akron is searching for its fourth president in five years following the resignation of Matthew Wilson. Multiple sources say he tendered his resignation to the Board of Trustees on Wednesday, less than two weeks after he was eliminated as a candidate for the presidency of the University of Central Florida.

By phone, Wilson talked about the challenges of the position at UA, often “working 100-hour weeks” as he’s balanced administrative duties, repairing relationships with the Akron community and continuing to teach.

“I did a lot of thinking over the last several weeks,” he said. “Back in December around break time, as I’m continuing to plow through, and (I remember) just going, ‘You know what, how long can this be sustained?'”

Going back to the law school, he says, is a “sweet spot” between his love for being in the classroom, he commitment to the University of Akron and its students, and being able to spend more time with his family.

The four-month heads-up gives trustees a chance to find a replacement without scrambling while allowing Wilson to put a few more pieces into place.

“It’s truly been a privilege and an honor to serve collectively with folks, stabilize the institution, be able to move it forward,” he said.

In the announcement emailed to students, faculty and staff, The University of Akron says Wilson will re-join the faculty of UA’s School of Law, effective July 31, 2018. Board Chair Roland Bauer was quoted saying, “In the very near future, we will meet with representatives of key University constituencies to gain input on the appointment of an interim president.”

Wilson informed the Board that he will voluntarily reduce his compensation to $240,500 when he returns to the School of Law faculty, according to the University. His contract would have paid him an annual salary of $292,500 based on 65 percent of his $450,000 salary, but he offered to take more than $50,000 less, by reverting to 65 percent of his salary of $370,000, prior to the increase last October.

In a lengthy letter published to the University’s website, Wilson writes, “This decision came after much thought and consideration and is based on a host of personal and family considerations.

The Board of Trustees appointed Wilson interim president in July 2016, after Scott Scarborough resigned in June 2016. Wilson was then made the permanent president without a formal search, a move decried by the Akron chapter of the American Association of University Professors as “a threat to shared governance.”

Later, after a September 11, 2017 meeting with trustees, AAUP-Akron officials said they were “on the whole, satisfied with his performance to date,” according to a statement on their website.

Known for his charisma and personal touch with students, Wilson is the second consecutive Akron president to leave before serving even two years in office. He inherited a $30 million budget shortfall from the Scarborough administration, which itself also began with steep financial problems following Luis Proenza, who led the University for 15 years before retiring in 2014.

As reported in February, the University currently pays both Proenza and Scarborough more than a combined $620,000 to teach. No word yet whether Wilson will remain on faculty at the University and if so, at what cost. In October 2017, he received a contract extension to June 30, 2023, which included a raise of $80,000, from $370,000 to $450,000 a year.

On Saturday, Wilson accompanies a group of UA students to Japan. As for what’s next, he’s remaining open to the opportunities, which he says he’ll “examine one-by-one.”

One thing remains the same, he says, “Wherever I am, I’m going full throttle.”

(Written by Chris Horne. Photo courtesy of The University of Akron website.)