In memoriam: Alex Arshinkoff — former Board of Trustees chair


Alex R. Arshinkoff, who served four terms as our Board chair from 1997-2001, passed away yesterday. He was 62.

Arshinkoff also led the Summit County Republican Party, a role he assumed in 1978 at the age of 23.

“Alex was an extraordinary party leader,” said Roland Bauer, current chair of UA’s Board. “He loved the rough-and-tumble world of party politics and was very good at it. He also loved The University of Akron and was an acolyte of the great Ohio and National Republican Party Chair Ray C. Bliss, for whom the University's Bliss Institute is named.

“Alex was a world-class raconteur and relished weaving Mr. Bliss' wisdom into his stories,” Bauer added. “He will be profoundly missed by his devoted family, many friends and fellow Summit County Republicans. Godspeed, my friend."

Campus transformation

President Matthew Wilson noted that Arshinkoff’s mark on the University will endure for decades.

“Mr. Arshinkoff profoundly influenced the transformation of our campus as we know it today,” Wilson said. “His legacy includes this modern, attractive campus that helps us stand apart from other universities.”

Arshinkoff was Board chairman when Dr. Luis Proenza was named president in 1998. Prior to this, Arshinkoff and other Trustees had visited other state universities and concluded that UA needed a major investment in facilities to remain competitive. Thus, the New Landscape for Learning initiative was launched, and a search began for the right leader to make it happen.

“To this day, I remain touched by Alex’s recognition of what he thought I could offer the University in terms of leadership,” Proenza said earlier today. “Without question, he was the conceptual motivator behind the New Landscape for Learning and what would become our third cycle of expansion.”

The initiative led to the construction of the Student Union, the Rec Center and the Arts & Sciences building, among others.

“Alex had a deep love of The University of Akron and recognition of its important role in the community and beyond,” Proenza said. “He continued to support the University in very significant ways well beyond his service on our Board of Trustees.”

‘Great loyality’

Dr. John Green — the dean of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Bliss Institute — recalled the influence that Arshinkoff held over county politics.

“He had a difficult job as the Republican leader in a Democratic county,” Green said. “He did it by building a strong local organization and by recruiting good candidates.”

Arshinkoff also played a role in shaping the Bliss Institute. He, like his mentor Ray Bliss, felt it should be nonpartisan.

“The institute’s purpose is to train leaders in both parties, and they shared the notion that the public is best served when there is healthy competition in politics,” Green said.

Green said he will remember two things about Arshinkoff.

“First, he had great loyalty to The University of Akron — very much in the model of Ray Bliss,” Green said. “And second, he had a tremendous sense of humor. He could be very funny.”

Services are pending.