Trustees support scholarship strategy, president

March 16, 2010 | News, UToday
By Meghan Cunningham

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees has expressed its support for a scholarship model that will raise the caliber of the institution in the next decade and in UT President Lloyd Jacobs as he interviews faculty members for tenure.

During the board’s March meeting Monday afternoon, trustees learned about the successes of changes in UT’s scholarship strategy since 2007 that have led to increases in tuition revenue and enrollment, including additional out-of-state students and a more diverse student body.

In his presentation, UT Vice President for External Affairs and Interim Vice President for Equity and Diversity Lawrence J. Burns also described a 10-year goal for the University that includes maintaining 4,000 to 4,500 freshmen and a diverse student body. The plan includes deferring underprepared students to the spring semester, raising the retention rate from the current 69 percent to 75 percent, and increasing the average ACT scores from 21 up to 24 and 25.

The scholarship strategy is about the character and the mission of the institution as it envisions what it wants to look like in the future, Jacobs said.

The president notified trustees that he has conducted 10 interviews with faculty members seeking tenure and learned a great deal about the expertise of UT faculty through those discussions.

Board Chair Olivia Summons read a statement of support for Jacobs’ interview process as the University seeks to elevate the stature of the institution. She said that many practices, although rooted in history and pure habit, need to be examined to see if they are contributing to the vibrant institution UT is striving for.

“Faced with mounting state deficits and uncertain state funding in the near future, it is imperative that we accelerate our efforts. In that vein, and to ensure that The University of Toledo continues its quest, the board supports the current decisions of the president to interview tenure candidates as a final step prior to his recommendations to the board,” the statement read.

“We respect the recent resolution passed by Faculty Senate regarding tenure interviews conducted by the president. However, it is important to underscore the major academic and economic impact that tenure implies. We assume the faculty are reviewing their tenure process, which we believe is thorough, although like every practice is not above review, improvement and modification. And once again, the financial ramifications of tenure cannot be excluded from the review.”

Several board members also expressed their individual support for the interviews following Summons’ comments.

In other action at the meeting, the trustees approved:

• Three renovation projects totaling $5.3 million, including $2 million for the Center for Performing Arts, $1 million for the third floor of the Snyder Memorial Building and $2.3 million for Wolfe Hall, which is in addition to $5.6 million in grant and state capital funding for that project.

• The creation of a new Institute for Sustainable Engineering Materials that will serve as a portal for industry to access University resources. The application-driven design of such materials requires large collaborative efforts, and the new institute will help coordinate those efforts.

• A resolution in support of the Ohio Third Frontier, the funding for which will be on the ballot in May for Ohio voters to renew. Since 2002, the Third Frontier has helped create 48,000 jobs in the state through investing tax dollars in innovative companies.

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