“The coming together of these great universities is about increasing the value of higher education,” said Dan Johnson, Ph.D., president of UT.
It is expected that the merged entity will retain the name of the University of Toledo but this remains to be seen, with a committee being formed for name creation.
Sharing the podium with the two university presidents—Johnson and Dr. Lloyd Jacobs of MUO—were Governor Taft, State Representatives Peter Ujvagi and Mark Wagoner, State Senators Teresa Fedor (minority whip) and Randy Gardner, Senate President Bill Harris, Speaker of the House of Representatives Jon Husted, former chairman of the UT Board of Trustees Jim Tuschman, and U.S. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.
The combined institutions will have a total of 23,000 students and a research budget of $65 million per year, said Harris, who praised the two presidents for their efforts in bringing about the merger, as did most of Friday’s speakers. “They have accomplished in less than a year, what others could not,” he said as he also announced that the merger would spark similar initiatives in other parts of the state.
“Real leaders don’t just talk,” said Fedor. “Real leaders make things happen.”
In order to complete the merger, Johnson and Dr. Jacobs enlisted the cooperation of northwest Ohio legislators and managed to overcome the problems of merging the staff and faculties of the two institutions in short order. Staff members of each university are eligible to apply for jobs at either school.
The boards of trustees will be combined and reduced through attrition over the upcoming decade as terms of service expire.
And although the merger will allow the combined entity to save millions of dollars, speaker after speaker emphasized that the primary factors behind the decision to combine operations were the ability of the merged institutions to increase research, to enhance its reputation academically, and to emphasize science and technology.
Dr. Jacobs spoke of the work ahead for the leaders of the two universities. “A new University of Toledo … in a sense that’s prologue, that’s the easy part,” said the man who will become president of the merged larger entity.
“A dedication to excellence will be our mantra,” he promised as he outlined “four principle rules” to ensure excellence: the need to choose and prioritize knowledge of the institution’s customers, a placement of value in the workforce and a connection with the community.
“Today is a great example of what we can accomplish through democracy and cooperation,” said Taft just before he signed the bill into law. “This bigger, better, world-class university becomes a model for the rest of the state.”