State of the UniversityWritten by Vincent D. Scebbi | | email@example.com
In front of an audience that filled slightly over half of Doermann Theatre, UT President Lloyd Jacobs delivered his fifth annual State of the University address, in which he gave a review and his brief vision UT’s next five years.
“Universities as we currently know them will be dramatically changed in the next five years,” Jacobs said to open his address. “This will result from external pressures both fiscal and related to the fundamental value proposition for higher education.”
Jacobs said although he is unable to predict the future with certainty, he described the changes to be made over the next five years as a “revolution.”
“The revolution is well underway here at the University of Toledo and we’re guiding it, it’s not being done to us,” he said.
Jacobs said changes in the university will result in great challenges, but leaders will allow UT to “not only survive, but thrive.”
The changes that will characterize the future, Jacobs said, will come from increasing productivity by adopting the best methods from Corporate America, huge strides in technology and a greater emphasis in integrating higher education enterprise with the working community.
Jacobs said specific techniques from the corporate arena include merit-based pay, performance appraisal and lean manufacturing techniques. He made clear that he was not talking about the corporatization of higher education, but instead adopting those certain techniques to help run the university more efficiently.
“Still, the corporate model of societal organization is increasingly embraced throughout the world and aspects of corporatization must be embraced if higher education as we know it is to survive,” he said.
When asked how the passing of Senate Bill 5 would affect his future plans, Jacobs said it “remains to be seen. I don’t know the answer to this point.”
In his address, Jacobs said one issue to be looked at is lifetime employment for faculty, which is becoming more viewed as “unsustainable for today’s world.”
He added the careful re-evaluation of the sustainability of UT is in order.
“The University of Toledo is undertaking this reexamination. Faculty, higher education needs your help,” he said. “I, the institution, and the nation are asking you to guide these revolutionary forces. Workload, tenure, curriculum, areas which traditionally receive significant faculty input, are the very areas which this revolution will affect.”
Following his address, Jacobs said in an interview he is unable to answer whether the concept of tenure will be eliminated.
He called on everyone involved in the decision-making process of the university to step out of their comfort zones,
“Our own comfort zone problem, we need to overcome. We need to adjust and live in a very different world,” he said.
One topic Jacobs stressed in his address was keeping the “American Dream” of opportunity and social mobility alive through the education system. He cited experts who challenge the effectiveness and quality of a college degree.
Following his address, Jacobs explicitly said in an interview he opposes the beliefs that say college is not the best route.
“I do not agree. I think it’s the best investment, the only investment that makes sense, the only way out of the economic circumstance in which we find ourselves,” Jacobs said. “It’s the only way to position ourselves for a fulfilled, long, happy life. I do not agree with that assessment, however, we need to get that message out to young people, we need to say the American Dream is still alive and education is still the single best vehicle for the obtainment of the American Dream.”
Throughout his speech, Jacobs highlighted the university’s academic and economic accomplishments over the past five years. In light of this, he said he expects the next five years will be more intense.
“This university has been a pioneer in a number of ways,” Jacobs said. “From the time of the merger and many decades before that, we will be creating our future in five years. We’re interested in being the architect in five years.”