A new beginning for UT
Historic merger with MUO gives university the third-largest budget in Ohio
Published: Monday, April 3, 2006
Updated: Monday, February 2, 2009 12:02
After months of talk, the merger between the University of Toledo and the Medical University of Ohio was made official on Friday when Gov. Bob Taft signed the bill that will merge the two institutions on July 1 into law.
"As I sign this bill today, this new, bigger, better, world-class university becomes a model for the rest of the state with respect to the power of collaboration, consolidation and commitment," Taft said.
UT President Dan Johnson said the power from this merger comes from what it will do for students and the university.
"This merger substantially enhances the value proposition of the University of Toledo and the University of Toledo's degrees," Johnson said. "Our 100,000 alumni, scattered around the world, will reap the benefits of this merger through the greater recognition and stature of their alma mater."
This greater recognition will come not only from becoming the third-largest university in Ohio in terms of budget, Johnson said, but by being one of only 17 institutions in the nation with such a large "breadth and the depth of professional schools."
Jim Tuschman, chairperson of the Ohio Board of Regents, said UT will have seven professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, business, law and engineering.
Success for the institution and the students won't come automatically on July 1, Taft and Johnson said.
"We've got it done officially on paper," Taft said. "Now they have to get to work and figure out how they can best merge their operations so there is no duplication so they serve the students in the best way possible."
Johnson agreed that just the presence of numbers doesn't mean accomplishment.
"The success of this university will depend on how well we meet the individual educational needs of our students," Johnson said.
Taft said he has been impressed with Johnson and MUO President and UT president-to-be Lloyd Jacobs' dedication.
"Dr. Johnson and Dr. Jacobs here have done a wonderful job in putting the interest of a large institution ahead of their own colloquial interests," Taft said.
Tuschman said the merger isn't only good for the institution and the students, but it will also benefit the Toledo and Ohio economies.
"Together, [UT and MUO] will play a significant role in expanding and diversifying our region's economy," he said. "Together, they will create a university that will provide a quality education for their students."
Tuschman said the new UT would have more than 23,000 students, more than 7,000 employees and a combined research budget of $55 million.
"Together, these two universities increased substantially the return on Ohio's education investment," Tucshman said.
It's an investment Ohio Representative and merger bill supporter, Peter Ujvagi (D-47th) said isn't big enough and won't change with the merger.
"We now compete at the bottom third of the 50 states with the support we provide higher education," Ujvagi said. "This [merger] is not going to solve the funding crisis."
Ujvagi said actions need to be taken outside of the university level for tangible results to be seen.
"Every entity in the world today, if you want to compete, has had to merge, downsize or figure out more effective ways of doing business; a university should not be isolated from that," he said. "The fact of the matter is that the legislature has to make a commitment … to higher education."
Taft said the elimination of duplicate programs that the merger creates should help moderate the budget cuts and the consistent increases in tuition at UT.
"There should be some savings in administrative overhead as the two institutions really merge the operations," he said. "That will help the university control costs, and it should moderate the increases in tuition."
Taft said this is another part of the merger's ability to increase the value of the university's degrees.
"I think [these] savings … will enhance the overall reputation and prestige and the ability of this university to attract students and faculty," he said, adding that the loss of jobs that will come from elimination of duplicate programs is a necessary cost.
"I think it's worth it," he said.
Jacobs said it will be up to the administration, students and faculty to make the merger worth while.
"Any human undertaking can be improved upon," he said. "By our will, by our diligence, by our intention, we create the future."
It's a future Tuschman said will be looked at with a critical eye in the record books.
"History will judge what we've done here today," he said. "But we should all look on this new university with great pride and great satisfaction."