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Groups formed to ease merger

Published: Monday, February 6, 2006

Updated: Monday, February 2, 2009 12:02

Officials from UT and MUO have formed work groups to aid in the transition of the two universities into one entity, should the merger be approved by Ohio legislature in the spring.

"A wise person plans for major life and career events," said Kaye Patten Wallace, UT vice president of student life and head of the student life work group. "Instead of just wondering and speculating on what we hope to accomplish, we're being proactive in our approach."

According to Patten Wallace, her particular group has several goals in mind.

"We want to look at the … possible integration of services we provide on both campuses," she said. "We want to share the philosophies of UT and MUO while maintaining a philosophy of student-centeredness. As we merge, we don't want to lose those strategies."

Other work groups that are will be playing a role in the merger of UT and MUO include the Executive Steering Group, headed by Dean of Business Administration Thomas Gutteridge, and the Facilities Master Planning work group, headed by Harry Wyatt, UT's associate vice president for facilities management.

Gutteridge's group has been charged as the "oversight committee," designed to act as a watchdog for all of the work groups, as well as the merger itself.

"We'll be coordinating work group activities, prioritizing projects under initiatives and making sure costs have been identified and are reasonable," Gutteridge said. "We'll also be ensuring that lines of communication stay open between personnel and community officials."

Gutteridge added that the goals and responsibilities of the Executive Steering Group are "obviously something that will be a moving target and will expand upon meetings [between UT and MUO officials]."

While no meetings have occurred yet, Gutteridge agrees with the pre-planning of the merger and the created work groups.

"I think it's a good idea for two reasons," he said. "First, you need to plan; if we wait till the approval, we'll lose months of planning time and meeting time. Secondly, the proceedings down in Columbus appear to be going very smoothly - the likelihood of the merger getting approved is very high."

Wyatt also agrees with the formation of the groups.

"When the approval comes, everyone will want to hit the ground running," he said. "It takes time to get work groups together, to set meeting times. Doing it now beats waiting 'til the last minute."

Wyatt's group will be focusing on the actual master plans for each university and work toward blending them together.

"First, we'll decide which projects that are in progress are unaffected and should continue, versus projects that will be affected," Wyatt said. "We'll also be looking at future plans for the College of Pharmacy and health and human services on the UT campus versus how it should look in a merged scenario."

Wyatt added that Presidents Johnson and Jacobs have spoken of the relocation of the College of Pharmacy and "possibly a component or two of health and human services to the MUO campus."

An added bonus of the work groups is the chance for UT and MUO faculty and officials to get to know one another on a closer, yet still professional, level.

"The groups are going to be a good thing," Patten Wallace said. "We're looking at an opportunity to create synergy, to maximize collaborations and resources. We'll get to know our new colleagues, and they'll have a chance to get to know us."

More information will be made available on the new UT/MUO Web site, which went online on Feb. 2.

"[The Web site] is something that we've put together as a way to centralize merger information," said Jon Strunk, media relations specialist for UT. "We've created a single resource page to help people understand the different aspects and facets of the merger."

The Web site can be found at utmuomerger.utoledo.edu.

There are 16 different work groups in all, encompassing almost every facet and department of both universities.

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