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Jacobs ready to take over

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Updated: Monday, February 2, 2009 12:02

When Lloyd Jacobs, president of MUO, takes over for UT President Dan Johnson in July, he plans to make some changes.

"There'll be some new initiatives … there's no question about that," Jacobs said. "[But] I'm certainly not ready to announce any."

Jacobs said his presidency at UT will not be the only thing that brings change in the coming months.

"Ultimately, everything will change," he said. "To what degree, who knows? I think I will be able, with every fiber of my being, to make it a change for the better."

Students and other members of the UT community shouldn't expect large-scale changes in the direction of the university and the kinds of things Johnson has set out to accomplish when Jacobs takes office.

Jacobs mentioned that the issues of tuition and relations with China are all things that he feels strongly about as well."But in terms of changing fundamentally what Dr. Johnson believes in … I don't think there's any need for that … I'm passionate about many or most of the things that Dr. Johnson is passionate about," Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the smaller, specialized institution that he hails from could, in some degree, hinder his work at UT.

"I have no doubt it will bring challenges," he said. "While I have been [a professor] for my entire career, my professoriate, if you will, has been in a very narrow area. I will have to stretch my mind."

Working outside his experience is something Jacobs said he hopes won't compromise the merger.

"Everybody is worried," he said. "The change in a president merely creates anxiety. … Mergers in the corporate world frequently fall apart on the issues of presidential succession."

The challenges, Jacobs said, are doable and will only make the institution stronger and increase the reputation of the university.

"We'll recruit better and more students, better and more faculty," he said.

Jacobs taking over isn't the only thing that is causing anxiety and worries.

"Students are anxious to know what name will be on the top of their diploma, and the faculty is anxious to know how their career paths will be affected," he said. "In a year from now, much of that anxiety will be a dim memory."

What will be at the forefront of people's thoughts in the future, Jacobs said, is the university's mission to provide the people of the community with an education.

"The university exists to serve humanity," he said. "Humanities are an important part of what accomplishes that mission."

Jacobs said he won't let the fact that the humanities are under fire monetarily from the legislature deter him.

"We will try to balance that," he said. "But no society has ever served the kind of functions I have spoken to [without the humanities]."

The distance between the main UT campus and the MUO campus won't, according to Jacobs, stop him from spending most of his time on Bancroft Street.

"If you look at the 110 exemplars of this model [of combining universities and medical schools] and ask where the president sits, in 105 of them, the president sits … on the undergraduate campus," he said. "I'm not going to re-invent that wheel."

"There will be a change in style," he said, mentioning that he "sits in a different kind of chair" and interacts with students differently than Johnson does now.

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