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Jacobs highlights past, looks ahead in State of University

By Danielle Gamble
On September 13, 2012


University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs spoke to a full Doermann Theater today about future plans and past events in his annual address to the community.

Jacobs opened the address with thoughts on America’s “education bubble,” the idea that higher education is becoming unaffordable and is unsustainable.

“The combination of an unprecedented recession and a plethora of writings questioning the value of higher education produce unprecedented instability and a profound questioning of the American Dream,” Jacobs said.

Despite negative national attitudes, Jacobs was positive about the university’s future.

“I have come to recognize that the University of Toledo is not only weathering the storm, but succeeding,” he said. “We are a university rising in the midst of a storm of uncertainty and tumult.”

Jacobs endorsed Main Campus Provost candidate Scott Scarborough, the senior vice president and executive director of the UT Medical Center.

Scarborough’s appointment will be voted on Monday, Sept. 26, at the next Board of Trustees meeting.

“It is of course clear that Scott Scarborough is an unconventional choice for the role,” Jacobs said. “I think his selection will mean more than that. It repositions the locus of institutional tension that invariably exists between value and cost to a different place in the institution.”

Besides recognizing success, Jacobs addressed UTMC’s recent medical blunder that led to a kidney meant for donation becoming unusable.

“Now the fact that human errors occur is regrettable but not surprising,” Jacobs said. “But far more important is that safeguards must be in place to protect us from human error. When errors do occur, how we react to such errors is of extreme importance.”

Jacobs said the university is in the midst of a “root cause analysis” to assess policy changes and prevent future mistakes.

“I join you in being sorry for the isolated incident, but want you know that I trust you and appreciate you,” Jacobs said. “We have learned much in the process.”

Looking forward, the president announced a new initiative he called Innovative Customized Education.

He said the project will involve using video lectures available online that students can access anytime for free.

In this program, started by Salman Khan and Khan Academy, each video covers a different subject at a different educational level, and allows students to pause or review the video at their own learning pace.

“Knowledge is now fluid, moveable, mercurial, and exists in cyberspace,” Jacobs said. “The Khan revolution opens endless possibilities if only we have the courage to adapt.”

Jacobs listed examples of ways in which to utilize these videos, including making them a required resource for certain classes and for struggling students.

While Jacobs did not identify a timeline in which these videos would be implemented into the curriculum, he did stress the importance of their installation.

“So once again, we here at a small state supported institution like the University of Toledo are challenged with choice -- adapt and integrate these offerings into our algorithms and modules or ignore the revolution and hope it will go away before we wither and die.”

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, a UT alumnus, said he the address was “very upbeat.”

“A lot of what’s happening here makes me proud of the university, makes our city proud,” Bell said. “I really salute his efforts and being able to keep this university at the highest level of education in the state of Ohio and even in the United States.”

Bell said projects such as the new Gateway development on Dorr Street demonstrate what kind of a working relationship the city of Toledo has with the university.

“Since I became mayor, I sit down with Dr. Jacobs on a regular basis,” Bell said. “I think the different projects that are coming up not only put people back to work, but also stabilize various portions of our community increase the quality of life. We’re really playing on the same field.”

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