Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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UT chief sees problems, progress

Fiscal challenges will require tough decisions at the University of Toledo in the future, but it should emerge a better institution if the process is done properly, President Daniel Johnson told the university community yesterday.

“We are embarking on a period of change - there's no question about that,” he told an audience of more than 125 in Doermann Theater in University Hall. “We'll have to develop our own model ... for meeting the challenges of change.”

If everyone pulls together, he said, “we will emerge from this as a stronger, better recognized institution.”

Dr. Johnson's year-in-review speech took place as part of a spring convocation ceremony, which also included recognition of faculty and staff.

He began by acknowledging some of the university's accomplishments this year.

UT welcomed 3,544 freshmen in the fall - its largest-ever incoming class - and a student satisfaction survey conducted showed improvement in nearly every indicator, he said. “This has been a year of pride, a year of progress, and certainly a year of productivity,” Dr. Johnson said.

But the shadow of reduced state funding remains, and officials are planning for future cutbacks.

One task force will seek to identify places to reallocate or reduce expenditures by $5 million, $10 million, and $15 million. The administrative structure will be made leaner, as well, he said.

“It will not be easy. These will be tough decisions,” Dr. Johnson said.

The painful decisions have begun with the elimination of UT's men's swimming program and men's indoor and outdoor track and field for reasons involving funding and gender equity.

While some people have argued that the process for making that decision was not open enough - the UT Board of Trustees refused to listen Wednesday to a former swimmer who wanted to present a plan for saving the team - Dr. Johnson said the administration did not make it lightly. “We listened carefully. We read every proposal that was submitted,” he said.

Even with challenges like those and more that will come as time goes on, Dr. Johnson said UT still has a lot going for it in its students, faculty, and staff. “If you look at the glass, it's more than half full,” he concluded.

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