CLEVELAND - The Ohio Board of Regents yesterday unanimously approved a merger between the University of Toledo and the Medical University of Ohio, saying it's a historic development that's long overdue in the state.
"It has been a dream. It has been a discussion topic. It has been a priority item on the regents' agenda for some time," Regent Jeanette Brown said. "This is the epitome of what we'd hoped for: It does it all."
The regents also praised the institutions' presidents, Dan Johnson at UT and Dr. Lloyd Jacobs at MUO, for taking the initiative in moving a merger forward in response to statewide pushes urging leaders like them to further their collaborations.
"I will tell you unequivocally for this record and all to hear that, without these two men and their respect for each other, this would have never taken place," Regent Jim Tuschman said.
According to the resolution passed by the regents, the merger is viewed as a way to make the two institutions a stronger force, with an increased ability to recruit and serve students, attract and keep faculty and staff, attract research dollars, and eliminate duplications in costs and services.
The presidents have been discussing the concept of a merger for more than six months, although the idea has been tossed around for years. The two announced their plans publicly on their campuses a month ago.
Since that time, they've received approval of both their faculty leadership and boards of trustees, among others.
Following yesterday's approval by the regents, the next step will be for a bill to be introduced in the state legislature in January. Leaders are hoping for approval as quickly as possible because they have plans to merge on July 1.
According to a memorandum of understanding signed by the presidents, Dr. Jacobs will become president of the institutions, which, when combined, would be referred to as the University of Toledo.
The memorandum includes more than a dozen guidelines for the merger, but in itself is nonbinding and subject to approval of the board of trustees at each institution. It also calls for the creation of a transition plan, something Mr. Johnson said will be a focus in upcoming months.
"That's our job from January until June: to get the transition plan in place," he said, adding that officials will seek input from the campus communities in putting it together.
Mr. Johnson said he intends to advise Dr. Jacobs informally once he becomes president. As for himself, he's currently pondering what his role will be at UT after June 30.
Mr. Johnson, who has tenure at UT, said he plans to continue working there in some capacity and has no immediate thoughts of retirement.
He pointed to major areas of interest: those involving economic development and the technology corridor.
"I would like to think whatever I do in the future, it would allow me to work particularly in those areas," he said yesterday.
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