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Published: Friday, 3/17/2006

Merged UT sets goal to overtake Cincinnati

BY LUKE SHOCKMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Look out, Cincy. Here comes Toledo.

University of Toledo President Daniel Johnson said yesterday that the impending merger of his institution and Medical University of Ohio will create the third-largest university in the state - and it will be looking to catch up fast to number two, the University of Cincinnati.

"If I was the president of the University of Cincinnati, I'd be a little nervous right now," he said during a gathering sponsored by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Officials at the University of Cincinnati couldn't be reached for comment.

And there was no word on whether Mr. Johnson is ready to talk a little trash to the biggest player, Ohio State University.

However, it was clear from the remarks he and MUO President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs made that they expect big things from the merger, which has sailed through the General Assembly.

The Ohio Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to allow the merger, just as the Ohio House had done.

Gov. Bob Taft is expected to sign the bill March 31, with the merger taking effect July 1.

Mr. Johnson said the overwhelming support is proof of one thing.

"It's a reflection of our belief that this is an idea whose time has come," he said. "I truly believe this is a historic moment."

Dr. Jacobs, who is expected to become president of the combined institution, told those at yesterday's event that he's certain the merger will save money, though afterward he said he's still not sure how much.

In response to a question from Toledo Mud Hens General Manager Joe Napoli about how Dr. Jacobs will measure whether the merger has been successful, he paused, then ticked off several goals:

●Increasing the volume of grant money flowing into the institution.

●"We should have a waiting list" to get into UT, he said, meaning no more enrollment declines.

●Moving up on the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings of universities and colleges.

●Improving the UT law school's bar passage rate.

The merger will create an institution with a $650 million annual budget and 21,000 students as well as making UT one of fewer than 20 universities nationwide with so much "breadth" of higher education offerings.

Still, Dr. Jacobs said UT will have to become "narrower and deeper," meaning it can't "be all things to all people." He and his staff will begin examining key areas of focus, he said without identifying what those might be.

Dr. Jacobs did disclose one new detail: He expects to move his office from MUO to UT in July.

It couldn't be determined yesterday whether it will be bigger than the office of the president of the University of Cincinnati.

Contact Luke Shockman at:

lshockman@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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