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Published: Tuesday, 6/27/2006

MUO board holds its final meeting

After 350 meetings and 6,712 pages of minutes, the board of the Medical University of Ohio met for the last time yesterday in advance of the impending merger Saturday of MUO with the University of Toledo.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," said Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of MUO, who will be president of the new merged institution. "To all of you [board members] and your predecessors, I want to say thank you on behalf of northwest Ohio."

Board Chairman George Chapman also thanked his fellow board members, saying "I have never served on a community board that's had as much commitment and integrity. You've done a great job."

But before the handshakes and congratulations, the MUO board had to finish some business.

High on the agenda was approving a $325 million budget for fiscal year 2007, which the board did unanimously. That budget calls for 3 percent salary increases for MUO unionized employees starting next month, followed by 2 percent annual raises in 2007 and 2008. MUO expects to finish fiscal year 2006, which ends June 30, about $2.5 million under its $310 million projected budget.

If MUO's $325 million budget sounds like a lot, consider that once MUO and UT merge, the combined budgets of the new institution will be about $650 million, making the institution the third-largest university in the state.

Daniel Morissette, senior vice president for finance for MUO, said he was pleased MUO's budget came in slightly ahead - which includes about $17 million in depreciation expenses, something many public universities don't account for in their budgeting process.

"We've worked very hard on growth," he said, noting MUO is in the process of boosting its full-time faculty by about 20 clinicians, a 10 percent increase.

More physicians means more patients and that means more revenue, he said.

For example, some of those new physicians will help staff a $12 million surgery center MUO opens next month, followed by an $8 million orthopedic center opening next year.

One unknown budget item is what it will cost MUO and UT in transitional costs to accomplish the merger. Mr. Morissette said MUO is not setting aside any specific money to do that in fiscal year 2007. MUO and UT officials want the General Assembly to provide public funds of about $30 million in transition costs.

Mr. Morissette is optimistic legislators will come through.

"This is a unique opportunity for northwest Ohio and I think the state knows that," he said. "And because it's a unique investment, it should help us make a case for support."

When MUO board members meet next month it will be as part of the combined boards of UT and MUO, an institution to be called the University of Toledo, with the MUO campus known as the University of Toledo Health Science Campus.

The merger stipulates that one trustee will replace the two trustees who leave the combined board each year, eventually whittling the board down to the required nine members.



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