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Published: Tuesday, 9/19/2006

Lease of space terminated at SeaGate Centre

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees yesterday approved terminating its contract for 66,000 square feet of space at the SeaGate Centre in downtown Toledo.

With annual costs pushing $340,000, the board decided that maintaining such a large presence at SeaGate is "no longer a necessary component of the university's academic and educational mission."

The space will revert to the Toledo-Lucas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will receive a $357,452 operating cost payment and $137,916 termination fee from UT.

Interest in the university's stake at UT was expressed in the Lucas County commissioners' recent analysis of building an $80 million downtown arena adjacent to SeaGate. The analysis discusses using it for catering facilities.

However, the university still has options downtown. Under the terms of the agreement, it can lease rooms and parking spaces at SeaGate for a period of 20 years at an annual rent of $1.

"This is actually a partnership with the city of Toledo," said Daniel Morissette, the university's senior vice president of finance and strategy. "It happens to be in our financial interest, but it will help stimulate the tourist industry Toledo so desperately needs."

The board approved the resolution without objection or debate. What did draw the trustees' concern is the accreditation in December of its surgical residency program, which trains new doctors.

The program is affiliated with St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, which introduced its own osteopathic surgical residency program this year.

Housing two residency programs at the same hospital could dilute the educational possibilities available to young surgeons, warned Dr. Jeffrey Gold, provost and executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the college of medicine.

The situation could lead the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to consider revoking its approval of the UT program.

"It would be a tragedy," said Trustee Carroll Ashley, encouraging the board to take action within the community to resolve the situation.

Dr. Gold said afterward that UT plans to reassure accreditors that it will rigorously watch the opportunities made available to its surgical residents.

The concerns come at a time when the UT medical school is growing in prominence. Applications to the college of medicine increased by about two percent last year to 2,840, as the median grade point average of the 155 student entering class rose to 3.6 from 3.4.

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