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Published: Tuesday, 4/14/2009

University of Toledo takes solar energy to new degree


University of Toledo trustees Monday acknowledged the resignation of Trustee Tom Brady and created a School of Solar and Advanced Renewable Energy.

The trustees' special board meeting followed the presentation of President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs' third annual address, outlining the role of universities in today's society.

Mr. Brady, who has said he planned to resign so he could be considered for an interim dean position in UT's Judith Herb college of education, submitted his letter of resignation, effective Friday, to the board of trustees and to Gov. Ted Strickland. Thomas Switzer, education college dean, announced plans last fall to step down after the school year.

University trustees are appointed by the governor. Mr. Brady was appointed in 2005 to the former Medical College of Ohio board of trustees.

His term expires in 2014.

Mr. Brady, 64, is president of Plastic Technologies Inc. in Springfield Township.

In its other action, the board created a School of Solar and Advanced Renewable Energy and directed Dr. Jacobs to organize it to become a leading school of advanced renewable energy not only for Ohio but also for the nation.

A collaborative group that includes faculty members and deans is putting together a launch plan for the new school, UT Provost Rosemary Haggett said after the meeting.

She said some schools are cutting edge, but this school will be ahead of the edge. "We will be educating students for jobs not created yet," she said.

The school will use existing facilities at least initially, she said. Plans are in the works to transform UT's Scott Park campus into a hub dedicated to alternative energy.

In his address, Dr. Jacobs stressed the importance of a technologically educated work force.

Quoting President Obama, who said in March, "The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens," Dr. Jacobs said it's been suggested that an outcome of education is more flexibility, more adaptability, and people with more education who can be more successful at reinventing themselves as the economy changes.

"The emergence of a knowledge-based economy and the decline of traditional manufacturing makes the availability of a technologically sophisticated work force the single most important resource for a city or region," Dr. Jacobs said.

He said he's met with corporate site selectors whose most important question is not about rail access or seaports or buildings, but about the availability of work force.

As he outlined areas of innovation listed in a roundtable report from the College of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Jacobs said he agreed with several, such as to rethink and revise methods of teaching.

"Social networking will transform learning," he said, noting: "Knowledge is now fluid, moveable, existing in cyberspace."

Universities, he said, are being asked to assume a posture of stewardship toward their regions and communities which is unprecedented.

Stewardship is the 21st century role of the university, he said, and UT is equal to this challenge.

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