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Published: 5/8/2009

Jacobs: Without big cuts, UT can hold own

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The University of Toledo will be able to hold its own next year if Gov. Ted Strickland's budget plan gets approved without major cuts for higher education, UT President Lloyd Jacobs said at a town-hall meeting yesterday.

If not, job losses almost certainly will exceed the nearly 300 that are planned so far, he said.

They include 87 layoffs announced on April 28 and about 200 formerly occupied positions lost through attrition.

The wild card is the Ohio Senate, according to Dr. Jacobs, who told 70 faculty members and students on the Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, he is "gravely concerned" about what might happen to the governor's proposed budget.

UT will get 6 percent more in state funding if the Strickland plan goes through.

That's not enough to outpace inflation. But it's enough of an increase - along with slightly higher enrollment - to keep programs from being decimated, Dr. Jacobs said.

"I am gravely concerned the Senate will not support that [Strickland administration] budget," he said. "I'm very worried we will have to come back in mid-summer and revise downward based on what the Senate does."

Dr. Jacobs said that possibility is especially real because state revenues are down about a third.

He told The Blade after the meeting that universities are almost under the same kind of pinch as carmakers and other businesses in today's economy.

"Right now, we are where ev-

eryone is: We are in limbo," Dr. Jacobs said.

While addressing the audience, which included a number of people monitoring the town-hall meeting via a Webcast on the Internet, Dr. Jacobs again stated he has no regrets about accepting a $150,000 bonus from UT nearly a year ago.

One unidentified person had asked him about it, given the funding shortfall that resulted in job losses. Dr. Jacobs said he has been asked by others about it in recent weeks.

The bonus was for remaining at UT's helm for two years after becoming president in July, 2006. He is eligible for additional longevity bonuses in 2011 and 2013.

Dr. Jacobs said he encourages UT to compensate all employees at market value, to keep the university competitive in attracting and retaining talent.

The current economic crisis has brought UT a "sense of new relevance," he said, citing the role it will have in retraining workers for new careers.

"We're part of the solution for our state, our region, and our country," Dr. Jacobs said.

Also yesterday, Dr. Jacobs said he did not expect anxiety about the swine flu outbreak to disrupt weekend graduation ceremonies.

He encouraged people to wash their hands frequently and take other ordinary precautions.

"It appears the incidence curve is not following an epidemic curve. That said, it will be business as usual," he said.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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