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Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, president of the University of Toledo, compared his vision for modern universities to the cloud-computing system as he focused Thursday on collaboration and connections in his State of the University speech.
Dr. Jacobs spoke at the Henry J. Doermann Theatre in University Hall before hundreds of students, faculty, administrators, and community members. It was his seventh annual university address.
This year’s speech was less about setting an agenda for the year and more about Dr. Jacobs’ general thoughts about the U.S. economy and how universities fit in to a changing world. The speech, “The American Dream and the Cloud University,”detailed his belief that universities must become intertwined with their communities and the world.
“The Cloud University is indistinguishable from its surroundings and is interdependent with its global and local environment,” he said.
Universities are central in fostering social mobility, a key to the American Dream, Dr. Jacobs said. But the American Dream is in decline, he said, highlighting with graphics that while the overall economy is in recovery, the economic improvement has not led to more jobs or better conditions, especially for the generation now in college.
As examples of how the University of Toledo is collaborating locally and globally, Dr. Jacobs mentioned the astronomy department’s work at an Arizona telescope, a developing partnership with the Toledo Museum of Art, the university’s involvement with a training consortium with Chrysler, and collaborations in China and India.
“Learning is no longer place-bound,” he said. “We are in, of, and for the community.”
At times, Dr. Jacobs said that the Millennial Generation lacked “tolerance for delayed gratification” and has short attention spans. But he said his intent wasn’t to disparage members of the generation, and he called students there the “architects of the second half of the 21st century.”
Mayor Mike Bell, who was among the crowd, said that he appreciated Dr. Jacobs’ focus on collaborative work between agencies and said partnerships between the city, university, and others in the region have grown significantly in recent years.
“We have a lot of people who have put their egos aside,” he said.
Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, a UT Board of Trustees member who writes an editorial column for The Blade, said the university is pushing to increase its involvement internationally and compete for more international students.
Dr. Jacobs said after the speech that he didn’t want to give the community a list of accomplishments and goals for the year but instead a direction for the future.