For the first time since it merged with the Medical College of Ohio, the University of Toledo must find a new leader.
Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, 72, who has led UT as president since 2006, will step down effective June 30, 2015, the university announced Friday. Dr. Jacobs’ contract was extended in 2011 to run through June 30, 2016, meaning he will leave about a year before his contract ends. He earns $392,700 annually.
The announcement follows recent closed-door board of trustees meetings to discuss personnel matters. University officials gave no reason for Dr. Jacobs’ early departure.
“My time in Toledo has been among the most personally rewarding years of my life, and Ola and I are looking forward to many more at UT and in the community,” Dr. Jacobs said in a statement, mentioning his wife. “I’m excited by a new opportunity to help UT and other universities adapt to the financial and resource pressures that will grow only more challenging over time.”
A university spokesman said Friday that Dr. Jacobs was unavailable for comment, citing the president’s schedule. Dr. Jacobs had previously told The Blade that — if his health permitted and the board desired — he planned to stay until at least the end of his contract. It was not clear Friday what prompted Dr. Jacobs’ change of heart.
Dr. Jacobs will lead a yet unformed Institute of University Transformation when he steps down, the university said. Joseph H. Zerbey IV, chairman of the UT Board of Trustees, said that Dr. Jacobs first indicated to him about a month and a half ago that he was ready to leave his post. He called the decision a “mutually agreed” one between the board and Dr. Jacobs.
He said board members had not pressured Dr. Jacobs to resign, but board members had met individually in recent months to discuss Dr. Jacobs’ departure. Board members had also individually discussed UT’s future without Dr. Jacobs.
Mr. Zerbey, who is also president and general manager of The Blade, said it was not yet clear how much Dr. Jacobs would earn in his new role. He would not say whether Dr. Jacobs would receive some kind of financial package for leaving before his contract expired.
“I’m not talking about compensation or buyouts,” Mr. Zerbey said. “That’s all personal business. No one needs to know about that.”
Dr. Jacobs and the board had no written agreement detailing his departure, Mr. Zerbey said.
Most board of trustees members either deferred to Mr. Zerbey or declined to comment. Board member Linda Mansour echoed the line that the early departure was a “mutually agreed” decision.
A trained vascular surgeon, Dr. Jacobs is a 1965 graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He received his medical degree in 1969 from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. From 1989 to 1996, he served as chief of staff at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Ann Arbor.
He served as senior associate dean of the University of Michigan Medical School, and chief operating officer of the University of Michigan Health System between 1997 and 2003. He was named president of the Medical College of Ohio in 2003, replacing the late Dr. Frank McCullough.
Dr. Jacobs had a key role in possibly the most significant event in higher education in Toledo in decades: the merger of MCO and the University of Toledo. He announced the possibility of a merger in November, 2005, though discussions about a combined school had been in the works for years.
The merger sailed through the Ohio legislature in a matter of months, and the two schools officially merged on July 1, 2006, with Dr. Jacobs as president. The medical college became the University of Toledo Medical Center. Dr. Jacobs has run the school since.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins — who spent years as a visiting professor at UT — was one of many who credited Dr. Jacobs with leading the merger of the two schools.
“The legacy that he leaves in terms of the new and relevant University of Toledo will serve higher education in the state of Ohio for years to come,” he said.
While Dr. Jacobs successfully shepherded the merger, creating an educational and medical entity that at the time had 23,000 students, a combined 7,000 employees, and a budget of $650 million, tension over the merger remains, as some UT faculty insist the school has been shortchanged by Dr. Jacobs for investments at UTMC.
Faculty Senate President Linda Marie Rouillard declined to comment on Dr. Jacobs’ tenure at UT.
“The university is obviously in a transition phase right now, and the faculty look forward to working with the board of trustees in identifying a new university president,” she said.
While some faculty may not have embraced Dr. Jacobs, others in the region’s higher education community have.
Dr. Jeffrey Gold joined MCO in 2005 as the dean of the college of medicine. He later became the chancellor of the University of Toledo Medical Center after the merger, serving alongside Dr. Jacobs for years. Dr. Gold recently left UT to become the head chancellor of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“I had the pleasure of working for [Dr. Jacobs] for over nine years,” he said. “It was a thoroughly rewarding experience for me. His contributions to the university and to the community are astounding.”
Dr. Gold called his former colleague a “remarkable leader,” and said the decision now to announce Dr. Jacobs’ departure will allow for a smooth transition to a new leader.
Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey said that one of the first people to reach out to her when she was named to her position was Dr. Jacobs.
“I have great respect for his understanding of the challenges facing higher education in Ohio and appreciate his willingness to collaborate,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him over the next year and beyond.”
In recent years, UT has faced financial struggles, in part because of a persistent decline in enrollment. Last year, the university announced cuts of between $14 million and $17 million to academic programs in a bid to close a then-projected budget deficit in fiscal year 2014 of more than $30 million. Those cuts included reductions in funding to most colleges, a reduction in the use of adjuncts, and a corresponding teaching-load increase for full-time faculty.
Dysfunction within UT’s doctoral clinical psychology program could cause the American Psychological Association to place its accreditation on probation, a step that could eventually lead to the loss of accreditation if concerns aren’t rectified.
Dr. Jacobs also was central in the decision to place former UT Board of Trustees Chairman Rick Stansley at the head of the University of Toledo Innovation Enterprises. He named him as UTIE board chairman, and also gave Mr. Stansley a $1,200-a-day salary to run UTIE.
UT board members have remained mum about Dr. Jacobs’ future in recent months, despite persistent talk that his tenure may be ending. For instance, Mr. Zerbey said on multiple occasions in the last year that discussion had not been held to replace Dr. Jacobs.
In the last two months, UT board members twice met in closed session to “consider the employment of a public employee.” Mr. Zerbey had declined to comment at the time about what board members discussed. Dr. Jacobs was not at either meeting.
When asked after the first meeting if the board discussed UT President Jacobs, Mr. Zerbey would not say.
“I’m not even going there,” he said.
A national search to replace Dr. Jacobs will begin “right away,” said Mr. Zerbey, and Dr. Jacobs has committed to helping in the search and in the new leader’s transition.
Staff writer Marlene Harris-Taylor contributed to this report.