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UT president addresses tough budget realities at town hall meeting

University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs cautioned there will be tough times ahead during a town hall meeting today, but offered strong optimism for the financial future of UT.

“I am confident, in fact, I am absolutely certain that we will get out of this,” he said. “But it is imperative that we continue to think strategically.”

Jacobs said the extent to which the tough economic climate would affect UT’s pocketbook in the short term is still unknown because Ohio’s next biennial budget has yet to be compiled and completed.

A possible shortfall at the state level of $7 billion, however, almost certainly will mean more layoffs at UT, he said.

“I am deeply committed to reducing layoffs by all means necessary,” Jacobs said. “We’re working very hard to delete vacancies. It is more humanitarian to delete a vacant position than it is to delete a filled position.”

Jacobs also said the creation of small early retirement programs and an internal program for retraining those displaced for other positions at the University are under way.

When Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland announces changes to Ohio’s budget, Jacobs said he is hopeful the governor will protect the funding for higher education.

“Governor Strickland and I agree that the only long-term solution to this problem is higher education,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs will offer more insights into UT’s possible financial future Wednesday, Jan. 28, after watching a public viewing of Strickland’s state of the state address at noon in Doermann Theater on Main Campus.
Also at today’s town hall meeting, the question was asked whether Jacobs would consider donating a longevity bonus he will receive in 2011 back to the University.

He said he had considered it and offered a charge to the audience.

“If you don’t think I’m earning my salary, and I think I am, but if I’m not earning my salary, you have the right to let the board of trustees or the governor know,” he said, adding that he thinks he uses his earnings responsibly, including giving to UT.

“But what I do with that salary once I have it,” he said, “that’s between God and me.”

The next town hall meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 5, at 4 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus.