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University re-engineering suggestions posted, officials continue call for ideas

Facing an anticipated budget shortfall in excess of $30 million, more than 200 suggestions of ways to reduce spending, increase revenue and re-engineer University operations generated by faculty, staff and students across The University of Toledo were posted today on the FY2012 Fiscal Budget and Re-Engineering Task Force website.

Ideas range from big changes — increased faculty workload among tenure and tenure-track professors, eliminating faculty tenure, merging colleges, outsourcing, eliminating as many as eight vice presidential positions — to smaller impact items like print quotas, parking fee changes, and limiting or eliminating travel expenses. Some ideas are feasible, UT officials say, and some are not. All have generated discussion.

“The University of Toledo and public universities across the nation are facing financial shortfalls beyond anything we’ve experienced before,” said UT President Lloyd Jacobs. “Will we be implementing each and every suggestion? No. But in these budgetary times, a series of discussions challenging the fundamental assumptions of the way this University operates is incredibly valuable.”

Jacobs said college deans and administrative unit leaders were asked to incorporate many of these suggestions into their thinking during budgetary prehearings and hearings.

“Not every idea is realistic, but we’ve also heard a lot of great ideas from the University community,” said Chuck Lehnert, vice president for facilities and construction, who was asked by the president to lead the task force looking at how UT could provide improved service with fewer resources.

“This is an opportunity to lay the institution’s newly recalibrated strategic plan next to the resources we’re anticipating to have available and ask ourselves, ‘How can we offer students and patients the same excellent education and care they deserve from a world-class institution in a more efficient way?’” said Lehnert, who also serves as director of the Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation.

The UT community can continue to submit ideas via the task force’s website at www.utoledo.edu/2012reengineering.

Jacobs said the governor’s proposed budget provided University officials with their first sense of the financial shortfall they will need to fill to submit a balanced budget to UT Trustees in May. But those numbers always can change as the budget bill makes its way through the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate, he said.

In addition to the elimination of nearly $20 million in one-time federal stimulus dollars, UT also is looking at cost increases for health-care benefits, medical supplies and utility services, to name a few.

“This is an uncertain time and the financial shortfall we find ourselves with is requiring us to rethink the basic ways we educate students, care for patients and operate the University,” Jacobs said. “I recognize these discussions are uncomfortable and can be frightening. Please continue to let us know of your suggestions and if you have questions, please ask.”

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