In June 2010, Jack Stripling wrote a piece for Inside Higher Ed reporting on faculty responses to a survey about the performance of University of Toledo president Lloyd Jacobs. Here are the first few paragraphs of that piece, titled “Toledo Chief Raked over Coals”:
“In a scathing review of his controversial presidency at the University of Toledo, faculty are calling Lloyd Jacobs a tyrannical micromanager who ‘obviously thinks we are idiots.’
“The faculty’s evaluation of Jacobs is yet another black mark for a president who has drawn fire in the past three years for attempts to partner with a for-profit company, inserting himself in the tenure review process through brief interviews with all candidates and contemplating in an e-mail whether throwing a dean ‘under the bus’ would be the most convenient way to move forward with his agenda.
“With few exceptions, the Faculty Senate’s performance review, which was posted on an anonymous blog critical of Jacobs, reads like a treatise on a failed presidency. But Jacobs doesn’t see it that way. In a Friday interview, Jacobs called the review part of a ‘very constructive dialogue.’
“‘To some extent this noise has to be considered constructive noise,’ he said.”
That response should be indication enough of why the animosity toward Jacobs only intensified over the next five years of his presidency. In a state not especially known for enlightened leadership at its public universities, I think that it is fairly safe to say that Jacobs’ one indisputable achievement was that he made every other public university president in the state look pretty good by comparison.
This fall, the University of Toledo has inaugurated Jacobs’ successor, Sharon Gaber. In one sense, Gaber is starting out with the very huge advantage that she is not Lloyd Jacobs. But the flip side of that coin is that if she has any commitment to shared governance, she will have to work hard to restore the faculty’s trust.
In an article published in the Toledo Blade [“New UT Leader Sees ‘Crescendo’ in Toledo.” 26 Sep. 2015], Vanessa McCray reports on Gaber’s inauguration:
“The University of Toledo’s new president on Friday challenged the estimated 1,200 people at her inauguration to achieve a bold vision for UT.
“In a ceremony at Savage Arena, Sharon Gaber, 51, issued a call to action that included elevating UT’s national reputation; increasing enrollment, externally funded research, and fund-raising; and making sure tuition is affordable by reducing administrative costs.
“’I see a crescendo of momentum in Toledo, and we must work together to continue accelerating this progress,’ she said. . . .
“She cautioned she had ‘no illusions that we will accomplish all of our goals overnight.’
‘This call to action is for this next era of our university,’ she said.
“The president made brief mention of her historic place as Toledo’s first female president, saying she hopes her role encourages more women to seek leadership posts. . . .
“Earlier Friday, about 85 people attended an academic symposium at the Doermann Theatre in which Ms. Gaber, who has a doctorate in city and regional planning from Cornell University, and several other urban planning experts discussed the future of Toledo and the link between the city and university. . . .”
Having spoken to several members of the AAUP CB chapter at the University of Toledo, I think that some level of optimism, however guarded, seems justified. A spokesperson for the University of Toledo did make a point of the fact that Gaber’s inauguration was considerably less expensive than the recent inaugurations of new presidents at Bowling Green State University and the University of Akron.
That such a point was made seems even more significant to me than the point that was made.