Rocket Nation Recover Part 30 – UToledo Homecoming 2023 was awesome! Congrats to the students, staff, faculty, administrators, and leadership for a job well done!

With Homecoming behind us and year four well underway, it’s time to return to the reality of the enrollment, financial, and morale crisis at UToledo.

Last Wednesday the Faculty Union picketed the financial crisis at UToledo during the Board of Trustees Meeting. They were joined by the local Teamsters President and other local union leaders including the UAW.

Last Thursday UToledo leaders sent the message below to faculty. Does this message validate that there really has been a financial, enrollment, and morale crisis evolving at UToledo over the past decade? Who knew?

If you were a trustee, how would you interpret the message? Would you want to:

1. See the detailed historic data on each metric listed below?

2. Understand what caused UToledo leadership and trustees to be so slow to recognize, acknowledge, and address the crisis? Is the data not being presented, ignored, or not understand by trustees? In year four, what’s causing the paralysis?

3. Assess what lessons can be learned from BGSU, UCincinnati, Miami, OU, Kent State and Grand Valley State?

4. Publicly engage the community about the economic impact the slow decision making is having on Northwest Ohio businesses?

5. Review cash donations to the UT Foundation over the past decade?

As contract negotiations continue between The University of Toledo and the Toledo chapter of the AAUP, we appreciate the collaboration between the parties and that the ongoing discussions are going well.

We also understand the national labor landscape right now and respect the organizing of union members. At the same time, it is important to clear up misinformation.

It is not true that faculty members have been cut in favor of adding administrators. That is incorrect and we have corrected this false claim many times.

In the past decade, UToledo student headcount has declined 27%. When looking at the full-time equivalent of our student enrollment, which is a better measure of tuition and revenue, we’ve seen a 37% decline over the past 15 years. At the same time, the number of faculty has declined 7%. In contrast, the number of senior administrators at UToledo, those in director positions or higher, has decreased 15% and the number of staff members is down 12%. Unfortunately, not all of those staff separations were voluntary and some instead were reductions in force due to budget decisions.

It is important to note that no faculty have been eliminated through budget cuts. Any reduction in faculty has been through voluntary separations and natural attrition. We are doing the right thing by not automatically replacing a faculty position when it becomes vacant and instead are reviewing the programs that are in high demand and making strategic decisions about where we need to invest our resources to provide the best quality education to our students.

The University of Toledo spends about half as much on institutional support as our four-year public university peers in Ohio.

What is true is that the University has experienced declining enrollment for 15 years, which impacts our budget with declining revenue from tuition and fees and state share of instruction dollars. Students and student enrollment generate tuition and fees revenue. No employees, faculty or others, generate tuition revenue for UToledo.

UToledo needs to respond appropriately to reduce our expenses to match our revenue. We simply cannot spend more money than we bring in. That is not sustainable and the University must be good stewards of student tuition dollars and state resources.

Change can be scary. But it is also necessary. And we hope it would be as welcomed by our faculty as it is by our students, community members and elected officials.

We have been talking for years now about the need for reprioritization at UToledo. We need to invest in the things that we do well so that they can grow and thrive. That will mean that we will not have the resources to support everything that we have always traditionally done. UToledo needs to evolve to add more in-demand academic programs that our students want and our workforce needs.

We look forward to working in partnership with our faculty to Reimagine UToledo aligned with our new strategic plan to serve our students and the community well into the future.”

It’s ok to feel uncomfortable in a crisis. Please pray for thoughtful, compassionate accountability and urgent actions to revitalize The Rocket Nation.