UT union calls for removal of trustee chairman

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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The union that represents almost 500 faculty members at the University of Toledo called yesterday for the resignation of the chairman of the school’s board of trustees.

“Ronald Langenderfer has demonstrated that he lacks the temperament and the understanding of higher education to serve on the Board of Trustees,” the UT chapter of the American Association of University Professors said in a resolution.

Association President Matthew Wikander said he believes it is the first time the union has called for the removal of a trustee.

He said the call is a response to Mr. Langenderfer’s statement Wednesday that he wants university employees spreading inaccurate rumors to be fired.

“I think he’s exhibited that he doesn’t seem to understand what a university does and how it works,” Dr. Wikander said. “I can’t think of anything more disqualifying.”

The union’s action was taken at a joint meeting of its executive board and its council of departmental representatives.

Dr. Wikander said about 40 faculty members were present and that the vote was unanimous.

The union is scheduled to begin negotiations with the university for a collective bargaining agreement in less than two months.

On Wednesday, Mr. Langenderfer said he was disgusted by what he called false rumors claiming that UT is near financial collapse or that key departments are about to be shut down.

He said that a small group of disgruntled university employees committed to the “total destruction” of UT are responsible.

“They will be investigated,” he said. “If we can prove that, watch out. It will not be tolerated.”

He said the employees “will be discharged immediately from this university.”

Many faculty and staff responded with outrage, saying the comments are an attack on freedom of discussion.

Mr. Langenderfer has not returned numerous telephone calls since his comments were made.

The association represents all tenure-track faculty at UT who do not teach at the law school. As of last month, there were 453 such faculty members, a reduction from 545 a year ago. The drop is primarily because of the early retirement program offered to faculty over the last two years, and the association has been a vocal opponent of the administration’s delays in hiring new permanent faculty.

The association also represents a smaller bargaining unit of about 30 long-term part-time faculty.

Along with the resolution, the association issued a statement to respond to Mr. Langenderfer’s open letter to the university community, which he wrote Thursday.

In the letter, the trustee said he “did not explain [himself] fully” and that he and the board are “fully committed to supporting the traditions of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and the right to express a dissenting opinion.”

But the association, in its response, said that the open letter “maintains the threatening tone of his remarks at the trustees’ meeting. Simply less bellicose in attitude, the letter makes the same threats to those disseminating ‘wrong information.'”

The union accuses the administration of not being open in sharing important information about finances and other issues.

The union statement contends Mr. Langenderfer’s comments Wednesday were “of a piece with his desire to bring a corporate, top-down management style, intolerant of dissent, reflection, or critique, into an academic environment.”

Mr. Langenderfer is president of Centaur, Inc., the parent company of Heidtman Steel Products. In defending his comments after the meeting, he said he would have a similar policy if his employees at Heidtman were spreading malicious rumors.

But Tom Noe, a member of the Ohio Board of Regents, said that he believes the union might have passed its resolution because of its upcoming contract talks with the university. The union’s contract expires in June, but negotiations begin in early April.

“What’s interesting to me is that it looks to me like this might be a positioning tool for the union,” Mr. Noe, a former Bowling Green State University trustee, said. “It’s always unfortunate when you’ve got different segments of the university fighting each other, but those things happen. It’s all part of the university process.”

Dr. Harvey Wolff, the chairman of the faculty senate, could not be reached for comment, but the vice chair, Dr. Debra Stoudt, said that, while “it was unfortunate that Mr. Langenderfer said what he said,” she wished the resolution had not been passed so quickly. “Maybe we could talk things over a little before they respond,” she said.

Dr. Stoudt said she and Dr. Wolff met with Mr. Langenderfer and trustees James Tuschman and Richard Stansley, Jr., for lunch yesterday. She said Mr. Langenderfer was “conciliatory.”

“It was very clear that the board members there wanted to work with us,” she said. “It’s not to their benefit, not to the benefit of anyone, to be adversarial. These are intelligent people, successful people, and I think they have better things to do with their time than to point fingers and be confrontational.”

She said she had no comment on the substance of the union’s position.

University spokesman Joe Brennan, in a statement, cited the meeting of trustees and faculty senate leaders as “a positive and productive meeting,” which “signals a renewed commitment to working together in a spirit of good will.” Mr. Brennan said “the administration recognizes that change is hard, and it asks all faculty, staff, and students to remain patient and optimistic.”

Mike Dawson, spokesman for U.S. Sen. George Voinovich (R., O.), who as governor appointed Mr. Langenderfer to the board, said he would not comment on the conflict.

Other trustees could not be reached for comment.

Along with the Langenderfer resolution, the union passed a resolution supporting Jacqueline Knepper, the UT trustee who resigned Tuesday because of her “loss of confidence in the leadership of this board” and her “substantial philosophical differences with the management style of the current administration.”

“The UT-AAUP acknowledges with gratitude the independent and public spirited service of Jacqueline Knepper on the UT Board of Trustees,” the resolution states. “We deeply regret the unfortunate situation which has compelled her to terminate her exemplary service to the faculty, students, and staff of our university.”

Kapoor: Trustee’s remarks ‘a mistake’; UT chairman pens letter on firing threat

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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It was “a mistake” for the chairman of the University of Toledo board of trustees to say that employees spreading inaccurate rumors about the administration will be fired immediately, UT President Dr. Vik Kapoor said last night.

But while he said he has no “personal knowledge” of the inaccuracies to which Ronald Langenderfer was referring, Dr. Kapoor said the trustee means well.

“Sometimes people speak from the heart, and they make a mistake,” Dr. Kapoor said. “But, it’s a genuine mistake, not malicious.”

Meanwhile, in an open letter yesterday to the UT community, Mr. Langenderfer said he did not mean for his comments to be seen as an infringement of free speech.

“The Board of Trustees is fully committed to supporting the traditions of freedom of speech, academic freedom, and the right to express a dissenting opinion,” he wrote.

But he did not retract his initial statement that offenders will be sought out and punished.

“Some wrong information is still being disseminated, and the Board wants that stopped,” his letter states.

And Governor Taft, in Toledo to speak at a local elementary school, said he is “obviously concerned” about the negative publicity UT is receiving because of internal dissent.

“We will be having discussions with the members of the board and members of the administration to try to understand what is happening there,” Mr. Taft said.

All three reactions occurred a day after Mr. Langenderfer lashed out at some of the university’s faculty and staff during a meeting of the board of trustees.

On Wednesday, Mr. Langenderfer said he was disgusted by what he called false rumors claiming that UT is near financial collapse or that key departments are about to be shut down.

He said that a small group of disgruntled university employees committed to the “total destruction” of UT are responsible.

“They will be investigated,” he said. “If we can prove that, watch out. It will not be tolerated.”

He said the employees “will be discharged immediately from this university.”

The comments produced an uproar among faculty and staff, who said that it is a violation of academic freedom to threaten firings for discussion about the university.

Mr. Langenderfer has not returned repeated telephone calls seeking comment, but he wrote in his letter that he wanted to “clarify the remarks I made. … I recognize that I did not explain myself fully and that what I said may have caused some people to misunderstand my message.”

He said that he believes, based on concerns relayed to him and other trustees by parents of UT students, that some employees are providing “intentionally misleading information” that hurts the university.

“It is undermining the Institution,” the letter states. “University policies mandate that employees observe the highest standards of conduct, including honesty in dealings with students, colleagues, and the public.”

In the letter, Mr. Langenderfer does not say there will be no firings, but he did broaden the possible repercussions of malicious speech.

“If employees intentionally spread false information, then the Administration must take appropriate action in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures, its collective bargaining agreements, and applicable laws. This is good public policy and sound management practice,” the letter continues.

But Dr. Kapoor said he doesn’t know whether the malicious lies Mr. Langenderfer spoke of are being spread around campus.

“I cannot give you any specifics,” he said. “I don’t have any personal knowledge of things.”

When asked whether he had any evidence of a misinformation campaign by faculty or staff members, he said, “no direct evidence. There may be information, but I have no comment at this time.”

Dr. Kapoor said that most UT employees would have nothing to worry about because most do not spread hateful falsehoods.

“To be honest with you, I strongly believe in academic freedom,” Dr. Kapoor said.

But he said that, while “99.9 per cent [of university workers] are dedicated employees, there are a few who give wrong information and rumors.”

Maliciously providing inaccurate information to students or others, he said, would go against the university’s code of conduct and would be worthy of appropriate punishment.

He said he did not hear any reaction from faculty or students yesterday because he was in meetings all day.

Governor Taft said after an appearance at Warren Elementary School in Toledo that he is “concerned” about the situation on campus.

The governor said he had not heard about Mr. Langenderfer’s remarks, and a Taft spokesman said the governor did not speak with Mr. Langenderfer yesterday.

When asked whether he has confidence in the current trustees, Governor Taft paused for more than 10 seconds, sighed, took a deep breath, then said, “Overall, I’ve had confidence in the members of the board. Certainly, we took a lot of care in the appointments we have made to the board, and I believe we have appointed people of very high quality, of high caliber.”

But he continued: “We are obviously concerned about the adverse publicity that the university is receiving as a result of the conflicting views about the university and about the administration. We are monitoring that situation.”

The governor would not comment on Tuesday’s resignation of UT Trustee Jacqueline Knepper.

In her resignation letter to the governor, Ms. Knepper wrote that her “loss of confidence in the leadership of this board” and her “substantial philosophical differences with the management style of the current administration” made her decide to leave her post.

Mr. Taft said that he will seek input from Dr. Kapoor and others about whom to appoint as Ms. Knepper’s replacement but emphasized that “it’s not the president’s appointment; it’s my appointment. We will seek out the most qualified candidates. And then we will make that appointment.”

Blade political writer Fritz Wenzel contributed to this report.

UT board chairman vows to find and fire liars; Faculty decry remarks as assault on freedom

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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Stung by a spate of rumors swirling around the University of Toledo’s administration, the chairman of UT’s board of trustees said yesterday he will hunt down and fire any employees he thinks are spreading inaccurate information about the university.

“They will be investigated,” Chairman Ronald Langenderfer said. “If we can prove that, watch out. It will not be tolerated at this university.”

Mr. Langenderfer’s comments enraged and amazed some faculty members who accused him of stifling academic freedom, stopping productive discussion, and making it harder to attract qualified professors to UT.

“That’s a truly remarkable statement,” said Dr. Bernard Bopp, an astronomy professor. “I’m startled. This is a university, a place where we search for knowledge and truth, and I’m not at all sure that stance is in line with the mission of a university at all.”

But some trustees defended their chairman, saying Mr. Langenderfer is not calling for a wide-ranging witch hunt, but instead is trying to reduce the number of lies floating around the university’s Bancroft Street campus.

Mr. Langenderfer made his comments at yesterday’s regular meeting of the board of trustees. He said he has received several complaints from parents of UT students who told him that university employees had said the education at UT was becoming substandard, including some who encouraged students to attend other colleges, like Bowling Green State University. “A very limited, very small number of people are not professing truth here,” he said. “They’re spreading lies.”

He said many of the rumors are spread by anonymous letters sent to trustees and the media, and that as a result, “I won’t read anything unsigned. That’s an act of cowardice, and it’s going to fall on deaf ears.”

He said he plans to investigate the staff members who allegedly made the comments and attempt to gather evidence to prove the statements were made. “Once they are identified and verified,” he said, “they will be discharged immediately from this university.”

“We would see this as an assault,” said Dr. Matthew Wikander, an English professor who is president of the UT unit of the American Association of University Professors, which represents tenure-track faculty at the university.

“It clearly seems to be something that violates the letter of our contract, and the traditions of academic freedom.”

Over the last few months, dozens of rumors have been circling the administration, ranging from claims that UT was about to be declared to be in a financial emergency by the state to rumors that certain academic departments are about to be eliminated.

Mr. Langenderfer and other trustees said the rumors are unfounded and that their continued circulation hurts the university.

“These things go to the heart of the university and can keep people away,” said Dan Brennan, the trustee who heads the board’s finance committee.

Mr. Langenderfer, speaking after the meeting, said his comments were exactly what he would say about employees at his own company. He is president of Centaur, Inc., the parent company of Heidtman Steel Products.

“If someone were saying things that were driving away business from my company, I wouldn’t want him working for me,” he said. “No one would.”

But Iris Molotsky, director of public affairs for the national AAUP in Washington, said an educational institution has a different role than an industrial corporation. “If a university is not an open forum for opinions and ideas, then where is that forum?” she said. “Obviously, not steel factories.”

Ms. Molotsky said that a trustee investigating negative comments by faculty and staff likely would make prospective UT employees think twice about taking a job there.

“This is a field with a lot of networking, and word gets around fast,” she said. “When professors are being recruited or offered jobs at universities and colleges, they call those places and talk to their counterparts there. What’s the school like? What’s the atmosphere like?

“And if there are investigations against employees for making [disparaging remarks] about the university, people are not going to want to work there. Why would they want to?”

Other national academic and free-speech authorities said Mr. Langenderfer’s proposal could hurt UT in the long run.

“I would think this would make recruiting people difficult,” said Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington. “Faculty members want to have academic freedom and are drawn to universities and colleges that promote free speech.”

But Mr. Brennan said that Mr. Langenderfer likely did not intend to speak so broadly about people who oppose university policies.

“There is a difference between faculty members making reasonable comments based in fact that can lead to a spirited debate and people maliciously making things up,” Mr. Brennan said. “What, in my mind, Ron was communicating was the board’s intolerance for those who are malicious.”

Mr. Brennan said that Mr. Langenderfer could have done a better job of making his statement more clear. “Ron Langenderfer, in my view, in no way intended for anyone to receive his comments as a muzzling of the critics. But there has to be a muzzling of the liars.”

But Dr. Wikander said that, while it does not condone the spreading of malicious rumors, the administration should expect them when it does not communicate well with others at the university. At its last meeting, the faculty senate said “poor communication” by the administration was its number one concern about the university today.

“The best weapon against malicious rumor is good communication of the truth, and this administration has shown itself to be very poor at communicating with the faculty, the public, the students, and the state.”

Trustee Charles Webb said that people spreading falsehoods about the university are hurting the institution. “People should have a right to say what they think,” he said. “Where the faculty is being objective, that’s fine. But if they’re being spiteful, that’s different.”

But he said “he would not necessarily have had the same reaction” Mr. Langenderfer did, adding, “Nobody on the board is going to agree to an enforcement of an enemies list.”

Mr. Langenderfer did not say during the meeting how he expected to investigate or gather evidence on the alleged perpetrators, or what process he expected to follow to discipline the employees. He would not say what jobs the accused held within the university.

Mr. Langenderfer did not return phone calls last night seeking additional comment.

Dr. Vik Kapoor, the university president who attended the meeting, also did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Joseph Brennan, the university’s spokesman, said he could not comment on what process Mr. Langenderfer might have intended to suggest.

The collective-bargaining agreement between UT and the AAUP deals with the issue of faculty speech. “When [faculty members] speak or write as citizens, they shall be free from University censorship or discipline,” the agreement reads, “but their special position in the community imposes special obligations.

“As scholars and educational officers, they must remember that the public may judge their profession and the University by their utterances. Hence they must at all times be accurate, exercise appropriate restraint, show respect for the opinions of others, and make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the University.”

Mr. Langenderfer’s remarks are the latest in a series of conflicts between Dr. Kapoor’s administration and the faculty.

The administration-faculty conflict received national attention in October, when Dr. Charlene Czerniak, the interim dean of the college of education, made and sent to Dr. Kapoor a list of her college’s faculty, divided by her perceptions of their morale and their opinions of the administration. The so-called “loyalty list” was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, a national publication read by many academics.

In December, Dr. Jack Maynard, then the president of the faculty senate, spoke before the board of trustees’ previous meeting, presenting what he said were the faculty senate’s nine biggest concerns about the university, including financial troubles and the faculty hiring freeze instituted by Dr. Kapoor.

Several board members reacted angrily, saying Dr. Maynard was speaking about his own personal concerns and not on behalf of the faculty’s real concerns. Afterward, the faculty senate passed a resolution saying Dr. Maynard had accurately represented their concerns.

But UT Provost Henry Moon said the faculty senate was not representative of the faculty as a whole.

“They’re only 50 people, and they only represent themselves and a minority of the faculty,” Dr. Moon said. “I speak to the ‘silent majority’ all the time.”

The faculty senate is elected popularly by the UT faculty to represent their concerns, and includes more than a dozen faculty members who hold administrative positions.

Dr. Carol Menning, a professor of history, said Dr. Moon is wrong. “That’s an extremely undemocratic stance,” she said. “One could, by the same reasoning, say that the Ohio legislature or the U.S. Congress doesn’t speak for the people they represent.”

Dr. Wikander said all the conflicts have taken a serious toll on the university.

“Our university requires an atmosphere of free inquiry in which to thrive,” he said. “But many recent actions by the administration seem to be directed toward discouraging free inquiry and free speech by the faculty.”

He said the timing of the remarks seemed “suspect,” given that the union’s contract with the university expires this June. Negotiations for a new pact are scheduled to begin in early April. Louis Jacobs, a law professor at Ohio State University, said discussions about the university usually would be protected by free speech. “One can criticize UT and still retain a position there, so long as the criticism is about a public concern,” he said.

But he said speech that disrupts a work place or goes against one’s job description – such as an admissions officer for the university telling students to attend BGSU instead of UT – might be “less protected.”

“The format of the speech is so important” in determining rights issues, he said.

UT Trustees Richard Stansley, Joan Uhl Browne, and James Tuschman said they had no comment on Mr. Langenderfer’s comments, as did Dr. Moon. Other board members could not be reached for comment yesterday after the meeting.

Blade senior writer Michael D. Sallah contributed to this report.

UT plans to unload executive mansion; Ottawa Hills home is ‘not satisfactory’

By Vanessa Gezari and Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writers

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The University of Toledo wants to get rid of its presidential mansion in Ottawa Hills and let President Vik Kapoor continue living in his house in Wood County.

Under the plan, discussed yesterday at a UT board of trustees committee meeting, the university would continue to pay Dr. Kapoor a $60,000 annual housing allowance.

Richard Stansley, chairman of the board’s buildings and grounds and administrative services committee, said the house in Ottawa Hills does not meet the university’s needs, and it would be too costly to renovate it.

“Our goal is to address the long-term needs of the university with an institutional home,” Mr. Stansley said. “We intend to build another home at some point.”

Dr. Kapoor, UT’s president since January, 1999, never has lived in the 6,000-square-foot house at 3883 Bancroft St. Instead, he has received a $5,000-per-month housing allowance while living in his own home in Middleton Township, Wood County, across the Maumee River from Waterville.

The university has continued to pay rent for the presidential house, which costs UT about $36,000 a year, including utilities and taxes. In October, Lucas County real estate tax records indicated the property had an assessed value of $536,314.

Providing a university president with a housing allowance when the school has a home available is unique in Ohio, state officials said.

The university leases the house from the UT endowment trust, which bought it in 1989 for $475,000 and spent $370,000 for renovations and updates for former UT President Frank Horton and his wife in the early 1990s.

The UT Foundation invests the cash holdings of the trust, but does not control the house, according to Brenda Lee, the foundation’s executive director.

The board’s buildings and grounds committee yesterday voted to recommend to the full board that the university terminate its $20,000-a-year lease with the trust. The board was expected to consider the matter at its meeting this morning.

“Currently, [Dr. Kapoor’s] residence is sufficient for the needs of the university,” Mr. Stansley, the committee chairman, said. “We believe that the value of the lease payments to the foundation and the reinvestment of the [house sale proceeds] should offset the stipend that’s being paid to him.”

Mr. Stansley said that at some time in the next several years, the university wants to build a house, and might ask its president to live there. “I think that’s a good possibility,” he said.

Joe Brennan, a UT spokesman, said that if the board wanted Dr. Kapoor to move into a university house, “it would be a subject he would be willing to discuss.”

Mr. Stansley told board members that the university house would need “extensive renovation” to “bring it up to standard.”

But Henry Herschel, a UT Foundation trustee, said the house is in “excellent condition.

“It’s very marketable, if it has to be sold,” Mr. Herschel said.

Mr. Brennan said the house is “in good shape, repair-wise.

“It’s not satisfactory to us, [because] it’s not a good house for holding meetings and doing the kind of official entertaining we want the president to do,” Mr. Brennan said.

“The floor plan is problematic, it doesn’t have a large dining room, and it doesn’t have a lot of parking. If you did the renovations to make it a good presidential residence, that might actually detract from the value of the house. The board feels it’s not a wise investment to make those renovations.”

Mr. Brennan said having such a house makes sense if a person has to move to take the university president’s job, but he pointed out that Dr. Kapoor lived in the area when he was hired to fill the post.

UT critic Knepper quits board

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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A University of Toledo trustee – one of only two who opposed Dr. Vik Kapoor’s selection as president – has resigned, citing a “loss of confidence in the leadership” of the board of trustees and the university.

“I find it increasingly difficult to be an effective and useful member of the board of trustees,” Jacqueline Knepper said in her letter of resignation, which was tendered yesterday and effective immediately.

Ms. Knepper, of Perrysburg, has served on possibly the three most important external boards at the university – the UT alumni association board, the UT Foundation board, and the UT board of trustees – continuously since 1979.

In her letter, Ms. Knepper wrote that her “loss of confidence in the leadership of this board – and my substantial philosophical differences with the management style of the current administration – have convinced me that this is the time to resign.”

Ms. Knepper, reached at home, said she wants her letter “to speak for itself.” But she said she made the decision after concluding that her input was not being valued on the board. “If I thought I was being effective and useful, I wouldn’t have resigned,” she said. “You have to be heard.”

Ms. Knepper has been in the minority on the board since November, 1998, when she voted against Dr. Kapoor. The vote was 5-2, with two trustees absent; Trustee Richard Glowacki and Ms. Knepper were the two no votes.

Mr. Glowacki, who lives in Florida, resigned from the board in January, 1999. He said that Ms. Knepper’s resignation is a sign of trouble at UT.

“It is a courageous act, because we all know how much she loves the University of Toledo faculty, staff, and students,” said Mr. Glowacki, who is a former president of the Ohio State Board of Education. “It does, however, call attention to the mess at the university.” Mr. Glowacki, who had chaired the presidential search committee that led to Dr. Kapoor’s selection, said that the administration has hurt faculty morale and the quality of the university’s academic programs. “It’s worse than I expected.”

University spokesman Joseph Brennan, speaking for the university and Dr. Kapoor, said only that “we appreciate her service to the university, and we wish her the best.”

Asked to respond to Ms. Knepper’s comments about poor management and leadership, Mr. Brennan said: “A cornerstone of representative democracy is the ability of people to take different positions and bring different perspectives, and each trustee is entitled to his or her own opinions.”

Rumors about Ms. Knepper’s resignation have circulated at UT since the Kapoor vote and Mr. Glowacki’s resignation, as it became clear that Ms. Knepper often differed with board president Ronald Langenderfer on issues.

In October, 1999, she was one of only two members of the board of trustees not to attend a social gathering at the steel plant owned by Mr. Langenderfer. She said at the time she was concerned that it may have been a violation of Ohio’s open meetings laws, which limit the circumstances under which a majority of board members may gather without providing public notice. Mr. Langenderfer said he had not seen Ms. Knepper’s resignation letter, but said the move did not surprise him. “The minutes of the board will tell you she’s never been supportive of this administration from day one. We thank her for her 71/2 years of service and we wish her well.”

Ms. Knepper is the wife of Judge Richard Knepper, who sits on Ohio’s 6th District Court of Appeals. She is a promotions manager for Buckeye CableSystem, which is owned by the same parent company as The Blade.

Last night, Ms. Knepper said she is not opposed to many of the administration’s initiatives. “There are a lot of good ideas that are circulating around the university now,” she said. “I’m not against change in any way. But there is a style issue when it comes to how you make the changes.”

Dr. Andy Jorgensen, a chemistry professor who has been a regular critic of the Kapoor administration, said the loss of Ms. Knepper is “saddening.”

She’s always been a strong supporter of UT as an institution,” he said. “She will be missed.”

Trustee Richard B. Stansley, Jr., said her departure is “unfortunate … I think she was a productive board member. In my mind, diversity on the board is a very healthy thing. There’s always room for a dissenting opinion. That’s what we’re all about. That’s why I think it will be a loss for the board.”

University plans to raise prestige of its law school

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

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The University of Toledo college of law wants to shrink by about 20 per cent to eliminate weaker students and result in smaller classes, according to a strategic plan announced yesterday.

The detailed plan, according to Provost Henry Moon, will “help our university regain its prominence among the nation’s law schools” and is “the most progressive academic plan I’ve ever seen at the University of Toledo.”

“This is a historic moment for the college of law,” Dean Phil Closius said.

Among the highlights of the nine-page plan:

* Over the next two academic years, the size of the college will shrink, from 523 students to about 430. That will allow for closer interaction between students and professors and make it easier for the college to provide resources to students.

The university’s night school will be among the hardest hit, as incoming classes will drop from about 50 students to about 25.

It will give a boost to a few key statistics by which the university is measured in the legal community.

Last year, UT finished seventh out of the nine Ohio law schools in its students’ passage rate on their first taking of the state bar exam.

The university ranks in the fourth and lowest quartile in the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of American law schools.

Eliminating low-end students likely would raise the bar examination passage rate, as well as the average test scores and other statistical data U.S. News uses to evaluate schools.

One of the goals in the strategic plan is for the law school to move into the second quartile of the U.S. News rankings by the 2003-04 school year; another is to rank in the top three among Ohio law schools on bar passage.

Mr. Closius’s predecessor, Albert Quick, started the policy of reducing the law school’s enrollment in 1995, partly in response to complaints from the Ohio Board of Regents that the state’s law schools were producing too many graduates.

In 1995, the law school enrolled 675 students, a number that has dropped by at least 35 students a year ever since. Mr. Quick stepped down in June, 1999.

* Mr. Closius said he wants to better market the college to potential applicants. He said an improved presence on the Internet would help attract students, along with better contacts in the business community to find people in their careers who may be interested in adding a law degree to their qualifications.

The plan’s goal is to increase applications by 45 per cent by 2003-04. Mr. Closius said the marketing efforts the college has begun are working: applications for fall admission are up 33 per cent over last year.

Related to those efforts will be the college’s attempt to improve its reputation in the legal community. The strategic plan calls for more emphasis on bringing “high-profile speakers” to campus and arranging for UT law professors to get exposure on television talk shows and other media.

* The plan calls for an improved coordination of efforts with other colleges of the university.

A new major in the arts and sciences college – law and social thought – will be initiated as an option for pre-law students. The major will be created with the input of law school faculty, who will teach some of the undergraduate classes.

“That’s a level of interaction with undergraduates that I’ve never seen from any law school,” Mr. Closius said.

The plan calls for the installment of an automatic admission program for UT undergraduates. Under the program, UT students who have certain standardized test scores and a certain grade point average will be guaranteed admission to the law school. That could help raise undergraduate enrollment, Mr. Closius said.

The strategic plan was approved unanimously by the UT board of trustees’ academic affairs committee yesterday. The full board is expected to approve it today.

The document has been in the works for 14 months, since Dr. Vik Kapoor took office as president in January, 1999. Dr. Kapoor and Dr. Moon asked the law school to evaluate how it should change to improve. Since then, Mr. Closius and faculty members have been meeting to come up with the document.

Similar strategic reviews are ongoing for the other seven colleges at UT, along with the honors program and the library system.

Mr. Closius and Dr. Moon emphasized that many of the goals expressed in the document are specific and easily quantifiable, and they said they expected to be held accountable for their success or failure in making the changes they believe the colleges need.

“This is a highly specific plan, and we will all be judged by it,” Dr. Moon said.

“A few years from now, the university leadership will be able to look back and see how we did,” Mr. Closius said. “If we’ve done what we said we would, Dr. Kapoor and Dr. Moon and I will get together and start on a new strategic plan. If we haven’t, then it might be a very short conversation.”

Decreasing enrollment without raising tuition will decrease the college’s income. University officials said they did not know how much that shortfall would be, but university spokesman Joseph Brennan said that Dr. Kapoor has pledged to hold overall funding for the college constant to give the school the opportunity to make the proposed changes, even if the college produces less money.

Mr. Brennan said he did not know where the extra funding for the law school would come from, and whether it would mean decreased funding for other university programs. “We see this as an investment in the college of law, and we think it will pay off,” Mr. Brennan said.

Part of the loss of funds will be dealt with through a smaller faculty. Dean Closius said that the school usually has 31 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, a number that he said would drop to 28.

But 28 faculty would be an increase from the current 26, in part because of several law professors taking advantage of the university’s early retirement plan over the last two years.

Faculty response seemed to be mostly positive. More than a dozen law faculty members present at the plan’s unveiling gave it a loud round of applause.

“I’m very happy,” said Professor Howard Friedman. “It’s a well-thought-out plan, and there are going to be very visible benefits for students and the community.”

John Barrett, an associate professor, said that reducing the number of students would create a higher standard of education.

“You get the ability to focus more attention on individual students and on intensive writing projects,” he said. “You also allow yourself to not admit marginally qualified students

“It’s going to help the law school become a much more prestigious place, and that’s going to reflect better on the university as a whole,” he said.

‘Vision’ creators doubt goals will be realized anytime soon

By Joshua Benton and Vanessa Gezari
Blade Staff Writers

Page 6

City and University of Toledo officials presented their abstract vision for Toledo’s future yesterday, a dreamy image of efficient robots and healthy children, a bustling economy and an artistic renaissance.

But leaders acknowledged that they have no plans to make their vision a reality.

“No one in this room will live to see this vision actually come to fruition,” UT Provost Henry Moon told an audience at the Erie Street Market. “We won’t make it that far.”

The ideal, entitled Vision 2000, is less a plan than a projection of what life might be like in northwest Ohio 25 years from now. It is the product of the Toledo Millennium Partnership, an informal collaboration begun in April between the city and the university to plan Toledo’s future.

But Dr. Moon and Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said they want the 10-page document they’ve produced to become a centerpiece of public discussion and political debate.

In the coming months, Mr. Finkbeiner and Dr. Moon will make presentations to various community groups on the concept, including a town-hall discussion March 29 at the university. The mayor hopes that 3,000 Toledoans will learn about their ideas between all the presentations and meetings.

“We wanted to paint the vision of hope for the region,” Mr. Finkbeiner said.

But some area leaders questioned the value of the document, considering it is simply the vision of a few volunteers, without specifics or money to pay for implementation.

“I think it’s much more idealistic than realistic,” said Sandy Isenberg, president of the Lucas County commissioners and a contributor to the report. “It’s a wonderful American dream – the perfect city. But then reality sets in, and somebody has to pay for it. You can talk about all this other stuff, [but]show me the money, because it’s going to take a lot. I wish them the best if they get it done.”

The report divides its vision into six areas: business and industry; education and learning; the arts and culture; globalization; health and quality of life; and government organization. Each section was written by a separate committee of between six and 12 volunteers chosen last spring by the mayor and Dr. Moon. Each committee has met several times over the last year to detail their visions.

The sections vary widely in content and style. The business and industry section simply presents six specific goals for attainment, while the education section is written as if the author were living in the year 2025 after Toledo has become a world-renowned “dynamic community of learners.”

The document’s recommendations range from increasing adult learning to making Toledo more competitive in a global economy. It suggests the creation of an arts district on Monroe Street between downtown and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Some of the jargon-laced language is so vague that it might be difficult to determine if the vision is ever achieved. For example, one section says, “The city of Toledo will become a healthy community through broad-based involvement in an evolving process that is always changing, yet is always directed at improving the quality of life for its citizens.”

But without a firm plan to make the various visions reality, some people involved in their creation aren’t sure it will be useful.

Bob Savage, Jr., the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions member who led one of the committees, said that he questions the value of Vision 2000 on its own.

“Our group expressed some reluctance with just figuring out what things are supposed to look like 10 or 20 years from now,” Mr. Savage said. “Obviously, you could have the best vision in the world, but someone needs to spend some time figuring out how to get it done.”

Mr. Savage criticized the commitment of some of the volunteers who were supposed to work on the project. He said that, of the approximately 20 people who were supposed to be on his committee, only eight attended a single meeting.

Ms. Isenberg, who was on Vision 2000’s globalization committee, said the vision’s creators have good motives.

“I thought that they were very dedicated people, very interested,” she said. “My greater concern is [that] once this is all put together and everybody says, ‘Yeah, that’s great,’ that it isn’t just put on a shelf.”

She said not enough resources may be available to achieve the goals laid out in the document.

While they don’t have a plan to make their vision reality, Dr. Moon and Mr. Finkbeiner did say how they want to keep their document in the public eye.

Dr. Moon said he wants area media and civic groups like the League of Women Voters to demand that candidates for public office talk about where they stand on the sometimes vague ideas presented in Vision 2000. “We want to make this into a campaign issue for elections for mayor and city council,” he said.

That political commitment is important, Dr. Moon said, because only later generations will be able to enact the vision they’ve set forward. “People who want to run for office will have to pay attention to our agenda, not their own,” Dr. Moon said. “We see the role of our successors as implementing these dreams.”

Dr. Moon said that, while the group will seek public input on the document they’ve created, the vision it puts forth will not change, even if citizens present good suggestions. “It’s done,” he said.

While there was no formal public input in the creation of the document, Dr. Moon said that he took into account suggestions he had heard in his work on the Toledo 20/20 Comprehensive Plan, a two-year study that will revise the city’s comprehensive land-use plan for the next 20 years.

But Toledo city council members said they are concerned that the new vision might conflict with 20/20, which has cost the city $275,000 to assemble and which has involved public input at more than a dozen meetings.

“It would be a major tragedy if [Vision 2000] and 20/20, which had thousands of people involved in it and a six-figure cost, if these things were to develop on different tracks,” Council President Peter Ujvagi said.

But Steve Herwat, executive director of the plan commissions, said he is not concerned that the vision will contradict the comprehensive plan.

“I see it as being complementary to the 20/20 plan,” he said. “We focused on land use. The Millennium Partnership, they made a special effort to concentrate on other issues. The best thing that comes out of the Millennium Partnership is it forges a stronger bond between the city and the university.”

The final 20/20 plan is expected to be submitted to council by late March or early April, Mr. Herwat said.

But Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz said citizens who participated in the 20/20 process still might feel left out by the city-university vision.

“My worry is that citizens are going to react with suspicion [because] no one asked for their input, and the politicians swooped in and made a decision,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said. “For any of this project to work, we have to have the involvement of the citizens. It only means something if the people believe in it.”

Mark V’Soske, president of the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce and chair of one of the committees, said he was instructed to focus on “a vision of the future, not necessarily how to implement that vision.” He said he hopes the document “can spark something in someone in the community into doing something good for Toledo they wouldn’t have otherwise done.”

The mayor said that while the vision may not persuade skeptics, it will be compelling for those who are open to it.

“If you believe in hope and you believe in opportunity … this document offers hope and opportunity,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “Of course, it’s just a vision.” But he added: “The only thing that will stop the vision from becoming a reality is a lack of industry and commitment on our part.”

The group invited more than 100 people to participate in the project, according to Joseph LaCava, one of the project’s coordinators. But fewer than 60 people ended up participating, most of them city or university employees.

The low level of participation led to some unusual absences on several committees. For example, the committee analyzing the area’s economic future had no labor representatives. The education and learning committee included no representatives from the Toledo Public Schools or Toledo Federation of Teachers, and the health committee had no one from either ProMedica or Mercy Health Systems, who between them own most of the area’s health-care facilities.

Merrill Grant, the superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, said that the education committee should have included someone who works in K-12 education. Instead, the committee included people whose work does not involve education, like city utilities director Don Moline, farmworker president Baldemar Velasquez, and Toledo Journal editor Myron Stewart.

Dr. Grant said that the education committee’s report fits in well with the efforts of Toledo schools. “The vision for the educated city complements the goals TPS has been working on for the past four years,” he said. “The overhaul has already begun.”

Blade staff writer Tom Troy contributed to this article.

Downtown decay being reversed by flurry of commercial development

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page A3 (Focus edition)

If you want to understand Toledo’s downtown renaissance, just stand at the corner of Adams and Superior streets.

Picture an intersection of only five years ago, with a symbol of urban decay on each corner: a Macy’s department store that had been empty for more than a decade; the backside of a long-shuttered playhouse known as the Valentine Theatre; a rundown former Woolworth building, and a vacant former flower shop.

On some nights, you could have stood on the corner for hours and not seen a single human being. If you looked east down Adams Street, you would have seen the empty shell of the Portside Festival Marketplace.

All that has changed now.

The Macy’s has become the LaSalle Apartments, a 130-unit high-rise that has been full since it opened. The Valentine underwent a $28 million renovation that has made it a cornerstone of downtown life since it reopened in October.

The owner of the building housing the former flower shop has begun a $1.1 million renovation and plans to turn it into a food court and office space. And just last month, the new owner of the former Woolworth building announced a deal to bring a Doc Watson’s restaurant and bar to the building.

In 1997, Portside became COSI Toledo, the popular children’s science museum, which celebrated its 1 millionth visitor in December.

In the last few years, most of the big action around Toledo has been downtown.

People who a few years ago wouldn’t have thought of going downtown are suddenly finding reasons to, whether it’s catching an opera at the Valentine or visiting friends at the LaSalle.

Downtown was hit hard by the woes of the 1980s. Key businesses like Sheller-Globe Corp., Questor Corp., and First Federal Savings & Loan left downtown. Business parks like Arrowhead Park in Maumee attracted the smaller businesses that decades earlier might have taken an office in the central business district.

Following the lead of cities like Cleveland and Indianapolis, Toledo has been busy remaking downtown into an entertainment and housing spot, particularly for young singles.

This year promises to see even more positive developments downtown. The biggest is expected this fall, when construction is scheduled to begin on a new baseball stadium for the Toledo Mud Hens. The new ballpark will move the team from suburban Maumee to the Warehouse District and, local leaders hope, pump more energy into downtown.

Much of the attention in recent years has focused on the downtown riverfront. The federal office building on Summit Street is scheduled to be razed later this year. The empty space it leaves may become an extension of Promenade Park, site of summer’s popular Rally By The River series.

Government workers getting booted out of the federal building have had to find office space elsewhere downtown, helping lower the city’s high office building vacancy rate.

Next to Promenade Park, the old Edison steam plant will see renovations this spring to turn it into an entertainment complex. The Wisconsin developers who have taken on the project hope to bring in a bookstore, a sports bar, and several restaurants.

Those restaurants could be the mirror image of a development across the Maumee River in East Toledo. The Docks, located in International Park, has become one of Toledo’s busiest spots at night, with two restaurants, a wine bar, and a banquet facility. They’ll be joined in the next few months by two more restaurants and a brewpub.

While most of the diners at downtown restaurants are people from the suburbs, an increasing number are people living downtown. The LaSalle’s opening started the growth of downtown as a residential neighborhood. Last year, the former Commodore Perry Hotel and Hillcrest Hotel – both long empty – were also converted into apartments, and the Toledo Trust building will soon become the Riverside Apartments.

Put the pieces together – entertainment from the Valentine and Mud Hens, dining from the new restaurants, shopping from new retail, and residents from the apartment buildings – and you might just have the solution.

UT faculty laments staff shortage; President Kapoor criticized for closing information meetings to public

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 13

The University of Toledo’s administration is hurting its academic programs by not hiring more tenure-track professors, according to a resolution passed by the faculty senate yesterday.

Earlier this year, UT President Vik Kapoor had asked the senate’s executive committee to list its three biggest concerns about his administration. According to the resolution, they are:

* “Lack of permanent faculty replacements to maintain the viability of current programs and develop new innovative programs.”

In part because of an early retirement program begun in 1998, more than 100 faculty members have left the university in the last two years. The administration has mostly brought in temporary visiting faculty to take their spots, rather than permanent replacements.

* “Poor communication prior to and lack of consultation about decisions” that affect the university. Faculty members have criticized Dr. Kapoor for making important changes to the university, such as the elimination of the Center for Teaching Excellence, without asking faculty about their impact.

* “Cuts in support staff” and reorganization of departments that make it harder to get information and teach effectively.

In an administration statement responding to the criticisms, UT officials said that the university will begin hiring permanent faculty shortly, as a university-wide faculty hiring freeze is lifted.

The statement said the administration is committed to open communication with faculty, and that the reorganization of departments will leave the administration more efficient.

But Dr. Andrew Jorgensen, an associate professor of chemistry and regular opponent of the administration, said Dr. Kapoor and others still do not appear to understand their concerns, and asked the senate to approve an outside survey asking faculty their opinions about the administration.

Dr. Jorgensen pointed to the Dec. 1 meeting of the UT board of trustees, when then-senate chairman Dr. Jack Maynard presented the senate’s concerns to board members. But board Chairman Ronald Langenderfer rebuked Dr. Maynard, saying that the concerns he raised were not shared by the faculty.

When the idea of an outside faculty survey came up for a vote, it ended in a 17-17 tie. Harvey Wolff, the senate’s chairman, cast the deciding vote in favor of a survey. The senate voted unanimously to condemn the administration for keeping reporters out of meetings Dr. Kapoor has been having with faculty.

At the meetings, the faculty questioned Dr. Kapoor about his plans for the university’s future. But at one of the meetings on Thursday, reporters from The Blade and from the student newspaper, The Collegian, were removed from the room when university spokesman Joe Brennan said the meeting was private.

A UT police officer was posted outside the meeting room to prevent reporters from re-entering.

“This is outrageous,” said education professor Mary Ellen Edwards. “I felt very uncomfortable being at a meeting the public couldn’t attend.”

“This is contrary to my understanding of democracy,” said Sammie Giles, Jr., professor of electrical engineering.

But Mr. Brennan said the meeting was not covered by Ohio’s public meetings laws and was simply “a meeting between employer and employees. “This was not a meeting to set policy,” he said. “We wanted to provide employees with the opportunity to engage in a frank, open dialogue with us without worrying whether their comments would be printed in a newspaper.”

He said the officer “was really there to help us manage the door, so to speak. The meeting was by invitation, and it was the president’s desire that it not be open to other people. We wanted to have someone at the door who could explain that it was a closed meeting.”

In hindsight, Mr. Brennan said, “We probably could have done that better” without an officer. The decision to place the officer at the door was “a collectively made decision by the senior leadership.”

5.7% dip continues enrollment trend at UT

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 1

Continuing a decade-long trend, enrollment at the University of Toledo is down 5.7 per cent from last year, a decline that could cost the university millions of dollars.

But university officials say they are optimistic that growth in the freshman class this year soon will reverse the trend.

“I’m very optimistic that by this fall, we’ll see an increase in enrollment,” said Dr. Robert Abella, vice president of enrollment services and placement.

According to preliminary enrollment statistics, UT’s spring student head count is 17,908, a drop from 19,000 last year.

But this year’s freshman class of 2,750 is 13.5 per cent above last year’s total of around 2,400, Dr. Abella said, and applications for next year’s class are up about 20 per cent. He said the university hopes to attract 3,200 freshmen next year.

The enrollment numbers aren’t just a matter of pride: A shift of just a few hundred students can cost the university dearly.

University President Vik Kapoor has said that an average student is worth about $6,000 to UT, $3,000 of that in tuition and $3,000 in state subsidies.

Going by his math, this year’s overall enrollment decline could mean a loss of almost $6.6 million in funding for the cash-strapped university.

But the numbers are preliminary, and the state does not compute its subsidy levels until it receives the final head count at the end of the spring semester.

Dr. Kapoor, who has been president for nearly 14 months, has set increasing enrollment as one of his administration’s highest goals.

He has said that his goal is 25,000 students, to be reached within 10 years.

The university’s enrollment has been in a steady decline since its peak in 1991, when it enrolled 24,969 students.

Dr. Abella said that with fewer and fewer freshman high school students interested in UT in recent years, the university has suffered from an odd arrangement: Its junior and senior classes were larger than its freshman and sophomore classes.

He said that this year’s overall enrollment decline can be attributed to losing a very large senior class last year and that, eventually, the large freshman classes would boost enrollment again.

Dr. Kapoor was unavailable for comment last night.

Meanwhile, the remarkable boom at Owens Community College continues. The two-year college, which some UT officials fear is siphoning off UT students, grew 12 per cent on its two campuses, jumping from 13,514 to 15,141.

The college’s Perrysburg Township campus now enrolls 13,286 students, up 11 per cent from last spring’s 11,970. Its campus in Findlay experienced an even bigger jump, up 20 per cent from its spring, 1999, total of 1,855.

Since 1998, Owens has seen its overall enrollment increase more than 24 per cent. In a statement, Owens President Daniel Brown credited the boost to the college’s commitment to keeping costs low. He said more growth might be on the way, with Owens’s tuition scheduled to drop this summer from $79 a credit hour to $75.

Bowling Green State University had a much smaller increase in its enrollment. The preliminary spring, 2000, head count on its main campus is 15,909. That’s a 1.7 per cent jump from spring, 1999, numbers. Enrollment at its Firelands campus in Huron, O., was up 1.6 per cent, from 2,004 to 2,036.