Fingerhut’s plan gets mixed reviews from other state public universities


to Fingerhut discuss the basics of the University System of Ohio and


as he discuss the system in greater detail.

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a four-day series examining Board of Regents Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s University System of Ohio plan.

Each of Ohio’s higher education institutions will be affected by Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s University System of Ohio plan.

And although it’s still in what President Lester Lefton has called an “embryonic” state, opinions of the program are being formed at the top administrative levels of universities throughout Ohio.

Fingerhut will present his final 10-year plan for the University System by March 31.

Here at Kent State, Lefton has expressed his hope that by working with Fingerhut, the program will make Kent State a stronger institution.

At other state universities, some administrators shared Lefton’s excitement, and others did not. The Daily Kent Stater asked several four-year universities what they thought of the plan.

University of Toledo

President Lloyd Jacobs was hesitant to comment on the proposed plan. He said he hadn’t reviewed it very thoroughly, but planned to soon.

He did say, however, that changes are needed as college tuition is escalating too rapidly. The University System would, in theory, slow rising costs.

“I think we have a diagnosis that we have to do something,” Jacobs said. “I’m not sure what the treatment should be.”

In regard to what has become a faculty concern that the humanities will become secondary subjects because of the system, Jacobs conveyed an idea that all human knowledge is seamless, and to focus on subjects such as science may not be a bad thing.

“There’s a more immediate payback on science and engineering,” he said. “It’s often good to start with things that give you a quicker payback.”

Youngstown State

President David Sweet said he mostly agrees with what’s in the proposal, but he said “the devil is in the details.” He is concerned about a possible change in individual university governance.

“The University System, as I interpret it, is not a changing in governance structure,” Sweet said. “It is focused on enhancing collaboration among institutions, particularly at the doctoral level.”

Sweet said based on other states’ experience, there is no need to change the governance of individual institutions. He said the current trustee system works well.

As far as the humanities are concerned, Sweet said Youngstown State University has demonstrated an interest in both “stem” disciplines — science, technology and mathematics — and in the liberal arts.

“We believe that is an essential component of university curriculum,” he said.

Wright State

The university has a positive outlook on the proposal of a system, said Robert Sweeney, executive vice president for planning.

“We’ve just received a $5 million program partnership grant for our work in neuro science,” he said. “We are doing a number of things, particularly in the area of stem.”

When looking to better higher education in the state, Sweeney said singling out certain programs can only make Ohio stronger.

Cleveland State

President Michael Schwartz, in his Oct. 25 convocation address, expressed some apprehension toward this proposed University System and the possibility of some loss of his institution’s identity.

“It is an incredibly complex notion, and it is also one that carries some risk,” Schwartz said in his address. “As you know, I have always argued that timidity is a bad thing in higher education. The risk involved here doesn’t trouble me.”

Schwartz also said during the address that the plan was more of an announcement, a sentiment mirrored at Ohio State.

Ohio State

“It’s probably still too early to know (what effect this plan will have),” said Jim Lynch, director of media relations. “What they’re trying to do is take our best programs and make them internationally renowned.”

Lynch said leaders at Ohio State support the concept of a statewide collaboration among Ohio’s 2- and 4-year universities.

“We’re excited about the importance (Gov.) Strickland put on higher education,” Lynch said, “and we’re optimistic about the changes (set in motion) by Chancellor Fingerhut.”