Really the story speaks for itself, starting with the headline in Nov. 14′s Chronicle of Higher Education: How to Build a Perception of Greatness (you must be on UT’s network to access the story).
And it never hurts when the premier publication covering higher education looks to UT as an example of an institution on the rise.
States the Chronicle:
Everyone can name the big, nationally known universities that have raised their profiles dramatically over the past couple of decades: Boston University, Drexel University, New York University, Northeastern University, and the University of Southern California, to name a few. Others might know smaller institutions that have either honed great reputations in their markets or are on the rise—places like Ball State University, Portland State University, Texas Christian University, the University of Toledo, and Virginia Commonwealth University.
High-quality institutions pay attention to what George Keller advised higher education nearly 30 years ago: They have identified unique or distinctive strengths in their programs and put resources into those, perhaps at the expense of others. Mr. Keller, a well-known scholar of higher education, who died in 2007, argued that this was a prudent strategy in the financially challenging times of the 1970s and 80s—a perspective that may be even truer today than it was then.
Eva Klein, a higher-education strategic-planning consultant, says the advent of the Internet has only added to the importance of this strategy. In earlier times, a college had a largely captive local audience. Now, increasingly, students have all sorts of options. “If you can get Peter Drucker on the Internet, why would you want a mediocre marketing instructor?” she says.
She points to the University of Toledo as one institution that has focused on a few areas, including renewable energy (especially solar), biomarkers in medicine, transportation logistics, and advanced manufacturing. The university already had strong programs in these areas and determined that they would be among the most relevant to the local business community and future business trends. Its solar-energy programs, for example, have joined with local energy and research companies to collaborate on a carbon-neutral tech-business park.
“If we tried to follow in the footsteps of the University of Michigan, we could work as hard as we can for the rest of our lives and never catch up,” says Lloyd A. Jacobs, Toledo’s president. “So we’re convinced that we have to chart our own course, and we believe that means being better and deeper—selecting certain peaks of excellence to strive for.”
“Successful institutions of the future will reframe the way they perceive themselves,” the Chronicle writes, “even as the world changes the way it sees higher education.”
A contributing factor for UT’s surging reputation? Toledo is one of the most affordable college towns in the country, according to a recent national survey. Which UT President Lloyd Jacobs discussed recently with Channel 11: