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UC president talks campus' growth, legislation aimed at universities in address

University of Cincinnati President Neville Pinto
Zack Carreon
University of Cincinnati President Neville Pinto

University of Cincinnati President Neville Pinto held his State of the University address inside UC's Lindner College of Business Monday.

Pinto spoke to faculty about the growing student population, new developments on campus, and the impact of potential state legislation on the university.

This past year, UC welcomed its largest class on record with approximately 50,500 students enrolled in the fall. The university also has plans to demolish some older buildings and replace them with new ones. While Pinto celebrated this growth during his address, some faculty questioned this growth asking if it was sustainable.

RELATED: University of Cincinnati welcomes its largest class on record

According to Pinto, UC's current expenses are exceeding its revenue. But he reassured facility that the university intends to reduce some of its expenses in the years to come to create a more sustainable budget.

"We're fine — we will be for quite a few years going into the future. This is not an issue we need to be immediately worried about," Pinto said. "But if we don't correct that, if we don't bring our expenditures below revenues, that's not sustainable as we can see in the long term."

Following his address, more faculty members brought questions about how the university plans to respond to legislation currently moving through the Ohio Statehouse, particularly Ohio Senate Bill 83, which intends to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at universities, as well as Ohio House Bill 183, which would restrict access to bathrooms for transgender people inside schools and universities.

One transgender faculty member asked Pinto directly if UC would defy the law to accommodate non-binary and transgender students and staff on campus should the law pass.

RELATED: Crosley Tower at the University of Cincinnati set to be demolished and replaced

While Pinto did not say the university wouldn't follow the law, he told faculty that he and other university leaders around the state are advocating against both bills and mentioned that he doesn't support the passage of either one.

Pinto says the UC community will have to wait and see what happens with the bills in Columbus before the school officially decides how to proceed, but promised diversity and inclusion would remain a major focus for UC no matter what.

"Some of these issues are so fundamental to who we are that I am already aware of the type of damage it can do to us delivering on our mission," Pinto said.

After Pinto's comments, UC's Provost Valerio Ferme, who attended the address remotely, clarified the president's comments by saying the university is looking into installing more single-occupancy bathrooms on the campus in response to the legislation.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.