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Archive for July, 2015

Professor becomes permanent national grant review member

Dr. Donald Ronning, UT professor of chemistry and biochemistry, became a permanent member of one of the national peer review groups that evaluate research grant applications sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) July 1.

Ronning

Ronning

“I’m extremely honored,” Ronning said. “It’s a way to give back to the greater scientific community that has supported my research and to my university community by networking with researchers from other universities who may not be familiar with the research capabilities at The University of Toledo.”

Ronning’s peer review group is one of many at the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, a division of the national medical research agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reviews grant applications for scientific valuation.

“There are different divisions that review grant applications specific to a field of inquiry like cancer genetics or neuroscience imaging; my section is called the drug discovery and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, which involves reviewing grant applicants proposing research to develop new drugs to treat infectious disease or studying ways that pathogens develop resistance to current drugs,” Ronning said.

His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which bacterial enzymes carry out their biochemical function in cells; the knowledge is then used to design lead compounds and inform the development of new therapies to treat infectious diseases.

Those invited to serve on a study section are expected at every peer review group of their assigned section during their four-year term.

“As a permanent member, I am expected to prepare for and attend three meetings throughout the year. This equates to about five or six weeks’ worth of time,” Ronning said.

For more information, about the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, visit public.csr.nih.gov.

Student Recreation Center to close for upgrades, annual maintenance

Beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, through Thursday, Aug. 20, the Student Recreation Center on The University of Toledo’s Main Campus will be closed for upgrades.

Student Recreation Center

Student Recreation Center

“The rec center will receive an interior facelift,” said Demond Pryor, director of the Office of Recreation in the UT Division of Student Affairs. “There will be major painting inside, as well as replacement of the carpeting that has been there since the center opened in 1990.”

During the shutdown, the weight room floor will be converted to a rubber surface, and more than $90,000 of improvements will go into the pool. The center and equipment also will receive a deep clean and general maintenance.

“We are really excited for all the upcoming improvements to be more up-to-date and more modernized,” Pryor said.

The Morse Center, located in Dowling Hall on UT’s Health Science Campus, will continue to be available to all eligible students, faculty, staff and current rec center members. Summer hours for the center can be found here.

Additionally, rec center members can use the pool at the Radisson Hotel at The University of Toledo on Health Science Campus. Rocket IDs must be shown before use.

For the Radisson Hotel pool hours, call 419.381.6800.

UT hires new treasurer

Last month, Christopher Thompson was named The University of Toledo’s treasurer — a position he was already familiar with.

Thompson

Thompson

Previously, Thompson served as the vice president and market manager in public finance with PNC Bank, UT’s largest bondholder, where he was responsible for managing the University’s relationship with the bank. Prior to that, he held management positions with other high-profile banks in the area, including Key Corp., Charter One Bank and Comerica Bank.

In his new position, Thompson oversees the operations of the Office of the Treasurer and the Office of Student Accounts (Bursar).

“Chris brings a strong understanding of the University’s debt structure and capacity, as well as a broader perspective on the higher education industry,” said Brian Dadey, UT associate vice president for finance.

Thompson received a bachelor of business administration in finance and business law from Central Michigan University and a master of business administration in finance from Wayne State University.

President names chief of staff

Citing the importance of the duties of the chief of staff and vice president for government relations, University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber recently announced her intention to separate the job into two positions and appointed Matt Schroeder, chief operating officer for the UT Foundation, as her chief of staff.

Schroeder

Schroeder

In the new role, Schroeder will manage the operational functions of the Office of the President, serve as an internal and external liaison, and have responsibilities for promoting and advancing the interests and mission of the University by supporting the vision and goals of the president.

“Matt will be a key member of my senior leadership team,” Gaber said. “He knows the key people and issues at the University and in the community, and has nearly two decades of institutional memory across all UT campuses.”

Schroeder’s start date in his new role has not yet been finalized.

Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president for government relations, will continue to report directly to Gaber.

“Given the goals I have for UT and how important strong relationships with elected and government officials are for our education, health-care and research missions, I think it is critical for Frank and his team to focus efforts in this space,” Gaber said. “And Frank’s leadership will be essential for UT’s success.”

Gaber has spent significant time since arriving in Toledo engaging local, state and national government leaders, a level of engagement she said she plans to maintain throughout her presidency.

Calzonetti will continue to provide leadership for key strategic initiatives, including UT’s Water Task Force, the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, and University relationships with organizations such as the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and the Council on Competitiveness.

New vice president for advancement named, will lead newly merged division

A top fundraising executive for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System has been selected to lead The University of Toledo’s Advancement Division, pending approval of UT’s Board of Trustees.

McCrimmon

McCrimmon

UT President Sharon Gaber announced Thursday that Samuel McCrimmon, executive director of clinical development at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, would join the University as vice president of advancement. He will start at UT Sept. 8.

“Philanthropy is key to the continued positive momentum of The University of Toledo, and in Sam, I’ve found a leader who will help elevate UT’s fundraising and messaging on a national and international level,” Gaber said.

Since her selection in March, Gaber has repeatedly identified as a priority a dramatic increase in fundraising, saying such a move is needed to increase the number of student scholarships, establish endowed professorships to help attract top-tier faculty, and to ensure that UT has the facilities it needs to advance research and expand its profile and reputation.

McCrimmon will oversee the merger of UT’s Institutional Advancement Division and its External Affairs Division into a single Division of Advancement, including Alumni Relations, Development, University Communications, University Marketing and Special Events.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining UT at such a transformational time,” McCrimmon said. “I have seen the impact philanthropy can have on institutional growth, and it’s clear to me this University can increase funding to leverage its strengths, improving the lives of students and the community.”

McCrimmon said the ability to integrate the University’s branding and messaging strategy into advancement will be key to ensuring that all members of the University family have a clear vision of where UT is headed and how they can help UT achieve its goals.

“My wife and I consider ourselves to be Midwesterners, so we are thrilled to become a part of the Toledo community because it feels like a move home,” he said.

He and his wife, Courtney, have two children, Evangeline and Duncan.

Gaber also expressed her thanks to members of the search committee for their time and expertise during the past several months.

McCrimmon started his fundraising career at Wheeling Jesuit University and served as director of programs for the Executive Service Corps of Western Pennsylvania. In 2004, he joined the University of Detroit Mercy, where he advanced to leading the major and planned gift programs, providing strategic direction that resulted in record fundraising in fiscal 2010-11. He joined the UPMC Health System in 2011 and has overseen growth both of fundraising and infrastructure.

McCrimmon holds a juris doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, a master of theological studies degree from Duke University and a bachelor of arts degree from Wabash College.

UT’s new disability studies degree first of its kind

A new undergraduate degree in disability studies at The University of Toledo is the first of its kind in the country rooted in the humanities and social sciences and offered on campus.

Ferris

Ferris

“Disability has long been studied as a biomedical issue, but disability studies is dramatically different,” said Dr. Jim Ferris, the Ability Center of Greater Toledo Endowed Chair in Disability Studies. “Rather than focusing on the characteristics of bodies and functional limitations or impairments, disability studies focuses on disability as a social construct.”

Disability studies is a growing field with minors, certificate programs and graduate degrees being offered at more colleges across the country, but the new bachelor of arts degree at UT is the first such undergraduate program in the social sciences that is not exclusively online, said Ferris, who is professor of disability studies and director of the Disability Studies Program.

The Disability Studies Program at the University is an interdisciplinary program with the goal of fostering understanding of the contributions, experiences, history and culture of people with disabilities. The program was created in 2001 with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo and at the time was the first of its kind in the state.

“Disability studies is the scholarly understanding of disability as a sociocultural phenomenon rather than simply as a medically defined condition,” Ferris said.

UT has previously offered the discipline as a minor, which is being expanded into the bachelor’s degree program for students interested in careers in social service, public education, advocacy, government policy, health-care administration, human resource management or other fields.

People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the United States with more than 56 million people or 19 percent of the population, according to 2010 Census Bureau data; that number is expected to grow as the population ages, Ferris said.

“Everyone becomes disabled if they live long enough. It’s part of the aging process,” Ferris said.

The disability rights movement started in the 1970s and advanced with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed into law 25 years ago by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The growing scholarly field of disability studies works to advance the conversation further beyond discrimination and accessibility, Ferris said.

“At its heart, disability studies is about what it means to be human: who gets to participate in society and to what extent,” Ferris said. “It’s about recognizing and respecting diversity. It’s about how to think about and talk about the ways of being different in the world.”

The Ohio Board of Regents approved the bachelor’s degree program in December, and the University is recruiting its first class of students to begin their studies in the fall.

The degree program includes study of disability culture and history, disability law and human rights, deaf studies, gender and disability, and autism and culture, as well as a mandatory internship.

For additional information on the Disability Studies Program, visit utoledo.edu/llss/disability.

Ideas sought for development in NSF-funded course

University of Toledo faculty, staff or students who have an idea for a medical or biotechnology product may be able to get assistance in launching their idea from students participating in an innovative course this fall.

UT College of Business and Innovation and College of Engineering students will again participate in a merging of classes this semester to learn how to take creative product ideas and develop them into profitable businesses. Funding comes from UT’s participation in a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (iCorps) grant to promote the launch of new and viable business ideas.

The student teams will be mentored and coached by Dr. Ron Fournier and Dr. Patricia Relue, bioengineering; Dr. Sonny Ariss, entrepreneurship; and Professor Deirdre Jones, professional sales.

“For the 2015-16 academic year, we expect to have at least 12 student teams,” Fournier said. “We expect that our students, faculty and staff have many medical or biotech related business ideas, and we would like our student iCorps teams to develop them for you. All students will sign a noncompete/nondisclosure form to protect your interests in the idea that you submit.”

“These interdisciplinary student teams will be using the iCorps Lean Launch Methodology and the Business Model Canvas for idea evaluation. The student teams also will develop and test prototypes. Opportunities for future support of viable businesses is available through the College of Business and Innovation Business Plan Competition,” Ariss said.

With a product idea in place, teams develop their business models utilizing the Lean Launch Pad system, which focuses on nine basic building blocks: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships and cost structure.

If you have a medical or biotech related idea that you would like to see developed, complete the requested information at http://utole.do/ideas.

To receive full consideration, ideas must be received by Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Student trustee wants to connect with students, be their voice

“I cried. Then I called my mom.”

That was Anna Crisp’s reaction when she was selected by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the new student trustee at The University of Toledo.

Crisp

Crisp

Crisp, a Bluffton, Ohio, native and junior public health major at UT, has always had a passion for helping others and saw this position as a natural extension of that.

“It has always been a passion of mine to be the voice of others whose voices may not otherwise be heard,” she said. “Now I’m the voice for 24,000 students, which is very intimidating to me but also an incredible opportunity.”

Crisp, who will hold the position until July 1, 2017, is looking forward to educating students about the student trustee position and helping them better understand what the Board of Trustees does.

“I think a lot of students have no idea that the position exists, and that’s troubling to me because as a student, you should feel that you’re represented in some way and that you have someone that’s speaking on your behalf,” she said.

One of the ways she plans to connect with students is through student organizations and a relationship with Student Government.

“We have hundreds of student organizations on campus, and I think that’s a logical avenue to go down to reach a larger amount of students,” she said.

When she’s not fulfilling her student trustee duties, Crisp will be busy making an impact in other ways. She is involved with several organizations such as International Service Learning, which has allowed her to go on two medical mission trips; Mortar Board Honor Society, where she helps with the annual Wrap Up Toledo event; and Food Recovery Network, an organization she helped start at UT that collects excess food from restaurants and dining halls and takes it to Toledo’s hungry.

On top of that, Crisp recently accepted a part-time position at The University of Toledo Medical Center as a patient advocate student assistant in the Department of Service Excellence. She will be helping to improve patient care by building relationships with patients and helping them connect with their physicians.

When asked why she is so involved at UT and why she thinks other students should do the same, her answer is simple.

“It’s your future,” she said. “Take advantage of your time here. If you spend four years here and get the degree but that’s it, is that all that you wanted to get out of college?”

Rockets picked to win 2015 Mid-American Conference Championship

The University of Toledo football team was picked to win the Mid-American Conference’s West Division and the 2015 Marathon MAC Championship Game in voting by members of the league’s media contingent.

Rocket football logoThe annual preseason poll was released today at the conference’s 2015 Football Media Day held at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Rockets received 11 first-place votes and a total of 121 points in the annual poll, just one point ahead of second-place Western Michigan, which had eight first-place votes. Defending MAC West Champion Northern Illinois (113 points) was picked third, with Ball State (66), Central Michigan (56) and Eastern Michigan (28) rounding out the West.

Bowling Green was picked to repeat as MAC East Division Champion, with Ohio and Akron tied for second place.

Toledo Head Coach Matt Campbell welcomes back 46 letter winners and 15 starters from last year’s team that went 9-4 overall, 7-1 in conference play. The Rockets shared the West Division title and chalked up an impressive 63-44 win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl.

The Rockets offense will be paced by junior running back Kareem Hunt, who rushed for 1,631 yards and 16 touchdowns in 10 games last season. Wide receivers Corey Jones, with 842 yards and five touchdowns and Alonzo Russell, with 770 yards receiving and eight touchdowns, provide the Rockets with additional threats at the skill positions.

Defensively, Toledo returns eight starters, including defensive end Trent Voss, who had 77 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in 2014, and a pair of All-MAC tackles, senior Orion Jones and junior Treyvon Hester.

The Rockets will open the season at home vs. Stony Brook Thursday, Sept. 3, and then travel to Southeastern Conference opponent Arkansas Saturday, Sept. 12.

Professor takes top prize for satirical cartoon caption

In a recent competition, a University of Toledo professor of geography and planning stood out with his environmental commentary.

Dr. David Nemeth won the May edition of Inside Higher Ed’s cartoon captioning competition. The contest, which is held monthly, requires participants to come up with a creative caption for a cartoon provided by the magazine.

Nemeth cartoon“The thing about this publication is that it’s online; everybody knows about it that’s in academia, especially professors and administrators,” Nemeth said. “It’s got over a million people that tune in. You figure there’s only one winner per month, and these professors and administrators that enter this contest come from all over: Berkeley and Harvard, for example. So to see Toledo win is really cool.”

The cartoon Nemeth wrote for depicted a large slug at a podium at what appeared to be a university graduation ceremony. When Nemeth saw the image, he said he immediately thought of Chernobyl — a nuclear accident in Ukraine in 1986 that caused environmental damages and animal mutations. His caption read: “And who might have imagined that I, a humble slug from Chernobyl, would someday achieve this honor …”

“When I saw this image, I was almost immediately thinking that slug was a mutation from that tragedy and yet the mutation had given it intellect and a sense of humility,” he said. “So the students are facing the tragedy that ironically comes from where they’re going. They’re all going on to be scientists and bio-theorists, and they could be contributing to the problem of more potential Chernobyls.”

Nemeth also has used cartoons and other unique literary works as methods of teaching throughout his career.

“For us as teachers, we have a challenge of articulating the human comedy we have here, the absurd world we live in,” he said. “The challenge or the opportunity to teach — using cartoons, folklore, proverbs from the Bible — in a pithy way something that’s really profound or hard to articulate in a few words and use it as a chance to teach critical teaching. You can do that in a classroom by having students write captions.”

In addition to having the caption and cartoon published in the magazine for a month, Nemeth received a signed copy of the comic by artist Matthew Henry Hall and a cash award for his efforts.