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Archive for February, 2016

Rocket Innovations re-launches with new executive director

“I work for you,” said Norm Rapino, executive director of Rocket Innovations.

The lifelong entrepreneur and former University of Michigan commercialization and mentor network specialist is helping to re-launch The University of Toledo’s technology incubator.

Since joining Rocket Innovations Jan. 19, Rapino has been making the rounds on campus to explain the incubator’s re-imagined focus and vision. Central to that focus is the involvement of faculty.



“We want to better connect our faculty to the entrepreneurial opportunities available to them,” said Rapino, explaining that “Rocket Innovations is focused on helping faculty ideas and research outcomes make a difference and solve real-world problems.”

Rapino knows about the challenges Rocket Innovations faced when it operated as University of Toledo Innovations Enterprises, or UTIE, but believes that thanks to an involved board and strong interim leadership, the organization is on the right path.

During the last two years, Rocket Innovations has been restructured under the Division of Research. Also during that time, the board and interim director worked to model best practices after visits to successful incubators across the Midwest.

“We have taken a step back, publicly, and revised, revamped and refocused our efforts during Rhonda Wingfield’s interim leadership,” said Dr. William Messer, UT vice president for research.

“They did the hard work to determine the changes we can make to have a greater impact going forward,” Rapino added.

He believes that Rocket Innovations needs to make investments in companies as a part of their funding stream, not as the sole investor. He also believes UT can rally other appropriate investors around viable opportunities, since Ohio already has a system in place, led by the Third Frontier, to make this happen.

“This will let us spread our own resources over a larger group of opportunities that I am sure we will find here at the University,” Rapino said.

As Rocket Innovations looks at new investment opportunities, Rapino said the focus will be on those technologies the market itself indicates it needs, rather than the products developers want to create a market for.

“Just having a good idea or research outcome is not enough to create a new venture, and we at Rocket Innovations will combine proven commercialization practices and available resources to make viable startups happen,” he said.

In the long-term, he will build a mentor network from among UT’s successful entrepreneur alumni and others like them in the region. He also emphasized the importance of engaging faculty and students to grow research at the University and encourage student entrepreneurs.

“I want to build one-on-one relationships with people who have ideas,” Rapino said. “My view is: Don’t wait, go out and engage.”

Rockets offer $6 seats for men’s, women’s basketball games March 4-5

The University of Toledo Athletic Department announced that $6 tickets will be available for the final regular-season home men’s and women’s basketball games Friday and Saturday, March 4 and 5.

The Rocket men will host Eastern Michigan Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m. The $6 seats for that game will be located in the bleachers. Bleacher seating is normally reserved for UT students, but during spring break, those seats will be available for sale to the general public. Bleachers are located at floor level in either end zone.

thumb-rocket-color-logoThe UT women will host Ball State Saturday, March 5, at 2 p.m. All general admission tickets and bleacher seats will cost $6 for that game.

Both teams also have other home games coming up.

The men will host Central Michigan Saturday, Feb. 27. The game is the 100-year anniversary of UT men’s basketball, and the celebration will feature former players from all eras returning to Savage Arena. Tip time is 7 p.m.

The UT women will host Central Michigan Wednesday, March 2, at 7 p.m.

Tickets for home games can be purchased in advance or at the door. Click here or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Undergraduate summer research proposals due Feb. 26

Undergraduate summer research proposals are due to the Office of Undergraduate Research Friday, Feb. 26.

In its ninth year, the Office of Undergraduate Research recently has expanded its investigative opportunities to better serve the diverse interests of the undergraduate student population.

research picsUndergraduate students of all majors interested in conducting research are encouraged to apply for a stipend or University academic credit through the office’s research programs.

Summer research opportunities include:

First-Year Summer Research Program — designed to support first-year undergraduate students planning to partake in faculty members’ research activities during the summer.

Undergraduate Summer Research and Creative Activity Program — open to all undergraduate students of all majors who intend to partake in research activities of UT faculty.

Toledo Internship Program — allows students to apply what they’ve learned in class through hands-on experience in law, politics, finance, public relations, neighborhood development, transportation and other public affairs areas. Participants will work in the Toledo mayor’s office and in another city office for the duration of their internships.

Research Travel Grant Program — supports UT students involved in research outside the Toledo area, while studying abroad, or away to assist in research at other locations. Additionally, the program provides travel assistance for students who wish to present their research at professional conferences, and funding for students to publish their work in professional journals.

For more information or to apply, click here, call 419.530.2983 or email undergraduate.research@utoledo.edu.

Internal Audit and Compliance Department to oversee Title IX starting March 1

Beginning March 1, the University’s Title IX compliance efforts will shift administratively to the UT’s Audit and Compliance Department.

For the last several years, Title IX had been housed in Human Resources and Talent Development.

The U.S. Justice Department explains Title IX as a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Its profile has expanded at universities across the country in recent years as institutions increase their focus on preventing and addressing sexual assault and harassment on their campuses.

UT President Sharon L. Gaber expressed her thanks to Jovita Thomas-Williams, vice president and chief human resources officer, for her leadership to elevate Title IX efforts to match university best practices across the country.

“Jovita, in partnership with Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs, has led the integration of student, staff and faculty Title IX response into a single organizational structure, has coordinated an external assessment of Title IX by Ballard Spahr, and has started to initiate the firm’s suggested improvements,” Gaber said.

Given UT’s progress, Gaber said it is the right time to realign Title IX into the Audit and Compliance Department, under the leadership of David Cutri, director of internal audit and chief compliance officer.

Cutri highlighted the recent hiring of Clery Act Compliance Officer Meredith Blaine and said partnering Title IX and Clery Act compliance created many natural efficiencies for UT.

Cutri said he is working closely with Thomas-Williams during the transition, which started a few weeks ago.

“Title IX is at the core of maximizing our student experience, keeping our entire University community safe, and enabling students to maximize their potential,” Cutri said. “We will be working to ensure UT students, employees and community members recognize the benefits of Title IX compliance and the University’s steadfast commitment to it.”

Cutri also is working to finalize the hiring of a Title IX coordinator who would oversee the efforts of three deputy coordinators responsible for student, staff and faculty Title IX concerns.

UT student organization collecting donations for Flint

People across the country have given donations to help the residents of Flint, Mich., after their water was contaminated by lead. This tragedy has spurred a student organization at The University of Toledo into action.

The Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants is collecting monetary and water donations for the American Red Cross to help supply Flint residents with clean water.

PA_Student_Patch_2009Monetary donations are preferred and will go toward buying filters and bottled water, according to Nick Parodi, director of external affairs for the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

“We know how significant a problem this is for the people of Flint,” said Parodi, a student in UT’s Physician Assistant Program. “It’s very much the right thing to do.”

The Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants has received help from the Muslim Students Association, as well as the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center.

Parodi also would like to organize opportunities for UT students to volunteer with the Red Cross in Flint.

“I know the UT community well,” said Parodi, who completed his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology at the University. “The passion really exists. The students care. The faculty care. The innate empathy we have for our fellow citizens is one of the core tenants of the UT mission — helping others.”

Those interested in donating to the cause or volunteering in Flint can contact Parodi at nicholas.parodi@rockets.utoledo.edu.

Rocket wide receiver invited to NFL combine

Former Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell has been invited to participate in the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this week.

Russell, who is one of just five players from the Mid-American Conference to be invited to the combine, is scheduled to report Thursday, Feb. 25, and work out with other wide receivers Saturday, Feb. 27.

Senior wide receiver Alonzo Russell hauled in three passes for 43 yards in the UT victory.

Wide receiver Alonzo Russell pulled in 24 touchdown catches during his career and is second in that category on UT’s all-time list.

He was a four-time All-MAC receiver for the Rockets, earning second-team all-league honors in 2015. He is only the second Rocket ever to earn All-MAC honors four times. The other two were former NFL offensive lineman Nick Kaczur (2001 to 2004) and current Dallas Cowboy safety Barry Church (2006 to 2009).

Russell caught 202 passes in his career, which ranks fifth on UT’s all-time list. He also ranks third in receiving yards with 3,076 and second in touchdown catches with 24.

He set the school record by catching at least one pass in 50 straight games, every game in his college career.

The NFL Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, April 28-30, in Chicago.

Nominations sought for Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award

The University of Toledo is seeking nominations for the Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award until Tuesday, March 1, at 5 p.m.

Since 1985, this award has recognized full-time faculty members who have contributed to the University through outstanding research, scholarship and creative activity in any of the academic disciplines.

Business Hlogo 1c Black“Developing and sustaining a vigorous research program requires dedication and focus, and the Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award offers an opportunity to recognize the truly noteworthy contributions of UT faculty,” said Vice President for Research William Messer.

Any full-time faculty member who made valuable contributions during his or her time at the University and has not received the award in the past is eligible. Both self-nominations and peer-nominations are being accepted.

Nominations must include:

• The nature and significance of the research, scholarship or creative activity upon which the nomination is based;

• The impact of the research, scholarship or creative activity on the nominee’s area of specialization;

• How the research, scholarship or creative activity was presented and disseminated to the nominee’s peers and to the wider professional community;

• Awards, honors or other recognition of the significance of the research, scholarship or creative activity;

• Support received for the nominee’s activities; and

• A complete curriculum vitae and signed and dated letters of recommendation (reprints, books and posters will not be accepted).

The Outstanding Research and Scholarship Selection Committee, which consists of past winners of this award, will review all materials. Messer will present the committee’s recommendations to the provost.

“I am proud of the high-quality research and scholarship of UT faculty who have established themselves as leaders in their areas of expertise. This is a great opportunity to recognize the impact that UT faculty research has on our community,” Messer said.

Winners will receive $1,500 and formal recognition at the Outstanding Awards Reception Monday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the Radisson Hotel Grand Ballroom on Health Science Campus.

A list of past winners and the nomination form are available here.

Nomination forms and questions should be submitted to ofrsa@utoledo.edu.

Provide feedback on provost candidates

The Provost Search Committee is asking for your feedback on the four candidates for provost and executive vice president for academic affairs who visited campus recently to engage with the UT community.

Dr. Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for diversity and community at the University of Arkansas, was the final candidate to come to UT when he held open forums Feb. 18 and discussed the importance of cultivating diversity and diversity literacy in higher education and strategies to engage faculty in more research, and improve student retention and graduation rates.

Dr. Donald Siegel, dean of the School of Business at the University of Albany, State University of New York, also visited campus last week for open forums Feb. 17 when he discussed the need for a university to have an entrepreneurial spirit and to capitalize on faculty strengths to move the institution forward.

Dr. Christopher Keil McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Northern Illinois University, was the first finalist on campus Feb. 10 when he held open forums to discuss the importance of creating a shared vision and turning that vision into reality and the role of the provost to facilitate that process.

Dr. Andrew Hsu, dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State University, participated in forums Feb. 12 when he discussed his interest in providing deans the support they need to improve student success and research opportunities, and the role of a provost to provide the strategic resources to do so.

Each candidate gave a presentation of about 30 minutes followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer period with the audience during one forum on Main Campus and another on Health Science Campus. To watch the open forums, visit utoledo.edu/offices/provost/provostsearch.

The feedback form also is included for each candidate on the website requesting comments.

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to hold public session at Law Center Feb. 24

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, based in Washington, D.C., will hold a public session in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 9:30 a.m.

The session at the UT College of Law is part of the Court’s Off-Site Court Program.

web Veterans court of appeals logoThe court’s session accompanies a visit by Eugene R. Fidell, visiting lecturer at Yale Law School and attorney for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in his pending court martial. Fidell will deliver the Order of the Coif Distinguished Lecture titled “Military Justice and Its Reform” Tuesday, Feb. 23, in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is a federal court with exclusive jurisdiction over final decisions by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, an entity within the Department of Veterans Affairs. The court provides veterans an impartial judicial forum for review of administrative decisions by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals that are adverse to the veteran-appellant’s claim of entitlement to benefits for service-connected disabilities, survivor benefits and other benefits, including education payments and waiver of indebtedness.

Three of the court’s seven judges will preside over oral arguments at the College of Law. The panel may include 1973 College of Law alumnus Alan G. Lance Sr., who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush in 2004.

More information is available on the court’s website and the College of Law website.

Fellow/associate professor to present research Feb. 24

In a time period known for Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, a University of Toledo professor focuses on a little-known widowed woman.

Dr. Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, associate professor of history and Humanities Institute Fellow, will present “The World of Westover: Gender and Slavery in Revolutionary Virginia” Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m. in the Libbey Hall dining room.



The free, public event will feature the research she’s conducted on Mary Willing Byrd, the owner of Westover Plantation in Virginia during the American Revolution era, for her manuscript, “The World of Westover: Mary Willing Byrd and Revolutionary Virginia,” as part of the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship she was awarded this year by the UT Humanities Institute.

“I am so grateful for this fellowship, because of the time and the funding it has offered me for my scholarly endeavors,” she said. “It’s given me a great opportunity to continue researching.”

Pflugrad-Jackisch will elaborate on Byrd’s story as a widowed woman running a plantation — a unique concept for the time period — when Gen. Benedict Arnold and Lord Charles Cornwallis overtook Westover. However, this talk will focus on Byrd’s interaction with her slaves, 49 of which escaped during the British invasion of her plantation during the Revolutionary War.

“I’m focusing on her role as a slave holder and her attempts to recover her lost slaves,” Pflugrad-Jackisch said. “She writes letters to anyone who will hear her to try to receive compensation for the loss of those slaves or get them returned if she can. I think this part of her life illustrates well both the limitations and the privileges of white women’s authority in an 18-century slave society like Virginia.”

The Humanities Institute in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences serves as an advocate and support for the study of human culture at UT. The institute’s fellowship program was created to assist individual tenured faculty in humanities fields to make substantive progress on a project. Recipients receive a release from teaching one course and a $3,000 research grant to be used during their fellowship.

With the remainder of her time and funds, Pflugrad-Jackisch said she plans to visit the Library of Virginia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she will study firsthand documents relating to Byrd.

“The Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship was created to help tenured faculty researchers in the humanities re-energize research that might have stalled because of the greater service burden that tenured faculty shoulder,” said Dr. Christina Fitzgerald, director of the institute and English professor.

The program is especially designed to help associate professors produce work that will qualify them for promotion to full professor, and to help both associate and full professors re-engage in professional activity. Fellows are then obliged to present their research.

“Dr. Pflugrad-Jackisch held her fellowship in the fall semester, so, in return, she is giving a public talk this semester on the research she completed,” Fitzgerald said. “Her work on Mary Willing Byrd and her world in Revolutionary America exemplifies the quality, relevance and importance of humanities research at UT, and I’m pleased she’s our first Fellow.”

Faculty members are encouraged to apply for next year’s fellowship by Monday, Feb. 29. For more information, contact the Humanities Institute at 419.530.4407 or humanitiesinstitute@utoledo.edu.