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Archive for June, 2016

UT elected to association of top astronomy programs

The University of Toledo has been selected to join a prestigious association that includes many of the top astronomy programs in the nation.

In recognition of the astronomy and astrophysics program’s strengths in research, education and outreach, UT was admitted as the 41st member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which goes by the acronym AURA.

AURA copyAURA operates world-class astronomical observatories, including the National Science Foundation’s Gemini Observatory, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, National Optical Astronomy Observatory and National Solar Observatory, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Space Telescope Science Institute.

The association’s role is to establish, nurture and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research.

“We are impressed with your strong astronomy program and with your commitment to the future,” AURA President Matt Mountain wrote in his welcome letter to the University. “It is our mission to advance astronomy and related sciences, to articulate policy and respond to the priorities of the astronomical community, and to enhance the public understanding of science. We do this by developing and operating national and international centers that enable merit-based research by members of the astronomical community. I believe and trust that The University of Toledo and AURA have many goals and objectives in common.”

“It was very exciting to learn that our application was accepted and we were elected to become a member,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, dean of the UT College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy, and Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy. “If you look at the list of members of AURA, it really is a who’s who of some of the best astronomy programs in the country, and for us to be added to that list is a recognition of the level we have been striving to reach.”

AURA was founded in 1957 and has had a strong role in providing input and guidance on matters of astronomy policy.

“It is one of the most important voices for professional astronomers in the United States to have input on decisions made on astronomy in this country,” said Bjorkman, who will serve as UT’s member representative to AURA.

In addition to the now 41 U.S. institutional members, AURA also receives input from four international affiliates in Chile, Japan and Australia. Having a voice at the table on the future of astronomy is key, as are the opportunities for UT faculty and students who will benefit from interactions with colleagues at AURA member universities, Bjorkman said.

UT qualified for membership because of its robust research efforts that include undergraduate and graduate students who experience hands-on training. That research also gets communicated to the community through strong outreach programs via the Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory, Bjorkman said.

“We have a program that has intentionally intertwined education, research and outreach,” she said. “The research we do gets communicated back to the community and to the students and to the public. That is an important responsibility of scientists.”

The astronomy and astrophysics programs are housed within UT’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Some examples of the group’s many competitive achievements include two researchers who were among the first to access the European Space Agency’s Herschel far-infrared space-based telescope to study the creation of stars and life cycles of galaxies. Dr. Tom Megeath, UT professor of astronomy, led the Herschel Orion Protostar Survey (HOPS), and Dr. J.D. Smith, associate professor of astronomy, led a team in the Key Insights on Nearby Galaxies: A Far Infrared Survey with Herschel (KINGFISH).

During the past eight years, astronomy researchers at UT have received more than $7.6 million in external funding, primarily from the National Science Foundation and NASA, with a number of discoveries earning national attention.

In 2012, UT entered into a 10-year science partnership with the Lowell Observatory for guaranteed access to the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope, which provides additional opportunities for research and allows students to become involved in conducting observations at a major facility.

“Astronomy is a science that really gets people excited,” Bjorkman said. “Even if people don’t become astronomers, they get excited about science at young ages and that helps with curiosity and scientific literacy that is important in whatever they do.”

Associate professor selected to serve national medical research agency

An immunology expert at The University of Toledo has been named to a National Institute of Health study section to help select research projects for federal funding.

Dr. Viviana Ferreira, associate professor of medical microbiology and immunology, will serve as a member of the NIH Innate Immunology and Inflammation Study Section, part of the Center for Scientific Review.

Ferreira

Ferreira

“It is truly an honor to be selected as a member of the study section,” Ferreira said. “It’s also a great responsibility that requires a commitment to stay ahead of the cutting-edge research that is happening in the biomedical field.”

Members are selected based on their demonstrated competence and achievement in their specific area of study. Ferreira was chosen for her expertise in the field of the complement system, a central component of the innate immune system and other soluble host defense proteins and their regulation.

Study sections are a part of the rigorous scientific merit peer review process of grant applications for science researchers. Members score grant applications for their scientific merit and make recommendations to the appropriate NIH advisory council or board for the next phase of review.

“There is fierce competition for research funding, and the review process is highly selective,” Ferreira said. “Only 5 to 15 percent of grant applications received are actually funded. It is a challenge to select only a handful of recipients when there is so much great research happening across the country.”

Ferreira will serve the study section from July 2016 through June 2020.

Mail call: New route schedule to begin July 1

Planning to send out invitations? Expecting to receive an invoice?

Starting Friday, July 1, Mail Services will introduce new routes that will provide modified pickup and drop-off time frames at specific locations in buildings on Main, Health Science and Scott Park campuses.

The new schedules will be posted at utoledo.edu/offices/auxiliary/mailservices.

Mail Services staff members were looking for ways to be more efficient, according to Joy Seifert, director of the Office of Auxiliary Services.

“The staff wanted to streamline the delivery and pickup process to create consistency for our customers, so we created the new delivery schedule,” she said. “We’ll start the revised routes this week and fine-tune the schedule and update it as needed online.”

Those who have questions are encouraged to contact Seifert at joy.seifert@utoledo.edu.

web UHall mailroom

College of Medicine and Life Sciences introduces revised mission statement

The College of Medicine and Life Sciences has revised its mission, vision and values to reflect the evolving educational, clinical and research goals of the college.

The revised mission accompanies an updated vision for the college, meant to reflect the academic affiliation between the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and ProMedica and the ongoing effort to develop educational programs and sponsored research of national prominence.

College of medicineBoth statements reflect the college’s core values of professionalism, service, diversity, collaboration and discovery.

“We want all College of Medicine and Life Sciences employees, faculty and learners to embrace and demonstrate our common values each day,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine. “The revised mission and vision statements frame the organizational culture of the college and will influence our success in achieving our educational, clinical and research imperatives.”

The new mission and vision statements were developed by a committee of faculty and executive leaders from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and UT Medical Center. The group also has worked to redefine the organizational imperatives and goals the college is working to accomplish; these include ongoing implementation of the academic affiliation with ProMedica; successful recruitment and retention of high-quality faculty, staff, residents and students; ongoing training and development for faculty and leaders; and strong fiscal stewardship to achieve the mission.

College of Medicine and Life Sciences
Mission Statement

We improve health in the communities and region we serve by educating excellent clinicians and scientists, providing patient-centered and high-quality care, and producing nationally recognized research in focused areas.

Vision Statement

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, with its partner ProMedica, is nationally recognized for education and focused research, and regionally distinguished for comprehensive clinical care.

Students dig into Toledo’s prehistoric past during Archaeology Field School at Wildwood [video]

If you walk the red trail at Wildwood Preserve Metropark, you may catch a glimpse of University of Toledo students armed with shovels, trowels and dust pans on an archaeological dig.

Dr. Melissa Baltus, archaeologist and assistant professor of anthropology, is running the UT Archaeological Field School on a flat terrace overlooking I-475 as a summer class to combine hands-on learning of archaeology techniques and local history research.

Recent UT graduate Michael Campbell and UT junior Brianna Geer took measurements at the excavation site at Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

Recent UT graduate Michael Campbell and UT junior Brianna Geer took measurements at the excavation site at Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

“It’s an active field research project to explore our understanding of the prehistoric period of northwest Ohio from right here in Toledo,” Baltus said. “We’re focused on learning more about social interactions between different groups of people and the creation of local community identity during the Late Woodland Period, between A.D. 700 and 1300.”

With permission from the Metroparks of the Toledo Area and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the UT class is testing the area for evidence of past human habitation, such as house structures or refuse pits.

“Metroparks encourages research, especially where findings will continually build on existing knowledge and assist in the dissemination of information through education,” said Karen Menard, research and monitoring supervisor for Metroparks of the Toledo Area.

Dr. Melissa Baltus, archaeologist and UT assistant professor of anthropology, sifted through the soil from the excavation site at Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

Dr. Melissa Baltus, archaeologist and UT assistant professor of anthropology, sifted through the soil from the excavation site at Wildwood Preserve Metropark.

“The Metroparks aren’t just preserving the natural environment, they’re preserving cultural resources, too,” Baltus said. “This high, flat area overlooking a stream would’ve been a nice place to live.”

Students are receiving training in excavation techniques, record keeping, artifact identification, processing, cataloguing and classification.

“We’ve already uncovered a few artifacts, including pottery, arrowheads, spear points and small pieces of burnt and broken bones,” said Jacalyn Deselms, a UT graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in sociology. “Those show evidence of hunting and cooking.”

“It’s awesome to be able to do this as an undergraduate,” said Brianna Geer, a UT junior majoring in anthropology, as she scrapes layers of sandy soil with a trowel. “It’s physically rewarding. We’re putting a lot of work into what we’re learning. I want my career to be working at dig sites around the world. I ultimately dream of working in museums and creating my own exhibits.”

“This experience is helping me gain the knowledge and skill set I need to to take me further into archaeology,” said recent history graduate Michael Campbell.

High school teachers take chemistry lab classes at UT for College Credit Plus training

It may be summer vacation, but a group of teachers from school districts across Ohio is spending the week as students with goggles, beakers and chemicals in a science lab at The University of Toledo.

Since March, UT has been training dozens of high school teachers through online classes to teach college courses in biology, chemistry or English as part of an expansion of the statewide College Credit Plus Program.

college credit plus logoOhio’s College Credit Plus Program allows seventh- through 12th-grade students to earn high school credit and college credit at the same time for free.

19 high school teachers have been working online to earn qualifications to teach college-level chemistry in their classrooms. 16 of them will be on Main Campus this week for lab classes with UT instructors.

The chemistry students are teachers from Toledo Public Schools, Belleaire City Schools, Celina City Schools, Centerburg Local Schools, Copley-Fairlawn City Schools, East Muskingum Local Schools, Fayetteville-Perry Local Schools, Findlay City Schools, Indian Valley Local Schools, Lakota Local Schools, Morgan Local Schools, Shadyside Local Schools, Triway Local Schools and Steubenville High School.

English and biology students will take classes on Main Campus at the end of July.

Last year the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education awarded UT $769,000 in grants to develop programs and pay for up to 40 high school teachers to earn a master’s degree needed to teach college-level chemistry, biology or English courses in their high school classrooms.

“By credentialing dozens of high school teachers in our area to teach college courses, we are expanding higher education opportunities for more children,” said Dr. Rebecca Schneider, professor and chair of UT’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the Judith Herb College of Education.

The teachers who began the 18-month program in March are expected to begin teaching College Credit Plus courses in fall 2017.

Trustees approve 2017 operating budget

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees approved June 20 an operating budget for fiscal year 2017 that stabilizes and strengthens the University’s financial foundation.

The $737.8 million operating budget is conservative with revenue based on 2016 enrollment and patient volume and reduced expenses through budget stabilization efforts taken earlier this year.

“This is a fiscally responsible budget that puts us in a stronger position moving forward to face the challenges and opportunities ahead,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Our increased focus on attracting, retaining and recruiting students should lead to enrollment growth on our campuses; however, it was important for the institution to base this budget on our existing enrollment to establish a strong financial foundation not only for the coming year, but to build upon as we move into the future.”

The balanced budget reflects stabilization efforts called for by the president including a 1.5 percent reduction to the operating budget for fiscal year 2016 and 3 percent to the entire budget for fiscal year 2017, which reduced operating expenses by about $12 million. The cuts for 2017 already have been enacted.

The 2016-17 budget includes no undergraduate tuition and general fee increases and no increase in graduate tuition, with the exception of the 2 percent increase for the third and fourth years of the Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Trustees previously approved a 2 percent increase in residence halls fees, and the budget includes a 2 percent increase in meal plan fees to cover additional costs.

Professional staff will receive a 2 percent wage increase. Senior administrators will defer 2 percent increases until January contingent on positive enrollment growth. Pay increases for union salary groups are included according to collective bargaining agreements.

For the clinical operations, net patient revenue is based on 2016 actual patient volume, and the budget reflects a reduction in operating expenses due to drug program savings and supply chain management pricing.

strategic plan cover“In recent years the University has experienced changes in leadership, enrollment, state support and the health-care market, and we’ve accounted for those challenges and opportunities in a way that focuses our efforts on serving students and patients and supporting UT’s quality faculty and staff,” said Lawrence Kelley, who was recently named the University’s executive vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer after holding the position on an interim basis since November.

Trustees also approved a Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion. The plan is the culmination of an eight-month process led by Dr. Willie McKether that engaged students, faculty, staff and members of the external community. McKether will lead the implementation of the plan as he starts his new role as vice president for diversity and inclusion July 1.

In addition, the trustees approved a collective bargaining agreement with The University of Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association that includes a 2 percent wage increase in the first and second years of the contract and a reopening of wage negotiations in year three. The 28-member union ratified the contract April 23.

The board elected officers for the 2016-17 year. Sharon Speyer will continue to serve as chair, and Steven Cavanaugh will remain vice chair.

The June meeting also completed the service of Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, UT professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, who was named to the UT Board of Trustees in 2007. Daniel Arendt, a student trustee in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program, also was recognized for his two years of service to the board.

New College of Arts and Letters to advance collaboration opportunities

The new College of Arts and Letters will increase collaborative opportunities for faculty and students across the humanities, social sciences, and visual and performing arts.

The college, which was approved June 20 by the UT Board of Trustees, is a merger of the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences and the College of Communication and the Arts.

“The liberal arts are the core of any great university, and bringing closer together the students and faculty from these many disciplines will provide additional opportunities to recognize and enhance those areas of study both at the University and in the community,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said.

Dr. Jamie Barlowe, dean of the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, will serve as dean of the College of Arts and Letters effective July 1.

“The new College of Arts and Letters allows us to recognize, promote and expand cross-disciplinary relationships and opportunities to benefit students,” Barlowe said. “By strengthening our ties, we can build on our current accomplishments and initiate creative new ones.”

The College of Arts and Letters will serve 1,900 students majoring in disciplines such as the humanities, economics, foreign languages, psychology, communication, theatre and music, as well as the more than 14,500 students enrolled in general education classes taught by faculty in the college.

The college will include a School of Visual and Performing Arts, and Debra Davis, currently the dean of the College of Communication and the Arts, will serve as director and continue to build relationships in the community and support programming.

The college administration will consist of a senior associate dean and two associate deans. Dr. Barbara Schneider will serve as the senior associate dean, a title she currently holds in the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, and will focus on communication, humanities and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Holly Monsos will be the associate dean focusing on the arts, continuing a similar role she holds as an associate dean in the College of Communication and the Arts. The final associate dean will focus on social and behavioral sciences. That position has not yet been filled, but it will be a promotion of an existing UT faculty member, Barlowe said.

Faculty committees from each of the colleges are continuing to work through the summer on a new constitution and bylaws for the college, faculty council and committee on academic personnel.

Barlowe joined UT in 1990. She was the founding chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and also is a professor in the Department of English.

She was named an associate dean in 2011 and became interim dean later that year. Barlowe, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Ohio State University, was appointed dean in May 2012.

UT CommunityCare Clinic to host second annual golf tournament in July

The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ CommunityCare Clinic will hold its second annual golf tournament Saturday, July 16, at 1:30 p.m. at Heather Downs Country Club, 3910 Heatherdowns Blvd.

The tournament is a fundraiser for the clinic, which is run by health science graduate students and medical students from UT.

CommunityCare Clinic golf flyer“The CommunityCare Clinic provides free care to underinsured or uninsured,” said Saloni Mathur, second-year medical student and director of public relations for the clinic. “One of the ways we can do that is by fundraising. Our golf tournament is one of our biggest fundraisers; we’re hoping to get as much exposure as possible and get as many people to donate or come and play.”

The CommunityCare Clinic works to provide basic medical care to the underserved populations in the Toledo community. In addition to routine wellness visits, the main clinic offers services such as occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, HIV testing and a women’s clinic. Students also work with psychiatrists and social workers to provide mental health services.

Last year’s event allowed for the addition of a physician-supervised traveling clinic, which stops around Toledo to provide basic health-care services closer to home.

Mathur said the main focus with the money raised during this year’s event will be keeping the weekly clinic running as usual, though opportunities to grow would be welcomed.

“We are always looking for expansion, and we like to get involved in other health-care organizations or events. We are putting on a health-care event for migrant workers who have come into the United States and still don’t have insurance or don’t yet have their citizenship. We have clinics we will be holding specifically for migrants, though all of our clinics are open and no questions asked.”

Mathur said the ability to work at the clinic is invaluable in terms of out-of-class experience. Especially with the traveling clinic, the opportunity to meet Toledo residents and take that classroom learning to the real world takes the education a step further.

“You get to meet people who live in Toledo, not just people you go to school with. We are all students; we want to learn. Sitting in class is one way to do that; this is a great way to get hands-on experience. For those students who haven’t yet completed their rotations, they can finally put what they’re learning in the class to practical use so, by the time they get to rotation, they’ve already given a physical, they’ve already been able to take a history. They’re 10 steps ahead of those who haven’t.”

Dinner will be served after the golf tournament concludes. Casual attire is recommended, as well as non-metal spikes.

The deadline to register for the tournament is Friday, July 8. Cost is $75 per person or $60 per person for students.

To register or to see sponsorship opportunities, go to http://utole.do/communitycareclinic.

For more information on the CommunityCare Clinic, go to utcommunitycare.org.

Incoming UT freshmen in multicultural scholars program to start classes

On Saturday, 32 incoming freshmen at The University of Toledo cut their summer vacation short to get a head start on college life.

Students accepted into the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Summer Bridge and Living Learning Community Program June 25 to participate in a two-day orientation. The program begins Monday, June 27, and runs through Friday, Aug. 5.

Business Hlogo 1c BlackThis is the second year of the six-week program that supports student success in their first year of college as they transition from high school. The goal is to get students acclimated to the academic, social and cultural life on campus in order to boost retention and graduation rates, as well as promote academic excellence and college readiness.

“90 percent of the incoming freshmen who took part in the pilot session of this program last summer are returning to UT as sophomores this fall. That is higher than the University’s overall retention rate,” Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion, said. “Plus, students from last year’s program are now leaders on campus. Five students will serve as peer mentors for this year’s program.”

Students take four courses together in the summer and earn eight credit hours toward their UT degree requirements. During the six-week summer program, each student will be enrolled in a series of classes, including Composition I, Cultural Anthropology, Learning to Serve and Math Camp.

“When the fall rolls around, these students will be ready to hit the ground running on the first day of the semester,” McKether said. “They will have already formed connections with fellow students who share similar academic goals and attitudes.”

The entering freshmen will receive an $8,000 scholarship to cover tuition, books, housing and meals for the six weeks of summer class. To continue their momentum in the Emerging Scholars Living Learning Community, they will continue to stay in the same residence hall for the 2016-17 academic year.

Students in the summer session also will take a variety of trips to help enhance their understanding and appreciation of their own culture and the Toledo community. Visits will include the Toledo Museum of Art, Cherry Street Mission, UT Lake Erie Center and Toledo City Council.