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President praised for strategic plan progress in annual review

Under President Sharon L. Gaber’s leadership, The University of Toledo has met the graduation rate goal set in the strategic plan three years ahead of schedule.

The six-year graduation rate for undergraduate students has increased nearly 9 percent over the last three years to its highest level in school history, according to preliminary data available. The graduation rate has the potential to increase as additional students graduate following the summer session.

Gaber

“We set an ambitious goal, and President Gaber accepted that challenge in her commitment to ensuring student success,” said Mary Ellen Pisanelli, chair of the UToledo Board of Trustees. “The University is stronger today because of her vision for our future and her sense of urgency and collaborative style getting everyone on board to accomplish it.”

The graduation rate was one of a number of successes praised by the Board of Trustees during the president’s annual review during the final board meeting of the fiscal year.

The trustees recognized Gaber for consecutive years of increased student retention rates and research awards during her tenure and two years of strong fundraising that exceeded goals.

Her leadership also was credited for the new brand, scheduled to launch July 1, that speaks confidently and boldly of UToledo with an emphasis on personal stories. It is part of Gaber’s focused effort to boost Rocket pride and the University’s national reputation, which has led to successfully recruiting the most academically prepared class of first-year students in school history.

“I am proud of the progress we have made together to advance The University of Toledo,” Gaber said. “It an honor to lead this great team. We would not have been able to accomplish all that we have without the dedicated individuals who are so committed to our students.”

As part of the performance review, the board voted to give the president a performance incentive, to be paid with private funds, per her five-year contract approved in 2018.

A nationally respected higher education leader, Gaber is one of the longest serving presidents among Ohio’s public colleges. She recently was selected to chair the Inter-University Council of Ohio, which represents the state’s 14 public universities. She serves on the NCAA Strategic Plan Committee and represents the Mid-American Conference on the NCAA Division 1 Presidential Forum.

Gaber also is a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, which is a network of 37 public urban research universities working to drive transformational change throughout their institutions and the communities they serve in partnership with the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities.

Trustees approve 2020 operating budget

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees approved June 17 a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 2020 that positions the institution to continue to make progress on its strategic priorities. The approximately $770 million budget includes an investment in the people who make UToledo successful.

Because the state of Ohio biennium operating budget continues to work through the legislature containing language that limits tuition and fee increases, the University’s budget leaves undergraduate tuition for continuing students not part of the Tuition Guarantee unchanged at this time. The board approved a resolution that authorizes UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber to modify tuition and fees if permitted by law.

The budget does include differential tuition increases in selected graduate and professional programs.

In an effort to make online programs more accessible, trustees approved a resolution to reduce the non-Ohio surcharge to just $5 per credit hour for students enrolled exclusively in online programs.

The budget reflects a 2 percent wage increases for professional staff and faculty members who are not part of a bargaining unit. University employees who are members of unions will receive increased compensation as determined by their collective bargaining agreements.

In other board action, two new undergraduate degrees in data analytics were approved and will be sent to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for consideration.

The bachelor of arts degree in data analytics in the College of Arts and Letters has an emphasis on social sciences and will prepare students for careers that focus on interpreting and applying structured data for clients. The bachelor of science degree in data science in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is designed to prepare students for careers that involve statistical tools to extract meaning from large data sets for specific applications.

Trustees also approved a reorganization of departments in the Judith Herb College of Education to combine programs into two areas — one related to teacher licensure and one focused on the study of education.

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Department of Early Childhood, Higher Education and Special Education will be combined and renamed the Department of Teacher Education. The Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and the faculty in the Higher Education and Education Technology programs will be combined and renamed the Department of Educational Studies.

At its final meeting of the fiscal year, the Board of Trustees elected officers for the 2019-20 year. Mary Ellen Pisanelli will continue to serve as chair, and Al Baker will continue as vice chair.

The June meeting completed the term of Sharon Speyer, president of the Northwest Ohio Region for Huntington National Bank. She was given the title of trustee emeritus, along with Steven Cavanaugh, who resigned upon beginning his new role as ProMedica’s chief financial officer. A proclamation also was read to recognize student trustee Hedyeh Elahinia, a junior in the Jesup Scott Honors College studying biology, who completed two years of service on the board.

UToledo alum, flight director for International Space Station leading NASA’s launch of commercial crew vehicle

After an eight-year hiatus, NASA is one step closer to rocketing its astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil, instead of buying seats aboard Russian spacecraft.

An alumnus of The University of Toledo will serve as flight director for the launch of the unmanned test flight of the Boeing Starliner slated for late August, about a month after the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Dr. Robert Dempsey, NASA flight director for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control in Houston, is leading the launch of a commercial crew vehicle. He received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from UToledo in 1987 and 1991. Image courtesy of Nasa

“The CST-100 Starliner is designed as a space taxi,” said Dr. Robert Dempsey, NASA flight director for the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control in Houston. “I’ve been working on this project for eight years, longer than it took me to earn my Ph.D. at The University of Toledo. I joke that I have a doctorate in Starliner now.”

Dempsey, who received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in physics from UToledo in 1987 and 1991, is working around the clock to train and troubleshoot for the upcoming launch, which — if successful — could lead to a crewed flight by the end of the year.

“I will be flight director for the rendezvous and docking,” Dempsey said. “I’m excited because the current timeframe means the Starliner would dock on my birthday, Aug. 18, which would be a cool present.”

The Starliner is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public-private partnership in which the agency contracted with Boeing and SpaceX to fly crews to the space station, an orbiting laboratory.

This NASA graphic shows the Boeing Starliner that is scheduled for an unmanned test flight in August. Dr. Robert Dempsey, UToledo alumnus, is the flight director for the launch.

The goal of the Commercial Crew Program is to have safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and foster commercial access to other potential low-Earth orbit destinations.

It’s an expansion of NASA’s success in unmanned cargo supply ships.

The vision is for private companies to someday fly customers to hotels in space and other celestial destinations.

“When we look at the space program, the Commercial Crew Program is one example of what to expect over the next 50 years,” Dempsey said. “NASA will focus strategically on big-vision projects like getting to Mars, but private companies can invest and develop technology for low-Earth orbit transportation. We’ll focus on the hard stuff at NASA so that down the road Boeing and SpaceX can launch commercial vehicles to take customers to the moon or Mars.”

Leading up to the debut launch of Starliner, Dempsey spends his time thinking of everything that could go wrong on the mission and figuring out how to fix it.

It’s familiar territory.

Dempsey started working at NASA 21 years ago when the agency was creating the International Space Station.

“We were about three years from launching the first piece of the space station,” Dempsey said. “The design was mostly done, but the software was immature. I helped out with finishing the software.”

It’s a dream career sparked 50 years ago by one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Dempsey was 6 years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon July 20, 1969.

“I remember watching the lunar landing on television and thinking, ‘I want to do that,’” Dempsey said. “I have never wavered. Here I am today doing that work.”

Toledo football launches Rocket Reading Program

The University of Toledo football team is launching the Rocket Football Reading Program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Rocket Football Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to read over the summer while working toward a special incentive. The reward for completing the program is one free ticket to the Toledo football home opener against Murray State Saturday, Sept. 14, as well as a special on-field recognition at the game.

There are three separate specialized categories: kindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grade, and sixth through eighth grade.

The deadline to complete and turn in the program is Friday, Sept. 6, at 5 p.m. at the Rocket Ticket Office in Savage Arena.

More information, including specifics for each age group, can be found on the Rocket Reading Program webpage.

For questions or further information, contact Adam Simpson at adam.simpson@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2482.

Nurse education history book published by UToledo Press receives award

“Caps, Capes, and Caring: The Legacy of Diploma Nursing Schools in Toledo” has won the 2018 Local History Publication Award in the Independent Scholar Division from the Bowling Green State University Center for Archival Collections.

Published by The University of Toledo Press, the book chronicles a century of nursing education in the Glass City.

Authors Patricia Ringos Beach, Susan J. Eisel, Maria E. Nowicki, Judy Harris Szor and Beth E. White will receive a $300 cash prize this fall at an event at Bowling Green, where they will discuss their work.

The BGSU contest was established to encourage and recognize authors of outstanding publications about northwest Ohio history.

This is the UToledo Press’ seventh award since 2006.

“This group of health-care professionals are so deserving of this honor,” Yarko Kuk, managing editor of the UToledo Press said. “They interviewed countless fellow nurses and produced a book that documents more than 100 years of the evolution of nursing schools in Toledo. The memories, stories and history contained in ‘Caps’ would have been lost were it not for the efforts of these dedicated women. Their book offers a wonderful peek into the field of nursing as it evolved over the past century.”

“Caps, Capes, and Caring” tells the story of the eight hospital-based diploma schools of nursing that were operating in Toledo from 1893 to 1999.

The authors, all hospital diploma school graduates, taught together as nursing faculty at the Toledo Hospital School of Nursing. Beach, Eisel, Nowicki and Szor are alumnae of MCO/MUO/UToledo, where they received advanced degrees in nursing and education.

To write the book, the authors interviewed nearly 100 Toledo diploma school graduates. Their memories and stories are celebrated in the book, which also includes historical images and photographs.

“I was a bit curious about how the book would turn out, considering we were working with five authors,” Kuk said. “When they initially pitched the book idea, they were describing something far different than the 320-plus-page work we have today. They thought it might be around 100 pages with about 100 photos. But as they turned in the manuscript, chapter by chapter, it became clear we had something really special. When I sat down with them after our first major edit of the entire draft and told them we were around 280 pages without photos, they just could not believe it. I had to tell them several times they had something really exceptional before it sank in.”

“We are so pleased to have won this award,” Beau Case, dean of University Libraries, said. “The prize both recognizes the hard work of Yarko Kuk and the authors, as well as the continued valuable contributions to local history that the Press makes.”

“Caps, Capes, and Caring: The Legacy of Diploma Nursing Schools in Toledo” is $24.95 and available on the website of The University of Toledo Press.

Toledo football announces ‘150 Rocket Challenge’ ticket promotion

The University of Toledo announced a new football season ticket initiative for the 2019 season, the “150 Rocket Challenge,” to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of college football.

The Rockets have set a goal to sell 150 new season ticket orders in the month of June. As part of the promotion, a limited number of Sideline A season tickets Section 25 will be available for only $150 until Sunday, June 30; that’s a savings of $45 per season ticket. Fans also can opt to purchase other season ticket packages with prices starting as low as $70.

New season ticket purchases in the month of June will be entered to win an autographed football from Head Coach Jason Candle. A new winner will be selected after every 25 season ticket packages sold for a total of six winners. Winners will be selected on Facebook live and Instagram stories.

All season tickets purchased by 5 p.m. Friday, June 7, will receive $10 in Gino dollars, redeemable at any Original Gino’s Pizza location in the Toledo area.

The University of Toledo is joining the celebration of the 150th anniversary of college football with special events throughout the 2019 season. The Rockets will host a 150th anniversary commemoration game in the Glass Bowl vs. Kent State Tuesday, Nov. 5. The first college football game was played Nov. 4, 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. Football began at The University of Toledo in 1917.

For more information, go to the Toledo Rockets’ website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office during business hours.

Men’s basketball coach signs contract extension through 2023-24 season

The University of Toledo and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk have reached an agreement that extends Kowalczyk’s contract through the 2023-24 season, UToledo Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike O’Brien announced today.

“Our men’s basketball program continues to thrive under Tod’s leadership,” O’Brien said. “His teams have consistently been among the elite programs in the Mid-American Conference, and we look forward to even greater success in the future. Just as importantly, Tod cares about his players as student-athletes, establishing an academic culture that is also at the top of the MAC.”

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk has signed a contract extension that will keep him on the court at UToledo through the 2023-24 season.

Kowalczyk recently completed his ninth season at Toledo and is third on the school’s all-time victory list with 167 wins. He has guided the Rockets to a 129-71 (.645) win-loss mark over the last six seasons, including a 25-8 record last season, the second most wins in school history. Kowalczyk also led Toledo to a school record 27-7 ledger in 2013-14.

During the 2018-19 season, Toledo captured its second consecutive MAC West Division title with a 13-5 league mark. The Rockets also earned a berth into the National Invitation Tournament.

“I am thankful for the opportunity given to me and my staff by President [Sharon L.] Gaber and Mike O’Brien,” Kowalczyk said. “We are extremely fortunate to have their support and leadership. I am proud of the program we have built here, and I am very excited about the prospects for next year’s team.”

In addition to winning on the court, the Rockets have achieved tremendous success in the classroom under Kowalczyk. Toledo earned the National Association of Basketball Coaches Team Academic Excellence Award for 2018-19, the fourth time in the last six seasons the Rockets have been so honored. Also, Toledo’s most recent Academic Progress Rate score of 979 ranked second among the 12 MAC men’s basketball programs.

Prior to becoming UToledo’s head coach, Kowalczyk posted a 136-112 record in eight years as Wisconsin-Green Bay’s head coach. The Phoenix advanced to post-season play and notched back-to-back 22-win seasons in his last two seasons. In addition, every player who completed his eligibility while Kowalczyk was Green Bay’s head coach received a degree.

A native of DePere, Wis., Kowalczyk and his wife, Julie, have two children, Race (12) and Rose (10).

UToledo’s ‘Beer Professor,’ alumni entrepreneurs to speak at craft beer lecture and tasting June 13

The community is invited to attend the Craft Beer Lecture and Tasting Thursday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at The University of Toledo Center for Alumni and Donor Engagement, located at 4510 Dorr St.

Dr. Neil Reid, UToledo professor of geography and planning, affectionately known as the “Beer Professor,” will speak about the growth of the craft beer industry and the factors driving that growth. He teaches a class titled The Geography of Beer and Brewing.

Reid

Reid’s latest research about the impact of craft breweries on home values was featured in publications across the country, including Food & Wine magazine and Better Homes and Gardens.

“America is in the middle of a craft beer revolution,” Reid said. “Craft breweries often locate in neighborhoods that were once economically distressed. Thanks to the arrival of the craft brewery and other investments by both the public and private sector, many of these neighborhoods have become revitalized. In fact, our analysis shows living within a half mile of a craft brewery increased the average value of a single-family home by almost 10 percent, using Charlotte, N.C., as a case study.”

Representatives from two Toledo breweries and UToledo alumni also will discuss their journey from home brewers to brewery owners. Keefe Snyder, who graduated from the College of Engineering in 2006 and the College of Law in 2010, is a co-owner of Earnest Brew Works. Aaron Grizaniuk, who graduated from University College in 2005, co-owns Patron Saints Brewery.

The event costs $20 a person and includes eight 3-oz. beer samples and appetizers. The tasting is for people 21 and older.

To register, go to the Alumni Association website or call the Office of Alumni Engagement at 419.530.2586.

The event is hosted by the UToledo Arts and Letters and Engineering Alumni Affiliates.

Creativity blossoms with University’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition

A small flock of enigmatic birds intently gaze across Centennial Mall. A wayward sea turtle suns itself near the southwest corner of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories. And a wave rolls between UToledo Medical Center and Mulford Library.

“Birdzels” by Mark Chatterley, “Turtle” by Jonathan Bowling and “Blue Wave” by Mike Sohikian are three of the 10 new works installed for The University of Toledo’s 14th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

Mark Chatterley’s “Birdzels” are perched on the west side of Centennial Mall.

“For me, ‘Birdzels’ were meant to be fun. They are a cross between anime, emojis and Angry Birds — with a little Snoop Dog mixed in,” Chatterley said and laughed. “They are made from high-fired clay with a crater glaze on the outside. I feel I am pushing the material to make it unrecognizable as clay.”

Bowling’s recycled reptile features a dredge scoop, railroad spikes, horseshoes and stove grates.

“Being able to make something from nothing is what I like to do,” Bowling said. “It’s economical, too.”

Thanks to the President’s Commission on Campus Design and Environment, new sculptures sprout up each spring.

“Big Blue X” by Brian Ferriby sits atop the hill west of University Hall, and Glenn Zweygardt’s stainless steel work titled “New Mexico Passage” shines on the west side of the Student Recreation Center.

Bernie Dominique’s geometric work “Four Square” can be found by the northeast side of Wolfe Hall, and Beau Bilenki’s engineering feat “Hole in One” is between Nitschke and Palmer halls.

A 250-pound fish flies near the University Parks Trail and Ottawa House with Michael Angelo Magnotta’s “Above the Waves.”

“My sculptures typically begin with a trip to the metal yard,” Magnotta said. “From the shapes and textures I rescue, a conversation takes place — a visual conversation — that results in my sculptures.”

“Turtle” by Jonathan Bowling sits near the southwest corner of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories.

Gregory Mendez’s forceful “Kometes” is located north of Ritter Planetarium, and Kenneth M. Thompson’s intricate “Laminated Stack, Triangle” sits on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building.

More than 180 artists submitted proposals to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, and the President’s Commission on Campus Design and Environment reviewed the entries and selected pieces for this year’s exhibit.

Since the exhibition began, more than 130 sculptures have rotated through the display on UToledo campuses, and several have become part of the University’s collection courtesy of campus benefactors, colleges and departments.

Those wishing to make a gift to support the exhibition are encouraged to contact the UT Foundation at utfoundation@utoledo.edu or 419.530.7730.

Pride at the Pavilion Social set for June 6

The University of Toledo LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate will host the Pride at the Pavilion Social Thursday, June 6.

UToledo alumni, employees, students, fans and friends are invited to attend the free, family-friendly event that will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the William and Carol Koester Alumni Pavilion, which is located northwest of the Glass Bowl.

“We are holding Pride at the Pavilion to honor LGBTQ+ Pride Month,” Ryan Wright, president of the LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate, said. “Pride Month was established to recognize and celebrate LGBTQ+ people across the globe for their accomplishments and the contributions and impact they have made.

“2019 Pride Month is especially significant because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. For a half-century this June, the LGBTQ+ community has been actively fighting for liberation,” he said. “With this event, we hope to unite our local LGBTQ+ community and our allies to join us in commemorating and celebrating this historic year and the transformative LGBTQ+ leaders of tomorrow.”

Hot dogs, chips and pop will be served, and there will be a cash bar for those 21 and older.

And there’ll be music and outdoor games, including cornhole.

“The Pride at the Pavilion Social is intended to be a casual gathering to mingle and have a good time with one another in the spirit of collectively celebrating our LGBTQ+ community,” Wright, an instructor in the UToledo American Language Institute, said. “And this event is unquestionably dog-friendly because they, too, are our friends and members of our families.”

Registrations are appreciated; go to the Alumni Association website.