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Memorial service set for retired University administrator

Friends of Dr. William McMillen are invited to remember the longtime University employee Thursday, Feb. 28, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Coyle Funeral Home, 1770 S. Reynolds Road, Toledo.

The celebration of life and sharing of memories will begin at 3:30 p.m.


McMillen, who worked at MCO/MUO/UT from 1982 until his retirement in 2012, died Nov. 23 at age 71.

The Perrysburg resident most recently served as interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs in 2010 and delayed his retirement to take the post permanently in 2011.

He was vice president for government relations for both UT and MUO from 2005 to 2006; he played a pivotal role in navigating the legislative process that led to the merger of the two institutions. In addition, he oversaw the legislation in the state general assembly that changed the name from the Medical College of Ohio to the Medical University of Ohio.

McMillen held a variety of senior-level positions at MCO involving government relations, fundraising, communications and affirmative action while serving four presidents. In addition, he was secretary of the MCO Board of Trustees for 10 years and received a community-based appointment in the Department of Psychiatry in 1994.

At UT, he worked on initiatives in strategic planning, sustainability, economic development, and relations with the Ohio Board of Regents. McMillen also led efforts for a successful accreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission.

Ever the writer, McMillen penned a play, “First Do No Harm,” which premiered in 2018 through the Toledo Repertoire Theatre’s Toledo Voices. He also wrote fiction and nonfiction, including the books “From Campus to Capitol” (2010) and “Sticks” (2000). And he wrote a government relations column, “The Party Line,” for The Chronicle of Higher Education under the pseudonym Peter Onear.

The family suggests tributes to the UT College of Arts and Letters General Scholarship Fund through the UT Foundation website.

Late jazz faculty member to be celebrated with special concert Feb. 20

UT students and faculty members will honor jazz pianist Tad Weed with a special concert.

“Tad Remembered” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.


Weed, associate professor of music, lost his battle with cancer Aug. 22. He was 61. He joined the UT faculty as an assistant professor of jazz piano in 2011 and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2017. Weed taught jazz piano, arranging and improvisation, and was co-director of Vocalstra, a vocal jazz ensemble founded by legendary singer Jon Hendricks.

Leonard Feather acknowledged Weed’s career in “The Encyclopedia of Jazz.” Feather wrote, “…pianist Weed displays a very rare ability to cross over from dashing bop lines to rich impressions, he has all of the bases covered from funky blues to the border of the avant-garde.”

Weed’s discography contains more than 30 recordings that feature his playing, arrangements and compositions. He toured with Anita O’Day and Carmen McRae; for more than a decade, he was the music director for Paul Anka. The list of artists he performed with included Chaka Khan, Jack Jones, Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Morgan and David (Fathead) Newman.

The concert will feature a host of performers: the UT Student Jazz Combo and UT music alumni, including Matt and Atla DeChamplain, Will Bennett, the group Talking Ear, Estar Cohen, Travis Aukerman, Ben Maloney and Dan Palmer.

UT music faculty also will perform: Norm Damschroder, Ellie Martin, Dr. Olman E. Piedra and Jay Weik.

An added treat will be a special video encore of Weed performing with UT music student Isabella Weik.

Songs to be performed include “The Road Leads,” music by Weed with lyrics by Cohen; “Cowboy Poetry Life” by Weed; “Just One of Those Things” by Cole Porter; and “When You Wish Upon a Star” by Cliff Edwards.

This performance is the 2019 Art Tatum Memorial Scholarship Concert. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the scholarship program.

Tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for UT employees, alumni, senior citizens, and veterans and members of the military; and $5 for students and children. Tickets are available at the door, but purchasing them in advance is recommended. They are available on the School of Visual and Performing Arts website, or by calling the Center for Performing Arts Box Office at 419.530.ARTS (2787).

During the concert, parking is free in the lot across from the Center for Performing Arts.

Transgender pianist to visit campus for evening of conversation and music Feb. 19

Pianist Sara Davis Buechner is coming to town to perform with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22 and 23. Before that, she will stop at the UT Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall to chat with students, faculty and community fans Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.

At this event — co-sponsored by the UT Department of Music, the UT Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra — Buechner will share her experiences as a musician and the inspiring story of how her gender transformation impacted her career. A Steinway also will be on hand in case she feels moved to give a concert preview.


Buechner also will present a master class for students Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m., in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Admission to the talk and the master class is free.

Noted for her musical command, cosmopolitan artistry and visionary independence, Buechner is lauded for her “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess” (The New York Times), “thoughtful artistry in the full service of music” (The Washington Post), and “astounding virtuosity” (The Philippine Star). Japan’s InTune Magazine summed up: “Buechner has no superior.”

Buechner has performed in every state and province of North America — as recitalist, chamber musician and soloist with top orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra; and in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and the Hollywood Bowl. She has toured throughout Latin and South America and Europe; and she has a special following in Asia, where she has been a featured soloist with the Sydney Symphony, New Zealand Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic and Shanghai Philharmonic, among others.

Buechner has released numerous acclaimed recordings of rare piano music by composers such as Rudolf Friml (“a revelation” — The New York Times), Dana Suesse, Joseph Lamb, Joaquín Turina, Miklós Rózsa and Ferruccio Busoni. Stereophile magazine selected her Gershwin CD as Recording of the Month, and her interpretation of Hollywood piano concertos won Germany’s coveted Deutsches Schauplatten Preis. Most recently, her recorded traversal of the score to Carl Dreiser’s 1925 silent movie classic, “Master of the House,” is available on Criterion Collection DVD.

She joined the faculty of Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in 2016, after previously teaching at the Manhattan School of Music, New York University and the University of British Columbia. She has presented master classes and workshops at major pedagogic venues worldwide, adjudicated international piano competitions, and is a contributing editor for Dover Publications International.

As a proud transgender woman, Buechner appears as a speaker and performer at LGBTQ events and has contributed interviews and articles about her experience to numerous media outlets worldwide.

UT’s Center of Muslim Women to be topic of Feb. 19 lunch

Last fall, the UT Women’s and Gender Studies Department opened the Center of Muslim Women.

The center is housed within the Women’s and Gender Studies Department in University Hall.


Campus and community members are invited to learn more about the center Tuesday, Feb. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. during a lunch program hosted by the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women. The free event will be held in Tucker Hall Room 015.

The center is a college-based entity serving the University and community as a resource center, a hub for programming, a research forum, and a gathering and support space for all UT students, faculty, staff and local residents interested in Muslim women’s issues.

“The center shall promote an understanding of Muslim women’s rights domestically and internationally,” said Dr. Asma Abdel-Halim, UT associate professor of women’s and gender studies, and director of the center. “We hope that it also creates interaction with all professional groups and individuals who have an interest in women’s issues and gender in Islam.”

Abdel-Halim said the center’s creation was possible with the support of Dr. S. Amjad Hussain, UT professor emeritus of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, and former member of the University Board of Trustees; Dr. Sharon Barnes, professor and chair of the UT Department of Women’s and Gender Studies; and Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters.

A hope for the center is to create an inclusive environment working on different objectives, including but not limited to assisting students studying women in Islam to connect with experts at the University and in the community.

“The center is intended to utilize faculty and staff expertise in Muslim women’s status, gender and feminist issues to build a resource site for sharing knowledge and in-depth discussion of Muslim women, their issues and their lives,” Abdel-Halim said. “It is also intended to assist Muslim women students, faculty and staff in taking their place in the community, and to dismiss myths about them, their religion and their traditions.”

In addition, Abdel-Halim said the center will raise awareness about complex, intersectional issues of gender, religion, global location and culture among Muslim people.

For more information on the center, contact Abdel-Halim at asma.abdel-halim@utoledo.edu

History scholar awarded fellowship to write book about female plantation owner during American Revolution

A history scholar at The University of Toledo has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) that will allow her to spend the 2019-20 academic year writing the history of Mary Willing Byrd, one of the few women who ran a large plantation in the early American South.

Dr. Ami Pflugrad-Jackisch, associate professor and chair of the UT Department of History, will use the fellowship to complete her book, “The World of Westover: Mary Willing Byrd, Gender, Slavery, and the Economics of Citizenship in Revolutionary Virginia.”


“I was shocked I had never heard of this woman when I first learned her name about 10 years ago, so I am excited by this opportunity to write an extensive study about her life,” Pflugrad-Jackisch said. “Mary Willing Byrd explodes a lot of myths about Southern white women during the revolutionary era. She’s not your typical Southern belle. Byrd believed that she was entitled to the same citizenship rights as white male property owners in the new republic, and she pushed to try and secure these rights for herself.”

Determined to track down and shine a light on Byrd’s story, Pflugrad-Jackisch spent nearly a decade unearthing a paper trail of letters, court cases, and property records and records. Her archival quest took her to Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Michigan.

“There is a stereotype that women slaveholders were more compassionate toward their slaves than men were, but women could be just as brutal as men could be,” Pflugrad-Jackisch said. “Mary Willing Byrd is a fascinating example. A wealthy widow, she ran the Westover plantation for 37 years and was able to pay off the estate’s enormous debts left by her late husband William Byrd III by using slave labor to make her plantation profitable.”

Pflugrad-Jackisch received one of 84 fellowships announced by the NEH totaling $4.6 million. The NEH, an independent federal agency created in 1965, works to serve and strengthen the country and convey the lessons of history by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers.

“These new NEH grants represent the humanities at its most vital and creative,” Jon Parrish Peede, NEH chairman, said. “These projects will shed new light on age-old questions, safeguard our cultural heritage, and expand educational opportunities in classrooms nationwide.”

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Pflugrad-Jackisch’s award. This prestigious national fellowship was awarded to only 7 percent of the applicants,” Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters, said. “Her success is a testament to her brilliant scholarship and dedication to her research.”

In her manuscript, Pflugrad-Jackisch makes use of Byrd’s correspondence to Thomas Jefferson and high-ranking military officials during the Revolutionary War, including the Marquis de Lafayette. These letters demand the return of escaped slaves and compensation for property lost when the British army under the command of the traitor Benedict Arnold raided her plantation along the James River, damaging all of her farming equipment.

“This research has been quite tedious because Byrd’s information is often catalogued in archives under the names of men, not her own name, or placed unlabeled in the ‘miscellaneous’ folders. She has a letter in the collection of Thomas Jefferson’s papers, but you have to know it is there to go look for it,” Pflugrad-Jackisch said. “You have to physically go and dig through boxes of male relatives’ business records because Byrd is unlisted. You wouldn’t know they were there. I found 33 of Byrd’s letters in a collection marked ‘Willing Family Business Records’ that only listed the names of her brothers and nephews.”

In her role as manager of Westover plantation, Byrd directed the labor of more than 100 slaves; supervised the plantation’s overseers; sold wheat, barley, corn and tobacco crops; and fended off her late husband’s creditors in court. Her interactions with the state, military and market were out of the ordinary for a woman during that tumultuous time of upheaval.

“Byrd’s world provides scaffolding and a framework for the broader complexities of this era, bundling together the challenges of establishing credit, political loyalty, motherhood and slave management, themes that historians usually explore separately,” Pflugrad-Jackisch said. “This project examines how the remaking of Virginia’s legal, economic and cultural institutions during and after the war laid the foundation for the construction of gendered and racial hierarchies that would come to define women’s citizenship by the beginning of the 19th century.”

Pflugrad-Jackisch’s first book, “Brothers of a Vow: Secret Fraternal Organizations and the Transformation of White Male Culture in Antebellum Virginia,” was published in 2010 by the University of Georgia Press.

Pianist, baritone to perform Schubert work

The University of Toledo Dorothy MacKenzie Price Piano Series will feature guest pianist Dr. Gabriel Dobner and baritone Kevin McMillan to perform Franz Schubert’s “Die Schöne Müllerin” (“The Miller’s Daughter”).

The free concert will be held Sunday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Dobner and McMillan also will present a free master class Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

The recital program will be “Die Schöne Müllerin op. 25, D. 795” by Franz Schubert. Also known as “The Miller’s Daughter,” the work is based on poems by Wilhelm Müller that tell the story of a young man who pursues to the bitter end his love for a miller’s daughter.

Both Dobner and McMillan are on faculty members in the School of Music at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

A professor of piano, Dobner joined the faculty at James Madison University in 2001. Previously, he taught at Indiana University and the Nürnberg/Augsburg Hochschule für Musik in Germany. He received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University. Dobner then went on to Indiana University in Bloomington and earned master’s and doctoral degrees.

Dobner has recorded and performed nationally and internationally. He performs regularly with pianist Lori Piitz as part of a piano duo. These musical collaborations have led to concerts in many major venues throughout the United States — including an appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. — as well as in Europe and Japan.

After preliminary schooling at the Universities of Guelph and Western Ontario in Canada, McMillan studied at the Britten-Pears School in England and earned a master’s degree at the Juilliard School in New York. His primary focus has always been the oratorio and orchestral repertoire, and his vocal flexibility and scholarly musicianship have afforded him a broad range of styles and periods — from Monteverdi and Bach to Britten and Penderecki. McMillan joined the faculty of James Madison University in 2009.

Critics have praised McMillan’s “elegant lyric baritone voice” and “singularly remarkable interpretive skills” in appearances with virtually every major North American orchestra, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony.

He also has established a presence in Europe, with appearances in London, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris and Prague.

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Boyd, UT professor of music, at michael.boyd@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2183.

Timeless art: Pair of UT fine arts students incorporate old clock tower hands into mural at Carlson Library

A few years ago, The University of Toledo’s Carlson Library took delivery of a special piece of campus history — a set of hands from the University Hall clock tower.

Now those brass hands are the focal point of a two-sided mural being painted near the library’s circulation desk by two students in UT’s Bachelor of Fine Arts Program as part of the library’s experiential learning initiative.

Rose Mansel-Pleydell, left, and Tara Yarzand are painting the clock mural in Carlson Library. The painting incorporates a set of brass hands from University Hall’s clock tower.

“We always wanted to display the hands somewhere in the library. With the recent renovations, we thought the time was right,” said David Remaklus, director of operations for University Libraries. “Experiential learning is great for the library because we get to showcase student work, and we get to tap the expertise that’s available on campus.”

At the recommendation of Barbara Miner, professor and chair of art, the library invited Rose Mansel-Pleydell and Tara Yarzand to conceive a motif for the project.

The women, both juniors in the program, quickly came up with the idea to incorporate a clock face featuring UT’s signature stonework set between a pair of panels featuring abstract hues of blue and gold. Mansel-Pleydell said her panel represents the converging paths bringing people to the University, while Yarzand said hers is a shattered sky design that represents the future while paying a nod to both the UT Rockets and Toledo’s reputation as the Glass City.

But they both say they want people to find their own meaning in the art.

“It really is sort of open-ended. There’s no correct way to interpret it, but based on those things we came up with, we think it’s a pretty solid design,” Mansel-Pleydell said. “We didn’t want to do something that wasn’t clearly The University of Toledo. We wanted to use the school colors and pay homage to the Gothic architecture because it’s a gorgeous university.”

Because the hands are mounted on a thin dividing wall, the artists are able to use the rear side for a three-dimensional collage featuring a mixture of wood and metal gears meant to look like the innerworkings of a clock. Both the gears and hands will be static.

The clock mural incorporates the names of UT programs in the mortar.

There’s also a bit of a hidden element in the mural. Painted in the mortar are the names of programs at UT.

“I think there’s something like 500 different majors and career tracks,” Yarzand said. “People will stand here and try to find their own majors. It’s fun to watch.”

Yarzand and Mansel-Pleydell both earned degrees in other disciplines before coming to UT to study art. They each had high praise for the program and said they were grateful to have their artwork so prominently displayed.

“I love UT and I don’t just say that. I’ve been to four different universities now, and I honestly love it here,” Mansel-Pleydell said. “The fact that I’ve had opportunities like this come up has just been out of this world. I can’t believe I actually get paid to do art every day as a junior in college. I’m really thankful they let us do this.”

“I am happy to be enrolled in The University of Toledo as a fine arts student and very thankful that I got this opportunity in my second semester. To me, it represents a step that I wanted to take for a long time: to be a professional artist,” Yarzand said. “We hope that this mural can stand as our tribute to the University and its iconic clock tower.”

Remaklus said he’s been impressed by both the talent of the artists and how much recognition the work is getting.

“It is a really beautiful mural, but it’s also like performance art. People enjoy coming in, watching them paint, and seeing the progress they’re making,” he said. “Tara and Rose have done a fantastic job.”

African-American films to screen at UT for Black History Month

The first UT African-American Film Festival will be held this month at The University of Toledo.

Screenings will take place Thursdays, Feb. 7, 14 and 21, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts.

The inaugural event is co-sponsored by the UT Black Student Union, the UT Department of Theatre and Film, and the UT Office of Multicultural Student Success.

Films showcased during February spotlight contemporary African-American stories as told by some of today’s best African-American filmmakers.

Kicking off Thursday, Feb. 7, the festival will open with the 2016 Academy Awarding-winning best picture “Moonlight,” directed by filmmaking phenom Barry Jenkins.

The following week, Thursday, Feb. 14, Jordan Peele’s contemporary horror masterpiece “Get Out” will provide entertainment on Valentine’s Day.

“Pariah,” a quiet yet beautifully crafted indie film directed by Dee Rees, will conclude the festival Thursday, Feb. 21.

“Moonlight” and “Pariah” will screen in the Center for Performing Arts Room 1039; “Get Out” will be shown in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre.

“I appreciate Holly Hey [UT professor and head of the Film Program] and the Theatre and Film Department for their support of black art,” Isis Walker, president of the UT Black Student Union, said. “There are a lot of aspiring black artists across all the colleges and departments on our campus, and I believe showcasing successful black artists will inspire these students to continue their craft. I want black artists on our campus to feel supported by both the Black Student Union and the Department of Theatre and Film. I hope we are able to continue this event.”

Doors will open at 7:20 p.m. for the free, public screenings.

For more information, contact Hey at holly.hey@utoledo.edu.

Japanese business culture topic of Feb. 7 talk

The Beta Gamma Sigma Chapter in the UT College of Business and Innovation will present “Secrets of Japanese Business Culture” Thursday, Feb. 7.

Dr. Joseph Hara, Distinguished Lecturer in the UT Department of Foreign Languages, will speak at 6 p.m. in Stranahan Hall Room 2030.

“I am planning on introducing some Japanese business practices,” Hara, director of the UT Japanese Program, said. “The Western view on business practice is often lacking or absent of unspoken Japanese practice or traditions.”

He explained that this vacuum of understanding may cause stereotypes, as well as unsuccessful negotiation with Japanese business counterparts.

“My objective is to enlighten views on Japanese business practices,” Hara said.

For more information on the free event, contact Jamal Shaheen, president of Beta Gamma Sigma, at jamal.shaheen@rockets.utoledo.edu.

Theatre department to present ‘The Pillowman’

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will present Martin McDonagh’s Tony Award-winning play titled “The Pillowman” Friday through Sunday, Feb. 1-3 and 8-10, in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre.

Friday and Saturday performances will be at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

In “The Pillowman,” Katurian, a fiction writer abused as a child, churns out bizarre novels with violent plot twists that raise the suspicions of the police when his stories align a little too closely with a recent string of child murders. During his interrogation, Katurian reveals the horrid childhood experiences that informed his craft.

Quincy Joyner, assistant lecturer of theatre, is directing the production.

“There are brutal moments in this play. That’s how Martin McDonagh writes. But he dares us to look past the surface of the story’s characters,” Joyner said. “There are moments of humor and intellect in the writer who writes about horrific things, in the police officers who want the world to be a safer place, in the younger brother who has a childhood filled with dreadful experiences. It is a play that challenges the audience as much as it entertains.”

The cast features Hanna Gerlica, a junior majoring in pharmacy, as Mother; Bryan Harkins, a senior majoring in theatre, as Tupolski; Becca Lustic, a junior majoring in theatre, as Michal; Abbey Mulinix, a student at Wildwood Environmental Academy, as Little Jesus Girl; Grace Mulinix, a freshman majoring in theatre, as Katurian; Faith Murphy, a junior majoring in theatre, as Ariel; Justin Petty, a sophomore majoring in theatre, as Father; and Christian Soto, a freshman majoring in theatre, as Pillow Boy/Brother.

Members of the design team are Dr. Edmund Lingan, professor and chair of theatre and film, producer; Scott Hunt, UT alumnus and faculty member, composer; Kristin Ellert, set designer; Daniel Thobias, associate professor of theatre, costume designer; Stephen Sakowski, assistant professor of theatre, lighting designer; Ryan Peters-Hieber, a senior majoring in theatre design technology, sound designer; Kevin Upham, a senior majoring in theatre, stage manager; and Logan Fleming, a sophomore majoring in theatre, assistant stage manager.

Tickets are $10 for students; $12 for UT faculty, staff and alumni, and military members and seniors; and $18 for the general public. Call 419.530.ARTS (2787) or go to the School of Visual and Performing Arts’ website. Tickets also will be available at the door.