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University recognizes faculty, staff for advising, research, teaching, outreach work

UT outstanding advisers, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement, were honored last week.

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award were:

Winners of the Outstanding Adviser Award were Rose Marie Ackerman and Dr. Matthew Franchetti.

Rose Marie Ackerman
, associate director of student services in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering. She joined the University in 2006.

“Rose is the only adviser I know that does long-range plans for students. This helps tremendously because I am able to check off the classes I have already taken because she provides a specialized plan for each individual,” one nominator wrote. “She is the best adviser I’ve had at any university, and I’ve been to three different universities.” “Rose is always willing to see and talk to any student,” another noted. “She responds to emails quickly with any information needed. I just changed my major, and Rose is the person who helped me the most.” Another wrote, “She is the go-to person in the department for policies and procedures.”

Dr. Matthew Franchetti, associate professor and associate chair of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering. He began working at UT in 2007.

“Dr. Franchetti is the most helpful person I have ever met,” one nominator noted. Another wrote, “The other day I walked into his office looking for advice on going to grad school. He went through the positives and negatives and all of the things required in the application process. He sat down and went over the different courses of study and what each plan entails. On top of that, he took the time to explain what the University is kind of looking for and offered to be one of my references. I do not know how I would have gotten through engineering without him.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award were:

Receiving Outstanding Research Awards were, from left, Dr. Robert Collins, Lee J. Strang, Dr. Blair Grubb and Dr. Mohamed Elahinia.

Dr. Robert Collins
, NEG Endowed Chair and Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Collins is an internationally recognized expert on thin films and photovoltaics, especially for his groundbreaking contributions in the use of optical measurements, in particular, ellipsometry for assessments of real-time thin-film growth. This work is not only important to the photovoltaics industry, but also is valuable to related technologies such as displays and sensors. His total research funding, either as principal investigator or co-principal investigator at both UT and his former university, exceeds $48 million. He is a prolific writer with more than 450 peer-reviewed journal and conference proceedings articles, and he is the editor or co-editor of nine books. His published work has more than 10,000 citations.

Dr. Mohamed Elahinia, professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering in the College of Engineering.

Elahinia’s group, with support from the Ohio Federal Research Network and NASA Glenn, has fabricated high-temperature shape memory alloys in 3D printing for the first time. His research on low-temperature shape memory alloys has resulted in several medical devices, which are at various stages of commercialization. In collaboration with NASA Glenn and the Cleveland Clinic, he organized the development of the Nitinol Commercialization Center to support startup companies. He has been the principal investigator and co-investigator on 37 research projects, bringing in more than $12 million in awards. He is the author of a leading book on shape memory alloys, as well as more than 70 journal articles; his publications have been cited about 2,000 times.

Dr. Blair Grubb, Distinguished University Professor and director of the Electrophysiology Program in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

He is one of the world’s authorities in the treatment of syncope — abrupt, brief loss of consciousness — and other disorders of the autonomic nervous system. He has patients referred to him from all over the world to help those dealing with severe autonomic disorders. His patients testify on how he takes a personal interest in their condition, and he has a long list of testimonials on how he has provided patients with ways to improve their condition. Grubb has published more than 240 scientific papers, authored five books, written 35 book chapters, and has been the recipient of 10 research grants while at UT. He has been recognized as one of America’s Top Doctor’s 15 years in a row.

Lee J. Strang, the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values in the College of Law.

Strang is an expert in constitutional law, particularly originalism and constitutional interpretation. He has expertise on the topic of law and religion and the history of Catholic legal education. He is highly sought as an invited speaker and expert on constitutional law matters and has presented his work at more than 150 conferences at top institutions. Since arriving at UT, Strang has authored 17 articles, two book chapters and five book reviews, as well as co-written a 1,500-page casebook. His work is highly regarded; Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens cited Strang’s work on the original meaning of “religion” in the First Amendment. Strang’s work also was cited in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Hobby Lobby case.

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were:

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement were Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach and Dr. Andrew Jorgensen.

Dr. Lisa Pescara-Kovach
, associate professor of educational foundations and leadership in the Judith Herb College of Education. She is the co-chair of the UT Anti-Bullying Task Force, a campus violence prevention and protection trainer for the Department of Justice, and author of “School Shootings and Suicides: Why We Must Stop the Bullies.”

“Dr. Pescara-Kovach has performed countless service in the community in working with the prevention of tragedy in our schools and workplaces. She works with University and community agencies in multiple stages: preventing bullying and other aggressive behaviors; preventing targeted violence and suicide; and postvention of first responders, victims and witnesses when such incidents occur,” one nominator wrote. “While many faculty think their work is life-changing, few (outside the medical fields) can honestly claim their work saves lives; Dr. Pescara-Kovach is such a faculty member.”

Dr. Andrew Jorgensen, associate professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He studied climate change during his sabbatical at the National Council for Science and the Environment, helping to create Climate Adaption Mitigation E-Learning, an online program with more than 300 resources on climate change.

“Dr. Jorgensen has given more than 150 lectures to general public audiences all over the world about climate change. Having been an audience member, I can attest to the way he presents scientific knowledge in a nonpolitical, approachable way that makes a strong case for the need to address this topic,” one nominator wrote. “I admire his energy, commitment and passion, and am deeply respectful of his personal mission to educate as many people as he can about the importance of climate change to our global future.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award were:

Taking home Outstanding Teacher Awards were, from left, Dr. Patricia Sopko, Dr. Ruslan Slutsky, Dr. Jillian Bornak, Dr. Nitin Puri and Dr. Todd Crail.

Dr. Jillian Bornak
, associate lecturer of physics and astronomy in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She began teaching at the University in 2014.

“She brought her enthusiasm for science into the classroom every Tuesday and Thursday night when we were all tired and drained. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and her energy made it easy to show up to every class that semester,” one nominator wrote. “She gave us every tool we needed to learn the material and pass her course with a good grade. She taught us with both ease and eagerness for her students to learn. Her students gained knowledge of these tough physics concept without ever feeling like we were too behind or too incapable of learning these concepts. The University is lucky to have her.”

Dr. Todd Crail, associate lecturer of environmental sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He joined the faculty in 2012.

“I have yet to meet any professor as engaging and passionate about the environment as Dr. Crail,” one nominator wrote. “He has a distinct voice and motivation in what he teaches — take action. If you want a better world, a better environment, then you have to act upon it. Dr. Crail encourages students’ critical thinking, he supports the curious mind, and he makes time for his students.” Another noted, “He has changed the lives of so many students, and he deserves to finally be rewarded for all the hours of hard work and dedication that he puts into his class, activities, service learning, and the Department of Environmental Sciences.”

Dr. Nitin Puri, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. He has been at the University since 2012.

“Dr. Puri teaches physiology with great passion and consistently has the highest turnouts for lectures and review sessions. He expects the most from his students and repeatedly encourages you to think like a physician,” one nominator wrote. “Dr. Puri’s teaching style is interactive and certainly yields the strongest staying power of the basic sciences. I still use his notes to prepare for clinical rotations. Dr. Puri is more than a teacher. He is a fierce advocate for students, an outstanding mentor and, most importantly, a genuine person.” Another wrote, “Dr. Puri prepares you for the future, not just exams, but for clinical practice unlike any other professor.”

Dr. Ruslan Slutsky, professor of early childhood education, higher education and special education in the Judith Herb College of Education. He came to the University in 2001.

“Dr. Slutsky always makes time for his students. He is always willing to give extra help, and he goes out of his way to provide students with learning experiences outside of the classroom — research opportunities, helps send projects to conferences, etc. His lectures are always thought-provoking and stimulate deep classroom discussions. He expects a lot from his students and, in turn, his students achieve great things,” one nominator wrote. “I am thankful to have had him as a professor and am thankful for all the things he has done for the college, as well as the University and community as a whole.”

Dr. Patricia Sopko, instructor in the College of Nursing. She joined the faculty in 2010.

“I was essentially failing my pathopharmocology class despite hours of studying. I always felt the exams to be very fair, and I approached Dr. Sopko to help me understand what I was doing wrong,” one nominator wrote. “When I did eventually speak with her, she in no way looked down upon me or made me feel intimidated, despite the fact that I should have approached her long before to ask for help. She not only clarified what I was doing wrong, she also made sure I was properly preparing for the final exam. She helped me improve my overall critical thinking abilities. The fact that she took the extra time to help me is something that I greatly appreciate.”

Physician/author to discuss health and race

Being black can be bad for your health — Dr. Damon Tweedy wrote about hearing that as a first-year medical student at Duke University in 1997.

His book, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” became a New York Times Bestseller and was one of Time magazine’s top 10 nonfiction books in 2015.

Tweedy

“From the beginning of life to the very end — and everywhere in between — African Americans continue to experience disproportionately worse health outcomes,” Tweedy said. “You can name pretty much any disease, and you’re likely to find that it’s either more common in black people; black people who get the disease have a worse course; or both of these conditions. There are a lot of factors involved with this, and I explore many of them in my book.”

Tweedy will discuss race and health disparities Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1200.

For several years, the assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center and staff physician at the Durham Veteran Affairs Medical Center has written and lectured on race and medicine. His articles have been published by The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post, as well as by several medical journals.

In his book, he wrote, “Whether it is premature birth, infant mortality, homicide, childhood obesity or HIV infection, black children and young adults disproportionately bear the brunt of these medical and social ills. By middle age, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, kidney failure and cancer have a suffocating grip on the health of black people and maintain this stranglehold on them well into their senior years.”

“I wanted to put a human touch to these issues of racial health disparities — examining how this impacts real people in everyday life,” Tweedy said. “Many people are more likely to engage in these issues when they are presented as stories rather than simply as statistics.

“I also wanted to explore some of the unique challenges faced by African-American doctors — a largely unexplored perspective in popular medical narratives,” he added.

His free, public talk is sponsored by We Are STEMM, a UT organization dedicated to empowering and inspiring students from underrepresented populations who are interested in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine. Led by faculty and staff, the group celebrates and supports diversity in several UT colleges: Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Engineering; Medicine and Life Sciences; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Health and Human Services.

“I found Dr. Tweedy’s book to be inspirational. While it reveals a story often heard in the community of underrepresented groups pursuing higher education, I think he has been able to deliver many aspects in a manner that may be enlightening and perhaps more palatable to those freed from this ‘experience,’” said Dr. Anthony Quinn, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and chair of We Are STEMM.

“In contemporary society, there is the perception that history can be wiped clean with a single piece of new legislation — no need to deal with lasting psychological scars inflicted by past overt and covert policies or the entrenched social norms that are retained and vigorously guarded for generations in spite of new laws,” Quinn continued. “Dr. Tweedy brings out the adverse and lasting impact that discriminatory practices can have on individuals and society long past the time of those who initially implemented them.”

Tweedy’s talk is one of the University’s events scheduled for Black History Month.

Hospital leader named UTMC CEO

Dan Barbee has been named chief executive officer of The University of Toledo Medical Center after serving in the role on an interim basis since June 1, 2016.

Barbee, who has nearly 25 years of combined clinical and health-care management experience, is responsible for the operational and strategic activities of UT’s medical center and clinics that average each year more than 12,000 admissions, 36,000 emergency department visits and 250,000 ambulatory care visits.

Barbee

“We are very happy that Dan will continue to lead UTMC in the future,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “He has proven himself to be a passionate, flexible and effective leader. Together with his team, I am confident Dan will continue to guide the hospital successfully in the changing health-care environment.”

Prior to serving as CEO, Barbee was UTMC’s chief operating officer and vice president of clinical service. He joined the medical center in 2011 as chief nursing officer and associate executive director.

“I am honored for the opportunity to continue to lead our dedicated team of more than 2,300 employees and physicians who are committed to providing high-quality care in our community,” Barbee said.

Barbee received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Illinois State University and a master of business administration degree from the University of Phoenix.

He serves as a trustee for the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio and on the boards of The University of Toledo Medical Assurance Co. and Toledo/Lucas County CareNet. Barbee also is a member of the UT College of Nursing’s advisory board and Mercy College of Ohio’s nursing program advisory committee.

UT scholars to host forum Feb. 13 titled ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves in the Time of Trump’

The University of Toledo’s third post-election forum since President Donald Trump was elected focuses on the topic “Our Bodies, Ourselves in the Time of Trump” and implications of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The free, public event to discuss health care, reproductive rights and LGBTQA+ issues will be held Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Kent Branch Library, 3101 Collingwood Blvd.

“Based on actions thus far and the 2016 presidential campaign, we know the Trump administration will be approaching all three of these areas of policy with a different perspective from the previous administration,” said Dr. Ally Day, assistant professor in the UT Disability Studies Program. “Our forum is designed to address changes and questions community members may have in relation to larger policy and their own health-care options.”

Featured speakers will include:

• Dr. Karen Hoblet, UT associate professor of nursing;

• Robert Salem, UT clinical professor of law and chair of the Equality Toledo Board of Directors;

• Anita Rios, Ohio NOW;

• Hillary Gyuras, community education manager for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio;

• Sarah Inskeep, regional field manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio; and

• Katie Hunt Thomas, disability rights attorney for the Ability Center of Greater Toledo.

The event is sponsored by the UT College of Law and the School for Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Arts and Letters.

UTMC sets path forward to serve health-care needs of community

After a thorough review during the past year, The University of Toledo leadership has determined that the UT Medical Center will continue to operate as a teaching hospital, serving the community in South Toledo.

utmc-still-copyIn addition to reviewing UTMC operations, service lines, efficiencies and its customer base, UT leaders studied the rapidly evolving health-care market to determine the most viable path forward for the medical center. They also took into account the change going on at the University, in the industry and in local communities.

“In a rapidly changing industry such as health care, it was imperative that we take the time to thoroughly review our operations, the community we serve, and the dynamics of the health-care market. We needed to be sure we could successfully adapt to the changing environment we live in and continue to serve our 80,000 neighbors effectively,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We have confidence in our team, and we appreciate the patience everyone exhibited while we worked toward determining this path forward.”

A letter sent to the UT community Jan. 24 from Gaber and Executive Vice President for Clinical Affairs Christopher Cooper noted the hospital’s financial strength and stated UTMC was operating at full or near-full capacity, and together with its clinics served nearly 300,000 people last year.

“The financial health of UTMC played a key role in our analysis, and we want it to be clear that the hospital remains viable only if it continues to enhance its productivity and efficiencies going forward,” the letter stated.

UTMC will continue to be a teaching hospital for UT’s colleges of Medicine and Life Sciences; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; Nursing; and Health and Human Services.

In addition, the path forward will include gradually adding more primary care and behavioral health options at UTMC to meet the evolving health-care needs of the community and to strengthen the University’s training programs.

“We are committed to evolving in a way that keeps our hospital strong, and as we do so, to communicating with you ahead of any changes,” the letter stated.

UTMC leaders are meeting with employees throughout the week to provide more information and answer questions. The schedule for information meetings is:

Tuesday, Jan. 24
• UTMC employee meeting at noon in Health Education Building Room 100

• College of Medicine and Life Sciences faculty meeting at 5 p.m. in Health Education Room 100

• UTMC employee meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 105
• UTMC employee meeting at 7:45 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 105


Wednesday, Jan. 25

• UTMC employee meeting at 7:45 a.m. in the Pinnacle Lounge

• College of Medicine and Life Sciences students and residents meeting at noon in Health Education Building Room 100

Thursday, Jan. 26
• UT Physicians employees meeting at 11 a.m. at Glendale Medical Center

Additional information is available online on the myUT portal under the new UTMC tab.

To submit questions or comments, email UTMCquestions@utoledo.edu or call 419.383.6814.

Distinguished educator to deliver commencement address Dec. 17

Toledo native Dr. Timothy Law Snyder, president of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, will present the keynote address at the UT fall commencement Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.

Snyder, who will receive an honorary degree during the ceremony, will address 2,066 candidates for degrees: 93 doctoral, 584 master’s, 1,346 bachelor’s and 43 associate’s degrees.

Snyder

Snyder

The ceremony will be streamed live at http://video.utoledo.edu.

Snyder is a distinguished American educator and academic administrator whose career includes success as a computational mathematician, musician, published scholar, lecturer and podcaster. He attended Toledo Public Schools and graduated from UT in 1981 with bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and mathematics. Additionally, he earned a master’s degree in mathematics from UT in 1983.

Snyder also holds a second master’s degree, as well as a doctoral degree, in computational mathematics from Princeton University.

“We’re honored to have Dr. Timothy Snyder return to his alma mater as our fall commencement speaker,” said UT President Sharon L. Gaber. “His career is proof that goals can be multidirectional, and success follows people who work hard to make lasting contributions, no matter what career paths they choose over a lifetime.”

In 2014, The University of Toledo Alumni Association recognized Snyder with its College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ Outstanding Alumnus Award.

“I return to my hometown with pride and excitement to deliver the keynote commencement address. My educational path and career were profoundly shaped by my years at UT,” Snyder said. “I continue to resonate with UT’s mission to improve the human condition and advance knowledge, among its other values. I hope to inspire graduates to pursue their life goals with creativity and integrity.”

Snyder has held academic positions at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and at Georgetown University, where he was chair of the Department of Computer Science and its first dean of science. Additionally, he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University in Connecticut and vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University Maryland. In 2015, Snyder was appointed the 16th president of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

He has published and presented widely on his research, which includes computational mathematics, data structures, design and analysis of algorithms, geometric probability, digital signal processing, computer music, and the education of the millennial generation. More recently, he has been researching risk assessment in commercial airline safety, as well as HIV and its prevention.

A musician most of his life, Snyder was lead singer in the touring rock-and-punk band Whirlwind from 1976 to 1983. His music can be found on iTunes and SoundCloud. He is also active in social media through his Twitter handle @LMUSnyder.

The University’s fall commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters, Business and Innovation, Judith Herb College of Education, Health and Human Services, Medicine and Life Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Additionally, UT’s College of Engineering will hold graduation ceremonies for its undergraduate and graduate candidates Friday, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. in Savage Arena.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/commencement.

Student Nurses’ Association named tops in state

The Ohio Nursing Students’ Association has honored The University of Toledo for outstanding achievement and leadership as the top chapter in the state.

The Student Nurses’ Association is comprised of students from both The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. The organization was recognized by the Ohio Nursing Students’ Association, which is the state chapter of the National Student Nurses Association.

Posing for a photo with the Brain Bowl trophy in October at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus were, from left, Karen Tormoehlen, Mariah Dooley, Kaitlin May, Alexis Ortiz, Allison Turnwald, Kayla Tibbits and Patty Sopko.

Posing for a photo with the Brain Bowl trophy in October at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus were, from left, Karen Tormoehlen, Mariah Dooley, Kaitlin May, Alexis Ortiz, Allison Turnwald, Kayla Tibbits and Patty Sopko.

Outstanding chapter criteria include strong leadership, community outreach and research involvement.

The Students Nurses’ Association is a nonprofit organization for nursing students enrolled in the baccalaureate and clinical nurse leader programs in the UT College of Nursing.

“This organization is dedicated to the mission of fostering the professional development of nursing students while indoctrinating the standards, ethics and skills that will be required of them as future leaders of the profession,” Patty Sopko, instructor in the College of Nursing and advisor of the Student Nurses’ Association, said.

The Student Nurses’ Association is involved with community service and has worked with the Ronald McDonald House, the Sunshine Children’s Home, the Daughter Project, and the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as conducted health fairs and food drives.

“Because of our extensive involvement in the surrounding community as well as our support of state and national chapter missions, the UT chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association was named chapter of the year,” Sopko said.

In addition, Karen Tormoehlen, UT assistant professor of nursing and an advisor for the UT chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association, was named Faculty Advisor of the Year at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention.

“Karen has dedicated herself to the advancement of nursing students for the past 10 years. Her efforts have resulted in local students being elected to state and national offices,” Sopko said.

And the Student Nurses’ Association placed first in the Brain Bowl at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus.

The Brain Bowl is an academic competition in which students from various nursing schools throughout Ohio compete against each other to win the trophy to be displayed at their institution for one year.

In October, the UT chapter won the trophy and put a halt to Capital University’s three-year winning streak. In addition, this year the winning team was awarded a free review course from Kaplan Test Prep valued at $500 per student.

The Student Nurses’ Association provides a great opportunity for students, according to Sopko.

“This organization allows nursing students the chance to enhance their knowledge of the profession, practice leadership skills, mentor younger students, build a network of future colleagues, and give back to the community that they will serve for years to come,” she said.

UT nursing program receives accreditation

The University of Toledo’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and post-graduate Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Certificate Program were granted accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education following an onsite review in November. The accreditation is for five years to June 2021.

college of nursing logoUT’s Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice Program is designed to take nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing to the highest level of clinical practice in order to meet the increasing complexities and challenges of the nation’s health-care environment.

“UT has the only advanced practice nursing program in our region, and this accreditation places our program at the leading edge of nurse training,” Dr. Kelly Phillips, interim dean of the College of Nursing, said. “Nurses who receive the doctor of nursing practice degree are poised to be leaders in the health-care field.”

The Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice Program offers specialization options in adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, pediatric primary care nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

“In providing a variety of training options, we are meeting the needs of patients who need specialized care,” Phillips said.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is an autonomous accrediting agency that ensures the quality and integrity of nursing programs and supports continuing growth and improvement of collegiate professional education and nurse residency programs.

Assistant professor of nursing works on project for Sigma Theta Tau International’s Leadership Academy

This year, Dr. Temeaka Gray was selected as one of 13 Scholars of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, granting her a spot in the 2016-17 Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy.

Gray, an assistant professor in The University of Toledo’s College of Nursing, has been a member of the society since 2012.

Gray

Gray

The academy’s goals include fostering academic success, promoting nurse faculty retention, and facilitating personal leadership development, all of which are explored by projects completed by each scholar.

“The purpose of the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy is actually to expand the scope of influence and grow nurse faculty leaders — the project is a vehicle for that,” said Gray, president of the Zeta Theta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at UT.

As part of the academy, Gray has designed a project around the topic of communication in the workplace, with the objective of recognizing best practices in communication and shared governance for faculty and administration. This is a topic in which Gray said she had much experience, co-authoring two chapters in academic works, one regarding communication and the other on shared governance in the workplace.

“A lot of the time, people are talking and not listening, but the most effective communication takes place when they listen as well as talk,” Gray said. “One of the pieces that I’ve seen through my literature review said that, in a shared governance environment, sometimes people just don’t know what their duties are. Do they have input in everything? Do they act through committees? I want to know what people think about communication, what they think shared governance means, and what perceptions of the best way to have conversations are.”

Participation as a scholar in the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy includes intensive four-day workshops, one this year and one next, and a presentation on the final project at the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Biennial Convention in Indianapolis.

Gray said even being selected was a tremendous opportunity and, once she found out she had been one of 13 global applicants chosen, the idea of being able to confer with other nurses and like-minded professionals at a greater level was an exciting prospect. The first of the four-day workshops took place in March, and Gray said the highly immersive experience was driven by self-reflection and a close look at the operating style within the academy.

“They equipped us with a journal, so we were critically looking at ourselves as people. We used tools like the leadership practice inventory and strengths finder to assess strengths and weaknesses and, based on that, where we can to improve,” Gray said. “These workshops were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. over four days. The leadership meetings included administrative people for the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy, the leadership mentors, the faculty advisors and the scholar.”

The opportunity of being invited to participate in a program like the Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing is one she hopes others in her field take.

“I always stress this to nursing students because, at that time, you don’t understand what it truly means to be recognized like this,” Gray said. “By the time I was working, to be recognized at that level was so important because it was meaningful. We go around doing what we do because it’s what we do; seeing that other people recognize it is really amazing.”

She added, “Organizations that focus on professions and disciplines like nursing are actually driven by what you do. It’s a networking opportunity; you have the opportunity to learn from other people and their experiences.”

To learn more about the Scholars of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing at UT, visit zetatheta.nursingsociety.org/home.

UT nursing student wins national association’s Core Values Award

Advocacy, professionalism, quality education, leadership and autonomy are the core values of the National Student Nurses’ Association, which recently presented Amanda Nuckols its Core Values Award.

The Core Values Award is given nationally to one student per year. The award is designed to inspire students to embody the values most important to members of the National Student Nurses’ Association.

Amanda Nuckols received the Core Values Award from the  National Student Nurses’ Association.

Amanda Nuckols received the Core Values Award from the National Student Nurses’ Association.

To be eligible for the Core Values Award, students must be pursuing a nursing degree and be a member of the National Student Nurses’ Association, and they must be nominated by faculty.

“It’s an honor working with a student that demonstrates these core values. She’s amazing. She’s humble. I’ve never met another student like her in all my years as an advisor,” said Karen Tormoehlen, Student Nurses Association advisor and assistant professor, who nominated Nuckols for the award.

Nuckols graduated in May from the Clinical Nurse Leader Program, which allows students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline to receive a master’s degree in nursing in two years.

In her time as a nursing student, Nuckols served as president, cohort representative and convention planner of the UT Student Nurses’ Association. She also served on the Nominations and Elections Committee of the national organization.

In addition to these roles, Nuckols helped build a playground for the local Ronald McDonald House, assisted in a community event that gave families impacted by human trafficking a day at the zoo, led the local Student Nurses Association chapter in providing a bountiful Christmas for orphans, participated in medical mission trips to developing countries, volunteered at a free clinic serving the homeless, and more.

Nuckols will return to the University this fall to continue her studies with the Family Nurse Practitioner Program. She also intends to work as a registered nurse while pursuing her third degree.

“This is a huge honor,” Nuckols said. “I have worked hard to do well as I was completing my studies, while also being involved in a variety of organizations and roles. I am so glad that my effort and dedication have paid off.”