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Staff Leadership Development Program to improve careers, UT’s future

The University of Toledo has launched its inaugural class of the UT Staff Leadership Development Program to cultivate high-potential emerging leaders who, in the years ahead, may assume leadership roles, as well as grow in their current positions.

“In alignment with UT’s strategic plan to foster a culture of excellence for our faculty and staff, we’ve launched this program to provide a more formal process for career development for employees at all levels throughout the University,” said President Sharon L. Gaber.

“The program is designed to assist participants with honing leadership skills, as well as to expose them to cross-campus networking and dialogue with many current leaders,” stated Wendy Davis, associate vice president for human resources and talent development.

“A selection committee chose this first class based on their leadership potential and selected individuals from across all campuses, as well as from many different job categories throughout the organization,” Davis explained. “In addition to experienced UT faculty and leaders who guide class discussions, this diversity helps to ensure participants are exposed to many different perspectives on any given topic.”

The program, which launched in October 2017 and concludes in October 2018 with a capstone project, requires members to spend approximately three hours each month discussing topics such as fiscal responsibilities; human resources policies and procedures; health-care operations; student recruitment and enrollment management; creating a culture of customer service; ethical leadership; career success; and legal issues in higher education.

“These individuals also are required to complete summer reading assignments on various leadership topics,” said Carrie Herr, director for the Center for Continuous Improvement, who was instrumental in developing the curriculum. “I see much potential in this first class. The skills they hone over the next several months should have a significant impact on UT throughout the next decade and beyond.”

The cohort selected for the inaugural class of UT’s Staff Leadership Development Program are Cristina Alvarado, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Stefanie Bias, Neurosciences; Stacey Jo Brown, Legal Affairs; Candace Busdiecker, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Lori DeShetler, Judith Herb College of Education; Josh Dittman, Intercollegiate Athletics; Kelly Donovan, Controller’s Office; Shelly Drouillard, Career Services; Jamie Fager, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Beth Gerasimiak, Office of the Provost; Melissa Hansen, Medical Education; Heather Huntley, Office of the Provost; Angelica Johnson, College of Arts and Letters; Deirdre Jones, Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in the College of Business and Innovation; Vickie Kuntz, Engineering Career Development Center in the College of Engineering; Sara Lockett, Purchasing/Finance; Elliott Nickeson, Registrar’s Office; Daniel Perry, Facilities and Construction; Tiffany Preston-Whitman, University College; Jason Rahe, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions; Staci Sturdivant, College of Health and Human Services; Craig Turner, College of Business and Innovation; and Matthew Wise, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions.

“It is wonderful to see the University focus so many resources on developing the next generation of leadership in higher education,” said Dr. Jenell L. S. Wittmer, associate professor of management, who facilitates sessions on communication with diverse groups and emotional intelligence. “The participants bring their work experiences into the classroom, and they are learning from each other. This program is a perfect example of the positive transformation underway at UT.”

UT recognized again for service to veterans

Military Advanced Education & Transportation named The University of Toledo a top school in its 2018 Guide to Colleges & Universities research study.

Released last month, the guide measures best practices in military and veteran education.

“The University of Toledo is committed to making sure all men and women who serve our great country have everything they need to succeed,” Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College, said. “This national recognition validates our commitment to U.S. service members.”

The guide presents results of a questionnaire of the military-supportive policies enacted at more than 600 institutions, including private, public, for-profit, not-for-profit, and four- and two-year colleges.

“As the first publication to promote a list evaluating best practices in military education, [Military Advanced Education & Transportation] has been improving the process every year in order to provide our men and women in uniform information that will help them make the right choices about college,” Kelly Fodel, editor-in-chief of Military Advanced Education & Transportation, said.

Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, director of military and veteran affairs, completed the survey on behalf of the University.

“I am honored to work at an institution that is consistently recognized for its dedication to serve service members and veterans,” Ghanbari said. “We are here to help them transition and succeed.”

UT’s military-supportive culture and numerous resources available include University College’s Military Service Center on Main Campus and the Lucas County Veterans Service Commission on Health Science Campus.

Ghanbari pointed out the University is responsive to requests from military men and women, noting the relocation of the veterans lounge. The Lt. Col. Thomas J. ’65 Veterans Lounge in Carlson Library was dedicated in September. The lounge provides student veterans a place to relax, study, and enjoy the camaraderie they experienced while serving their country. Previously, the lounge was located in Rocket Hall.

“Our student-veterans wanted a more centrally located space,” Ghanbari said. “In the academic setting in Carlson Library, they have better access to resources for research and homework, not to mention longer hours to take advantage of the lounge.”

Last year, UT was nationally recognized as the first university campus in the country to simultaneously honor all service members of the armed forces and the families who lost a loved one defending the United States by dedicating both a Blue Star Memorial marker and Gold Star Memorial marker. The star markers are part of the Veterans’ Plaza, located on the northwest corner of Centennial Mall on Main Campus, which recognizes the courage and commitment made by servicemen and women.

In addition, the community’s annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast and Resource Fair on Veterans Day is held at the University.

U.S. News recognizes UT online programs

The University of Toledo provides one of the best online bachelor’s programs, according to new rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

UT is ranked 125 out of 357 institutions in the 2018 Best Online Programs ranking, an increase from last year’s place of 142 out of 311 programs.

U.S. News assessed schools based on student engagement, student services and technology, faculty credentials and training, and peer reputation.

“This ranking is recognition of the high-quality distance learning curriculum and the strong support services we provide to our students,” UT Provost Andrew Hsu said. “Recognizing that many prospective students, particularly working professionals returning to the classroom, enjoy the flexibility and convenience of online classes, we will continue to enhance and improve UT’s programs offered online.”

“The best online programs rankings offer adults the information needed to identify programs that best suit their life and career goals,” said Anita Narayan, managing editor of education at U.S. News. “The top programs not only demonstrate strong academics, but also create learning environments that are particularly well-suited to remote students.”

The UT Judith Herb College of Education also was ranked 107 out of 309 for its online graduate education program. UT’s ranking improved from last year’s rank of 109 out of 278 on that Best Online Education Programs list, which evaluates programs on student engagement, student services and technology, admissions selectivity, faculty credentials and training, and peer reputation.

UT’s College of Education launched this academic year the first online PhD program approved in Ohio. The Curriculum and Instruction: Special Education Doctoral Degree Program is designed for those who specialize in early childhood special education who are looking to take the next step in their careers.

For additional information about the U.S. News rankings, click here.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 17

Toledo native and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D. Sallah will return to his alma mater Sunday, Dec. 17, to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s fall commencement ceremony.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.


Sallah will address 2,067 candidates for degrees, including 118 doctoral, 523 master’s, 1,370 bachelor’s and 56 associate’s.

The ceremony is open to the public and can be viewed live at video.utoledo.edu.

Sallah’s investigative work as a reporter and editor with award-winning newspapers across the country has revealed public corruption, police abuses and government blunders, resulting in grand jury investigations, legislative reform, and the recovery of millions of taxpayer dollars.

He is a reporter on the national investigations team at USA Today/Gannett Network in Washington, D.C.

“This is where it all began for me,” Sallah said. “From the time I took my first journalism class in the fall of my freshman year, I fell in love with journalism, and UT is a big part of that. It’s part of my foundation — the professors, the values they conveyed to me about journalism, and why it’s so critical to our society, especially investigative work. I’m honored to be coming home to be the commencement speaker.”

“Journalists have an important role to inform the public about the issues that affect our lives, and Michael Sallah has embraced that responsibility uncovering many misdeeds through investigative reporting that resulted in positive change,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “I look forward to him sharing with our graduates how he got his start here in Toledo and inspiring them to stay curious and serve their communities.”

Born in Toledo, Sallah is a 1977 alumnus of The University of Toledo, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. He was named UT’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Social Sciences in 2004. Sallah also is a 1973 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School.

He was a reporter and national affairs writer at The Blade for more than a decade, and was the lead reporter on the 2003 project “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths” that exposed the U.S. Army’s longest war crimes case of the Vietnam War. The series won numerous national awards, including the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

While investigations editor and reporter at the Miami Herald, Sallah led an inquiry into local corruption. His team’s 2006 “House of Lies” series exposed widespread fraud in Miami-Dade County public housing and earned the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. He was named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series “Neglected to Death,” which uncovered deadly conditions in Florida assisted-living facilities, led to the closing of 13 facilities, and was the impetus for a gubernatorial task force to overhaul state law.

During his two years at The Washington Post, Sallah received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for an investigation that exposed a predatory system of tax collection in the District of Columbia. 

He returned to the Miami Herald in 2014 and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016 for uncovering one of the nation’s most corrupt sting operations in a police unit that laundered $71.5 million for drug cartels, kept millions for brokering the deals, and failed to make a single significant arrest. 

Sallah is the author of the books “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War” and “Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Passion and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba.” He also was a consultant for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary “American Experience.”

UT’s fall commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Honors College; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/commencement.

Black Hawk ride, educational visits help UT team members understand military students

Two University of Toledo team members who work with students in the military had a once-in-a-lifetime experience this past summer that helped them better understand the students they serve — a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter.

“After I got over the fact that I wasn’t going to get sick, I was able to enjoy it,” said Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College.

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller smiled for the camera in the Black Hawk helicopter.

Julie Rippke, a program accountant in UT’s Financial Aid Office who awards National Guard scholarships, also enjoyed the five-minute ride.

“I didn’t know it was on my bucket list,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

The Black Hawk flight was just one piece of an educational visit planned by the Ohio National Guard. University personnel who serve students in the military were invited to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus to learn more about the National Guard and how to better support students who enlist.

The University of Toledo has more than 120 students who are members of the National Guard, Rippke said. They are active military who train and must be ready to deploy to national disasters or wherever the military needs them.

Kopp Miller, who works with ROTC students in University College, also visited Fort Knox, Ky., last summer to learn more about how ROTC trains future officers. Five people from each of the eight ROTC brigades around the country were chosen to attend the two-day event.

Julie Rippke posed for a photo with the Black Hawk helicopter, which she rode in last summer.

Kopp Miller lunched with cadets and participated in some physical training exercises, including an obstacle course. She and other attendees also learned about emotional intelligence and how soldiers are prepared to handle harrowing situations.

Conversations with colleagues and ROTC leaders confirmed for Kopp Miller that UT has “a well-run, efficient, high-quality ROTC program,” she said. The University’s dedicated classrooms, offices, gym and scholarships set it apart.

Both visits helped Kopp Miller better comprehend what UT students in the military go through.

“It gave me a better understanding of how they’re trained, and the level of commitment from the cadets and the National Guard students as well as the people who train them,” she said.

Faculty member presented with 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award

“To me, being engaged is essential to learning. If what you are learning isn’t fun and interesting to you, you won’t want to learn and you won’t retain what you learn,” said Dr. Claire Stuve, curriculum developer and technology researcher in University College.

This philosophy on learning contributed to Stuve being honored with a 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award in the category of inclusive education. According to Blackboard Inc., This award honors those institutions whose methods have ensured their pedagogy, content, technology and educational services are fully inclusive and supportive of all learners with disabilities.


Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners were selected by a team of Blackboard experts.

“I’m extremely honored to be recognized for my work, but I’m just so thrilled that I created a course [Math 1330: Trigonometry] that truly helped students succeed. Introductory math courses are known for having high failure rates, but this award shows that an online math course can be successful,” Stuve said. “It is essential to be fully inclusive and supportive of all learners, not just those with documented disabilities. To help students succeed, I made sure that all my videos were captioned, content was keyboard accessible, documents were compatible with screen readers, and that there were limited colors and easy-to-read font types.”

Stuve explained she was motivated by her own experiences as an undergraduate in her work to make her courses engaging and enjoyable for students: “I struggled a lot and did not like school at all, which was a completely different experience than the previous 12 years of school I had. Then at the end of my program, I took an educational technology course that was deeply engaging and used technology to make the class fun. It’s the class in which I learned the most and actually gained knowledge that I kept with me after I walked out the classroom door. The four years I spent as an undergraduate were so painful that I became fueled with passion to improve university courses for other students so that they do not have to struggle the way that I did.”

Originally a high school teacher, Stuve holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in instructional technology, and a doctoral degree from UT in curriculum and instruction.

The improvements to Stuve’s class didn’t come about without collaboration from the students who participate in the course: “Although I put a lot of work into making my course inclusive of all students, I couldn’t have done that without my students’ feedback. I met with my students synchronously once a week in a web conference session, and I always talked to them about their learning. Because students shared with me, I was able to learn how I could best design the course to meet their needs. I have read a lot of research about online math education, but sometimes the best answers to my questions came from simply asking my students what they wanted.”

In addition to using technology to create an inclusive classroom, Stuve employs more traditional methods to keep the atmosphere fun: “All the math jokes I told throughout the semester may not have been so bad!”

For a full list of 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award recipients, visit press.blackboard.com/Blackboard-Catalyst-Awards-2017.

University College adviser selected for award in excellence

Whether students, faculty or staff, those tied to The University of Toledo know just how important the role of an adviser is.

Melissa Gleckler, senior specialist for prior learning and credit assessment, was recognized for her achievements in advising by the Ohio Academic Advising Association June 16 at its annual conference held at Cleveland State University. Gleckler was presented with the Advising Excellence Award, which she was nominated for by Deb Sobczak, director of student services for the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and DeMya Wimberly, success coach and pre-major adviser for exploratory studies.

Melissa Gleckler posed for a photo with the Advising Excellence Award she received at the Ohio Academic Advising Association’s annual conference last month in Cleveland.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my peers as an exemplary adviser for the state of Ohio,” Gleckler said. “It is important that we not only support our students, but also support each other. Receiving the state advising award is a wonderful way to celebrate my 10th year in higher education here at UT.”

Gleckler, who completed both bachelor’s and a master’s degrees at UT, said she hadn’t planned on working in higher education.

“Higher education is actually my second career, and an accidental one, at that. My bachelor’s degree is in broadcast communication, and I worked in TV production for many years. I often found myself in teaching and training situations, which is what led me to pursue a master’s degree and commute my career to higher education.

“I’m currently pursuing a PhD in educational technology, which I find to be a marriage between my two careers, both of which I have enjoyed immensely,” she said.

Wiona Porath, who at the time was president of the Ohio Academic Advising Association, sent Gleckler the notification of her award. She transitioned to past-president at the conference.

“I have known [Gleckler] since 2007, when I worked at UT. I was so pleased that the awards committee selected her to receive the Excellence in Advising Award for the Ohio Academic Advising Association,” Porath said. “It was such a joy for me to let Mel know she would be the recipient of the 2017 award. It was even more exciting to be able to present the award to her at our annual conference.”

“Universities can be large and hard to navigate. Higher education is so different from high school. Advisers are a lifeline for students. While academic success is our main goal, I, like so many of my colleagues, believe in holistic advising to promote student success in all facets of life, well beyond the books,” Gleckler explained, when asked about the importance of good advising.

“I’ve actually had students ask me about my career path and how to become an adviser — which is a great compliment in itself. The desire to pay it forward reminds me of the impact we have on students. The best advice I have for them is to always remember their own student journey — what helped them, what they needed to know, what they know now that they wish they had known then. Sometimes a student might not know the right questions to ask, but we still have to be able to give them the answers they need. By staying in touch with the student experience, I know I can better understand and serve my students’ needs.”

UT honored for its support of Navy Reserve

The University of Toledo was one of 37 employers from across the nation honored by the chief of Navy Reserve for exceptional support of America’s Navy Reserve sailors.

During the Chief of Navy Reserve Navy Employer Recognition Event this summer in Norfolk, Va., Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College, accepted a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the University for UT’s dedication and support of employees who serve in the Navy Reserve.

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, center, and Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, on behalf of The University of Toledo, received a Navy Employer Support Certificate of Appreciation from Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Robin Braun during a ceremony this summer in Norfolk, Va.

Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, center, and Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, on behalf of The University of Toledo, received a Navy Employer Support Certificate of Appreciation from Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Robin Braun during a ceremony this summer in Norfolk, Va.

“Employer support is absolutely critical to the Navy Reserve’s mission,” said Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun. “We currently have 2,100 reserve sailors deployed around the world. Making sure those reserve sailors have a job when they come back from that yearlong mobilization is critical, and that’s why this event is wonderful. We’re recognizing employers who have given outstanding support to their Navy Reserve sailor. In fact, many of the employers here have sailors who are deployed right now overseas. So this is a great opportunity for us to recognize them for the outstanding support they give.”

“The University of Toledo is committed to making sure all men and women who serve our great nation have everything they need to succeed, and that includes flexibility,” Kopp Miller said.

The June 24 event also was a Navy familiarization day and provided employers an opportunity to see firsthand what reserve sailors do every day. Selected employers are chosen from nominations submitted by their reserve sailor employees.

Throughout the one-day recognition event, Kopp Miller and the other employers had the opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, tour the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan at Naval Station Norfolk, view a static display of aircraft from Naval Air Force Reserve, and witness a demonstration by Reserve SEAL Team 18.

“It was an honor to have this behind-the-scenes look at the Navy,” Kopp Miller said.

“Our hope is that the employers gain a better understanding of what their Navy Reserve sailors are doing when they leave to support Navy missions around the world,” Braun said. “In many cases, their sailors are deploying and leaving their company for a year at a time to mobilize, so today gives them a better picture of the capabilities the Navy brings to our nation, and also the type of support our reserve sailors provide to the Navy.”

Employers invited to this year’s event were nominated by their employees who are also Navy Reserve sailors. Guests included CEOs, company owners and senior executives from small, medium and large companies.

Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, director of military and veteran affairs, nominated the University for the honor.

“Here at UT, service members and veterans are employed in a variety of
positions across our campuses,” Ghanbari said. “Collectively, these
employees bring with them a wealth of knowledge gathered through years of military service, and I am honored to work alongside them.”