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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.”