UT News » Features

UT News


Search News




Women’s golf team to sport red in February to help fight heart disease

The University of Toledo women’s golf program will wear a red golf shirt on one day of each of its tournaments during the month of February to help raise awareness of heart disease as the No. 1 killer of women.

Head Coach Nicole Hollingsworth became involved in the fight against heart disease in women following a near-death experience last summer. She served as a guest speaker at the American Heart Association’s Go Red event in Toledo in November and has helped spread the word since.

wear red golf T“I was so honored to be asked to speak at the Go Red event as a local survivor for the fight against heart disease,” Hollingsworth said. “Since then, my life has changed. I cannot tell you how many people have approached me. I have been overwhelmed with the concern I have received, from people that I know to complete strangers.

“I see this as a personal cause, too, because I want women to know what the signs are,” she said. “In my case, I had 15 seconds and I called 911. If I hadn’t called 911 that day, I’m not sure I would be here today. Eighty percent of cardiovascular disease is reversible, but we have to take care of ourselves as women.”

In addition to the Go Red event, Hollingsworth was featured locally by WTOL’s morning news and appeared in a special segment for the evening news to discuss getting in better shape. She talked about how losing 73 pounds over the last 18 months probably saved her life in July when the heart episode happened. Hollingsworth’s story also appeared on BCSN’s Rocket Roundup and nationally in Golfweek magazine.

The Rockets have decided as a team to support the fight against heart disease in women.

“Our players decided unanimously that they would like this to be a cause that we try to educate people about,” Hollingsworth said. “We are going to give out information to other teams at our tournaments about National Heart Month to let them know more about heart disease.”

In addition to that show of support on the links, the Rockets want to make sure that people know that the National Wear Red Day — Go Red for Women is Friday, Feb. 5.

“We want to see everyone wearing red on February 5,” Hollingsworth said. “Anyone who is interested can wear the same red shirt we wear on the golf course. We would like to sell as many as possible so we can make a considerable donation to two great causes.”

Contact Hollingsworth at nicole.hollingsworth@utoledo.edu if you would
like to purchase a golf shirt for $40. Add $10 for shipping costs. You also can send a check as well as your shirt size (either men’s or women’s) to:

Nicole Hollingsworth
The University of Toledo Women’s Golf
2801 W. Bancroft St. — MS 302
Toledo, OH 43606

The Rockets will make donations from the shirt sales to the American Heart Association of Northwest Ohio and The University of Toledo Medical Center Cardiovascular Research.

Mental Wellness Month draws to a close, but UT continues to care for seniors

When it comes to mental health, caring for seniors can be very different than caring for children, adolescents or young adults.

For the past year and a half, the University has been providing specialized care for adults 55 and older through UT Health’s Senior Behavioral Health.

“Senior Behavioral Health is a specialized program that is able to provide appropriate and individualized care for older adults,” said Ryan Domschot, community education manager for Senior Behavioral Health.

According to Domschot, a majority of the individuals seen at Senior Behavioral Health are experiencing some behavioral issues that are unusual for them. The patients are having difficulties expressing their feelings, and they can become combative, verbally aggressive and/or physically aggressive, and may have thoughts of hurting themselves or others.

Senior Behavioral Health works on creating a better quality of life for the patient and helping manage these behaviors.

“One of the primary ways we help patients is to evaluate their medications,” Domschot said. “Many of our patients come in on a variety of unnecessary medications — and may have been misdiagnosed or over-medicated by other doctors.”

Domschot said Dr. Bryan Moloney, medical doctor at Senior Behavioral Health, is able to spend more time with patients than a doctor seeing someone on an outpatient basis, and is able to gain an accurate assessment of how to effectively work with the patients and meet their needs.

“The way geriatric patients metabolize medications is different than adults,” Domschot said. “It takes a little bit longer so see any results; therefore, we tend to work with our patients on average 10 to 12 days before discharge. This helps us observe any adverse behaviors and make adjustments as necessary. Our goal is to give the patient the best quality of life with the least amount of medication.”

The program also provides patients with individualized occupational, physical and other therapies from an integrated health-care team that includes nursing staff, recreational therapists and family therapists.

“Our results speak for themselves,” Domschot said. “We have seen a great improvement with individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety and dementia-related issues. We are always working to improve our program, but so far we have been very satisfied with the outcomes.”

If you think Senior Behavioral Health can make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one, call 844.266.4889. A clinical staff member will assist you in determining whether an inpatient stay is necessary or if the issue can be addressed by another local resource.

Within the next three months, the program will offer a virtual tour to give the community an online experience of what is available and how it can help. Be sure to check http://utole.do/seniorbehavioralhealth for updates.

Domschot also leads educational seminars in the community on a variety of topics, including dementia, hoarding versus collecting, holiday blues, interacting with staff members and more. The next free seminar, which is geared toward caretakers and seniors but open to all, will be Wednesday, Feb. 24, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 Sylvania Ave, Sylvania. The topic will be hoarding versus collecting.

Take precautions during winter season

While it’s been a mild winter so far, frigid temperatures and snowy weather are in the forecast.

The University’s Department of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety want to remind the UT community to take precautions when traversing campus this winter.

Be sure to stay on cleared or salted areas in snowy or icy conditions.

Be sure to stay on cleared or salted areas in snowy or icy conditions.

When walking, it is important to wear proper shoes with an aggressive tread.

Slip and fall injuries are the biggest cause of emergency room visits. To prevent an injury, stick to clear or salted walkways and don’t rush to get to your destination. Take smaller steps to increase balance. If a handrail is available, use it.

Snowy or icy walkways can be reported to 419.383.5353 on Health Science Campus and 419.530.1000 on Main Campus.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness provides additional information on how to prepare for the winter season; go to weathersafety.ohio.gov.

Student donates more than money for annual charity event

Thousands of students participated in Relay for Life last month, but one student took her support to the next level.

Katie Elco took part in the campus-wide cancer-fighting event. The twist? Elco vowed to cut off and donate one inch of her own hair for every $100 she raised.

Katie Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut to raise funds; she donated $300 to Relay for Life and gave her locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which creates wigs for women fighting cancer.

Katie Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut to raise funds; she donated $300 to Relay for Life and gave her locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which creates wigs for women fighting cancer.

“This idea has always kind of been eating away at me,” she said. “This seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

Relay for Life is an annual event at The University of Toledo put on by the Colleges Against Cancer and sponsored by the American Cancer Society. More than 13,000 students participated in the 12-hour overnight event in the Student Recreation Center to help raise money to fight cancer.

Elco said her goal was $1,300, equivalent to 13 inches of hair. When asked about her inspiration, she cited a friend from high school, Lexi, whose father passed away from cancer and mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Everyone has been touched by cancer. It’s such a big thing in our day and age, watching our older relatives, and all ages, suffer from this disease.”

This year the event raised $56,685.81, and Elco personally raised $300. Instead of the original 3 inches she promised, Elco had 18 inches of her hair cut off at the event and donated it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, an organization creating real-hair wigs to give to woman fighting cancer.

Kicking off with a survivors walk, the overnight event was filled with dodgeball, bake sales, photobooths, a Mr. Relay pageant and more activities to celebrate the fight for life.

“Any amount of passion, not even money necessarily, counts,” Elco said. “Of course, every dollar helps, but just being there shows your support for people fighting cancer. I feel like it’s a no-brainer to just go to a Relay for Life event and show your support.”

For more information, visit relayforlife.org/ut.

UT expands Starfish technology that is making a difference for students

This past spring, The University of Toledo implemented a tool to help student success and retention. Less than a year later, UT has won a national award for it and is looking to expand it.

The tool is Starfish Early Alert and Connect, a platform that helps students find resources to ensure they are getting what they need to be successful.

Starfish logo copyUT began using the software in spring 2015, focusing on first- and second-year students, transfer students and students within three key courses — English Composition I, Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving, and College Algebra. All 1000-level courses, these were the starting point because of their broad impact and the faculty’s willingness to participate.

Starfish works by providing students with a success network, which includes their instructors, success coach and other campus resources. Through timed Starfish Early Alert progress surveys, instructors can provide positive feedback or raise concerns about students in their class, which either rewards them with a kudos email or connects them with the resources they need to be successful.

The goal with these initial courses was to improve the success rates in English and math from the prior spring semester, and UT exceeded its goals. Success in English Composition I went up 5 percent over the previous year, College Algebra increased by 7 percent, and Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving by 16 percent.

“We had success because of multiple interventions,” said Dr. Julie Fischer-Kinney, assistant provost for student success and retention, and interim dean of YouCollege. “I attribute our success to the faculty in those departments, the success coaches who were reaching out to the students when alerted by the faculty, our Learning Enhancement Center for providing tutoring and math study tables, and other resources on campus such as the Counseling Center.”

In September, UT was awarded the Starfish 360 Rising Star Award, and was one of only three winners across the country and the only four-year public institution.

Winning has brought national attention to UT’s student success and retention practices, and Fischer-Kinney has been asked to speak at multiple conferences for the National Academic Advising Association.

“I think through our success with Starfish, it has put our institution on a national platform,” Fischer-Kinney said. “I’ve been contacted by many schools about how we were able to achieve that success in math and English.”

One of the main factors that contributed to UT winning this award is the focus not only on academics, but on the overall experience students have. In particular, financial aid has been integrated because many students struggle with that process.

One campaign in particular was to alert students to holds on their account before they became an issue. In spring, 1,301 students had a past due balance hold and another 129 students had missing transcript holds; all remedied their past due balances, and 99 percent were able to fix their missing transcript holds.

“Students were responding in real time to what was going on so that they could continue to register for classes and move forward in their academic studies,” Fischer-Kinney said.

This fall, Starfish was expanded to Mathematics for Liberal Arts, a few sections of Calculus With Applications to Business and Finance, and a section of Single Variable Calculus I. In spring, English Composition II may be added to the early alert progress surveys, and academic advisers will be incorporated into the platform.

Other areas of campus that are being integrated into Starfish this year are Student-Athlete Academic Services, Greek Life, College Credit Plus students, International Students, Student Involvement, Residence Life, Career Services and more.

When students log in to the software, they are able to instantly connect with individuals in their network that can help them succeed. They also can see an A-Z listing of the resources available to them on campus such as student involvement and counseling services.

Students don’t necessarily have to log in to Starfish to gain from it — each student receives an email whenever something requires attention — but the platform provides a lot of extra resources for them. They also can update their profile with a picture and cell phone information for text alerts to their phone.

“It does not replace people, and it does not replace relationships or conversations,” Fischer-Kinney said. “It’s simply a tool to help us communicate and identify students in need so that we can have those conversations.”

Xboxes available on campus for fun, education

Video games are being installed across campus for students to enjoy between classes and use as part of their education later.

There are 18 Microsoft Xbox systems now in use on Main Campus in common areas of residence halls, the Student Union, Gillham Hall and the Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement.

Students Justin Fowler, left, and Matthew Scarcipino played soccer on an Xbox system in the Student Union.

Students Justin Fowler, left, and Matthew Scarcipino played soccer on an Xbox system in the Student Union.

Throughout the semester, UT’s Information Technology Department has been installing custom cabinets that include a TV and Xbox system around campus for students to use. Controllers can be checked out with a student ID from the building’s office or residence hall’s front desk.

“UT is implementing Microsoft’s Xbox One systems across campus to provide a platform for not only entertainment, but eventually multimedia education,” said Dominic D’Emilio, senior director of network services and technology support. “We recently installed the gaming systems and students are already enjoying the new technology playing the popular NFL Madden game with their friends. As Microsoft releases more games in this new Windows 10 environment, we will be adding further edutainment options for students.”

Providing video game systems on campus started as a conversation in the Provost’s Office for activities students might enjoy, such as a video game tournament, and it quickly evolved into a discussion of how to support UT’s increasing use of interactive technology in and out of the classroom.

Academic Technology and Simulation Gaming along with the Information Technology Department is part of UT’s new Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions, which also includes the Jacobs Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center and the Center for Creative Instruction.

UT’s Technology team has worked with industries on simulation game initiatives. For example, a simulation game recently developed for a local company will help staff experience running a virtual plant under different scenarios to better prepare managers for real-world operations.

“The technology team is now working with several academic programs to build similar simulation games, which will be part of academic courses across UT,” said William McCreary, vice president, chief information officer and chief technology officer.

“Simulation is becoming an integral part of the education experience at UT with medical students using the Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center and students doing modeling in geography courses, among many others, and the University is looking forward to working with Microsoft to deploy new product versions and features to incorporate more serious gaming into the education experience using our XBox Windows 10 environment.”

The Xboxes are located at:

• Academic House Rooms 1064 and 6072;

• Gillham Hall fourth floor lounge;

• International House lounges in Rooms 2001, 4001 and 6001;

• MacKinnon Hall Room 2170;

• Ottawa House East Room 2213;

• Ottawa House West Room 2215;

• Parks Tower Rooms 327, 627, 827, 1027, 1227 and 1427;

• Presidents Hall Room 3002;

• Savage & Associates Complex for Business Learning and Engagement Room 1110; and

• Outside Student Union Room 1525.

Gaming systems also will be installed in the Honors Academic Village.

“As these systems gain increased adoption, students will be truly amazed at the many things they can do beyond just game playing,” McCreary said.

UT classes use nonprofit organization to give back this holiday season

The season of giving is here and can be found in The University of Toledo’s classrooms.

Two UT Principles of Financial Accounting classes had the opportunity to use the nonprofit organization Kiva to give to those in need and learn about finance while they did it.

kiva_logo_tag_0 copyKiva offers funds to underprivileged people through microcredit loans — a very small amount of money usually lent to people in disadvantaged or impoverished situations, explained Kathleen Fitzpatrick, associate professor of accounting and instructor for the accounting classes.

Fitzpatrick, who has been lending to people on the site for five years, said that the organization offered her 35 free credits valued at $25 apiece to use in her classes for educational purposes. After teaching students about the nonprofit organization and the necessity of microcredit loans in impoverished countries, student groups used the credits to donate to any cause they wanted on the site.

“They don’t have what we have in the way of normal access to loans,” Fitzpatrick said. “There are no banks; they aren’t accessible to the non-rich in that country, so there’s no other option for them to borrow money. You’re making a real tangible difference in the lives of people who have nothing.”

The organization has thousands of profiles from people around the world with various businesses or causes that they’re trying to raise money for. The site allows lenders to give as little as $25 to the person or group of their choosing.

“I found the Kiva donation to be an excellent way to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Jacob Beakas, a second-year chemical engineering major in Fitzpatrick’s class. “Personally, our group provided funding to a man who was installing a well for drinking water in his village. Hopefully, our simple actions here at UT can provide a means to acquiring much needed clean water in his village.”

The University of Toledo also has a team on the site, which Fitzpatrick is a part of. Anyone is welcome to join, she said.

For more information, visit kiva.org.

Stressed out? UT researcher suggests floating as a way to relax

A University of Toledo mental health counselor says that people aren’t taking time to relax and enjoy life these days, in particular during the hectic holiday season.

While that might seem like nothing new, Thomas Fine, associate professor of psychiatry, said floating is making a comeback as an alternative mode of relaxation.

Thomas Fine was recently quoted in a Time magazine story about floating as a therapy for stress.

Thomas Fine was recently quoted in a Time magazine story about floating as a therapy for stress.

“If you are looking for ways to deal with stress, I would consider floating as a stress management activity,” Fine said. “Floating is so relaxing. The buoyancy of the water allows your muscles to relax. As your muscles relax, your mind begins to shut off.”

Fine, who started researching flotation in the 1970s with UT colleague Dr. John Turner, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, said that it is promising that this once “hippie thing” is gaining credence as a possible source of relaxation. Fine was recently quoted in a Time magazine article about floating as a therapy for distress.

Through the 1990s, Fine and Turner published studies on floating. Scientifically known as flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (REST), their studies looked at subjects who participated in eight 40-minute float sessions in salt water at skin temperature.

“In several studies, we saw improvements in blood pressure, mood, pain and muscle tension as a result of the regular experience of deep relaxation that accompanies frequent flotation experiences,” Fine said.

Isolation tanks, which are lightless and soundproof, designed for flotation relaxation are as close as Detroit.

“Interestingly enough, people want to relax, but don’t want to take the time to relax or make the drive to experience the best relaxation of their life,” Fine said. “What makes our research still relevant today is that the stress that humans are experiencing continues to ramp up as we become more immersed in technology. When I first started studying floating, we didn’t have smartphones or emails. We could go on vacation without having to check in at work or respond to questions or concerns. We live in a world filled with stress and overstimulation.”

Fine, who presented at the Portland Float Conference in August, recognizes that not everyone will be able to experience an isolation tank, but yoga and meditation are activities that can produce similar results.

“You could also get into bed and put a pillow under your head and a pillow under your knees and lie there with no light and no sound for 30 minutes,” he said. “If you did that, you would be starting to approach the deep relaxation experienced by those who float.”

Five UT staff members speak at national conference on advising

Five University of Toledo staff members were chosen from more than 1,000 proposals to speak at the 39th annual National Academic Advising Association conference held in October in Las Vegas.

The association is the leading organization for academic advising. More than 4,000 attended the conference, where session topics ranged from retention issues and strategies to programming and other aspects of academic advising.

“To have several proposals accepted from The University of Toledo speaks volumes to the high level of knowledge, expertise and commitment we have on campus through academic advising and success coaching,” said Beth Gerasimiak, senior director in the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning. “The University’s student-centered, holistic approach to helping students serves as a model program and reaches across a diverse population of students at UT.”

Fourteen University administrators attended the conference; these included success coaches, academic advisers, assistant directors and assistant provosts.

“I believe that because UT had 14 attendees that we believe in our advisers and the work that they do,” said Emily Creamer, assistant director of engineering transfer programs in the College of Engineering. “The attendance speaks volumes of high-quality services that we as the academic advisers and academic administrators want to provide to our campus.”

Gerasimiak said strong academic advising programs play a key role in student success, retention and graduation.

UT members who gave presentations were Gerasimiak; Creamer; Melissa Gleckler, senior specialist for prior learning and credit assessment in the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning; Jennifer McDowell Tharpe, academic adviser in the College of Business and Innovation; and Dr. Julie Fischer-Kinney, assistant provost for student success and retention.

Gleckler and Gerasimiak gave a presentation titled “A Model Prior Learning Assessment Program at a State Institution: A Case Study.” They discussed how UT’s Prior Learning Assessment Program is structured and how they integrate best practices established under the Higher Learning Commission and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, as well as the University’s collaboration with the state 
of Ohio.

Gleckler said the dean of the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning as well as the senior director for the college both sit on a panel with the Ohio Department of Higher Education that is formulating directives for the Prior Learning Assessment Program statewide.

“A document I provided to our dean to take to one of those meetings ended up serving as the framework that the state developed for the Prior Learning Assessment Program,” Gleckler said. “So the state model is even going off the UT model.”

McDowell Tharpe delivered a talk titled “From Graduation to Orientation: Helping Upper-Division Students Navigate Their Last Two Years.” Her presentation was an overview of the advising model that is used in the college; she spoke specifically about the services for upper-division students.

“There’s not a lot of research done in this area, so I was looking forward to connecting to peers who are also interested in this topic,” McDowell Tharpe said

Fischer-Kinney teamed up with a peer from the University of Nebraska for a presentation titled “Leveraging Retention Software to Improve the Odds for Student Success.” The presentation focused on both universities positive institutional outcomes for improved student success and retention through the use of Starfish Early Alert and Connect. Both UT and the University of Nebraska were recipients of the 2015 Starfish Shining Star Awards, and both schools were selected to serve as panelists at the 2016 National Academic Advising Association Analytics in Academic Advising Seminar in Arizona next year.

Creamer’s presentation on “Fear and Loathing: Math Requirements and the Adult Student” focused on the research surrounding math anxiety, math placement testing and math courses, and the challenge that adult students face with math requirements. She also presented strategies for faculty, staff and adult students on how to reduce math anxiety and increase student success.

“When I received notification that I was not only chosen to present at the conference but also was receiving recognition from the National Academic Advising Association on my research on adult students and math anxiety, I was humbled that I was able to share my research and my advising and counseling experience with others who are interested in helping students succeed,” Creamer said.

She said there is limited research on adult and nontraditional students’ needs, and she believes the information from her presentation will help others.

Creamer’s presentation was one of three sponsored by the Advising Adult Learners Commission.

McDowell Tharpe said that having a strong presence at the National Academic Advising Association annual conference shows that the professional academic advisers and staff at UT are passionate about what they do in terms of helping students succeed.

“The fact that we had advisers who not only attended but also presented at the conference shows that academic advisers at UT are always trying to evolve to meet students’ needs,” she said.

UT Health pediatrician: National Diabetes Month is opportunity for family lifestyle change

The best way to prevent Type 2 diabetes in children is to get the whole family involved.

“You can’t just make your Type 2 diabetic child adopt a healthy lifestyle; everyone in the household has to be committed to eating healthily and exercising,” said Dr. Berrin Ergun-Longmire, the new chief of the Pediatric Endocrinology Division at The University of Toledo.



Ergun-Longmire wants families to understand that a healthier lifestyle, which can prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes, can include an occasional splurge as part of a normal childhood experience.

“I always tell parents that their children can have an occasional piece of pizza or cake,” she said. “The bottom line is that children need to know what they are eating and approach it in moderation, but they need family guidance when it comes to that.”

The situation has devolved to the point where children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes — a disease that is typically found in the elderly — because one-third of the children in the United States are overweight. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, those suffering from Type 1 diabetes can only be treated, not cured, because their body doesn’t produce insulin.

“The trick to understanding Type 2 diabetes is to pretend that your body is a power plant that burns sugar as its fuel,” Ergun-Longmire said. “For your body to remain alive, it initially converts the food that you eat into an energy source in the form of sugar. Then, with the help of insulin, your body will tap into this sugar and carry it inside the body’s cells where it is burned as fuel.”

However, for people with Type 2 diabetes, their insulin cannot transport the sugar from the bloodstream into their cells, according to Ergun-Longmire. This is because these people have an excessive amount of body fat that keeps the insulin from doing its job.

Ergun-Longmire said the key to preventing and defeating Type 2 diabetes is to make sure that your child’s body fat is not excessive. This is where a healthy lifestyle comes into play.

She suggests swapping whole milk for skim and choosing fruit instead of fruit juice. Exercise is a key component, but it doesn’t mean buying a gym membership.

“Your child could join a soccer team or run in the basement or listen to music and dance,” she said. “You need to find ways to incorporate exercise into your child’s life without making it seem like a chore.”

Ergun-Longmire practices at Rocket Pediatrics, in both Toledo and Waterville, with her team: Dr. James Horner, Nurse Practitioner Janet Moore, Staff Dietitian Michelle Cleland and Staff Nurse Cereda Blanchard. They can be reached at 567.952.2100.