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UT students mentor local elementary school children during weekly campus visit

The children gasped in delight and their eyes lit up with wonder as each walked single file into an auditorium-style classroom at The University of Toledo.

The excited faces of more than two dozen third-, fourth- and fifth-graders bused from Old Orchard Elementary School were ready for the debut of UT’s College Mentors for Kids program.

Mariah Quinn worked with Cullen Brank, 8, during the first session of UT’s College Mentors for Kids program.

UT students matched with their “little buddies” from Toledo Public Schools for one-on-one mentoring on this first activity day of the school year. They will meet once a week on campus for two hours after school as a way to expose the children to higher education at a young age and also provide college students with leadership and growth opportunities.

Doryian Thames, a fourth-year student majoring in professional sales and marketing, serves as the president of the new UT organization.

“When I was a boy, mentors through the Boys and Girls Clubs of America had a big influence on me,” Thames said. “Mentors have a genuine chance to make an impact on someone’s life. This program is a direct opportunity to see how being an active role model to an individual can really change the trajectory of their future.”

One of the program goals is to expose children to a variety of career options. The theme of the inaugural week was pharmacy, and activities included making hand sanitizer.

“As an educator, it is imperative that we create opportunities to expose young scholars to what they can aspire to become,” Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, UT vice president for student affairs, said. “UT is committed to moving the student success needle forward by fostering environments for both mentors and little buddies to learn.”

UT launched a new chapter of the national College Mentors for Kids program in partnership with the Hylant Family Foundation.

“As native Toledoans, the Hylant family is thrilled to be sponsoring the new College Mentors for Kids chapter at The University of Toledo,” said Clare Hylant of the Hylant Family Foundation. “This program provides the opportunity to make a significant difference for the youth of Toledo, a true chance to change what they think is possible, and encourage them to reach for their dreams.”

“We are so excited for any additional support we receive from outside organizations that are helpful and benefits our students in further developing their college readiness,” Valerie Dreier, principal of Old Orchard Elementary School, said.

College Mentors for Kids is a nonprofit organization with a mission to connect college students with the most to give to kids who need it most. The organization operates 34 campus-based chapters across Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

“We want kids to dream bigger and achieve higher,” said Carly Cox, associate director of programming for the national office of College Mentors for Kids. “Whether that means pursuing a career as a chef or a gardener or opening your own business, we want them to see beyond their neighborhood and see new potential.”

Rock-and-roll scholar analyzes Beatles’ White Album as psychedelic music

To mark the 50th anniversary of what is widely known as the White Album, an English literary and rock-and-roll scholar at The University of Toledo argues the 30-song double album released in November 1968 titled “The Beatles” coherently showcases the fruits of shared psychedelic experiences between John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Dr. Russell Reising, professor in the UT Department of English Language and Literature and original member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Educational Advisory Board, wrote a 22-page lyrical analysis, “Where Everything Flows,” to be published next year in a collection of essays about the record.

“Tense, yes. Clashing, yes. Disconcerting, yes. Incoherent and lacking any kind of unity, no. ‘The Beatles’ is that place we can go, where everything flows. And flow it does through the broadest possible range of musical styles, lyrical evocations and emotional extremes,” said Reising, who has published books about The Beatles’ “Revolver” album and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Through the unique, unprecedented scope of diverse subject matter and varied songs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Helter Skelter,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” “Blackbird,” “Rocky Raccoon” and “Revolution 9,” Reising said the album reveals the transformations of The Beatles’ philosophical point of view and psychological insights after undergoing LSD experiences resulting in psychedelic music.

“They are an expression of the communal consciousness of The Beatles at the time when they stop taking LSD, and the influence of their experiences starts to make itself felt in songs that might not necessarily sound at all psychedelic,” Reising said.

“The diversity of the album is like an attempt to reproduce in record form the philosophical commitment to integration, unity and incorporation — as opposed to conflict — that comes about as a result of the long, reflective, introspective final phases of an LSD experience that influence how one thinks and lives their lives. It makes them more compassionate and more open to a wider range of experiences.”

Reising

The book titled “The Beatles Through a Glass Onion: Reconsidering the White Album,” which is expected to be released in March from the University of Michigan Press, will be the first scholarly volume devoted to the album’s legacy in the Fab Four’s career and in rock history.

“The White Album is awfully, awfully good,” Reising said. “This is not one of my favorite albums, but I like it more than a lot of people do.”

“Even after 50 years, the critics’ view of the White Album remains contested,” said Dr. Mark Osteen, professor of English and director of the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University Maryland, who edited the book. “Given the disparity in response ranging from ‘the product of a band in disarray’ to ‘a rich tapestry of musical textures,’ we believe that this landmark record — still one of the top-selling rock albums of all time — deserves reconsideration.”

Reising’s essay fits into the book’s first section, which outlines the personal, musical and political contexts for the album. The other chapters focus on the music, musicians, lyrics and the album’s legacy.

The songs travel time and space all over the globe. They feature animals such as McCartney’s dog in “Martha My Dear,” as well as different kinds of people like Chairman Mao, Bungalow Bill and the dentist who will pull Eric Clapton’s teeth. The songs have musical and sonic effects from Western and Eastern traditions, reverse tapes, dainty piano pieces, and religious songs.

“No two songs are the same,” Reising said. “You have everything from musical simplicity to incredible complexity. It’s offering the broadest possible range of ideas, attitudes, emotions and sounds that a day in the life might contain.”

Reising evoked James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” in his commentary on the Fab Four’s songs written between meditative sessions in India in a quest to find inner peace.

“It is commonplace among Melville scholars to refer to the Pequod in ‘Moby Dick’ as a microcosm of the entire world,” Reising said. “We can see ‘The Beatles’ in similar terms.”

“‘The Beatles’ might not exactly be an album whose songs encompass the interconnectedness of all things, but the range of musical styles, of vision, even of length represent something that no other album has even remotely approached, something akin to what James Joyce attempts in ‘Ulysses’ or ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’”

The band became open in the White Album to inviting other significant contributors to their musical efforts.

“They deploy a significant number of ‘partners’ in an unprecedented way,” Reising said. “Either the wife or girlfriend of each Beatle performs on at least one song: Patty Boyd on ‘Piggies,’ Maureen Starkey on ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,’ Francie Schwartz on ‘Revolution 1,’ and Yoko Ono on ‘Birthday.’ Never before had wives or girlfriends been present in the recording studio.”

Other artists, including Clapton, Jackie Lomax and Nicky Hopkins, were included.

“Never before had any such independent or otherwise group-affiliated musicians graced Beatles’ recordings,” Reising said.

He said the album is almost like a day in the life, from sleeplessness to insomnia to gentle easing to sleep. The first song, which starts with screaming jet engines, has a lyric, “Didn’t get to bed last night”; the album has a middle song titled “I’m So Tired”; and the last song is called “Good Night,” ending the album with Starr singing, “Good night, sleep tight,” and then whispering, “Good night… Good night, everybody… Everybody, everywhere… Good night.”

The 50th anniversary of “The Beatles” is Nov. 22, 1968.

These photos of, from left, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, were included in “The Beatles.”

Trick play scores love of a lifetime for UT alumni

It’s not something you see every day: A baseball player striding to the Rocket logo in the center of the Glass Bowl and hitting it out of the stadium. But that’s exactly what Josh Johnson did.

With the help of Rocky and Rocksy, the former UT outfielder surprised his girlfriend, Cara Wasserman, by popping the question Oct. 20 and sliding a diamond on her finger.

Cara Wasserman and Josh Johnson held the UT blanket while posing for a photo with Rocky and Rocksy after the couple became engaged Oct. 20 in the Glass Bowl.

At 8:30 a.m. on game day, the couple met their friends, Eric and Neena Mossing, in lot 10.

“We played it off as a contest, that Neena and Eric won passes to tour the Glass Bowl, and they asked Cara to go as she’s a huge Toledo football fan,” Johnson said.

After the Rocket Marching Band finished rehearsing, Rocky and Rocksy met the four fans in the center of the stadium, posed for photos, and began handing out prizes. Eric received a UT beer stein and said, “I can use this today!” Neena, a 2011 UT alumna, got a Rocket coffee mug. And then the mascots unfolded a blanket with a photo of Johnson and Wasserman in their Rocket gear with the words: “Cara Lynn, will you marry me?”

Johnson dropped down on one knee and opened a ring box.

“What the — oh my god! Yes, I will! What the heck, Josh?” Wasserman said. “Oh my god, that is so awesome!”

As the couple embraced and kissed near the 50-yard line, Wasserman’s parents came on the field. After a round of hugs, Rick Wasserman, who played tight end for the Rockets and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979, said, “It’s time to start the tailgate.”

Josh Johnson surprised Cara Wasserman when he knelt down and asked her to marry him prior to the Oct. 20 Toledo football game.

“We popped champagne,” Wasserman said, adding she had no clue what was going to happen. “Even when we walked on the field, I still thought we won a contest. It didn’t literally dawn on me until he got down on one knee.”

And when she saw the blanket?

“It took me a minute because I saw the mascots take it out of the bag. I saw it was a blanket, but it was turned around, so I saw the backside of it. And I thought: That’s cool, it’s a Toledo blanket,” she said. “And then Rocky and Rocksy were holding it, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, that’s our picture on the blanket!”

Keeping the plan under cover was easy for Johnson — until Saturday morning.

“She kept pushing the snooze button, and I kept looking at the clock,” he said. “I basically pushed her out of bed so she’d get up. And then on the drive there, it started to hit me quite a bit. Most times, I’m not really driving that fast, but I felt like I was going 85 miles per hour to get there.

“It really kicked in when we got there at 8:22, and Eric and Neena weren’t there yet at the tailgate. So I started freaking out: Oh my gosh, they’re going to be late, and everything’s going to be thrown off. I started getting really nervous. And then on the walk in, I’m surprised Cara didn’t notice because I felt like I was having seizures I was shaking so bad.”

Rocksy and Rocky posed with, from left, Eric and Neena Mossing, Cara Wasserman and Josh Johnson. This shot of the “contest winners” was taken before the proposal.

Johnson started planning to ask the big question in the spring.

“With her dad being a former football player, she grew up a huge Rocket fan. And being a former UT athlete myself, with the last home game on a Saturday, that was the perfect time,” he said.

“We’ve been going to Toledo games since I was super-little; we love Toledo football,” Wasserman said. “We always tailgate. That’s another reason I didn’t think anything of it because our friends were down there setting up their tailgate, and they usually get there pretty early. So when he said 8:30 we need to be down there, I was like, OK, make sure my parents know what time we’re tailgating.”

Johnson played baseball for the Rockets from 2007 to 2010 and graduated with an individualized degree from University College in 2014. He is the recreation program specialist at the Village of Archbold’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Wasserman received a bachelor of education degree in 2011 and is an intervention specialist in special education and math teacher at Fassett Junior High School in Oregon. She is pursuing a master of education degree in curriculum and instruction at the University.

They are looking for a home in between Archbold and Oregon, and discussing wedding plans for next year.

“We both knew we wanted to be together and get married, but it was always like the future — I did not think it would be now. I am super-thrilled that it is now, but I had no idea,” Wasserman said. “I am super-excited! I just keep thinking about Saturday.”

Public health grad student gets real-world experience volunteering at refugee camp

James Papadimos had been to Greece before, but he was not prepared for what would confront him when he arrived in Samos, a small island in the Aegean Sea that has become a temporary home to thousands of refugees who have fled their home countries because of war, political instability or persecution.

A master of public health student at The University of Toledo, Papadimos flew halfway across the world in August to volunteer his time and public health knowledge in one of Europe’s busiest reception centers for migrants and asylum seekers.

James Papadimos, UT master of public health student, held a baby, Amir, in Samos. He traveled to the small island in the Aegean Sea in August to help provide medical care to refugees.

“When I arrived, what I saw was surreal,” Papadimos said. “There are so many people there. The conditions were deplorable at best. It was tough to see.”

The camp at Samos functions as a receiving area where new arrivals are identified and vetted as they hope to gain asylum. But with authorities struggling to find accommodations on the Greek mainland, many refugees stay at the overcrowded camp for long periods of time.

In July, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported there were 2,600 people at Samos — the most recent figure available.

And new arrivals come daily to the island, which sits just a mile from Turkey. Samos is the second busiest receiving center among Greece’s Aegean islands this year, according to the UN. Together, all of Greece’s Aegean islands averaged nearly 900 arrivals per week from the beginning of August to mid-September, according to the UN. The refugee aid agency said Syrians and Iraqis come in the largest numbers.

As of mid-September, more than 18,000 refugees and migrants were residing on the Aegean islands, the UN said, with roughly 600 a week receiving authorization to move to the mainland.

James Papadimos took this photo of a refugee camp on Samos.

Papadimos, who did his undergraduate work at Ohio State University before returning to his hometown for his graduate education, has long focused on humanitarian issues. While at Ohio State, he formed a student organization to raise money for mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa. At UT, Papadimos helped organize the donation of refreshed patient simulators to the University of Athens Medical School.

As he followed news of the refugee crisis, he was struck by how Greece — a country dealing with significant financial strain — had taken in so many refugees.

“When I heard about this as someone who wants to be a physician, someone who wants to care for humanity and just a proud Greek-American, I wanted to go over to help,” he said.

During his three-week stint on Samos, Papadimos helped local physician Dr. Manos Logothetis conduct medical and wellness checks and vaccinate children, as well as taught English and distributed food. But his education in public health proved crucial when an outbreak of tuberculosis and hepatitis A tore through the camp. Papadimos conducted a needs assessment and located the source of the outbreak, which was contained.

“It was firsthand experience,” he said. “You feel like you’ll never get that as a student, but I did. I got legitimate field experience, and my public health knowledge helped me tremendously. I’ve had excellent teachers here. They’re fantastic.”

Papadimos intends to apply to medical school after completing his master’s degree and continue his humanitarian work.

“That will be part of my life as a physician. I’m here to help as many people as I can,” he said. “If I’m so fortunate to be able to be a medical student, to be a physician, I’ll do all I can to give back and utilize the skills I’m taught to help people.”

From music to medicine: MD/PhD student serves as concertmaster for high-profile charity orchestra in nation’s capital

Robin Su won an international piano competition before he had a driver’s license, has been invited to play at Carnegie Hall, and performed a violin solo at the esteemed Cleveland Orchestra.

But the greatest musical honor of the violinist and aspiring physician’s life came in August when he was selected to be concertmaster for two rare joint performances by the World Doctors Orchestra and the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia in Washington.

Robin Su, fourth-year MD/PhD candidate in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, performed last month with the World Doctors Orchestra and the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia in Washington.

Su, a fourth-year MD/PhD candidate in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, wasn’t just sitting first chair — the most important orchestra position after the conductor — he was the only student among the 70 or so doctors and researchers volunteering their time for the charity concerts.

“It is very difficult to be invited to perform with this orchestra,” Su said. “Some of the world’s finest MDs and PhDs were there together.”

Su, 25, is hoping to join their ranks.

As he worked toward a degree in violin performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Su was taking pre-med classes at Case Western Reserve University.

Robin Su posed for a photo with Nancia D’Alimonte, music director of the National Institutes of Health Philharmonia, in Washington.

“I was always interested in music and medicine,” he said. “As I got older and looked at the different possibilities of pursing both, I think that became more realistic.”

Su was one of just three students accepted into UT’s joint MD/PhD Program in fall 2015. His current research is focused on how microcystin, a dangerous toxin produced by algal blooms, might affect individuals with pre-existing conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.

He is working to find biomarkers that could help clinicians diagnose microcystin-induced liver damage.

“We’re trying to be at the front end and have preventative measures and diagnostic measures to prevent it from progressing further,” Su said. “Liver disease is a progressive disease from multiple hits, and we think that microcystin definitely plays into that and accelerates that process. We’re trying to prevent that from moving forward.”

As a professional musician, Su would dedicate eight hours a day to practice. That’s been significantly scaled back as he juggles his course load and laboratory work. Even so, Su managed to cram in four hours of practice every night in the weeks prior to the August performances.

Once together in Washington, the group went through three days of grueling eight-hour rehearsals. As concertmaster, Su took on many added responsibilities, including the execution of several solo passages, acting as a liaison between the conductor and orchestra to facilitate musical communication, and serving as a leader of the entire orchestra to ensure musical unity.

That’s no small task when you’re talking about an organization in the World Doctors Orchestra that draws from a rotating cast of more than 1,200 physicians from nearly 50 countries. Combine that with integrating musicians from the NIH Philharmonia, and it’s downright challenging.

“Normal orchestras rehearse throughout the year and we only have three days,” Su said. “I think everyone was very appreciative of my strong leadership of the orchestra, and I think it played a role in bringing everything together very quickly.”

His work won high praise from Sheyna Burt, president of the World Doctors Orchestra USA. There’s a bit of a cliché, Burt said, of a hard-charging physician by day and a dedicated amateur performer by night.

“With Robin it’s different. Whatever his academic prowess might be, he is a genuinely gifted and sensitive artist,” she said. “During the first rehearsal of the World Doctors Orchestra/NIH Philharmonia collaboration, I witnessed his interpretation of the opening violin solo in Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Russian Easter Overture’ stop an entire orchestra in its tracks.”

Su, who is about halfway through his dual degree program, eventually wants to actively practice medicine along with conducting academic research.

And he hopes to continue playing violin, encouraged by the world-class doctors and researchers with whom he recently performed.

“It’s definitely inspirational for me, seeing that physicians can still balance their work with their musical passion,” he said.

Greening UT’s projects blossoming

Greening UT has been leaving its mark on campus through projects aimed at replacing turf grass with native plantings and reintroducing habitats that once thrived in the area.

Greening UT is a team of students supported through the UT Student Green Fund. Its mission is to make the University a more sustainable institution and improve the human condition by supporting green ideas and initiatives proposed, decided upon, implemented by, and funded directly by students.

Black-eyed Susans, butterfly milkweed, false sunflower, partridge pair and gray-headed coneflower are included in Greening UT’s prairie planted by Bowman-Oddy Laboratories.

The group’s most recent project is a prairie planted in front of Bowman-Oddy Laboratories on Main Campus. This site was chosen due to its visibility, continuous monitoring, and two greenhouses that allow the students to manage seed sorting and growing.

“Native prairie plants work with the ecosystem rather than fighting it,” said Dr. Todd Crail, UT associate lecturer of environmental sciences. “They remove the need for fertilizer, dramatically reduce water usage, have root systems that store as much carbon as a forest, and additionally balance natural water and nutrient cycles. These plants species also feed the ecosystem through the food web interactions with insects and birds. Ultimately, they reduce the costs of maintaining a landscape, and we’re hoping to demonstrate that this different aesthetic is acceptable, if not beautiful and inspirational.”

Jeanna Meisner developed the Greening UT project as her capstone project. She graduated in 2016 with a bachelor of science degree in biology.

“Jeanna’s proposal was the first to receive wages for students from the UT Student Green Fund,” said Linnea Vicari, a former UT Greening student. “Using these hours, Jeanna and another student were paid to identify potential areas for native plantings on campus. As I moved in and Jeanna finished up, we focused on the Bowman-Oddy site.”

Service learning opportunities to work with these plants have been offered throughout the semester by faculty in the Environmental Sciences Department. Students can help raise and plant in existing prairies and gardens, as well as collect and process seeds to germinate and grow for new projects.

As for upcoming projects, UT Greening plans to work on filling existing prairies with more plant species and create more installations around campus, according to Bernadette Barror, a UT student on the team.

“I feel that this is a great way for students to get involved with plants on campus,” Barror said. “So many of our volunteers have never or rarely worked in a garden, and Greening UT provides not only this experience but the satisfaction of knowing that they are contributing to an improvement of the environment for the whole community.”

To the surprise of many, herbicide is one of the tools used when converting swaths of turf grass and is coordinated with UT Facilities.

“[Targeted] spraying will give us a clean slate to work with,” Barror explained. “When we do this, it will kill the invasive plants while not affecting the plants we want to grow.”

“Working with UT Greening was an incredible experience for me,” Vicari said. “UT Greening helped me develop my leadership skills as well as really rooting me into the Environmental Science Department.”

Students who are interested in learning about UT Greening, its projects and volunteering opportunities are encouraged to contact Crail at todd.crail@utoledo.edu or Dr. Jon Bossenbroek, director of the UT Office of Undergraduate Research and professor of environmental sciences, at jonathan.bossenbroek@utoledo.edu.

Photographer frames memories for Art on the Mall

A stolen moment brought life into focus for Agnes L. Barnes.

In 1985, she and her husband, Chet Barnes, were on vacation in California when their friend’s car was broken into; the thief took her vintage camera, an Argus C3.

Agnes and Chet Barnes hold two of her photographs taken at the Toledo Museum of Art and Wildwood Preserve Metropark. The couple will be at Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29.

“Then I bought a Canon Rebel G,” she said. “Right after that, we went to South Africa, and I got some really nice pictures.”

A photograph of three majestic elephants crossing the road at Kruger National Park. A crouching lion near Johannesburg. Thatched-roof huts in Soweto.

“When people saw the photos from South Africa and commented on how great the pictures were, I realized, well, maybe I have an ability many people don’t have. I was 50 years old before I discovered this,” Agnes said and laughed.

“She never had a lesson in photography. She’s taken pictures, pictures and more pictures,” Chet said beaming with pride. “Her first show was in Sylvania in 1994. We had photos hanging on chicken wire under an umbrella. She won a blue ribbon and sold so many photos.”

More shows and awards followed. And more photos.

Freshly fallen snow on the boardwalk at Wildwood Preserve Metropark. UT’s iconic University Hall bell tower. The colorful animal menagerie mural on the railroad bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail by the Toledo Zoo. A close-up of a pink rose with dewdrops.

Agnes L. Barnes looked at daisies in her garden. She loves taking photographs of flowers.

“A lot of the photos are serendipity,” Chet said. “I hear all the time, ‘Chet, get the camera.’ I’ll think she’s had enough time for a shot, and I look over and her toes are moving her back and forth: She has to get it just right.”

“I like to capture the beauty for others to enjoy that beauty,” Agnes said.

After Chet retired from Toledo Public Schools in 1996, the couple traveled so Agnes could capture more beauty.

The two have been up and down the East Coast, zooming in on lighthouses and old Southern homes. They went to England and visited quaint villages and gorgeous gardens. Island-hopping on Pohnpei, Guam, Saipan and Hawaii found lush, tropical paradises. And during two weeks in China, Agnes pointed her camera at the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors.

“So many people have told me that looking at my photos is like taking a vacation,” Agnes said.

While her striking images can transport viewers, she didn’t recognize her superpower for years.

“I didn’t look at the camera as an artistic tool; I just looked at it as something to record for future reference,” Agnes said.

“During my early years, I was born in 1937, and then World War II started, and film was very difficult to get. We did not have many pictures of my family growing up. So I made up my mind I was going to make sure I had pictures of my little brother and of my own children someday.”

With her mom’s Brownie camera, Agnes took photos of her baby brother, Paul, who was born in 1950. And then with the Argus C3, she clicked away while her children, John and Beth Ann, were growing up.

When 11-year-old Beth Ann passed away from leukemia in 1980, those images helped Agnes and Chet.

Agnes L. Barnes’ photographs appear in the book, “Choosing the Gift: Dealing With the Loss of a Loved One.”

“Most of the photos of my children were on slides, which turned out to be a really good thing,” Agnes said. “After Beth Ann’s death, I gave talks on how to help grieving families, and I showed slides of her, plus audio of her, so people would feel like they knew her, and they could see where our grief was coming from. I gave talks for 10 years.”

For nearly a decade, Agnes and Chet facilitated a bereavement group for parents.

And some of Agnes’ breathtaking shots of nature are featured in a book, “Choosing the Gift: Dealing With the Loss of a Loved One,” by Dr. Scott Shepherd and the photographer.

“The majority of the pictures I sell are because they bring back memories to my customers, I do believe,” she said.

Agnes and Chet will return to Art on the Mall Sunday, July 29. The cute couple sporting matching T-shirts that say “Eye-Catching Photos by Agnes L. Barnes” will be among more than 100 artists showcasing their work from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the free, juried show on Centennial Mall.

“Art on the Mall is a good show,” Agnes said. “Many of my customers are repeat customers; they return again and again. One lady told me that she has an entire wall that she calls her ‘Agnes wall’ because it is filled with my photos. It’s nice to keep in contact with my customers.”

Chet likes returning to his alma mater each summer; he received a master of education degree and an education specialist in guidance and counselor education in 1973 and 1975, respectfully.

“Every picture has a story,” he said.

“Chet is good at telling stories and keeping people in the booth,” Agnes said and smiled.

A missed photo opportunity is one of his favorite tales.

“The one time we didn’t have a camera was when we met Elvis Presley,” he said. “True story!”

Whimsical, funky pieces featured in UT’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition

A fire seemingly blazes on the hill west of University Hall. A plucky musical instrument stands outside the Center for Performing Arts. And a 1,500-pound yellow creature soon will lumber near the entrance of UT Medical Center.

Cynthia McKean’s “Fire VI,” Michael Magnotta’s “Rodney’s Bass” and John Parker’s “Ornythopterus” are three of the 10 new works being installed for The University of Toledo’s 13th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.

“Rodney’s Bass” by Michael Magnotta is located outside the Center for Performing Arts.

“Inspiration for my work comes from my life — my experiences and things I love: jazz, space, nature and beauty in all its manifestations,” Magnotta said. “My sculptures typically begin with a trip to the metal yard. From the shapes and textures I rescue, a conversation takes place — a visual conversation — that results in the three-dimensional work composing my sculptures.”

“Outdoor sculptures have to function in a comprehensive way as a drive-by experience, as strong and dynamic silhouettes,” Parker said. “With further exploration for the passer-by, a deeper appreciation and enjoyment can be explored walking around, under and through the pieces.

“Art is not an instant snapshot. It is meant to be lived with and experienced,” he said.

Like perennials, the artwork comes to life each spring on campus.

“This is such a gorgeous time of year when nature puts on a show. The sculptures add another dimension to that beauty — a pop of color here, movement there,” said Dr. Steve LeBlanc, executive associate dean of fiscal affairs in the Office of the Provost and chair of the Campus Beautification Committee.

“Homage to Matisse” by Mike Sohikian sits near the sidewalk between University Hall and the Memorial Field House.

Two of the new eye-catching works are by Mike Sohikian. “Homage to Matisse” features four steel figures in various positions of repose along the sidewalk between University Hall and the Memorial Field House. And located on the east side of the Health and Human Services Building, “Dance of Bliss” shows motion and strength.

Another steel piece, “Poetry” by Maureen Gray, is appropriately placed in Carlson Library’s new plaza. Matt Amante’s “Elevated Intersection” adds an elegant dash of blue to Ravin Plaza on Centennial Mall.

“Stainless Steel IV” by David Vande Vusse gleams near the sidewalk on the north side of University and Gillham halls. Charles Pilkey’s “Paleozoic Landscape” consists of painted steel and river pebbles; it will rest on the west side of Centennial Mall.

And Ray Katz’s aluminum work aptly named “Burst” is located between Nitschke and Palmer halls near the traffic circle.

Nearly 170 artists submitted proposals to the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, and the UT Campus Beautification Committee reviewed the entries and selected pieces for this year’s exhibition.

Cynthia McKean’s “Fire VI” roars on the hill west of University Hall.

Artists receive stipends for the sculptures, which will be on display for the next year.

More than 120 sculptures have rotated through the display at the University since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT’s art collection thanks to the generosity of campus benefactors, colleges and departments, according to LeBlanc.

“Gifts from donors make the annual exhibition possible,” he said. “If you like the sculptures, please consider a gift to the Campus Beautification Committee through the UT Foundation.”

Go to https://give2ut.utoledo.edu.

UT student selected for Fulbright Award

Soon-to-be-UT graduate Kristen Murray is undoubtedly the best argument for making sure to check junk email folders.

Murray, who will graduate May 5 with a bachelor of arts degree in global studies, received a prestigious gift last week — an email from J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board representatives notifying her that she’d been selected a Fulbright student ambassador to Mexico.

Murray

“I’d been waiting to hear because it’s been hard to plan the next year until I knew,” Murray, a Toledo native, said and chuckled. “My friend had just asked about it and said, ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason,’ and there was the letter in my junk mail.”

Murray will be an English teaching assistant in a yet-unassigned area of Mexico from September 2018 to May 2019. The Bowsher High School graduate also submitted a plan to create a volleyball team in her Mexican community or participate in an existing program.

“They really want you immersed in the local community when you’re not teaching,” Murray said. “I played volleyball and coached seventh grade, freshman and varsity while in college, so it will be a great way to tie together all of my passions.”

The Fulbright Award is named for former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, who in 1945 introduced a bill to promote goodwill between the U.S. and other countries. Today, the program awards 3,500 student scholarships each year in research, study and teaching to 140 countries.

Being selected a Fulbright scholar is a competitive and, as Murray discovered, a lengthy process. She applied in summer 2017, was notified that she was a finalist in January (via an email in her junk folder), and endured a tough interview before receiving last week’s notification.

Murray’s global studies advisor, Dr. Jetsa Cáceres, associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, said the award will have benefits beyond her time in Mexico.

“It’s a huge deal,” Cáceres said, noting that only 54 Fulbright Awards to Mexico are offered. “It gives students an opportunity to live abroad for a year and experience cultures, languages and opportunities they’ll never get in a classroom.

“Fulbright scholars have gone on to be Nobel prize winners, leaders in business, government and academia, and global trailblazers. If I was on a hiring committee and I had a choice of a candidate who had a Fulbright experience and one who did not, I’d choose the Fulbright scholar without even thinking.”

The Fulbright Award is another step toward Murray’s eventual goal of working in the U.S. Department of State with a specialty in Latin-American relations. She’s had internships in Peru, Cuba and Ecuador, and was elected by the Organization of American States as an international observer of the Ecuadoran election process in 2017.

Calling the experience “amazing,” Murray recalled, “I got to see firsthand one of the cornerstones of democracy, a presidential election in a different country. I got to talk to everyone in the town where I was living about the elections, including different groups such as Afro-Ecuadorans and indigenous Ecuadorans about the political climate and how it affected them.”

Murray understands the current U.S. political climate will be a topic of keen discussion once she arrives in her assigned city.

“I definitely think I’ll get a lot of questions about the current administration and the situation here in the U.S.,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I should go. I think it’s important that people judge our country not only on news and policy, but from meeting me as a U.S. citizen and knowing me as an actual person.”

This summer, she’ll study for her GRE so she can apply to graduate schools in December. She plans to earn a master’s degree in Latin American affairs.

With an “about 80 percent” fluency in Spanish, Murray also intends to use her time in Mexico to master the language while immersing herself in the culture of its people.

“I think it’s important to understand the countries we’re creating policies with and making deals with,” she said. “A lot of times, the voices of those who are most affected by policy are left out of the discussion. I want to try to change that.”

World War II veteran to graduate from UT

At the age of 96, Robert Edgar Barger will graduate Saturday, May 5, from The University of Toledo with an associate of technical studies degree from University College.

Barger entered the military service in 1940 with the United States Navy, where he served as a commissioned naval officer, earned his naval aviator wings, and was detailed as a naval flight officer.

Barger

After returning from WWII, Barger attended the University, but left before finishing his degree so he could get a job to provide for his wife and two children.

In 2013, Barger met Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs, when he promoted Ghanbari to the rank of lieutenant.

Ghanbari later found out that Barger had not been able to finish his degree.

After reviewing Barger’s transcripts, it was determined the veteran met the requirements to graduate with an associate degree.

“We are proud to honor a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’ at commencement,” said Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College. “It will be a memorable moment to see Bob receive the degree he earned and pay tribute to a veteran who served our country.”

Barger has invited 100 people from his retirement community to the commencement ceremony and plans on having a large graduation party to celebrate his achievement.

World War II Navy veteran Robert Edgar Barger held a photo taken of himself Oct. 9, 1943, during his service as a naval aviator.

He is believed to be the oldest UT graduate.

Barger said that earning his degree is something he will be proud of for the rest of his life and is excited to accomplish something he had set out to complete many years ago.

“I thought I would never be able to accomplish this degree,” Barger said. “My grandson graduated from UT, and he no longer can say he is one up on me; I have a degree, too, just took me a while!”

Barger has four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.