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Women’s swimming and diving named to Scholar All-America Team

The Toledo women’s swimming and diving team has earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America honors for its performance in the classroom once again.

thumb-rocket-color-logoThe association presents the Team Scholar All-America Award to collegiate swimming and diving teams that have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The award is presented twice annually, once to teams achieving the standard in the fall semester and once for teams achieving the standard in the spring semester.

The Rockets received the award after posting a cumulative GPA of 3.56 during the 2015 spring semester, tied for 15th highest GPA in the country, and second amongst Mid-American Conference schools.

Eastern Illinois led all NCAA Division I programs with a combined mark of 3.70.

The association was founded in 1922, and is the oldest professional organization of college coaches in America. It is dedicated to serving and providing leadership for the advancement of the sport of swimming and diving at the collegiate level.

Professor named Lucas County poet laureate

The Lucas County Commissioners approved June 16 the appointment of Dr. Jim Ferris, UT professor and chair of disability studies, as the Lucas County poet laureate.

Ferris

Ferris

The position was created in 2007, modeled after the national appointment, and Ferris is the second person named to the role. A poet laureate helps citizens develop a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.

Ferris replaces Joel Lipman, UT professor emeritus of English, who held the position of poet laureate from 2008 to 2013. Lipman owns Abracadabra Studio of Poetics, located in Toledo’s Warehouse District.

As poet laureate of Lucas County, Lipman attended various outreach events to present poetry to the greater Toledo community.

“It’s a real honor, and it’s not something I was expecting,” Ferris said. “I’m following a fabulous poet and a compelling advocate for the arts in northwest Ohio. Joel left me with big shoes to fill.”

Ferris will serve a two-year term as poet laureate.

He is the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies at the University. He also is a poet and performance artist, holding a doctorate in performance studies.

Ferris is the author of Slouching Towards Guantanamo, Facts of Life and The Hospital Poems. His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, Text and Performance Quarterly, the Georgia Review, and many weekly newspapers.

Observatory undergoing renovations

The Brooks Observatory at The University of Toledo is receiving a new telescope, replacing one that is more than 100 years old.

A crane removed the dome of the Brooks Observatory last week and workers helped guide the structure to the ground.

A crane removed the dome of the Brooks Observatory last week and workers helped guide the structure to the ground.

The Brooks Observatory hosts an array of small telescopes, including the six-inch Brashear refracting telescope that has been on UT’s campus since 1931. The observatory, established in 1987, is used primarily for public viewing and undergraduate instruction.

A Celestron 14-inch high-definition telescope will replace the Brashear telescope, according to Alexander Mak, associate director of the UT Ritter Planetarium.

“The new telescope can gather more than five times as much light as the old telescope and will let us view fainter and more exotic objects than ever before,” Mak said. “The new mount and pedestal will offer a stable platform for the telescope and allow us to quickly move the telescope from one target to another. This will let us showcase more objects for our students and guests.”

In order to accommodate the sightlines of the new telescope, the observatory located on top of McMaster Hall on Main Campus will be significantly modified. The Brooks Observatory will be under construction for approximately four months.

“The current telescope in the dome is more than 100 years old and was originally housed on top of University Hall,” Mak said. “It is a historically significant telescope, having been manufactured by a noted craftsman.”

Dr. John Alfred Brashear, a late American astronomer and instrument builder, dedicated his time to manufacturing astronomical and scientific instruments.

The Brashear telescope will be placed in storage during the renovation and eventually will be on display, Mak said.

The project is funded through support from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and an endowment established by the late Helen and Elgin Brooks.

The updated facility will be a state-of-the-art instructional observatory that will continue the mission of undergraduate education and public outreach. New undergraduate laboratory exercises will be developed, and more public observing opportunities will be scheduled once work is completed.

During the renovations, the Ritter Observatory, adjacent to the Brooks Observatory, will be open to the public for viewing on the first Friday of each month immediately following the regularly scheduled 8:30 p.m. planetarium program.

Gaber becomes University’s 17th president, is committed to elevating UT on national stage

As Dr. Sharon L. Gaber sets foot on The University of Toledo campus Wednesday, she will be doing so for the first time as UT’s president.

Gaber

Gaber

Selected in March by UT’s Board of Trustees, July 1 marks the end of a 10-month journey that has taken Gaber from her post as provost at the University of Arkansas to the 17th president and first woman to lead UT in its 143-year history.

“Wednesday represents the end of a transition process for me, but it’s a beginning for this institution,” Gaber said. “Starting July 1, I’ll be working with students and employees, elected and community leaders, and alumni and friends to elevate The University of Toledo on a national stage. Together, we will demonstrate and create the excellence our students and this community need and expect from us.”

“I know I speak for the entire board when I say how excited we are for the leadership that President Gaber will provide The University of Toledo,” said Sharon Speyer, chair of the UT Board of Trustees. “She brings with her an impressive track record of accomplishment and a clear vision of excellence for UT’s future.”

At UT, Gaber will focus on elevating one of the country’s most comprehensive institutions of higher education through increases in externally funded research, student enrollment and graduation rates, philanthropic support, and the recruitment of leading academic and clinical faculty.

Also on Wednesday, Gaber will meet with her senior leadership team as well as Student Government and Faculty Senate leaders. Additionally, she will spend time on Health Science Campus speaking with staff at UT Medical Center.

Starting July 1, the new president also will be active on Twitter. Follow and connect with Gaber using the handle @UTPresident.

Gaber biography

In addition to more than two dozen grants totally nearly $2 million, Gaber is the author of 40 peer-reviewed articles researching and analyzing regional and urban planning, public policy, and the social dynamics that affect community decision-making.

As president, Gaber serves on the board of trustees for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the board of directors for the Regional Growth Partnership.

At Arkansas, Gaber was a member of the board of directors of the University of Arkansas Fayetteville Campus Foundation, the Washington Regional Medical Center, and Simmons First National Corp. She also was vice chair of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park board of directors.

She led the SEC Provosts Group, a partnership of the chief academic officers of the Southeastern Conference, and is a member of the Urban Affairs Association, the American Planning Association, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.

Prior to her time at Arkansas, she served in multiple roles in the provost’s office at Auburn University; these included interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, senior associate provost, and associate provost for academic administration.

She served as an associate dean in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction and before that, she was department chair and assistant chair in community and regional planning at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Gaber, who co-founded the Women’s Commission at the University of Arkansas, was named Academic Woman of the Year at Auburn in 2009 and earned the Professional Planner Distinguished Leadership Award presented by the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Occidental College, a master’s degree from the University of Southern California, and a doctorate in city and regional planning from Cornell University.

UT Minority Business Assistance Center Program awarded grant

The University of Toledo has been awarded a $355,000 two-year state grant to host the Minority Business Assistance Center Program, which assists small, minority and disadvantaged businesses by providing services such as technical support, professional consulting, access to capital and assistance obtaining contract opportunities.

The program, which will provide support for 17 counties in northwest Ohio, will be housed within UT’s Minority Business Development Center, one of only a few minority business-focused incubators across the country. The center supports a select group of minority businesses through services that include counseling, networking opportunities, access to office space and conference rooms, and hands-on student learning experiences.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the program will be held Tuesday, July 7, at 10 a.m. in the center, located in the Faculty Annex on Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation.

“We are excited about the confidence the state has in the University to award us this program, and about the support of our partners. Collaboration with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce will allow for expansion on the prior success they have established with the program, and will allow for expansion of this opportunity to more students,” said Dr. Shanda Gore, UT chief diversity officer and associate vice president for equity, diversity and community engagement.

“With the combined partnerships and synergy of a single location, this creates a one-stop shop opportunity for minority-owned businesses for the five primary counties and 12 secondary counties in northwest Ohio,” Gore said.

The University demonstrated the strength of its collaboration and community support for the success of minority businesses in its application for the grant, Gore said, a team approach that will create an environment to help minority businesses flourish.

“This initiative is one more way The University of Toledo is leveraging its strengths in diversity and inclusion outward into the community and across the region,” said Jovita Thomas-Williams, vice president and chief human resources officer. “We’re incredibly excited to be working with community partners such as the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce to advance the region’s economic interests in this way.”

“The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce is proud to have been the host of the Minority Business Assistance Center since 2005. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of the increased synergy of housing the Minority Business Assistance Center at The University of Toledo’s Minority Business Development Center and incubator,” said Wendy R. Gramza, president of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working closely with the University to continue nurturing minority entrepreneurship and economic development.”

Internationally recognized fellowship awarded to professor

With an already extensive docket of achievements, Dr. Ishmael Parsai can now add Fellow of the International Organization for Medical Physics to the list.

Parsai

Parsai

Unlike other fellowships that select recipients via nominations, International Organization for Medical Physics Fellows are picked by an honoree committee comprised of medical physicist professionals from around the world. The fellowship is awarded to recognize outstanding medical physicists who have made significant contributions to the field and to the International Organization for Medical Physics and its regional organizations on a global scale in development of medical physics over a significant period of time.

This year only six individuals received the honor, and only two were from the United States.

“This award is a tremendous honor, especially because it’s at the international level,” said Parsai, UT professor of radiation oncology, chief of the Medical Physics Division and director of the Graduate Medical Physics Program. “The international community is very different from the national one in that representatives from different countries have their own way of measuring achievements and there’s not one right way. So when a committee comes to the agreement that it’ll pick a dozen people throughout the world and they select one guy from UT, that’s indeed a great honor.”

When asked what he considered some of his greatest achievements in medical physics, he answered, “The students we produce are the legacy. I have been so fortunate to have worked with students whom I have learned so much from, and I’ve taught them a little bit, too. Many have become great leaders in our field and community, and I am proud to have been a part of their professional lives.”

Parsai has published numerous benchmarked manuscripts, including patented ideas in the field of medical physics and radiation oncology, which he considers to be accomplishments that distinguish his career.

One that he considers highly important involved the modification of radiation delivery systems to cancer patients that achieve higher doses of radiation in a much shorter time without needlessly damaging surrounding tissue. This technology, developed eight years ago at The University of Toledo Medical Center, has become an integral part of every modern linear accelerator manufactured and marketed worldwide. It is critically significant in advanced treatment modalities, such as stereotactic body radiotherapy — a specially designed coordinate system used for the exact localization of tumors, he said.

In addition to his clinical work, research and teaching, Parsai served as the editor-in-chief for the International Organization for Medical Physics bulletin, Medical Physics World — a publication distributed to more than 21,000 practicing medical physicists in 92 countries — for 10 years.

“His work has helped bringing together medical physicists from all over the world and had a huge impact in promoting global development of medical physics,” said Dr. Kin-Yin Cheung, president of the International Organization for Medical Physics.

Parsai is also a Fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine and the first scientist to receive the Fellowship of the American College of Radiation Oncology in the United States.

He received his award earlier this month at the International Organization for Medical Physics presidential reception during the World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in Toronto.

Stoepler Professor of Law and Values named

Dean Daniel J. Steinbock has named Professor Lee J. Strang the next John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values, effective July 1.

Strang

Strang

Strang follows Professor Susan Martyn, who became the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values Emeritus following her retirement last month.

“Professor Strang’s outstanding national scholarly reputation and concern for values in his work put him squarely within the aims of this professorship,” Steinbock said. “He joins three other distinguished scholars on the College of Law faculty, Professors Geoffrey Rapp, Joseph Slater and Rebecca Zietlow, in holding one of our named professorships.”

Strang is the author of more than 20 law review publications, a constitutional law casebook, as well as several book chapters and book reviews. He has published in the fields of constitutional law and interpretation, property law, and religion and the First Amendment.

Among other scholarly projects, he is editing the second edition of his casebook for LexisNexis, writing a book titled Originalism’s Promise and Its Limits, and authoring a book on the history of Catholic legal education in the United States.

He frequently presents at scholarly conferences and participates in debates at law schools across the country. He also is regularly quoted in the media. Strang was named the college’s director of faculty research in 2014. This fall, he will be a visiting scholar at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution, where he will complete his book on originalism.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, where he was articles editor of the Iowa Law Review and a member of Order of the Coif, Strang also holds a master of law degree from Harvard Law School.

Before joining the UT College of Law faculty, Strang was a visiting professor at Michigan State University College of Law and an associate professor at Ave Maria School of Law.

Prior to teaching, Strang served as a judicial clerk for Chief Judge Alice Batchelder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and was an associate with Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago, where he practiced general and appellate litigation.

The professorship is named after Stoepler, the seventh dean of the College of Law. He was an alumnus and longtime faculty member before being named dean of the college in 1983. Stoepler served as interim president of the University in 1988.

The Stoepler Professorship of Law and Values is funded out of a bequest by Eugene N. Balk, a former general counsel of The Andersons Inc.

UT launches sports production program: ESPN3 to carry live Rocket events produced by University

The University of Toledo today announced the launch of a production operation — part of the Mid-American Conference’s 13-year agreement with ESPN — that will provide significant exposure and learning opportunities for UT students. The initiative will feature a minimum of 35 Rocket athletic events that will be carried live on ESPN3.

thumb-rocket-color-logoUT’s broadcast productions will supplement the numerous football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball games already being produced and carried on ESPN and other national and regional networks.

The University will produce home games in men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, baseball and other sports. The multi-camera high-definition game productions will feature full ESPN-branded graphics, replay and two-person commentator crews. A mobile production unit is being equipped that will house state-of-the-art video and audio equipment.

“We are very excited about this great opportunity to bring so many Rocket athletic events to a national audience on ESPN3,” said UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “Not only is this an opportunity to create more exposure for our athletic teams, it will also be a great recruiting tool for our athletic programs and for our University in general. Rocket alumni, fans and parents of our student-athletes will have the opportunity to watch live action of UT sports events from almost anywhere in the country. Students in our Department of Communication will have an excellent opportunity to gain valuable work experience producing our games, which could lead to exciting new careers in their chosen fields. We are truly entering a new age in the branding and marketing of our athletic program and our University as a whole.”

The productions will be operated primarily by UT students who are taking courses in television production in the Department of Communication. Staff positions have been added in the Department of Communication to assist with the productions and manage the student staff.

“The opportunity for UT communication students to work on programming that will appear nationally on ESPN3 offers them real-world experience, which is critical to building a sustainable career,” said Debra Davis, dean of the College of Communication and the Arts. “They will also learn the demands and rewards of their field. When learning through doing, learning experientially, the students build an understanding of how to respond to crises or unexpected news, and the follow-up action needed to complete the task.

“Students participating in our broadcasts will be prepared for the marketplace after graduation. Producing these sports programs, along with the opportunity to participate in our award-winning UT:10 News, will provide valuable on-the-job experience and will expand their professional networks. I am very excited that College of Communication and the Arts students are being offered this great chance to learn through professional practice.”

In addition to live event production, Toledo students will produce pregame, halftime and postgame content, as well as feature pieces, in-game and postgame highlight packages, interviews, and coaches shows. These events will be available to more than 99 million households and by an additional 21 million U.S.-based college students and military personnel.

ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of exclusive sports events annually. It is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

The network is available to more than 99 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network also is available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers, smartphones and tablets connected to on-campus educational and on-base military broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

Former UT golfer receives sponsor’s exemption for Symetra Tour’s Tullymore Classic

Former Rocket Jennifer Elsholz has received a sponsor’s exemption for the Tullymore Classic, a Symetra Tour event featuring the future stars of the LPGA Tour.

Elsholz

Elsholz

The 54-hole stroke play tournament will tee off Friday, July 3, and conclude Sunday, July 5, in Stanwood, Mich., which is 30 miles west of Mount Pleasant and one hour north of Grand Rapids.

Elsholz, who graduated in May with a degree in psychology, won the 2014 Michigan Women’s Amateur and the Golf Association of Michigan Championship to earn the Golf Association of Michigan’s Player of the Year honors.

The other exemption was given to 17-year-old Brooke Henderson of Smith Falls, Ontario. Henderson, the former top-ranked amateur in the world, tied for fifth place at the Women’s PGA Championship earlier this month.

“We talked to golf people and experts across the state from the Golf Association of Michigan and the PGA about the best amateurs in the state, and Jennifer’s name came up repeatedly,” Scot Cucksey, PGA golf professional at Tullymore Golf Club said. “It was impressive that last summer she was the fifth golfer ever to win both the Michigan Women’s Amateur and the [Golf Association of Michigan] Championship in the same year. She also performed well at The University of Toledo and is planning to go to [LPGA Tour Qualifying] Q school in the fall. She seemed like a perfect fit for our sponsor’s exemption.”

A field of 144 golfers is competing in the $100,000-purse Tullymore event. The winner will earn $15,000 and have an opportunity to move into the top-10 on the Volvik Race for the card money list. The top 10 on the year-end Symetra Tour money list earns LPGA Tour membership for the 2016 season.

“It’s definitely exciting to be able to get an exemption and go out and play on the tour that, depending on what happens, I could possibly play on next year,” Elsholz said. “Playing this summer as an amateur gives me a chance to qualify for the U.S. Amateur and a few other big events, and playing in the Tullymore Classic will be a great experience. It’s certainly exciting and a step in the right direction for me.”

Elsholz ranked third for the Rockets with a 77.6 stroke average this past spring. She posted a season-best fourth-place finish at Michigan State’s Mary Fossum Invitational to earn Mid-American Conference Women’s Golfer of the Week accolades. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native notched two more top 10 showings during the year — tied for 10th place at both the Rocket Classic and Florida Gulf Coast University Eagle Invitational — and helped UT win a pair of tournament titles.

“Jen’s goal is be a professional golfer,” UT Head Coach Nicole Hollingsworth said. “That’s her dream, and I’m excited she is pursuing that. This is a great opportunity for her. She was the best amateur in the state of Michigan a year ago, and it’s great they are honoring her for that by giving her a sponsor’s exemption.”

Visit tullymoreclassic.com for more tournament information.

Multicultural scholars program to kick off June 29

A collaborative program geared toward student success in their first year of college will be introduced on campus this June.

Thirty students have been accepted into the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Summer Bridge and Living Learning Community Program that will start Monday, June 29. The program is designed to aid the transition from high school to college and promote academic excellence in college-level courses for first-year students.

The entering freshmen, who have been admitted into The University of Toledo’s colleges of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences or Natural Sciences and Mathematics, will receive an $8,000 scholarship to cover tuition, books, housing and meals for the six weeks of summer class, and enrollment for the Emerging Scholars Living Learning Community during the academic year.

“We’ve conducted a qualitative study where students have told us, ‘I thought I was prepared in high school, but I got here and realized I wasn’t,’” said Dr. Willie McKether, associate dean of social sciences and associate professor of anthropology. “We also learned from the study that some students, male students in particular, often times have trouble asking for help. We need to help students understand that asking for help is not a sign of weakness in a college environment.”

With the goal of promoting academic excellence and college readiness, the program will allow students to form a community of support to help them during their academic journey — starting with their own peers in a living learning community, a group of students who share similar academic goals and attitudes. There have been many studies reflecting the benefits of living learning communities, said Dr. Barbara Schneider, senior associate dean of humanities and associate professor of English.

McKether, who helped run one of the prior Multicultural Living Learning Communities on campus, said while students living in a focused community certainly helps them achieve academically, the system still has room to improve. Many of the first-year students spend much of their first semester getting acclimated to college, which McKether said is difficult when so many things are happening around them. It’s for this reason the program has the summer bridge component.

“The idea of linking this to a summer bridge program is so that they come back in the fall and now they’re ready to hit the ground running,” he said.

“It’s like if you enter a foot race and you decide to walk until you get warmed up; you start running at mile five and you’ve already lost,” Schneider added.

Each student will be enrolled in a series of classes during the six-week summer program: Composition I, Cultural Anthropology, Learning to Serve and Math Camp. These courses fulfill requirements that all UT students have, but also provide a variety that each student can benefit from.

In addition to becoming better students, the program pushes the freshmen to become socially cognizant leaders in their community. Through the Learning to Serve class and Learning to Lead course they will take in the fall, students will be required to complete a service project with an organization in the Toledo community.

“What we hope is that in addition to strengthening students and their competitiveness, we will also create future mentors who will see a social responsibility to reach back and encourage more students to pursue careers in STEM areas,” said Dr. Anthony Quinn, assistant dean in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and professor of biology.

Students also will take a variety of trips during the summer session to help enhance their understanding and appreciation of their own culture and the Toledo community. These will include visits to the Holocaust Memorial Center, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Lake Erie Center and Toledo City Council.

According to UT Director of Undergraduate Admission William Pierce, the first- to second-year retention rate at the University has steadily been improving the past few years and with programs like this, coupled with the continued recruitment of more well-prepared students, those numbers will hopefully continue moving in a positive direction.

“You’re never really content with retention. UT is continually working to not only attract more students that are prepared for college, but is also investing resources designed to ensure students are successful at UT from their first day on campus through graduation.
The success coach initiative and now the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program are great examples of this,” Pierce said.

“Are we happy with the progress we’ve made the past couple years? Absolutely. But until you are retaining 100 percent of the students that enroll, there is always work to be done,” Pierce said.

For more information on the Multicultural Emerging Scholars Summer Bridge and Living Learning Community Program, contact McKether at Willie.Mckether@utoledo.edu.