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Global volunteers: UT Peace Corps applications double in 2015

UT alumna Katie Alber is no longer startled awake by donkeys braying or goats banging on the door of her host family’s metal-roofed home in the small West African country of Gambia, where she is serving as a health extension volunteer for two years.

“I have brewed attayah (tea) in the bush, eaten a rat the size of a cat (it tasted like pork), and grown good enough at Mandinka to use sarcasm successfully,” Alber posted on Facebook.

UT alumna Katie Alber is a health extension volunteer through the Peace Corps in the West African country of Gambia.

UT alumna Katie Alber is a health extension volunteer through the Peace Corps in the West African country of Gambia.

Alber has access to the Internet once every few weeks. On her blog, she wrote, “I am loving every second! It is a great and humbling challenge, which I hope will bring meaning and enlightenment.”

The 2012 graduate is one of more than 200 UT alumni who have served in the Peace Corps since 1961 when the agency was formed under President John F. Kennedy.

UT is seeing a renewed surge in passion to be a part of the Peace Corps.

Fourteen graduates and soon-to-be graduates of The University of Toledo submitted applications to the Peace Corps in 2015. That is more than double the previous year.

In 2014, six UT college seniors and alumni applied and four — including Alber — embarked on the journey of immersing themselves in another culture with a combination of international experience and rewarding work in education, health and the environment.

“For four consecutive years, we have seen growth,” Sammy Spann, assistant provost in UT’s Center for International Studies and Programs, said. “Seniors and graduates are delaying or taking a breather from their careers to join the Peace Corps and define themselves. Momentum is picking up because this generation is seeing more turmoil. They are interested in spreading compassion and empathy, as well as getting more real-world, life-changing experiences.”

A Peace Corps representative will be on Main Campus Thursday, Feb. 18, from 3 to 3:30 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 1100 for students interested in learning more about this global service.

“Just because you’ve earned your degree doesn’t mean you stop pushing the edge of your comfort zone and global understanding through The University of Toledo,” Spann said. “We have made a strong effort to encourage students to consider joining the Peace Corps to improve the human condition, as well as help them gain leadership skills to attract the attention of employers, including the State Department.”

Far from home, Alber works in West Africa to educate families about nutrition and hygiene, to raise awareness about malaria, and to help improve water systems and sanitation practices.

“It may have been a long day of clinic work and 40k+ of biking, but there’s always time to stop and enjoy an African sunset,” Alber wrote on Instagram.

Alber is one of 350 new Peace Corps volunteers from across the United States sworn into service in December after three months of cultural, language and technical training.

Peace Corps volunteers receive paid living expenses, full health and dental coverage, vacation days, and more than $8,000 upon completion of service.

For more information about applying for the Peace Corps, go to utoledo.edu/cisp/peacecorp.

UT assistant professor lights up NBA All-Star Game

If we’ve learned anything from the blackout at Super Bowl XLVII, it’s that lighting has a critical role in live entertainment.

Going into the NBA All-Star Game, a University of Toledo faculty member has accepted the responsibility as part of the team in charge of lighting the stage for halftime performer Sting, the former frontman of The Police, the pre-game performance by Cirque du Soleil, and other All-Star Game events.

Sakowski

Sakowski

Stephen Sakowski, UT assistant professor of lighting and sound design in the Department of Theatre and Film, will work closely with Otis Howard, an Emmy Award-winning lighting designer who runs Otis Howard Design Inc., a company that has lit the stage for TV shows on BET, VH1, MTV, HSN and more. Howard has been in charge of lighting the NBA All-Star events for the last five years.

Sakowski first began working alongside Howard during an internship in college.

“I really like working with Otis,” Sakowski said. “He’s been a mentor of mine in the industry since I met him.”

After graduating from college at Otterbein University, Sakowski freelanced in New York City for several years before getting his master’s degree from the University of California at San Diego. He joined UT’s faculty last year.

“Teaching lighting design, there’s theories and approaches, but so much of this job is real-world experience and application,” Sakowski said.

He added that doing these projects provides a sense of accreditation for his students, because they can see the experience he has in the field and the work he does. He also is exposed to some of the best technologies and techniques in the industry, and he then can teach these to his students.

Sakowski routinely does production coordinating remotely for Otis Howard Design by working on technical drawings and lighting plots. But for this large national event, he will travel to Toronto to ensure it goes off without a hitch.

“It’s nice to be a part of something on this scale because it’s reaffirming that I’ve made good choices along the way,” Sakowski said.

NBA All-Star events will take place from Thursday, Feb. 11, through Sunday, Feb. 14. The NBA All-Star game tips off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14, at Air Canada Centre. It will be televised on TNT.

UT Health physician receives career achievement award

Before Dr. Blair Grubb became a doctor, he was an electrician.

Now as a Distinguished University Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at The University of Toledo, he is the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ most recent recipient of the Career Achievement Award.

: Dr. Blair Grubb posed for a photo with his daughter, Helen, after receiving the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Career Achievement Award in January.

: Dr. Blair Grubb posed for a photo with his daughter, Helen, after receiving the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ Career Achievement Award in January.

“It’s nice to be recognized for having chosen to spend my career here,” Grubb said. “As you get older, you always wonder how you’ve spent your life, so it’s a nice feeling to say that I did the right thing.”

This award arrives on the heels of two other large accolades he received in 2015: He is Dysautonomia International’s Physician of the Year as well as the British Heart Rhythm Society and Arrhythmia Alliance’s Medical Professional of the Decade.

But to look at Grubb’s success, it’s important to understand how he got here. A native of Baltimore, he began his career as an electrician before deciding to go into medicine.

Grubb earned a degree in biologic sciences from the University of Maryland in Baltimore County and his doctor of medicine from the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic. He completed his residency at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, where he also was chief resident.

It was because of a mistaken rotation at Johns Hopkins Hospital that he found his passion. He was supposed to complete a rotation in general cardiology, but because there were too many people in the rotation, he was placed in a rotation for a new field at the time — cardiac electrophysiology.

Soon after, he completed a fellowship in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Pennsylvania State University.

In 1988, Grubb and his wife of 38 years, Dr. Barbara Lynn Straus, moved to Toledo along with their daughter, Helen. Shortly afterward, Straus gave birth to their son, Alex.

“By the time I finished my fellowship at Penn State in Hershey, I was older, and Toledo offered me the opportunity to start an electrophysiology program,” Grubb said. “The opportunity to start a program from scratch and build whatever I wanted was a unique opportunity.”

Today, Grubb leads the Electrophysiology Program as well as UT Medical Center’s Syncope and Autonomic Disorders Clinic, where he sees patients from all over the United States and the world. He has helped develop the field of autonomics and has pioneered many of the diagnostic and treatment modalities that are in common use today.

“People with autonomic disorders frequently come to us in wheelchairs,” Grubb said. “The most rewarding thing for me is to take people whose lives have been taken from them and restore them to something resembling a normal life. And not only doing that on a personal basis, but also helping build the structure of a new specialty of medicine, which is really what autonomics has become.”

Though Grubb has worked tirelessly for years, he credits most of his success to his wife, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 64. He said that without her, he wouldn’t have succeeded in academia, having come from a vocational school.

“I freely admit that if I’ve had any success in life it’s because of my wife,” Grubb said. “I was truly a diamond in the rough, and my wife was the exact opposite. She really provided a structure to my life that I needed.”

Lecture to address how nutrition affects cardiovascular disease

Author and physician Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. will visit The University of Toledo to discuss how nutrition affects cardiovascular disease.

His lecture, “The Nutritional Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease: Fact or Fiction,” will take place Tuesday, Feb. 9, at 5 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on UT’s Health Science Campus.

Esselstyn

Esselstyn

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association.

“Toledo is a great place for Dr. Esselstyn to come and educate the community about heart disease prevention through nutrition,” said Sophie Tuthill, a second-year UT medical student and one of the program organizers.

Esselstyn, a former general surgeon who directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, was featured in the Netflix documentary “Forks Over Knives.” He is the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007).

His research supports a plant-based diet to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease. The diet includes fruits, vegetables, tubers and starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

book_preventThe diet prohibits all meat, fish, dairy and oils — foods that damage the inner lining of the artery, according to Esselstyn’s research.

Esselstyn said his patients “rejoice” at learning the impact of nutrition on their cardiovascular health. “They become empowered to halt their disease,” he said.

“It’s important for citizens to take an active stance in their health,” Tuthill said. “If you change your lifestyle and diet, you can reverse your illness.”

Esselstyn emphasized the importance of medical students learning how poor nutrition leads to heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.

“I really applaud UT for offering this lecture,” he said.

The free, public lecture is sponsored by the following UT student organizations: Student Health and Wellness Organization, Community Health for the Underserved, Internal Medicine Club and Surgery Club.

Master planning team shares analysis findings at forum

The University of Toledo’s master planning team today began to share findings of the initial analysis of campus facilities and amenities.

The brown-bag forum was the first of three scheduled sessions where the master planning team will share the results of its focus groups, interviews, community forums and building and facility evaluations. The process is looking at each of UT’s campuses to fully understand the resources and land use available for classroom and laboratory instruction, residential life and recreational activities.

“We have never done a campus master plan since combining [Main Campus] with the Health Science Campus, so this is a very important initiative,” said Jason Toth, UT associate vice president for facilities and construction.

Throughout fall semester, the planning team examined building conditions, utilization of classroom spaces and teaching laboratories, and the educational adequacy of campus facilities. Those factors will provide the decision-making criteria informing SmithGroupJJR’s recommendations for the master plan regarding the University’s multiple campuses.

Through their analysis, the planners noted a clear division in the layout of Main Campus facilities. Academic facilities are located mostly north of the Ottawa River, while residential facilities are south of the river, with few outliers in either group. They also noted a change in the character of campus moving from older areas along Bancroft Street toward the newest parts along Dorr Street. Moving around Main Campus is easy by bike with many paths, racks, and a shared bike system, but Douglas Road and the rail line are barriers for pedestrians and bikes.

Some older buildings on Main Campus are in need of investment, such as University Hall, but analysis of Health Science Campus showed that most buildings are in good condition and require continued regular maintenance. Parking is in demand for patients, visitors, students and employees, while there is confusion for patient/visitor parking.

The master planning team is still assessing the use of Scott Park Campus along with major change drivers that impact the facilities on all of the University’s campuses.

The team is coordinating its planning with the strategic enrollment planning study to anticipate future demand for academic spaces, residential beds, dining facilities and recreation spaces. Also important to the process, the team is assessing the potential impact of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ affiliation with ProMedica.

Following the presentation, the planners asked for feedback and encouraged questions about the analysis to date from those in attendance, fielding inquiries about consideration of alternative energy, future plans for vacant University-owned property, pedestrian rights of way and historic preservation.

“This is about having many voices heard,” Toth said. He added, “We want to hear what you have to say.”

The forum was attended by approximately 25 people representing students, faculty, staff, collective bargaining units, alumni and University neighbors.

The next session will be Wednesday, Feb. 3, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Driscoll Alumni Center Auditorium on Main Campus.

An additional session has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Collier Building Room 1200 on Health Science Campus.

The community can continue to offer feedback and suggestions through utoledomasterplan.org.

Later in the year, the group will present potential master plan scenarios.

UT names finalists for provost

The University of Toledo announced Wednesday four finalists for the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“We are excited to announce four outstanding finalists who will be visiting The University of Toledo in the coming weeks to interview for the position of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs,” wrote Dr. Kaye Patten, senior vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Christopher Ingersoll, dean of the College of Health Sciences and interim dean of the College of Social Justice and Human Service, in a letter sent to the campus community.

In addition to meeting with faculty, administrators and academic leaders, the candidates will each participate in two open forums — one on Main Campus and one on Health Science Campus — to provide an opportunity for the UT community to offer input.

Listed by visit date, the candidates are:

Wednesday, Feb. 10 — Dr. Christopher Keil McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Northern Illinois University. Open forums for McCord will be:
— 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus
— 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus


Friday, Feb. 12 — Dr. Andrew Hsu, dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State. Open forums for Hsu will be:
— 10 to 11 a.m. — Health Education Building Room 105 on Health Science Campus
— 3 to 4 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus


Wednesday, Feb. 17 — Dr. Donald Siegel, dean of the School of Business at the University of Albany. Open forums for Siegel will be:
—1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2582 on Main Campus
—4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus

Thursday, Feb. 18 — Dr. Charles Robinson, vice chancellor for diversity and community at the University of Arkansas. Open forums for Robinson will be:
— 1:15 to 2:15 p.m. — Student Union Room 2592 on Main Campus
— 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. — Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus

Finalists’ curricula vitae are available at the provost search website. Additionally, all of the open forums will be streamed live at video.utoledo.edu and archived on the provost search website for those unable to watch live.

UT Health doctors push for multiple arterial coronary bypass grafting as a life-saving treatment

The University of Toledo Medical Center continues to offer cutting-edge treatment for those suffering from coronary artery disease.

Cardiovascular disease, including atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, remains a significant public health challenge and is the No. 1 killer in the developed world.

Schwann

Schwann

Coronary artery bypass surgery and stenting are the two principal treatment options for coronary artery disease.

Dr. Thomas A. Schwann, professor of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, in collaboration with investigators from Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and the American University of Beirut, published a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on the effectiveness of each of these treatment options in a study involving more than 8,000 patients.

The investigators determined that a new form of coronary artery bypass surgery, using multiple arteries, as opposed to the standard coronary artery bypass surgery, in which only one artery and additional vein grafts are used, is the best treatment for patients with the most complex coronary artery disease. Using multiple arteries in coronary surgery resulted in a statistically significant increase in patient survival compared to stents that release medication.

The paper concluded that multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the optimal treatment for the most complex patients and “should be enthusiastically adopted by practicing cardiac surgeons and members of a multidisciplinary heart team as they strive to implement best evidence-based therapy.”

UT Health cardiac surgeons are on the forefront of multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery and have published extensively on the subject with the same consistent message that compared to traditional surgery, multi-arterial surgery saves lives. With the current publication, they have further extended the value of multi-arterial coronary surgery showing improved outcomes compared to coronary stents.

“Traditional single arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the ‘Chevy’ of cardiac surgery, while multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery is the ‘Porsche’ of cardiac surgery,” Schwann said. “By using multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery we extend patients’ lives for up to 15 years post-operatively.”

Despite this compelling data, Schwann said only 10 percent of all coronary artery disease patients in the United States receive more than one arterial graft during their operations, while 70 percent to 80 percent of UTMC patients receive multi-arterial coronary artery bypass surgery.

“Cardiac surgeons and cardiologist work collaboratively at UTMC as part of an integrated heart team to choose the best treatment option for our patients,” Schwann said.

“We are working with our professional societies to influence our colleagues nationally to adopt a similar strategy. One artery is good, but using two or more is clearly a superior treatment strategy.”

He said future investigations are needed to delve deeper into patients who benefit most from multi-arterial coronary artery bypass graft.

“In conjunction with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, we are trying to secure grant funding to study this issue on a nationwide basis to fundamentally change the surgical treatment of coronary artery disease,” Schwann said.

Black History Month to celebrate student activism

The University of Toledo’s celebration of Black History Month will inspire students to be active in shaping the world they want to live in.

This year’s theme is “Live for the Moment, not for the Movement: Black Activism in the 21st Century” and will kick off with a keynote address by Tuskegee University President Brian J. Johnson.

Johnson

Johnson

The kickoff luncheon will be Saturday, Feb. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Auditorium when Johnson will discuss recent events happening around the country and the need for action to address issues continuing to impact the African-American community.

“UT students want to get involved. As a college student, this is the time to learn, to grow, to develop, and to do your part to shape the world you will live in,” said Henderson Hill III, UT assistant dean of multicultural student success. “Be part of the conversation, but also be intentional and mature in how you handle activism.”

Henderson joined UT in January from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., where he was the director of the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center. In the newly created position, Henderson leads the UT Office of Multicultural Student Success in the Division of Student Affairs.

Johnson has served since 2014 as the seventh president of Tuskegee University, one of the nation’s leading historically black institutions of higher education founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington.

“We are honored to have Dr. Johnson begin our celebration of Black History Month that gives us the opportunity to recognize cultural history and honor the contributions of African Americans who have contributed to our global society,” Hill said.

This event is free to all UT students, faculty and staff, and community members can reserve tickets for $20 by contacting the Division of Student Affairs at 419.530.2665.

Listed by date, additional Black History Month events will include:

Wednesday, Feb. 10
“We’ll Have No Race Trouble Here: Memphis Politics and the 1940 Reign of Terror” by Dr. Jason Jordan, UT visiting assistant professor of history, 4:30 p.m., Student Union Room 2582.

Wednesday, Feb. 17
“We Are STEMM: A Celebration of African-American Accomplishments in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine” by Dr. Emanuel Rivers, vice chair and research director of Henry Ford Hospital’s Department of Emergency Medicine, 6 p.m., Health Education Building Room 110.

Friday, Feb. 19
African-American Children’s Books Read-In, noon, Robinson Elementary, 1075 Horace St.

Saturday, Feb. 20
Student trip to the Motown Museum in Detroit sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Success. Open to the first 42 UT students to RSVP to omss@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2261.

Thursday, Feb. 25
Africana Studies Brown-Bag Lecture, 12:30 p.m., Student Union Room 3018. Dr. Rubin Patterson, professor and chair of sociology and anthropology at Howard University, will present “Preparing African Americans for Environmental and Climate Stabilization Leadership.”

— Screening of the film “Fruitvale Station,” 5:30 p.m., location to be determined.

Monday, Feb. 29
The Men of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. (Lambda Epsilon) and the Ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. (Alpha Pi) will present “We Shall Overcome,” 7 p.m., Student Union Room 2582.

Throughout the month of February, The University of Toledo Libraries will have displays of books by African-American authors in Carlson Library and Mulford Library. To view the “Activism and Civil Rights: 20th Century Activism” library guide, click here.

For more information, contact the Office of Multicultural Student Success at 419.530.2261 or omss@utoledo.edu.

Rocket football to hold signing day event Feb. 3

The University of Toledo football coaching staff will host a special presentation of its 2016 recruiting class Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 5:30 p.m. in Savage Arena.

Doors will open at 5 p.m. The event is free for all Rocket fans.

Head Coach Jason Candle and his assistant coaching staff will review their 2016 recruiting class and show video highlights of each signee at the event.

web football signing dayFeb. 3 is the first day that high school seniors are allowed to sign national letters of intent.

Following the presentation, Rocket fans will have a chance to meet the coaches at a reception and sign their own “letter of intent” with the football team. Fans who sign a letter committing to purchase season tickets for the 2016 season can get their “signing day” photo taken with Candle. Season ticket information will be available. Current season ticket holders may renew their season tickets at the event.

“While we celebrate the signing of our 2016 football recruiting class, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the commitment our fans have to the Toledo football program,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Dave Nottke. “Fans who get a photo of themselves signing their ‘letter of intent’ with Coach Candle will have a great memento for their office or home.”

Free soft drinks and snacks will be available at the event. There also will be a cash bar and the concessions stands will be open.

In addition, free Marmot Boca Raton Bowl Championship posters will be distributed at the event.

The Rockets will open the 2016 season at Arkansas State Saturday, Sept. 3. The home opener is Saturday, Sept. 10, vs. Maine.

For season ticket information, call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Law lecture on admissions preferences to take place Feb. 3

Stuart Taylor Jr., journalist and co-author of the book Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It, will deliver a lecture Wednesday, Feb. 3, at noon in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

The free, public lecture is a part of the Stranahan National Issues Forum and is sponsored by the UT College of Law and its chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Food and drink will be provided.

Taylor

Taylor

“Affirmative action is perennially front-page news, and the Supreme Court this term once again has a case challenging it,” said Lee Strang, the John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values at the College of Law. “Taylor’s argument is potentially powerful because it takes affirmative action proponents’ key argument at face value and uses it against affirmative action. Taylor’s lecture is sure to spark thought and conversation on this important topic.”

Taylor is an author and freelance writer focusing on legal and policy issues, and a Brookings Institution senior fellow. In 2012, Richard Sander and Taylor co-authored Mismatch. In 2007, Taylor and KC Johnson co-authored the book Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Fraud.

Taylor was a reporter for The New York Times from 1980 to 1988, for The American Lawyer, Legal Times and their affiliates from 1989 to 1997, and for National Journal and Newsweek from 1998 through 2010. He also has written for The Atlantic, The New Republic, National Review, Slate, The Daily Beast, Harper’s, Reader’s Digest and other magazines, plus op-eds for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

He is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. Read more about Taylor at stuarttaylorjr.com.

The Stranahan National Issues Forum is made possible by an endowment from the Stranahan Foundation. The forum’s purpose is to address issues of national importance through the lens of the American legal system, and Taylor joins a long list of high-profile speakers who have delivered the Stranahan Lecture at the UT College of Law.