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UT homepage updated to improve communication, user experience

The new homepage for The University of Toledo embraces advances in technology to improve communication and appeal to a broader audience.

Launched Dec. 5, the updated utoledo.edu features bolder headlines and additional opportunities to share news, a new video feature, and “UT at a glance” facts.

homepage-2016“Technology is ever-changing, and we are pleased to continue to keep the UT homepage and website current in trends, best practices, compliance and features that are appealing to our key audiences,” said Kathleen Walsh, director of web development.

The University’s Office of Marketing and Communications and the Center for Creative Instruction collaborated for months researching, designing and building the updated version of the homepage. Research showed key audiences desired interesting facts about UT prominently displayed on the website and had an interest in accessing high-quality videos about the University, which coincides with UT’s efforts to increase the use of video to engage people and provide a prominent place to feature that work.

Prospective students will continue to be able to find their programs and easily connect with admission resources, which is a primary use of the University’s homepage. There is extensive work underway to revise all of the web pages describing UT’s majors, which will be easier to access with the homepage updates. Prospective students will benefit from those features in the new layout, as well as more easily learn interesting news and facts about the University they are looking to attend.

The responsive design works in all web browsers and adjusts to the user’s technology to be viewed on a computer monitor, tablet or phone.

Researchers take cross-disciplinary look at addressing side effect of cancer treatment

Radiation and chemotherapy treatments can have negative impacts on normal functions in the body and become so severe that some patients choose to discontinue their treatment plans.

Dr. Heather Conti, UT assistant professor of biological sciences, recently was awarded $60,000 from Ohio Cancer Research to support a study titled “Proinflammatory Cytokines IL-23 and IL-17 in Radiotherapy Induced Oral Mucositis” to explore what mechanisms cause one of the most common debilitating complications of cancer treatment called oral mucositis.

Conducting research to better understand oral mucositis with Dr. E. Ishmael Parsai, right, and Dr. Heather Conti are, from left, Nathan Schmidt, research assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences; Jackie Kratch, graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences; Lisa Root, director and attending vet in the Department of Lab Animal Resources; and Dr. Nicholas Sperling, assistant professor of medical physics. They are standing by the Varian Edge System at UT’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

Conducting research to better understand oral mucositis with Dr. E. Ishmael Parsai, right, and Dr. Heather Conti are, from left, Nathan Schmidt, research assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences; Jackie Kratch, graduate student in the Department of Biological Sciences; Lisa Root, director and attending vet in the Department of Lab Animal Resources; and Dr. Nicholas Sperling, assistant professor of medical physics. They are standing by the Varian Edge System at UT’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

Oral mucositis occurs when cancer treatments break down the lining of the inside of the mouth, leaving it open to sores and infection. Patients experience sores on the gums or tongue, difficulty swallowing, bleeding and pain.

“Patients receiving chemotherapy or radiation of the head and neck can develop severe damage to the lining of the oral cavity,” Conti said. “The inflammation and sores can make it difficult and painful for the patient to speak, eat or drink, and can lead to an increased risk of serious infection.”

She has joined forces with Dr. E. Ishmael Parsai, radiation oncology professor and chief of the Medical Physics Division, to take a cross-disciplinary approach in examining oral mucositis in mouse models.

“I am thrilled to be working alongside Dr. Parsai. He has amazing, cutting-edge radiology equipment that he uses to treat patients, and it is one of the leading reasons why I chose to come to UT to conduct my research,” Conti said. “He will provide radiation treatments to the mouse models that are very similar to what cancer patients receive. We can then examine how interleukins, IL-23 and IL-17 are involved in cell-to-cell communication and are involved in the development of oral mucositis.”

These proteins are proinflammatory cytokines produced by both humans and mice.

Candida albicans is a yeast fungus that naturally occurs within the mouth, gut and vaginal tract, but given the chance to flourish in a patient where damage to the mucosal tissue has occurred due to radiation treatments, it can take hold and cause inflammation. It is the most common secondary infection in cancer patients.

Parsai said that despite advances in radiation treatment that have made it highly precise, such as the Varian Edge System used at UT’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center, healthy tissue still can be affected.

“I am looking forward to working with Dr. Conti to better understand how oral mucositis develops,” he said. “This research could lead to the development of better drugs to treat it and its associated infections, so that patients are able to successfully complete their course of cancer treatments.”

Association of Black Faculty and Staff renames scholarship in honor of professor emeritus

More than 70 guests attended a tribute to Dr. Joseph C. Sommerville, UT professor emeritus in the Judith Herb College of Education, at the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting held Nov. 7 in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium.

UT colleagues; former students from as far away as Chicago; Toledo city government officials, including Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson; family and fellow church members; community stakeholders and friends all gathered to honor Sommerville, who retired from the University in 1992 after 22 years.

Colleagues and friends recently attended the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting during which its annual scholarship was renamed in honor of Dr. Joseph Sommerville, professor emeritus of education.

Colleagues and friends recently attended the Association of Black Faculty and Staff meeting during which its annual scholarship was renamed in honor of Dr. Joseph Sommerville, professor emeritus of education.

During his tenure, Sommerville was chairman of the Department of Education and served on numerous UT committees. Additionally, as a superannuate professor, he taught courses in administration until 1997.

Several months ago, when the Association of Black Faculty and Staff sought to rename its annual student scholarship, it decided to forgo dedicating it to a nationally known African-American leader. Explained Dr. Anthony Quinn, current association president and assistant dean in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, “We realized we didn’t need to go out of town to find a hero. Instead, we are renaming the Association of Black Faculty and Staff scholarship in recognition of Dr. Joseph Sommerville.”

During tributes, former students praised Sommerville for his approachability, consummate professionalism and gentlemanly demeanor. Stated one, Paul Raczkowski, “Dr. Sommerville gave us practical lessons to use as educators, not just concepts to apply in the classroom.

“He really appreciated what we faced every day — ‘hormones walking in tennis shoes,’” Raczkowski said jokingly referring to teenage students. “He preached to do only what’s best for students. Period. That’s something a lot of people today should still remember.”

Dr. Crystal Ellis, former superintendent of Toledo Public Schools, said, “Joe Sommerville will live on and on and on in the lives he’s touched. I’m just glad we’re honoring him while he’s still with us.”

In addition to Sommerville having the association’s annual scholarship named in his honor, Toledo Councilwoman Cecelia Adams also presented him with a special resolution from the city. Further, the pastor of Sommerville’s church, the Rev. James Willis, declared that Sommerville’s ongoing contributions give credence to the old adage, “I’d rather see a sermon any day than hear one.”

Indeed, since retirement, Sommerville actively continues community, fraternal and educational service, despite declining health. He has served on the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Board of Trustees, and also was the first president of AARP Ohio for nearly six years. More recently, when UT launched Brothers on the Rise to help at-risk African-American and Latino students, Sommerville was among the first in the community to answer the call for mentors. He also continues to be a Sunday school teacher, as well as chairman emeritus of the Deacon Board of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Sommerville is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta — where he was an undergraduate student when the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also was enrolled — and the University of Michigan. He recounted in a recent video that documents his life — recorded with Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion — that when he lived in the South, he saw much violence over civil rights issues, such as houses being fire-bombed when homeowners were known supporters of African Americans.

Witnessing such hate crimes during his youth, Sommerville has dedicated his life to the success of students, especially underrepresented students, which also is the mission of the Association of Black Faculty and Staff.

Rockets accept invitation to play Appalachian State in Raycom Camellia Bowl

The University of Toledo has accepted an invitation to play Appalachian State of the Sun Belt Conference in the 2016 Raycom Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

The game will be played at 4:30 p.m. Central time (5:30 p.m. Eastern time) Saturday, Dec. 17, and will be televised on ESPN.

web Raycom Camellia Bowl“We are very excited to be selected to play in the Raycom Camellia Bowl,” UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien said Sunday when announcing the news. “The Rocket Nation sends a thank-you to Executive Director Johnny Williams and the entire Raycom Camellia Bowl selection committee. We have heard nothing but great things about the hospitality of the bowl committee and the city of Montgomery.

“I also want to congratulate Head Coach Jason Candle, his staff, and obviously our Rocket football team on a very successful season,” he said. “I’m confident that our players, coaches and fans will all enjoy a terrific bowl experience in Montgomery.”

Candle, who led the Rockets to a 9-3 season in his first full season as head coach, was enthusiastic about his team’s bowl destination.

“The Raycom Camellia Bowl will provide our players with an outstanding bowl experience, as well as the opportunity to play against a very tough Appalachian State team,” Candle said. “Playing in the Raycom Camellia Bowl is an excellent reward for our players, coaches and everyone involved in our team’s success.”

The Rockets (9-3, 6-2 MAC) finished in second place in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference. UT will be playing in its 16th bowl and sixth in the last seven years. UT is 11-4 all-time in bowl games, including a 32-17 victory last year over No. 24 Temple in the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl in Candle’s first game as UT’s head coach.

Appalachian State is 9-3 and 7-1 in the Sun Belt Conference. The Mountaineers finished as co-champions of the Sun Belt along with Arkansas State. Appalachian State is coached by Scott Satterfield, a former Toledo assistant who has been the Mountaineers’ head coach for four seasons. Satterfield was the passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach at UT in 2009 under then-head coach Tim Beckman.

Toledo and Appalachian State will meet on the football field for the first time in the 2016 Raycom Camellia Bowl.

This is the third year for the Raycom Camellia Bowl. Bowling Green won the inaugural matchup over South Alabama, 33-28, in 2014. Appalachian State defeated Ohio last year, 31-29.

Information on ticket sales and travel packages will be announced Monday.

UT awarded federal innovation grant to invest in academic researchers throughout northwest Ohio

The U.S. Department of Commerce awarded The University of Toledo $500,000 to help launch startup companies, move ideas to market, and spur job creation through faculty research.

Nearly $15 million was given to 35 organizations from 19 states through the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies program. 

Business Hlogo 1c BlackThe total available to researchers in the northwest Ohio region is nearly $1.3 million after the University matched the i6 Challenge grant with an additional $767,903 through the Rocket Fuel Fund.

Researchers from academic and other nonprofit institutions are eligible to receive funding.

“This is an incredible opportunity for UT faculty and academic researchers throughout the northwest Ohio region to apply for this funding and help move their new technologies toward commercialization, including women and minorities who are typically underrepresented in innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Anne Izzi, licensing associate at UT’s Office of Technology Transfer. 

The selected recipients of Rocket Fuel grants will be awarded between $5,000 and $50,000 each to enhance the scope or patentability of inventions and improve market potential through targeted research, customer discovery, and development of a prototype and business model.

“The Regional Innovation Strategies program advances innovation and capacity-building activities in regions across the country by addressing two essential core components that entrepreneurs need to take their ideas to market: programmatic support and access to capital,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said. “As America’s Innovation Agency, the Commerce Department has a key role to play in supporting the visionaries and job creators of tomorrow. Congratulations to today’s awardees who will make U.S. communities, businesses and the workforce more globally competitive.”

Dr. William Messer, professor in the UT Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, plans to apply for i6 Challenge grant funding as his lab creates a drug to help autism patients make new patterns of behavior to live a more normal life. 

“There is a lot of work to do, but we would like to move this compound into clinical trials to see if it can help treat restricted and repetitive behaviors associated with autism,” Messer said. “We are exploring a number of options to obtain the funding needed to develop the patented technology, and the i6 Challenge grant represents an important new source of funding at the local level.”

A total of 215 organizations applied for the grant funding; these included nonprofits, institutions of higher education and entrepreneurship-focused groups.

“The 2016 Regional Innovation Strategies grantees will reach a variety of communities and help entrepreneurs gain the edge they need to succeed,” said Jay Williams, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. “The diversity in programs and regional representation proves that innovation and entrepreneurship are igniting all corners of the country and is a recognized tool for economic growth and resilience.”

Student Nurses’ Association named tops in state

The Ohio Nursing Students’ Association has honored The University of Toledo for outstanding achievement and leadership as the top chapter in the state.

The Student Nurses’ Association is comprised of students from both The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University. The organization was recognized by the Ohio Nursing Students’ Association, which is the state chapter of the National Student Nurses Association.

Posing for a photo with the Brain Bowl trophy in October at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus were, from left, Karen Tormoehlen, Mariah Dooley, Kaitlin May, Alexis Ortiz, Allison Turnwald, Kayla Tibbits and Patty Sopko.

Posing for a photo with the Brain Bowl trophy in October at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus were, from left, Karen Tormoehlen, Mariah Dooley, Kaitlin May, Alexis Ortiz, Allison Turnwald, Kayla Tibbits and Patty Sopko.

Outstanding chapter criteria include strong leadership, community outreach and research involvement.

The Students Nurses’ Association is a nonprofit organization for nursing students enrolled in the baccalaureate and clinical nurse leader programs in the UT College of Nursing.

“This organization is dedicated to the mission of fostering the professional development of nursing students while indoctrinating the standards, ethics and skills that will be required of them as future leaders of the profession,” Patty Sopko, instructor in the College of Nursing and advisor of the Student Nurses’ Association, said.

The Student Nurses’ Association is involved with community service and has worked with the Ronald McDonald House, the Sunshine Children’s Home, the Daughter Project, and the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as conducted health fairs and food drives.

“Because of our extensive involvement in the surrounding community as well as our support of state and national chapter missions, the UT chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association was named chapter of the year,” Sopko said.

In addition, Karen Tormoehlen, UT assistant professor of nursing and an advisor for the UT chapter of the Student Nurses’ Association, was named Faculty Advisor of the Year at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention.

“Karen has dedicated herself to the advancement of nursing students for the past 10 years. Her efforts have resulted in local students being elected to state and national offices,” Sopko said.

And the Student Nurses’ Association placed first in the Brain Bowl at the Ohio Student Nurses’ Association Convention in Columbus.

The Brain Bowl is an academic competition in which students from various nursing schools throughout Ohio compete against each other to win the trophy to be displayed at their institution for one year.

In October, the UT chapter won the trophy and put a halt to Capital University’s three-year winning streak. In addition, this year the winning team was awarded a free review course from Kaplan Test Prep valued at $500 per student.

The Student Nurses’ Association provides a great opportunity for students, according to Sopko.

“This organization allows nursing students the chance to enhance their knowledge of the profession, practice leadership skills, mentor younger students, build a network of future colleagues, and give back to the community that they will serve for years to come,” she said.

12 Rockets named All-MAC, league-best 7 make first team

Twelve players from The University of Toledo were named to the 2016 All-Mid-American Conference football team, including a league-best seven Rockets on the first team.

The Rockets who made first-team All-MAC are senior offensive lineman Mike Ebert, senior running back Kareem Hunt, senior offensive lineman Storm Norton, senior tight end Michael Roberts, senior defensive end John Stepec, junior wide receiver Cody Thompson and junior quarterback Logan Woodside.

web all-mac footballEarning second-team honors were senior defensive lineman Treyvon Hester, sophomore wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson and senior safety DeJuan Rogers.

Junior linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley made third-team All-MAC, as did senior Corey Jones at punt returner.

Hunt, who has rushed for a league-leading 1,355 yards this season, is a three-time All-MAC selection. He earned first-team honors in 2014 and second-team last season. He has rushed for 4,825 yards in his four-year career and needs just 25 yards to break the all-time school record held by Chester Taylor (4,849 from 1998-2001).

Other repeat All-MAC honorees include Jones (second team in 2014, first team in 2015), Hester (third team in 2013, second team in 2014), Norton (first team in 2015) and Rogers (third team in 2015). Jones averaged 8.8 yards per punt return with one touchdown. He also caught a team-high 60 passes for 745 yards. Hester had 39 tackles, including a team-best 5.0 sacks. Rogers led the Rockets with 82 tackles.

Six of Toledo’s seven first-team selections came from the offensive side of the ball. The Rockets led the league in total offense, averaging a school-record 529.8 yards per game. Woodside leads the country with 43 touchdown passes, and broke school records for TD throws and passing yards (3,882). Roberts leads the nation’s tight ends with 15 TD catches, which also set a UT record. Thompson has 59 receptions for 1,170 yards, just 24 yards shy of the school record set by Lance Moore in 2003. Stepec, a defensive end, led the Rockets with 14.0 tackles for loss.

Johnson, a second-team pick, had a breakout sophomore year with 38 receptions for 751 yards and 10 TDs. Woodley, a third-team pick, ranked second on the team with 72 tackles.

Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC) is awaiting word on its bowl destination, which will be its sixth post-season trip in the last seven seasons.

UTMC’s Ryan White Program receives grant to support memorial fund

The University of Toledo Medical Center’s Ryan White Program was selected to receive a $25,000 grant from the Stranahan Supporting Organization of the Toledo Community Foundation for the Ann Wayson Locher Memorial Fund for HIV Care.

Locher opened the first grant-funded, free and anonymous HIV testing site in northwest Ohio in 1985 and was one of the key organizers of the Ryan White Program. The Ann Wayson Locher Memorial Fund was created in her honor upon her death in 2010.

“This generous gift will help us to carry on Ann’s mission,” said Richard Meeker, manager of fundraising and special projects for the Ryan White Program. “She was passionate about providing support to those affected by HIV and AIDS. Through this fund, we are able to provide emergency services for our clients.”

Toledo Community Foundation Inc. is a public charitable organization created by citizens to enrich the quality of life for individuals and families in the area. For more information, visit toledocf.org.

The Ryan White Program offers high-quality comprehensive care for individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS. The program offers adult primary care, mental health counseling, case management, advocacy and HIV testing in Lucas County and the surrounding area.

Draft campus master plan to be presented Dec. 7

The University of Toledo will present a draft of the master plan for its campuses to the community Wednesday, Dec. 7.

Representatives from the University and planning consultants from SmithGroupJJR will present the draft plan at 6 p.m. in the Nitschke Hall SSOE Seminar Room. The presentation is open to UT faculty, staff and students, as well as alumni and the public.

“The draft master plan melds together the best ideas of the scenarios discussed with our stakeholders since last summer to establish a 10-year vision for University campuses,” said Jason Toth, associate vice president for facilities and construction. “We look forward to sharing the plan with our community and finalizing this guide for our future decision-making.”

The plan is focused around four themes: repositioning the academic core, investing in research, consolidating athletics, and enhancing the student experience. The detailed presentation will include plans for specific buildings and areas of campus that will meet those goals, Toth said.

Following this public presentation, the master plan will go to the UT Board of Trustees for its consideration.

For more information about the University’s master planning process, visit utoledo.edu/facilities/master-plan.

Changes made in HR leadership

Effective Nov. 28, Jovita Thomas-Williams has been asked to assume a temporary special assignment assessing the overall capability profile of the human resources function until she leaves the University when her contract expires Feb. 28.

Wendy Davis, a director overseeing academic, student and administrative functions for HR, has agreed to step into the interim role as associate vice president of human resources and talent development, effective immediately.

Davis joined the University in 2015 and brings strong experience in human resource management for public employers in Ohio. Prior to joining UT, she worked in human resources for Lucas County Children Services and Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction—Toledo Correctional Institution.