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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.

Disability Studies Program to screen, discuss ‘A Christmas Carol’

The UT Disability Studies Program will screen Charles Dickens’ seasonal classic “A Christmas Carol” Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

A Christmas Carol FlyerEbenezer Scrooge, played by George C. Scott, is a bitter, old miser who believes nothing good can come of Christmas if it does not make him any money. Visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve, he is warned that if he does not change his unkind ways, Scrooge is doomed to a torturous afterlife in chains. Scrooge then is visited by three spirits that take him on an adventure to assure his repentance.

After the screening, film-goers are invited to stay for a discussion with faculty and students from the Disability Studies Program on representations of disability in film, literature and other media intended for young people.

For more information on the free, public event, contact the Disability Studies Program at 419.530.7244 or kathryn.shelley@rockets.utoledo.edu.

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.”

University to hold breast cancer screening event Dec. 9

Clinical breast exams and mammograms are important tools used to detect breast cancer in its early stages, when the chances of survival are highest. But one-third of women older than 40 have not had a mammogram in the past two years.

web center for health and successful livingThe University of Toledo’s Center for Health and Successful Living with support from Susan G. Komen of Northwest Ohio will sponsor free clinical breast exams and mammograms Friday, Dec. 9, from noon to 4:30 p.m. at UT’s Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center on Health Science Campus.

Women older than 40 who have not had a breast exam or mammogram in the past three years, or those who have found a lump during a self-breast exam, are encouraged to attend.

“Women tend to be more worried about everyone else and put their own health on the back burner,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, co-director of the Center for Health and Successful Living and professor of health education. “We want women to take the time to have a breast cancer screening. An ounce of precaution truly is worth a pound of cure.”

Registration is required. Call Barbara Oxner at 419.344.5172.

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.

Lecture series focuses on ‘Everyday Humanities’

“Everyday Humanities,” a lecture series co-sponsored by the UT Humanities Institute with the Way Public Library in Perrysburg, will bring 10 humanities scholars — including seven from UT — to give presentations on their research.

In co-creating the lecture series with Way Library, Dr. Christina Fitzgerald, professor of English and former director of the Humanities Institute, said she hopes it engages the community: “We want to help the public in northwest Ohio understand how the humanities have an impact on their everyday lives.”

everyday humanities lecture seriesAs Fitzgerald and Natalie Dielman, UT alumna who works at the Way Library, wrote in their grant to fund the program, the purpose of the series is to “bring humanities professionals from the region to Perrysburg to speak about engaging topics of general audience interest that demonstrate, explicitly and implicitly, how humanities research and interpretative methods enrich our understanding of the world around us in our everyday lives.”

The program is funded by a grant from the Ohio Humanities. The motto of the state-based partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities is “Sharing the Human Story,” and “Everyday Humanities” aims to do that through the research of UT and area scholars.

Philosophy is important to the humanities and to this series, Fitzgerald said. “Philosophy asks the big questions about that human story: about our being, about meaning, about knowing, about how to live the good life, and so on. The very fact that we ask these questions and ponder our existence is part of what makes us human, so philosophy is an essential part of the humanities. For that reason, we have two philosophy talks in our series.”

Dr. Madeline Muntersbjorn, UT associate professor of philosophy, gave the first talk of the series just before Halloween. Her talk explored “Why Monsters Matter” to humanity, why they are so prevalent across cultures and human history, from the perspective of philosophy. According to Fitzgerald, “This topic really exemplifies the way that the humanities can engage us in our everyday lives.”

Dr. R. Bruce Way, associate lecturer in the UT History and Foreign Languages departments, will give the next lecture titled “Samuel Woodworth’s Wishful History of the War of 1812” Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Way Public Library, 101 E. Indiana Ave. in Perrysburg.

The lecture series continues through Aug. 2. The free, public talks are held at 7 p.m. at the Way Public Library.

For more information, contact the Humanities Institute at humanitiesinstitute@utoledo.edu or click here.

Several holiday-themed concerts on tap

The UT Department of Music will present several holiday-themed concerts this month.

Listed by date, events are:

Saturday, Dec. 3 — The UT Choirs will sing the music of Hugo Distler at 7 p.m. in Doermann Theater. The Men’s and Women’s Choruses will perform selections from the Mörike Chorliederbuch, a collection of folk-song inspired works based on the poetry of Eduard Mörike. The Concert Chorale will present Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Christmas Story), a beautiful 45-minute work built on the old chorale tune “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming). Tickets: $10; $5 for students and seniors.

jazz posterMonday, Dec. 5 — The UT Concert Chorale will present Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Christmas Story) at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 316 Adams St., Toledo. Die Weihnachtsgeschichte, op. 10, is one of Distler’s most beloved works. Based on a traditional German melody, Distler created a stunning a cappella telling of the Christmas story that epitomizes the subtle beauty of his music. Premiered in 1933, this work continues to be a favorite among choirs around the world. Admission: $10; $5 for students and seniors.

Thursday, Dec. 8 — The UT Jazz Holiday Concert will take place at 7 p.m. in Doermann Theater. All the University jazz ensembles — Latin Jazz, GuitArkestra, Vocalstra, CrossCurrents (jazz faculty ensemble) and the UTJazz Ensemble — will perform at this annual holiday concert. This family-friendly program for all ages will include holiday classics from Stan Kenton, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Johnny Warrington and many others. Tickets: $15; $10 students, children and seniors.

Sunday, Dec. 11 — The UT Concert Chorale will present the music of Hugo Distler at 3 p.m. in the Toledo Museum of Art Great Gallery. The UT Concert Chorale will perform selections from Hugo Distler’s Totentanz (Dance of the Dead) and Die Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Christmas Story), highlighting the best of its fall concert selections. Admission: Free.

Tickets for events can be found online at utoledo.tix.com or by calling the Center for Performing Arts Box Office at 419.530.ARTS (2787). The box office is open Mondays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 5 p.m.

Faculty to come together Dec. 2 at forum to discuss semester change

A town hall for faculty members will be held this week to explore UT’s possible conversion from a 16-week semester to a 15-week semester.

Faculty members are invited to contribute to the conversation Friday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m. in Libbey Hall.

This proposed calendar conversion is part of an effort at the University to support and enhance student and faculty success, according to Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive president for academic affairs.

“For student success, a 15-week semester calendar will allow more winter and summer intersessions for students to take additional courses and improve time to degree and graduation rate,” he said.

Hsu added that many students are going through college with little family financial contribution, and the additional summer and winter break time also would help them to better support themselves.

“The shortened semester also would provide faculty with more time for research and scholarly activities, and for travel and participating in conferences and other professional activities,” he said. “For faculty pursuing the teaching excellence track, the additional intersessions, if implemented, may also provide faculty members with extra teaching opportunities.”

The proposed semester calendar change also would bring UT in line with other major state schools, including Ohio State, Cincinnati, Miami, Kent, Akron, Cleveland State, Wright State and Ohio University.

Faculty Senate is examining the possible semester change.

“The Faculty Senate will be voting on whether to switch to a 15-week semester at its Tuesday, Dec. 6, meeting,” Mary Humphrys, associate professor of applied organizational technology and president of Faculty Senate, said. “Friday’s forum will give faculty another venue in which to discuss this move and provide input regarding the logistics of accomplishing such a change.”

Faculty members who are unable to attend the town hall are encouraged to share input by email to facultysenate@utoledo.edu.