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Benefits of pet therapy to be discussed Aug. 5

When it comes to comfort and recovery, sometimes a furry face can be a helpful complement to cancer treatments.

Porshia, the therapy dog, relaxed in the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center before she visited patients.

Porshia, the therapy dog, relaxed in the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center before she visited patients.

Jane Ann Zeigler-Wentz and her therapy dog, Porshia, will present a free, public program about the benefits of pet therapy Wednesday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. at the Eleanor N. Dana Center at The University of Toledo Medical Center.

Among her many clients, Porshia, a multigeneration Australian Labradoodle certified through Therapy Dogs International, is a therapy dog for UTMC. She visits the Dana Cancer Center every Wednesday, along with fulfilling special requests.

“Dogs lift everyone’s spirits and mood,” said Zeigler-Wentz, who said she would have benefited from pet therapy during her second bout of cancer. “If we can bring a little light into the darkness, that is a successful day for us.”

The benefits of pet visits include reduced stress, anxiety and loneliness, as well as motivation to participate in one’s therapy, according to Zeigler-Wentz. Therapy pets give patients a welcome distraction from illness, symptoms and worry, she said, in addition to giving them something to talk about other than their cancer treatment that day. Several patients even show photos of their pets and talk about the unbelievable unconditional love their pets give them.

“This breed of dog has great intuition. They are working dogs. They really want to serve,” Zeigler-Wentz said. “Porshia doesn’t attach to someone. She is able to go from room to room without getting distracted by hugs and kisses. She intuitively knows who needs her TLC.”

Jan Tipton, manager of the Infusion Center, said the pet therapy program Aug. 5 is part of a larger project to encourage patients to talk about their pets. UTMC staff and patients are submitting photos of their pets that will be displayed at the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

“The pictures coming in are adorable,” Tipton said. “You see a lot of smiles and excitement. We are connecting with patients in a different way.”

Alumnus promotes progeria education, plans Aug. 12 fundraiser

Kaylee Halko may look familiar. That’s because she’s helped millions around the world learn about progeria.

Tim Halko and his daughter, Kaylee

Tim Halko and his daughter, Kaylee

In 2009, she was featured on a TLC documentary, “6 Going on 60.” One year later, she won more hearts on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s TV show and then showed her spunk when she questioned Barbara Walters on “20/20.”

These days, the feisty 12-year-old is making folks smile in a commercial for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

“We’ve been very careful about what shows we’ve done,” Tim Halko, her dad and 1995 UT alumnus, said. “We’ve stuck with respected shows that are educational.”

Kaylee’s star power is so bright, it’s easy to forget that she has the rare, rapid-aging disease.

“She’s always hamming it up,” Marla Halko, her mom, said. “Kaylee isn’t shy at all. She loves telling jokes and making people laugh.”

That sense of humor and bold spirit have helped her parents and brothers — TJ, 17, Brendan, 15, and Jacob, 14 — and family and friends cope.

When Kaylee was diagnosed with progeria in 2006, there were just 12 children in the nation with the genetic condition.

“Doctors at the University of Michigan basically told us to take her home and enjoy our time with her,” Tim recalled.

He and Marla learned about the Progeria Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Peabody, Mass., dedicated to finding a cure for the disease.

“We didn’t want to sit around and do nothing, so we got involved and started raising funds for the drug trial,” he said.

Kaylee Halko served up an ice cream cone at Freeze Daddy's last summer.

Kaylee Halko served up an ice cream cone at Freeze Daddy’s last summer.

For eight years, Tim and Marla organized Kaylee’s Course, a run and walk in Monclova, Ohio. Silent auctions and raffles at the event helped raise more than $350,000.

“When we used to do the walk, a lot of people I worked with at The University of Toledo came out, and a lot of them worked at the walk and helped at the event,” Tim said. “And friends I made while going to school at UT came out, too.”

Tim joined the Medical University of Ohio Accounting Department as an accountant in 2006. After MUO merged with UT, he worked at his alma mater as accounting manager until 2008.

These days he is the controller at BX Solutions, a logistics transportation company in Swanton, Ohio. And Kaylee will start sixth grade at Eastwood Middle School in August.

“She’s on the dance team now for the Edge Dance Complex in Perrysburg,” Marla said. “And she’s excited: This year she’s going to do a solo in competition.”

Kaylee also is one of 67 children in the world who are part of another drug trial. There are 125 children identified with progeria in 43 countries, according to Audrey Gordon, president and executive director of the Progeria Research Foundation.

“In just over 15 years, the Progeria Research Foundation has realized remarkable accomplishments: the 2003 discovery of the cause of progeria, the first progeria drug trial in 2007, and the historic 2012 and 2014 discoveries that the drug lonafarnib is giving the children stronger hearts and longer lives,” Gordon said. “The Progeria Research Foundation has journeyed from total obscurity of this ultra-rare disease to worldwide recognition and a treatment, all in a remarkably short period of time.”

She added that scientists have made a connection between progeria, heart disease and normal aging.

“Finding a cure for one of the rarest diseases on earth may also help millions of adults who suffer from heart disease and the entire aging population,” Gordon said. “We could not accomplish all of these milestones without the support of our dedicated donors, families and volunteers.”

To help continue that effort, the Halkos will hold a fundraiser Wednesday, Aug. 12, at Freeze Daddy’s, 8060 Monclova Road, Monclova. From 7 to 10 p.m., 10 percent of all sales will go to the Progeria Research Foundation, according to Ron Loeffler, owner of the ice cream shop.

“Our biggest fundraiser is people donating to the containers we have out,” Loeffler said. “Last year we raised $2,100.”

In addition, classic wheels will be on display courtesy of the Glass City Corvette Club and the Oak Park Gang Car Club. And a 50/50 raffle will be held, along with a silent auction.

Kaylee will work the window during the event. She recommends the bubble tea — and welcomes tips.

Another hot item on Freeze Daddy’s menu: the Kaylee cone. Loeffler said he tracks 10 percent of sales of the kid-sized treat during the year and makes an annual donation to the Progeria Research Foundation.

“Kaylee is quite the character,” Loeffler said and laughed. “My wife, Teri, and I have a special spot in our hearts for the family. We just really want to help them out and help the foundation find a cure.”

Learning Ventures launches online instruction mastery program

With more online classes being offered each year at The University of Toledo, it’s important that instructors feel confident teaching over the Web.

That’s why Learning Ventures just launched its Pathway to Master Online Instructor Program. The program is designed to ensure the quality of UT’s fully online programs so that students can achieve their learning objectives and have satisfactory online learning experiences.

The program is made up of five courses — Online Teaching Certificate, Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance and Online Courses, Online Course Design Certificate, Applying Quality Matters Rubric, and Peer Reviewer Course. Each course prepares instructors to design, deliver and revise their online courses so that improvements can be made.

Though some of these courses have been offered before, this is the first time that they have been combined to create a program like Pathway. Participants who take each course now will get a certificate from Learning Ventures recognizing their dedication to online teaching.

By taking the Peer Reviewer Course, which is part of the requirements for the Pathway program, faculty also can become Quality Matters Certified Peer Reviewers. After completion of the course, participants submit an application for certification.

To learn more about Pathway and other courses, click here contact Phoebe Ballard, senior instructional designer and coordinator for special projects, at phoebe.ballard@utoledo.edu or 419.530.4379.

Professor becomes permanent national grant review member

Dr. Donald Ronning, UT professor of chemistry and biochemistry, became a permanent member of one of the national peer review groups that evaluate research grant applications sent to the National Institute of Health (NIH) July 1.



“I’m extremely honored,” Ronning said. “It’s a way to give back to the greater scientific community that has supported my research and to my university community by networking with researchers from other universities who may not be familiar with the research capabilities at The University of Toledo.”

Ronning’s peer review group is one of many at the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, a division of the national medical research agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that reviews grant applications for scientific valuation.

“There are different divisions that review grant applications specific to a field of inquiry like cancer genetics or neuroscience imaging; my section is called the drug discovery and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, which involves reviewing grant applicants proposing research to develop new drugs to treat infectious disease or studying ways that pathogens develop resistance to current drugs,” Ronning said.

His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which bacterial enzymes carry out their biochemical function in cells; the knowledge is then used to design lead compounds and inform the development of new therapies to treat infectious diseases.

Those invited to serve on a study section are expected at every peer review group of their assigned section during their four-year term.

“As a permanent member, I am expected to prepare for and attend three meetings throughout the year. This equates to about five or six weeks’ worth of time,” Ronning said.

For more information, about the NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, visit public.csr.nih.gov.

Student Recreation Center to close for upgrades, annual maintenance

Beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, through Thursday, Aug. 20, the Student Recreation Center on The University of Toledo’s Main Campus will be closed for upgrades.

Student Recreation Center

Student Recreation Center

“The rec center will receive an interior facelift,” said Demond Pryor, director of the Office of Recreation in the UT Division of Student Affairs. “There will be major painting inside, as well as replacement of the carpeting that has been there since the center opened in 1990.”

During the shutdown, the weight room floor will be converted to a rubber surface, and more than $90,000 of improvements will go into the pool. The center and equipment also will receive a deep clean and general maintenance.

“We are really excited for all the upcoming improvements to be more up-to-date and more modernized,” Pryor said.

The Morse Center, located in Dowling Hall on UT’s Health Science Campus, will continue to be available to all eligible students, faculty, staff and current rec center members. Summer hours for the center can be found here.

Additionally, rec center members can use the pool at the Radisson Hotel at The University of Toledo on Health Science Campus. Rocket IDs must be shown before use.

For the Radisson Hotel pool hours, call 419.381.6800.

UT hires new treasurer

Last month, Christopher Thompson was named The University of Toledo’s treasurer — a position he was already familiar with.



Previously, Thompson served as the vice president and market manager in public finance with PNC Bank, UT’s largest bondholder, where he was responsible for managing the University’s relationship with the bank. Prior to that, he held management positions with other high-profile banks in the area, including Key Corp., Charter One Bank and Comerica Bank.

In his new position, Thompson oversees the operations of the Office of the Treasurer and the Office of Student Accounts (Bursar).

“Chris brings a strong understanding of the University’s debt structure and capacity, as well as a broader perspective on the higher education industry,” said Brian Dadey, UT associate vice president for finance.

Thompson received a bachelor of business administration in finance and business law from Central Michigan University and a master of business administration in finance from Wayne State University.

New vice president for advancement named, will lead newly merged division

A top fundraising executive for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System has been selected to lead The University of Toledo’s Advancement Division, pending approval of UT’s Board of Trustees.



UT President Sharon Gaber announced Thursday that Samuel McCrimmon, executive director of clinical development at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh, would join the University as vice president of advancement. He will start at UT Sept. 8.

“Philanthropy is key to the continued positive momentum of The University of Toledo, and in Sam, I’ve found a leader who will help elevate UT’s fundraising and messaging on a national and international level,” Gaber said.

Since her selection in March, Gaber has repeatedly identified as a priority a dramatic increase in fundraising, saying such a move is needed to increase the number of student scholarships, establish endowed professorships to help attract top-tier faculty, and to ensure that UT has the facilities it needs to advance research and expand its profile and reputation.

McCrimmon will oversee the merger of UT’s Institutional Advancement Division and its External Affairs Division into a single Division of Advancement, including Alumni Relations, Development, University Communications, University Marketing and Special Events.

“I’m incredibly excited to be joining UT at such a transformational time,” McCrimmon said. “I have seen the impact philanthropy can have on institutional growth, and it’s clear to me this University can increase funding to leverage its strengths, improving the lives of students and the community.”

McCrimmon said the ability to integrate the University’s branding and messaging strategy into advancement will be key to ensuring that all members of the University family have a clear vision of where UT is headed and how they can help UT achieve its goals.

“My wife and I consider ourselves to be Midwesterners, so we are thrilled to become a part of the Toledo community because it feels like a move home,” he said.

He and his wife, Courtney, have two children, Evangeline and Duncan.

Gaber also expressed her thanks to members of the search committee for their time and expertise during the past several months.

McCrimmon started his fundraising career at Wheeling Jesuit University and served as director of programs for the Executive Service Corps of Western Pennsylvania. In 2004, he joined the University of Detroit Mercy, where he advanced to leading the major and planned gift programs, providing strategic direction that resulted in record fundraising in fiscal 2010-11. He joined the UPMC Health System in 2011 and has overseen growth both of fundraising and infrastructure.

McCrimmon holds a juris doctorate from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, a master of theological studies degree from Duke University and a bachelor of arts degree from Wabash College.

UT’s new disability studies degree first of its kind

A new undergraduate degree in disability studies at The University of Toledo is the first of its kind in the country rooted in the humanities and social sciences and offered on campus.



“Disability has long been studied as a biomedical issue, but disability studies is dramatically different,” said Dr. Jim Ferris, the Ability Center of Greater Toledo Endowed Chair in Disability Studies. “Rather than focusing on the characteristics of bodies and functional limitations or impairments, disability studies focuses on disability as a social construct.”

Disability studies is a growing field with minors, certificate programs and graduate degrees being offered at more colleges across the country, but the new bachelor of arts degree at UT is the first such undergraduate program in the social sciences that is not exclusively online, said Ferris, who is professor of disability studies and director of the Disability Studies Program.

The Disability Studies Program at the University is an interdisciplinary program with the goal of fostering understanding of the contributions, experiences, history and culture of people with disabilities. The program was created in 2001 with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo and at the time was the first of its kind in the state.

“Disability studies is the scholarly understanding of disability as a sociocultural phenomenon rather than simply as a medically defined condition,” Ferris said.

UT has previously offered the discipline as a minor, which is being expanded into the bachelor’s degree program for students interested in careers in social service, public education, advocacy, government policy, health-care administration, human resource management or other fields.

People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the United States with more than 56 million people or 19 percent of the population, according to 2010 Census Bureau data; that number is expected to grow as the population ages, Ferris said.

“Everyone becomes disabled if they live long enough. It’s part of the aging process,” Ferris said.

The disability rights movement started in the 1970s and advanced with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed into law 25 years ago by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The growing scholarly field of disability studies works to advance the conversation further beyond discrimination and accessibility, Ferris said.

“At its heart, disability studies is about what it means to be human: who gets to participate in society and to what extent,” Ferris said. “It’s about recognizing and respecting diversity. It’s about how to think about and talk about the ways of being different in the world.”

The Ohio Board of Regents approved the bachelor’s degree program in December, and the University is recruiting its first class of students to begin their studies in the fall.

The degree program includes study of disability culture and history, disability law and human rights, deaf studies, gender and disability, and autism and culture, as well as a mandatory internship.

For additional information on the Disability Studies Program, visit utoledo.edu/llss/disability.

Ideas sought for development in NSF-funded course

University of Toledo faculty, staff or students who have an idea for a medical or biotechnology product may be able to get assistance in launching their idea from students participating in an innovative course this fall.

UT College of Business and Innovation and College of Engineering students will again participate in a merging of classes this semester to learn how to take creative product ideas and develop them into profitable businesses. Funding comes from UT’s participation in a National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (iCorps) grant to promote the launch of new and viable business ideas.

The student teams will be mentored and coached by Dr. Ron Fournier and Dr. Patricia Relue, bioengineering; Dr. Sonny Ariss, entrepreneurship; and Professor Deirdre Jones, professional sales.

“For the 2015-16 academic year, we expect to have at least 12 student teams,” Fournier said. “We expect that our students, faculty and staff have many medical or biotech related business ideas, and we would like our student iCorps teams to develop them for you. All students will sign a noncompete/nondisclosure form to protect your interests in the idea that you submit.”

“These interdisciplinary student teams will be using the iCorps Lean Launch Methodology and the Business Model Canvas for idea evaluation. The student teams also will develop and test prototypes. Opportunities for future support of viable businesses is available through the College of Business and Innovation Business Plan Competition,” Ariss said.

With a product idea in place, teams develop their business models utilizing the Lean Launch Pad system, which focuses on nine basic building blocks: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, key resources, key activities, key partnerships and cost structure.

If you have a medical or biotech related idea that you would like to see developed, complete the requested information at http://utole.do/ideas.

To receive full consideration, ideas must be received by Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Student trustee wants to connect with students, be their voice

“I cried. Then I called my mom.”

That was Anna Crisp’s reaction when she was selected by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as the new student trustee at The University of Toledo.



Crisp, a Bluffton, Ohio, native and junior public health major at UT, has always had a passion for helping others and saw this position as a natural extension of that.

“It has always been a passion of mine to be the voice of others whose voices may not otherwise be heard,” she said. “Now I’m the voice for 24,000 students, which is very intimidating to me but also an incredible opportunity.”

Crisp, who will hold the position until July 1, 2017, is looking forward to educating students about the student trustee position and helping them better understand what the Board of Trustees does.

“I think a lot of students have no idea that the position exists, and that’s troubling to me because as a student, you should feel that you’re represented in some way and that you have someone that’s speaking on your behalf,” she said.

One of the ways she plans to connect with students is through student organizations and a relationship with Student Government.

“We have hundreds of student organizations on campus, and I think that’s a logical avenue to go down to reach a larger amount of students,” she said.

When she’s not fulfilling her student trustee duties, Crisp will be busy making an impact in other ways. She is involved with several organizations such as International Service Learning, which has allowed her to go on two medical mission trips; Mortar Board Honor Society, where she helps with the annual Wrap Up Toledo event; and Food Recovery Network, an organization she helped start at UT that collects excess food from restaurants and dining halls and takes it to Toledo’s hungry.

On top of that, Crisp recently accepted a part-time position at The University of Toledo Medical Center as a patient advocate student assistant in the Department of Service Excellence. She will be helping to improve patient care by building relationships with patients and helping them connect with their physicians.

When asked why she is so involved at UT and why she thinks other students should do the same, her answer is simple.

“It’s your future,” she said. “Take advantage of your time here. If you spend four years here and get the degree but that’s it, is that all that you wanted to get out of college?”