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Student accommodations package announced for Dollar General Bowl

The University is offering a special rate for hotel accommodations, as well as a game and pregame party ticket, to all UT students traveling to the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

For $50, a student will receive a hotel room at the Hampton Inn & Suites (1028 West I-65 Service Road in Mobile, 241.343.4007) for the nights of Friday, Dec. 22, and/or Saturday, Dec. 23. Check-in is at 3 p.m. Dec. 22 and/or 23, and check-out is at noon Dec. 24. Incidentals are not covered and must be paid for by each individual guest. 

There will be a complimentary breakfast buffet for UT students in the hotel between 6:30 and 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, and Sunday, Dec. 24. 

A reservation also includes entry to the pregame party hosted by the UT Alumni Association. The event will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff. The heated, outdoor tent will be located inside the gates of Ladd-Peebles Stadium, 1621 Virginia St., Mobile.

The pregame party menu will feature fried shrimp; catfish and chicken tenders; hush puppies; fried green tomatoes; Cajun seafood gumbo; peeled shrimp; red beans and rice with sausage; Creole coleslaw; marinated corn and tomato salad; cookies; brownies; sweet tea; and lemonade. UT President Sharon L. Gaber, the UT Rocket Marching Band and UT cheerleaders will be at this event.

Student registration is only available online and must be completed by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20 to secure a room. To register, click here.

The hotel will not offer students complimentary lodging directly. Four students, of the same gender, are assigned to each hotel room. Students who wish to room with friends must enter their names on the registration page in the space provided. If this information is not provided, there is no guarantee you will room with them. Each student must register himself or herself through the webpage; students cannot register for friends.

A liability waiver and a travel expectation form must be completed during the registration process online. All trip participants will be required to show a valid Rocket ID upon check-in at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Mobile. 

Students must make their own travel arrangements for the trip to Mobile and to the Dollar General Bowl game.

Refunds will not be issued after 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20.

For questions or more information, contact Marcus L. Sneed or Amanda Schwartz of the UT Alumni Relations Office at at marcus.sneed@utoledo.edu and amanda.schwartz@utoledo.edu

Plan provides details for severe weather, essential personnel

The University of Toledo’s Continuity of Operations Plan helps to ensure students, faculty and staff are safe during snow emergencies when classes need to be delayed or canceled.

Although essential services continue and the University and UT Medical Center remain open during severe weather, classes and campus events may need to be delayed or canceled.

University Photographer Daniel Miller took this shot in 2014.

“Keeping our campus community members, our patients and guests safe is our No. 1 concern,” said Larry Kelley, executive vice president for finance and administration. “We strive to communicate as quickly as possible through multiple avenues when severe weather may impact campus operations.”

If a major snowstorm or ice storm affects classes, the University will announce this information through the following communication channels:

• UT Alert text message and email — visit utalert.utoledo.edu to sign up;

• Website — utoledo.edu and myut.utoledo.edu;

• Social media — UT on Facebook and Twitter;

• Phone — 419.530.SNOW (7669); and

• Local media outlets, including TV and radio stations.

Decisions to delay or cancel classes due to weather are based on the condition of UT campuses and area roads, as well as reports from local transit authorities and weather forecasters.

“Even though we must weigh multiple factors when making decisions to cancel or delay classes, we do our best to make these announcements in three phases when possible: to suspend morning classes by 6 a.m., afternoon classes by 10 a.m. and evening classes by 3 p.m.,” Kelley said. “This approach enables us to have flexibility should conditions improve throughout the day.”

The University’s policy is to remain open whenever possible in order to minimize interruption of teaching and research.

When there is a temporary suspension of University operations due to weather-related conditions or other emergencies, the Continuity of Operations Plan is enacted to continue essential operations; ensure timely and ongoing communications; and protect the health and safety of the campus community, patients and guests.

The areas defined as “essential” in maintaining continuous operations during a temporary suspension of operations include:

• Clinical operations;

• Campus safety and security;

• Information technology;

• Academic and student services;

• Supply chain operations (for clinical operations only);

• Facility services; and

• Employee payroll and human resources information system services.

Employees who work in these areas may be designated as essential personnel. As a result, they are required to report to work when the Continuity of Operations Plan is activated. These employees will be notified of their designation by their supervisors.

If employees are stopped by authorities during a state of emergency, such as by the police, they should show their Essential Personnel Restricted Travel Memo and explain they are on their way to work. County officials recognize that even during a state of emergency, certain employees must report to work.

Throughout the coming winter, campus members are reminded to use extra caution when walking around campus in snowy and icy conditions. Additionally, sightings of walkways that need to be cleared may be reported to the grounds crew on Main Campus at 419.530.1000 and on Health Science Campus at 419.383.5353.

If you have questions about campus operations and severe weather, talk with your supervisor or visit utoledo.edu/depts/hr/essentialemployee.html.

UT Alumni Association offers trip, party for Dollar General Bowl

See you at the Dollar General Bowl! The UT Alumni Association has organized a charter plane trip so fans can watch the Rockets play the Appalachian State Mountaineers Saturday, Dec. 23, at 6 p.m. Central time at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

The charter flight will leave Friday, Dec. 22, at approximately 7:30 a.m. from the Toledo Express Airport and return immediately after the game Sunday, Dec. 24, around 4 a.m.

The package includes:

• Round-trip charter air travel.

• A ticket to the mayor’s luncheon featuring Bob Stoops, college football coaching legend at the University of Oklahoma.

• The world-famous Mardi Gras parade and pep rally.

• A meal and tour of GulfQuest, National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico.

• UT Alumni Association pre-game party with a menu that will feature fried shrimp; catfish and chicken tenders; hush puppies; fried green tomatoes; Cajun seafood gumbo; peeled shrimp; red beans and rice with sausage; Creole coleslaw; marinated corn and tomato salad; cookies; brownies; sweet tea; and lemonade. A cash bar will be available. UT President Sharon L. Gaber, the UT Rocket Marching Band and UT cheerleaders will be at this event.

• Ticket to watch the bowl game.

• Overnight accommodations at the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa in Mobile, Ala.

• A Dollar General Bowl hoodie, exclusive to travelers on the charter.

• All shuttles and gratuities.

The package cost, based on double occupancy, is $1,200 per person. The cost for a single is $1,300. Those who already have tickets to the game may deduct $45 per ticket.

There are 70 seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. Click here for more information and to register.

The deadline to register for the charter trip is Tuesday, Dec. 19.

Alumni and fans who are traveling on their own to the game can attend the pre-game party for $35; registration is required. Click here. The cost for fans who need a ticket and would like to attend the pre-game party is $80 per person.

Reservations for the pre-game party only — not including a game ticket — will be accepted until 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22.

Fans who want tickets to the bowl game can call 419.530.GOLD (4653) or click here.

For more information, call the UT Alumni Office at 419.530.2586 or 800.235.6766.

UT publishes first research paper making substantial use of Discovery Channel Telescope partnership

The University of Toledo’s partnership with the Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona has helped launch the UT astronomy program onto a new level. For the first time, a UT graduate student published a significant paper made possible by data collected from observations with the telescope.

The paper on the properties of interstellar dust appears as a cover feature article in the September issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics. The UT research team studied the dust properties present in the Vulture Head nebula, a collection of dust and gas 420 light years from Earth. The team observed the nebula with the Discovery Channel Telescope, a 4.3-meter telescope located south of Flagstaff, overlooking the Verde Valley. It is the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States and one of the most technologically advanced.

In one of the first detailed images of the Vulture Head nebula, the cloud is illuminated by the faint starlight of the Milky Way and couldn’t have been captured in this detail without the power of the Discovery Channel Telescope. Dr. Aditya G. Togi took this photo.

“To understand the evolution of the universe, it’s important to understand the galaxy evolution and how stars are formed,” said lead researcher Dr. Aditya Togi, a former UT doctoral student who is now a research assistant professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “If you know dust properties of the cloud, you can better understand star formation.”

The research team also included Dr. Adolf N. Witt, UT professor emeritus of astronomy, and Demi St. John, an undergraduate student from Murray State University. St. John, selected by the UT Physics and Astronomy Department to join the team, was part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and funded through a National Science Foundation grant. She is in her first year of graduate school at Montana State University.

The team chose to observe the nebula with the Discovery Channel Telescope to test a model developed by French astronomers about the types and properties of dust particles. No one had ever tested those models through observation.

The French model posited that certain dust grains have specific properties. But the astronomers didn’t know for sure what types of dust grains were in the nebula or what size, temperature or density they were, Togi said.

The UT team measured the temperature and mass of the nebula’s dust and found that the dust grains in the cloud closely matched the properties predicted by three dust grain models in the French astronomer’s work. The research confirmed most of the model’s predictions and led the astronomers to new understandings about the dust particles that form stars.

They also learned that the cloud had something called “core shine.” The team knew that in order to scatter the light that creates core shine, some of the dust grains had to be larger than normally encountered in interstellar space. They found that the grains were more complex or “evolved.” They were coated with ice and frozen gases and had grown to about 100 times the volume of a typical interstellar dust grain.

“In order to reach this grain growth, the cloud must be at least a million years old,” Witt said.

Access to the Discovery Channel Telescope was crucial to this research. It’s also a powerful tool when attracting graduate students and young faculty.

“To be truly competitive, to have a first-rate program, you’ve got to have this kind of access to a first-class instrument,” Witt said.

UT is scheduled to host the annual Discovery Channel Telescope partner board meeting Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8 and 9, at the Driscoll Alumni Center. About a dozen representatives from UT, the Lowell Observatory, Boston University, Yale University, the University of Maryland, Northern Arizona University and the University of Texas at Austin will meet to discuss shared governance of the telescope and the best scientific uses of the instrument.

The Discovery Channel Telescope partnership has been a boon to UT astronomers and helped put the astronomy department on the map.

“Our astronomy program at Toledo is on an accelerating path,” said Dr. J.D. Smith, UT professor of astronomy, who is planning the board meeting. “We’re being recognized nationally and internationally, and this partnership is a big part of the reason why.”

Stuffed animal toy drive this week at UT Medical Center

Student organizations on Health Science Campus are accepting stuffed animal donations this week.

New stuffed animals can be dropped off between noon and 2 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 8, in the Four Seasons Bistro at UT Medical Center.

Monetary donations also will be accepted.

All proceeds will be used to purchase stuffed animals for pediatric patients at the UTMC Emergency Department.

A member of the Satellites Auxiliary tied UT ribbons on stuffed animals that will be given to children in the UT Medical Center Emergency Department.

UT groups to collect canned goods at Dec. 6 concert

The UT Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble will perform Wednesday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in Doermann Theater.

The program will feature a mix of holiday and secular music.

While the concert is free, members of the ensembles will accept canned and nonperishable food items at the event. Monetary donations also will be welcomed.

All donations will be distributed to local food banks.

For more information, call the UT Department of Music at 419.530.2448.

University selects new pharmacy benefit manager

UT employees: A new pharmacy prescription card will arrive in your mailbox this month.

Effective Jan. 1, the University will have a new pharmacy benefit manager, Healthcare Highways RX, which is based in Frisco, Texas.

The mission of Healthcare Highways RX is to offer employers and providers a choice in the delivery of health care in local markets by creating competition in order to reduce health-care costs.

“This move will help The University of Toledo to provide an improved prescription benefit to the UT family,” Wendy Davis, associate vice president of human resources, said.

Faculty and staff members who fill prescriptions at UT outpatient pharmacies will automatically have their new insurance information updated in the computer system.

Those who fill prescriptions at other pharmacies will need to show the new Healthcare Highways RX insurance card.

“As a reminder for those who choose to fill prescriptions at outside pharmacies, be aware that your out-of-pocket medication costs may be significantly lower if you opt to fill prescriptions at one of our UT pharmacies,” Cindy Puffer, managed care pharmacy operations manager at UT Medical Center, said.

For more information, contact Puffer at cindy.puffer@utoledo.edu.

UT student’s big-hearted family appears on ‘Ellen’

Talk-show host and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, who loves a feel-good story, couldn’t resist the story of University of Toledo sophomore Chris Sanders’ big-hearted family.

In early November, she invited the family of 13, which nearly doubled in size when his parents adopted a family of six siblings last year, to Los Angeles. Chris, 20 and an undecided major at UT, is the oldest of his five biological and six adopted siblings.

Ellen DeGeneres surprised the Sanders family, who were invited to Los Angeles but didn’t know they would appear on the comedienne’s show. The family members are, back row from left, Caleb, Cameron, Christian, Colby, Caden and Chris, who is a UT student; and front row, from left, Carson, Chaz, Caylee, Chloe, Caitlyn, Chris and Christina.

Producers told the Sanders family, who gained notoriety in their hometown of Cincinnati after the adoptions, that they wanted to fly them to Los Angeles to film a segment about their story.

Little did the family know that Ellen had one of her typical surprises in store — an appearance on her show, a $50,000 Walmart gift card, and an invitation to come back for one of her 12 Days of Christmas shows, one of the most coveted tickets in Hollywood.

As the family zipped around the Warner Brothers campus in a golf cart with a tour guide during their visit, they pulled into the studio where the Ellen show is filmed. All of a sudden, doors opened and they drove right onto Ellen’s stage in front of a live audience. Click here to see the show.

“I’m not a shy guy,” Chris said, “but I was in shock. We all love Ellen and follow her on social media. We were yelling.”

The family isn’t sure how Ellen found out about them. Their story had been Tweeted by comedian Gary Owen and others had tagged Ellen on social media posts about the family.

Christina Sanders, Chris’ mother, said she had always wanted to foster children. A month after becoming certified in 2014, the Sanders family took in four brothers. When Christina and her husband, Christopher, found out that the boys had two sisters, they began inviting the girls over for holidays, birthdays and weekends.

It wasn’t long before the children were calling Christina and Christopher mom and dad.

In April, the adoption was finalized. The Sanders family now includes 11 children from ages 20 to 9.

For Chris, having extra kids in the house was normal. His mom was always helping someone.

“Helping people is something we’re passionate about,” he said.

Adoption wasn’t a hard call.

“We loved them. They’re family,” Chris said. “We were going to do whatever we needed to do.”

He does admit that he feels a bit of added pressure and responsibility. There are six more pairs of eyes on him now, and 10 siblings who look up to him as a big brother.

“But I actually like it,” he said. “I’m not going to lie.”

Christina said Chris is more than up to the task of being a role model. He’s almost like a third parent.

“They love Chris. He’s the best big brother ever,” she said. “He has talks with them and checks on them.”

Chris lives off campus with his childhood friend, James Spells. The pair wanted to see what life had to offer outside of Cincinnati and found UT to be a good fit. Chris also found that having a little distance between himself and his family allows him to focus on school.

Christina and Christopher flew back to LA for the Nov. 28 episode of Ellen’s 12 Days of Christmas. The Day 6 giveways included kitchen goodies like a Keurig coffee maker and a gas grill.

Get psyched about psychology Dec. 7

Undergraduate students are invited to join the Department of Psychology faculty and graduate students to learn more about a career in psychology Thursday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon in Thompson Student Union Room 2584.

All students are encouraged to attend, with an emphasis on minority and underrepresented students as they are not proportionately represented in psychology.

“Graduating psychologists from diverse backgrounds that reflect the populations they would be serving in the future is a laudable goal, and if this goal is attained, it’ll be a win-win situation for our university and the society at large,” said Dr. Mojisola F. Tiamiyu, associate professor of psychology, director of the Community Psychology Research Lab, and chair of the Department Diversity Committee.

The event will help students become more aware of research and academic opportunities in psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, learn about careers in psychology, and give them an opportunity to speak one on one with faculty members and graduate students in experimental and clinical psychology.

“The event will be a good opportunity to showcase what the Department of Psychology has to offer minority and underrepresented undergraduate students who might be interested in applying to our graduate programs in psychology or who might be interested in learning more about psychology and its many subfields,” Tiamiyu said.

Coffee, pastries, fruit and gifts will be available to students who attend. There also will be prize drawings.

“Our faculty and graduate students are excited to meet and have an opportunity to discuss psychology with interested undergraduate students who represent our diverse UT campus,” Tiamiyu said.

To register for the event, click here.

SPARKS program to bring campus experts to students Dec. 6

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, campus experts will meet with students in the Ottawa House East Lobby to better prepare them for academic, social and professional success.

The SPARKS program brings professionals from across the University to one centralized location for students to ask questions and gain helpful insight. SPARKS is an acronym for support, preparation, academic enhancement, resources in residence, knowledge-based discussions and sage advice from experts.

Offices that will be represented at the event will include the Center for Success Coaching, Academic Support Services, University Counseling Center, Career Services, Residence Life and Rocket Fire.

SPARKS was created in conjunction with Rocket Fire, UT’s second-year experience initiative. The main focus of Rocket Fire is to keep students motivated and assist them in academic enhancement, career and professional preparation, and social engagement.

For more information, including upcoming SPARKS events, visit utoledo.edu/studentaffairs/rocket-fire.