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Three Rockets to play in all-star football games Jan. 19

Three former University of Toledo football standouts will play in post-season all-star games Saturday, Jan. 19.

Cody Thompson and Ka’dar Hollman will participate for the West squad in the 94th annual East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast on the NFL Network.

Jon’Vea Johnson will play in the National Football League Players Association Collegiate Bowl at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. The game will be broadcast on FS1 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thompson was a two-time, first-team All-Mid-American Conference wide receiver for the Rockets. He caught 181 passes for 3,312 yards and a school-record 30 touchdowns in his career. As a senior, he had 48 receptions for 647 yards and 10 TDs, and was named second-team Academic All-America. He also has been invited to attend the NFL Combine Feb. 26-March 4 in Indianapolis.

Hollman was a three-year starter at cornerback. For his career, he compiled 114 tackles, two interceptions and 27 pass breakups. As a senior, he tied for the MAC lead with 12 breakups.

Johnson, a wide receiver, was a two-time All-MAC pick, earning second-team honors in 2016 and third-team honors in 2018. For his career, he caught 123 passes for 2,224 yards and 24 TDs. This past season, Johnson had 32 receptions for 660 yards and nine scores.

UT research assistant to appear on ‘Jeopardy!’

This microbiologist studies Lyme disease at The University of Toledo and finally made good on his lifelong dream to appear on “Jeopardy!”

Who is John Presloid?

Correct. The UT research assistant will make his “Jeopardy!” debut Wednesday, Jan. 16.

UT alumnus and employee John Presloid, right, posed for a photo with Alex Trebek during an appearance on “Jeopardy!”

“It felt like an accomplishment just being there, just being on the stage,” said Presloid, who works in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in UT’s College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “I watched the show every day growing up. My first audition was actually like a week after my 18th birthday. Pretty much as soon as I turned 18, I’ve been applying nonstop.”

He finally broke through in October after his fourth in-person audition, earning the right to fly to Culver City, Calif., meet longtime host Alex Trebek, and go head to head with two other trivia superstars.

The questions he answered and where he placed is a closely guarded secret — you’ll need to tune in to find out — but Presloid said the overall experience was even better than what he had expected.

“I thought it was going to be very serious and I’d be really nervous. But I just had a blast the entire time,” he said. “One of the things they tell you is they want a poker face; they want you to look serious and not give anything away.”

“One of the handlers kind of jokingly wagged her finger at me for smiling, but she was like, ‘Question right, question wrong — you’re always smiling or laughing. That is your poker face.’ It was just so much fun.”

Presloid earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacology from UT in 2004 and a master of science degree in biomedicine in 2008. He’s spent the last four years working in the lab of Dr. Mark Wooten, UT professor of medical microbiology and immunology, who studies Lyme disease and melioidosis, a bacterial infection common in tropical climates.

He was actually working in the lab when a colleague knocked and said he had a phone call from a “Jeopardy!” producer.

A dedicated reader who naturally soaks up information, Presloid said he felt well-prepared, though he did brush up on some fine arts topics such as classical composers and opera.

“I tried to cram a little bit, but I didn’t want to drive myself crazy,” he said. “I kind of balanced between feeling comfortable but not losing sleep over it.”

Presloid likened being on “Jeopardy!” to playing sports. There were a few anxious jitters at the start, but once you’re involved in the game, you sort of fall into the zone.

“It goes by really fast. I’m actually kind of excited to see it on TV because there’s so much I don’t remember,” he said. “All the contestants were hanging out all day and most of them were really, really cool. You expect some people might be too competitive or off-putting, but I think everyone had the same goals and the same dream, and everyone is just so excited to be there. It was just unbelievable.”

In Toledo, the episode featuring Presloid will air at 7:30 p.m. on WTOL-TV Channel 11.

New vice provost for faculty affairs appointed

Dr. Amy Thompson started her new job as vice provost for faculty affairs Jan. 1.

Thompson

Thompson served as interim associate vice provost for faculty affairs and professor of public health, and provides oversight for the faculty orientation program, the UT Leadership Institute, and the University’s faculty awards program. In addition, she provides leadership for the new Future of Higher Education forums that are held monthly by the Office of the Provost.

In her new role, Thompson also will be responsible for the administration of faculty personnel processes, policies and procedures; faculty leadership and development programs; and additional faculty success initiatives related to the priorities of the University’s strategic plan.

“Amy joined the Office of the Provost last summer and has provided outstanding leadership for a number of initiatives that strengthen and support faculty success at UT,” Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “In her new position, she will continue to help faculty members achieve new levels of success.”

Barlowe

Dr. Jamie Barlowe, who serves as interim vice provost for faculty affairs, announced her plans to retire in the new year. Barlowe has been a UT faculty member since 1990 as a professor of English and women’s and gender studies. She also served as dean of the College of Arts and Letters, formerly the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, for six years. During her time at UT, she also has served as an associate dean, department chair and president of Faculty Senate.

“Jamie is a valued member of the Office of the Provost’s leadership team, and her wisdom, experience and knowledge will be greatly missed,” Hsu said. “I am grateful that she will help with the transition during the month of January.”

Thompson has been a member of the UT faculty since 2007 and has served as director of the Center for Health and Successful Living in the College of Health and Human Services. She is the immediate past-president of the University’s Faculty Senate. She was selected to serve as a Fellow in the Mid-American Conference Academic Leadership Development Program in 2017-18, and last year served as a Fellow in UT’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. She also served as a Fellow in the Office of the Provost in summer 2018.

Thompson received a PhD in health education and a master of science and education in public health from UT. She received a bachelor of science in public health from Central Michigan University.

UT Foundation, Development, Alumni Engagement, and Special Events moving to Dorr Street

Several University of Toledo offices are moving this winter to a new location on Dorr Street, thanks to a generous gift from Welltower Inc.

As of Thursday, Jan. 3, the UT Foundation offices will be relocated to the new Center for Alumni and Donor Engagement, 4510 Dorr St., Toledo, OH 43615 (adjacent to Welltower Inc). UT Development, Alumni Engagement, and Special Events offices also will move to the new center by the end of January.

The UT Foundation offices are scheduled to be at the new Center for Alumni and Donor Engagement, 4510 Dorr St., Jan. 3. UT Development, Alumni Engagement, and Special Events offices also are slated to move to the new center by the end of January.

Mail stop numbers will be UT Foundation MS 820, Development MS 825, Alumni Engagement MS 830, and Special Events MS 835.

All office phone numbers remain the same.

Coinciding with the move, the UT Foundation is also changing its logo, adopting a version of the shield logo used throughout the University.

“Transitioning to a new location seems a fitting time to make a brand change that more clearly identifies our organization as part of the UT family,” said Brenda S. Lee, UT Foundation president. “Our goal has always been — and continues to be — providing impactful financial support for the University and fostering a spirit of loyalty and opportunity for UT alumni and friends. We look forward to continuing our efforts and working with alumni, faculty, staff and donors from our new offices.”

Lee noted that there’s still time to make a 2018 gift in support of UT programs, projects and students. Contributions may be made on the UT Foundation website or in person at the Foundation’s current Driscoll Alumni Center location. Offices will be closed Dec. 24-26, but will be open for year-end giving from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 27, 28 and 31.

Rockets arrive in Bahamas, begin week of preparation for bowl battle Dec. 21

The Toledo Rockets arrived at the world-famous Atlantis resort Monday, the first day of their trip at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. Toledo (7-5) will face Florida International University (8-4) at Robinson Stadium Friday, Dec. 21.

The game will start at 12:30 p.m. and be televised on ESPN.

Senior Tyler Taafe won a pinball competition against FIU Monday at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

The Rockets departed from Toledo Express Airport at 12:30 p.m. Monday and landed at Nassau Airport at 3:30, arriving at the hotel a short while later. Both Toledo and FIU attended a buffet dinner last evening and were treated to a musical and dance performance by a Junkanoo group. The teams then faced off in a pinball competition, which was won by UT senior Tyler Taafe.

Toledo will practice Tuesday morning and attend a beach party along with the FIU players at 4 p.m.

Other events during the week will include a visit to the Ranfurly Homes for Children and a youth football clinic Wednesday. On Thursday, the Toledo cheerleaders and band will lead a team pep rally.

“How awesome. Our kids are fired up,” UT Head Football Coach Jason Candle, said. “Any time you can get a reward for a great season and get to a bowl game, that’s really cool. To be able to bring it to another country and certainly a place we’re looking to spread our brand as a football team and university, it’s really exciting.”

“The excitement started way before we pulled in, when we found out we were coming down here,” senior wide receiver Cody Thompson said. “A lot of guys haven’t ever been out of the country — my last time was when I was young. Going to the Bahamas is something everyone talks about and dreams about, so I’m really excited to be here. It’s an amazing opportunity to play football outside of our home country.”

“I hope our guys enjoy the week,” Candle added. “It’s a good chance to balance a little bit of fun, and we want to send our senior class off the right way with a win. We want their last time in the Midnight Blue and Gold to be a memorable one.”

Chief of staff named to lead finance office

An administrator who has served The University of Toledo for two decades has been named interim chief financial officer.

Matt Schroeder, chief of staff and associate vice president for budget and planning, will begin his role as UT’s interim executive vice president for finance and administration beginning Monday, Jan. 7.

Schroeder

“I am committed to the success of The University of Toledo and providing a strong financial foundation necessary to achieve our strategic priorities,” Schroeder said. “I appreciate President Gaber’s confidence in me to fill this very important role.”

“Matt has dedicated his career to UT, and his experience with both the University and the UT Foundation will serve us well as we continue our positive momentum and prioritize how we allocate our resources in ways that have the greatest impact on our students and the campus community,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said.

Gaber thanked Lawrence R. Kelley, who has led the University’s financial operations since 2015, for his leadership as CFO through mid-March and his continued service to the institution part time through 2019 as a senior advisor assisting with budget planning and strategic initiatives.

As interim executive vice president for finance and administration, and chief financial officer, Schroeder will oversee the University’s offices of Finance; Budget and Planning; Facilities and Construction; Auxiliaries; Information Technology; Human Resources; Public Safety; and Internal Audit and Compliance.

Schroeder has served as the University’s chief of staff since 2015 as a member of the senior leadership team focused on leading strategic priorities and special projects, as well as overseeing government relations and the University’s response to critical issues.

Prior to joining the University, Schroeder was the UT Foundation’s chief operating officer.

A graduate of UT’s College of Business and Innovation, Schroeder also has an MBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Football player named Second-Team Academic All-America

Toledo senior wide receiver Cody Thompson has been named to the Google Cloud Academic All-America Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

He is Toledo’s first Academic All-American since Dan Molls earned First-Team honors in 2012.

Thompson, who earned Academic All-District honors in 2017, graduated last December with a 3.66 GPA in marketing. He is pursuing his master’s degree in recreation and leisure and holds a 3.83 graduate GPA.

Thompson has 43 receptions for 592 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, earning first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors for the second time in his career. He is Toledo’s all-time leader in career TD receptions (30) and ranks second all-time in receiving yards (3,257).

The native of Huron, Ohio, was a first-team All-MAC selection in 2016, catching 64 passes for a then school-record 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been on the official watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the top receiver in the country, in each of the past two seasons.

This season, Thompson also was a candidate for the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year, the Wuerffel Trophy, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, and the NCAA Senior CLASS Award.

Thompson will play his final game as a Rocket when Toledo takes on Florida International University in the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl Friday, Dec. 21.

Rockets vault into top 10 of Collegeinsider.com top 25 poll

Toledo moved into the Top-10 of the collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll released Monday evening after extending its winning streak to five games last week.

UT was ranked No. 16 in last week’s poll before rising seven places in the weekly ranking.

Toledo is ranked No. 9 in the Collegeinsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll.

The Rockets’ home victories over North Alabama (80-59) Nov. 28 and Cleveland State (80-67) Dec. 1 improved UT’s win-loss mark to 7-1 this season.

The last time Toledo posted wins in seven of its first eight contests was when it registered a 12-0 start in the 2013-14 campaign. In addition, UT’s .875 winning percentage is tied for 15th best in the nation.

The Rockets’ highest ranking ever in the Mid-Major poll is No. 2 on Dec. 30, 2013.

Toledo will conclude its three-game homestand Wednesday, Dec. 5, against Detroit Mercy. UT will visit Marshall Saturday, Dec. 8, before playing its next four contests in Savage Arena.

Toledo led MAC in football attendance in 2018

The University of Toledo finished No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in home football attendance for the second consecutive season with an average of 21,352 fans per game in 2018, well above the MAC average of 15,532.

The Rockets totaled 149,462 fans in seven home games. The season-high mark was 28,117 vs. Miami (Fla.) Sept. 15.

The Rockets averaged more than 21,000 fans per game in 2018; this included a capacity crowd of 28,117 vs. Miami (Fla.) Sept. 15.

Seating capacity for the Glass Bowl is 26,038. Toledo averaged 20,745 fans in 2017, also tops in the MAC.

The Rockets also sold 11,830 season tickets in 2018, a 13.8 percent increase from the 10,388 season tickets sold in 2017.

“We are very thankful for the Toledo community for another year of great support for our football program,” said Dave Nottke, deputy director of athletics. “In addition to experiencing another successful season on the field, our fans were able to enjoy all the fun and excitement of game day at the Glass Bowl. Our pre-game Stadium Drive Live concerts, in-game promotions, halftime entertainment and great traditions like the UT Marching Band make Rocket football one of the best college football atmospheres in the country.”

Toledo’s 2019 schedule will feature six home games, including a Sept. 28 matchup with Brigham Young University. The Rockets also will host Northern Illinois and Western Michigan among their four conference home games.

UT LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate to hold brunch fundraiser Dec. 9

The University of Toledo LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate will hold a brunch Sunday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Packo’s at the Park, 7 S. Superior St.

The brunch is a fundraiser to help support activities and events for the LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate.

The cost to attend is $15 per person for ages 11 and older, while children 10 and younger are $5.99 each. Packo’s will donate 20 percent of the proceeds to the new alumni affiliate.

“Proceeds will benefit the LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate,” Samantha Marchal, assistant director of alumni engagement, said. “With the help of a board of volunteers, the affiliate funds help to create scholarships, programming, educational opportunities, and social activities for UT alumni and students.”

Register for the event on the UT Alumni Association website.

Friends are welcome to attend the next LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate meeting Monday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m., in Tucker Hall Room 0152.

“Our goal is to encourage a spirit of unity, and we are happy to be that tie between LGBTQA+ alumni and their alma mater,” Marchal said. “This event is just one of many opportunities to strengthen that tie, and we hope to meet many of our alumni and friends on December 9.”

To stay up-to-date on LGBTQA+ news and events, join the LGBTQA+ Alumni Affiliate on Facebook.