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Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 17

Toledo native and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael D. Sallah will return to his alma mater Sunday, Dec. 17, to deliver the keynote address during The University of Toledo’s fall commencement ceremony.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. in Savage Arena.


Sallah will address 2,067 candidates for degrees, including 118 doctoral, 523 master’s, 1,370 bachelor’s and 56 associate’s.

The ceremony is open to the public and can be viewed live at video.utoledo.edu.

Sallah’s investigative work as a reporter and editor with award-winning newspapers across the country has revealed public corruption, police abuses and government blunders, resulting in grand jury investigations, legislative reform, and the recovery of millions of taxpayer dollars.

He is a reporter on the national investigations team at USA Today/Gannett Network in Washington, D.C.

“This is where it all began for me,” Sallah said. “From the time I took my first journalism class in the fall of my freshman year, I fell in love with journalism, and UT is a big part of that. It’s part of my foundation — the professors, the values they conveyed to me about journalism, and why it’s so critical to our society, especially investigative work. I’m honored to be coming home to be the commencement speaker.”

“Journalists have an important role to inform the public about the issues that affect our lives, and Michael Sallah has embraced that responsibility uncovering many misdeeds through investigative reporting that resulted in positive change,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “I look forward to him sharing with our graduates how he got his start here in Toledo and inspiring them to stay curious and serve their communities.”

Born in Toledo, Sallah is a 1977 alumnus of The University of Toledo, graduating cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. He was named UT’s Outstanding Alumnus in the Social Sciences in 2004. Sallah also is a 1973 graduate of St. John’s Jesuit High School.

He was a reporter and national affairs writer at The Blade for more than a decade, and was the lead reporter on the 2003 project “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths” that exposed the U.S. Army’s longest war crimes case of the Vietnam War. The series won numerous national awards, including the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

While investigations editor and reporter at the Miami Herald, Sallah led an inquiry into local corruption. His team’s 2006 “House of Lies” series exposed widespread fraud in Miami-Dade County public housing and earned the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. He was named a 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his series “Neglected to Death,” which uncovered deadly conditions in Florida assisted-living facilities, led to the closing of 13 facilities, and was the impetus for a gubernatorial task force to overhaul state law.

During his two years at The Washington Post, Sallah received a Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Journalism for an investigation that exposed a predatory system of tax collection in the District of Columbia. 

He returned to the Miami Herald in 2014 and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016 for uncovering one of the nation’s most corrupt sting operations in a police unit that laundered $71.5 million for drug cartels, kept millions for brokering the deals, and failed to make a single significant arrest. 

Sallah is the author of the books “Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War” and “Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Passion and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba.” He also was a consultant for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary “American Experience.”

UT’s fall commencement ceremony will recognize graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Graduate Studies; Health and Human Services; Honors College; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

For more information, visit utoledo.edu/commencement.

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.

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.

Language learning with a smartphone app topic of Nov. 29 lecture

“Developing an Intelligent Smartphone Application for Language Learning: Progress and Challenges” will be discussed Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 1 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2420.

Dr. Kasumi Yamazaki, assistant professor of Japanese, will deliver the lecture hosted by the Department of Foreign Languages.


Her presentation will showcase the new intelligent smartphone application called KAI, which she developed in collaboration with Honda Research Institute Japan Co. Ltd.

KAI helps people in their advancement of fluency in another language by collecting real-time interactions at social occasions and allowing users to share their interactions in order to receive corrective feedback from language experts.

“I believe the session will be a showcase of what could be accomplished by the university-industry collaboration,” Yamazaki said. “The session will also provide an example of potential opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange and to develop new research ideas in different fields.”

The lecture will include a demonstration of KAI, discussions of its advantages and challenges, and recommendations for future studies.

Research has shown that learning another language creates a positive relationship between second language motivation and global competence, has far-reaching academic and cognitive benefits, increases social and communication skills, and expands employment opportunities.

“Students have a firsthand opportunity to see the smartphone application KAI and its features, exploring the behind-the-scenes process of how to turn our ideas into reality,” Yamazaki said. “Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the research topic, this lecture is applicable to a wide range of students and faculty.”

For more information on the free, public lecture, contact Yamazaki at kasumi.yamazaki@utoledo.edu.

Jazz icon who taught at UT passes away

Jon Hendricks, a legend in the jazz world who taught at The University of Toledo 16 years, died Nov. 22 at age 96 in New York City.

The UT Distinguished Professor of Jazz struck a lasting note in the music world.


Many considered Hendricks to be the father of vocalese — the art of setting lyrics to established jazz standards. Time magazine dubbed him “the James Joyce of jive,” and music critic Leonard Feather called him “the poet laureate of modern jazz.”

In 1957, he formed the jazz vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. The trio refined vocalese, whereby voices are arranged to sing the parts of instruments. Vocalists Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau and the Manhattan Transfer cite the group’s work as a major influence.

Hendricks was born in Newark, Ohio, in 1921. His family moved to Toledo when he was 4 years old. They lived on the same street as Toledo’s other jazz legend, pianist Art Tatum.

“Everything for me started right here in Toledo,” the superstar said in a 2012 interview. “When I was 12 or 13, I stood in front of the juke box at Stanley Cowell’s hamburger joint on Indiana Avenue and learned every song. And when people would come up to play it, I’d say, ‘What are you going to play?’ And they’d say, ‘What’s it to you?’ I said, ‘Give me the nickel, I’ll sing it.’ And they’d say, ‘I’d like to hear that.’ So they’d give the nickel, and I’d sing them the song they were going to play.

“As I look back on it, that’s where vocalese came from,” Hendricks said.

At age 14, he started performing at the Waiters and Bellmen’s Club on Indiana Avenue in Toledo. “I met a lot of people at 14 — Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Lucky Millinder, Andy Kirk, Don Redman. I met just about anybody that there was because everybody came to hear Art Tatum.”

The Scott High School graduate sang in Detroit and in the Glass City — until he was drafted into the army in 1942.

Dave Lambert, left, Annie Ross and Jon Hendricks in 1961

After serving his country, Hendricks returned to Toledo. In 1946, he enrolled at The University of Toledo, where he studied literature and law. Some of his poetry was published in The Collegian, UT’s student newspaper. All the while, he worked as a singer and drummer at night. Hendricks even sat in with Charlie “Bird” Parker when he played the Civic Auditorium in Toledo in 1950. It was the saxophonist who encouraged him to go to New York City.

With $27 in his pocket, Hendricks went to the Big Apple in 1952 and found Parker playing at the Apollo Bar. “[Parker] had already told everybody about me, so I had an instant entry into the jazz world. I had sung with Dizzy [Gillespie], so I knew Dizzy and he talked about me, too. So everybody knew me,” he recalled in a 2004 interview.

Hendricks started writing and trying to sell his songs. After some success on his own, he teamed up with Dave Lambert. In 1955, they wrote “Four Brothers,” which they recorded as Jon Hendricks and the Dave Lambert Singers.

The two continued to be innovative in the studio and began recording vocalese versions of Count Basie songs. Enter British jazz singer Annie Ross. She performed the trumpet and piano parts; Lambert took trombone and middle-tone sections; and Hendricks sang saxophone sections. Thanks to multi-track recording, the result was an orchestral sensation.

“Sing a Song of Basie” by Lambert, Hendricks & Ross was released in 1958. Accolades abounded. The trio continued their success, teaming up with the Count Basie Orchestra for “Sing Along With Basie” in 1959. Buoyed by their growing reputation as masters of setting lyrics to jazz standards, the group released two more albums that same year — “The Swingers” and “The Hottest New Group in Jazz.” The title of the latter was courtesy of a critic.

The three became a force in the music world and recorded nearly 30 albums. Ross left the group in 1963, and Lambert and Hendricks went their separate ways a year later.

UT music students had the chance to learn jazz history from a man who helped shape it: Jon Hendricks.

As a solo artist, Hendricks continued to gain attention behind the microphone. His early recordings included “Bossa Man” (1963), “Salud!” (1964) and “Watermelon Man” (1965). He also sang with the Count Basie Band from 1959 to 1965 and with Duke Ellington from 1965 to 1974. Another collaboration found Hendricks recording a song with the Grateful Dead in 1966.

After living in London from 1968 to 1973, Hendricks moved back to the States and was a jazz critic at the San Francisco Chronicle for three years. He also added teaching to his resumé. He taught jazz classes at California State University at Sonoma and the University of California at Berkeley. And the records kept coming: “Cloudburst” (1972), “Tell Me the Truth” (1975), “September Songs” (1976). He also took his family into the studio. Released in 1982, “Love” featured his wife, Judith, and their children. Other albums included “Freddie Freeloader” (1990), “Boppin’ at the Bluenote” (1995) and “Live at the Bluenote” (1999).

While always in demand as a singer, he never got far away from his way with words. Over the years, he penned lyrics for music written by Ellington, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Antonio Carlos Jobin. Thelonious Monk wouldn’t have anyone else but Hendricks write words for his songs.

The Manhattan Transfer paid tribute to Hendricks in 1979. They asked him to write lyrics for Joe Zawinul’s “Birdland” for their album titled “Extensions.” That song won a Grammy Award. He teamed up with the group again in 1985 for “Vocalese”; he provided words for the whole album. His duet with McFerrin on that record earned a Grammy Award for best jazz vocal performance. In 1997, Wynton Marsalis asked Hendricks to contribute to the libretto for the concert opera, “Blood on the Fields,” which won a Pulitzer Prize. Hendricks also narrated and sang in the show about slavery in America.

Through the years, Hendricks received numerous awards. In 1992, he was the recipient of the highest honor given to a jazz artist — the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Fellowship. He was given a French Legion of Honor in the class of knight — France’s highest civilian commendation — in 2004. And in 2014, he took home the Satchmo Award for his lifetime commitment to jazz.

Jon Hendricks sang in the Student Union in 2009.

In 1999, Hendricks received an honorary doctorate from The University of Toledo in recognition of his iconic career. One year later, he was named Distinguished Professor of Jazz at the University. UT students had the luxury of hearing about jazz greats from the luminary who shared the spotlight with them. “It was such an honor for me to be invited back to my hometown to teach what I do,” he said in an interview for “The University of Toledo Alumni Who Have Changed the World.”

“What I would like students to learn most is that as citizens of the United States of America, they, like any other country in the world, have a cultural art form, like the Russians have ballet, the French have painting, the English have drama; well, in America, we have jazz, and it is a great cultural art form. And it stands up with any of them in its greatness.”

The legend retired from his UT teaching gig in 2016.

Earlier this year, Hendricks saw the premiere of a longtime project, “Miles Ahead.” He began writing lyrics for the Davis album arranged by Gil Evans nearly 50 years ago.

Artist donates works to be sold to benefit alma mater

The University of Toledo College of Arts and Letters’ School of Visual and Performing Arts will hold an exhibition of selected artwork created by local artist and UT art alumna Nathine G. Smith.

The Benefit Exhibition for the Nathine G. Smith Fund for Artistic Achievement will be held on the first floor of Sullivan Hall on Main Campus from Friday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Jan. 5, during regular business hours.

Nathine G. Smith sat by a couple of her creations.

All pieces in the exhibit are for sale. Smith has graciously offered to donate the proceeds to benefit the UT Department of Art and its students.

The work will be introduced to potential buyers at an invitation-only reception Friday, Nov. 17. Remaining work will be on display through Jan. 5 or until it is sold.

Pieces are mixed-media on paper, collage, watercolor, pastel, colored pencil, and graphite.

“My work is created by experimentation with mixed-media on paper, exploring texture, form and color in two- and three-dimensional abstract forms. My inspiration comes from nature, music and literature,” Smith said.

“Enigma Variation XXII” by Nathine G. Smith

“Mainly I work with my hands. I like the feel of the textural surface, the piecing together — almost quilt-like — of paper creations. I work with layers and layers of art tissues, stacks of them, and I have to sort through those and cut and tear to size. It could take three weeks or sometimes a couple months. I couldn’t possibly duplicate a piece — the colors are always different.”

Smith and her husband, Willard Smith, former UT vice president for business affairs, are longtime Toledo arts supporters. Together, through years of volunteerism and financial assistance, they have supported a wide range of area arts and educational initiatives and institutions, including the Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Symphony, The University of Toledo, area hospitals, and the Rotary Club.

Nathine is a graduate of the UT/Toledo Museum of Art School of Design with a bachelor of arts degree in art. Afterward, she pursued an independent study program at UT. Previously, she received a bachelor of science degree in education from Miami University.

Her works were featured in a one-woman exhibit called “Exploring Texture” at the UT Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women.

Smith, who has numerous awards to her credit, is also a longtime member of the National Collage Society. In 2005, she was included in the society’s book, “Collage,” as a Signature Member. She is also a member of the Athena Art Society (since 1988) and the Toledo Artists’ Club (since 1997).

UT, BGSU sign foreign language course exchange agreement

The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University have announced a collaboration in foreign language education that will expand opportunities for students at both universities, while saving resources by reducing duplicative academic programs.

The programs are among those identified by the Ohio Department of Higher Education in response to the Governor’s Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency’s recommendation that universities in the same region offering duplicative programs look for opportunities to collaborate.

BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey, left, and UT President Sharon L. Gaber signed a memorandum of agreement supporting the foreign language course exchange.

On Nov. 15, UT President Sharon L. Gaber and BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey led the signing of a memorandum of agreement supporting the foreign language course exchange in advance of the rivalry football game.

Also signing the agreement were Andrew Hsu, UT executive vice president and provost; Rodney Rogers, BGSU provost and senior vice president; Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters; and Raymond Craig, dean of the BGSU College of Arts and Sciences.

“This foreign language partnership builds on the existing culture of collaboration between UT and BGSU to better serve our students and the community in the most efficient ways possible,” Gaber said. “By sharing resources, we will be able to provide our students access to more foreign language education opportunities to better prepare them for success in the global marketplace.”

Posing for a photo after the signing ceremony were, from left, Raymond Craig, dean of the BGSU College of Arts and Sciences; Rodney Rogers, BGSU provost and senior vice president; BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey; UT President Sharon L. Gaber; Andrew Hsu, UT executive vice president and provost; and Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UT College of Arts and Letters.

“We are pleased to enter into this partnership with The University of Toledo, which will provide exceptional educational experiences for both BGSU and UT students,” Mazey said. “As one of BGSU’s core values, we welcome opportunities to collaborate. This agreement combines the strengths of both universities, resulting in efficiencies that support students’ degree completion.”

The universities are already collaborating at the course level. This fall, UT students have been taking an online BGSU Italian course, and in the spring, BGSU students will be able to take a UT Arabic course. Sharing course offerings in French and German is also planned to begin as early as spring. Opportunities for collaboration in additional languages will be explored by a joint task force under the direction of the two college offices.

The universities have worked to ensure the process is as seamless as possible for students.

BGSU recently merged its romance and classical languages department with the German, Russian and East Asian languages department to better prepare undergraduate students to be engaged global citizens. The new Department of World Languages and Cultures promotes linguistic and cultural competence as a bridge to achieve intercultural understanding of global issues, ideas and values.

UT also is in the process of renaming its foreign languages program to the Department of World Languages and Culture to better reflect the curriculum that also includes culture and literature instruction to prepare students to thrive in the global world.

UT Rocket Marching Band to perform in Valentine Theatre Nov. 18

The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will take its show on the road to an indoor venue: the historic Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams Street, Toledo.

The Sounds of the Stadium Concert will be held Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m.

The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will take its show on the road to an indoor venue: the historic Valentine Theatre, 410 Adams Street, Toledo.

The Sounds of the Stadium Concert will be held Saturday, Nov. 18, at 2 p.m.

The program will feature music from the band’s 2017 football season. Selections will range from ZZ Ward and Panic! At the Disco to The Beach Boys, Lee Greenwood and The Beatles.

Traditional UT favorites also will be performed.

Tickets — $7 each — are available through the UT Center for Performing Arts Box Office, 419.530.ARTS (2787) and online at utoledo.tix.com.

Tickets also are available through the Valentine Theatre Box Office at 419.242.ARTS (2787) and valentinetheatre.com.

For more information on the UT Rocket Marching Band, click here.

Open auditions for spring productions to take place Nov. 13-14

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film will hold open auditions for its spring productions Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 13-14, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre.

Auditions are open to anyone from the University or community; they are not limited to students only.

Roles will be cast for:

• “Proof” written by David Auburn, and directed by Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre, with performance dates Feb. 2-11.

• “The Tempest” written by William Shakespeare and directed by Dr. Edmund Lingan, UT professor and chair of theatre and film, with production dates April 6-15.

If auditioning for “Proof,” preparation for the audition should include a one-minute monologue that can be from any play.

Those auditioning for “The Tempest” should prepare a one-minute monologue from any Shakespearean play.

Those auditioning for both shows need only prepare the one-minute Shakespeare monologue.

Sign-up forms are available in the Center for Performing Arts or by contacting Christopher Montpetit at 419.530.4776 or christopher.montpetit@utoledo.edu.

Details are also online here.

UT to hold All-Steinway Piano Gala Nov. 12

The University of Toledo Department of Music will present a piano concert featuring performances of masterpieces written for two, four and eight hands Sunday, Nov. 12, at 3 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Pianists will include guests, faculty, alumni and piano students of the University.

Dr. Michael Boyd, UT professor of music and Steinway artist, performed with the assistance of Nathanael Leonard, UT music alumnus.

Performances will feature Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Bolcom’s “The Serpent’s Kiss,” selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” and the music of Mozart, Piazzolla, Ellington and Sousa.

The All-Steinway Piano Gala is the second concert in this year’s Dorothy MacKenzie Price Piano Series.

All seats are $20 each. Proceeds will benefit UT’s effort to become an all-Steinway school.

A reception and cash bar will follow the event.

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Boyd, UT professor of piano, at michael.boyd@utoledo.edu or 419.530.2183.