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National science leader and Toledo native to deliver UT commencement address Dec. 15

The head of the nation’s oldest and one of its most prestigious laboratories will return home, as Toledo native Michael Witherell is set to deliver the address during The University of Toledo’s undergraduate commencement ceremony Saturday, Dec. 15.

Witherell, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in Berkeley, Calif., will address 1,474 candidates for degrees, including 1,437 bachelor’s and 37 associate’s candidates. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Savage Arena on Main Campus.

Witherell

UT’s graduate commencement ceremony is scheduled at 8 a.m. in Savage Arena and will commemorate 641 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates. Md Kamal Hossain, emerging cancer researcher and candidate for a doctoral degree at the University, will be the speaker.

Both ceremonies are open to the public and can be viewed live on the UT Views website.

Witherell, a distinguished physicist, educator and science leader, developed the foundation for his future at Toledo’s St. Francis de Sales High School. Salutatorian at age 15, he earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in experimental physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After a distinguished career as a university professor performing research in particle physics, he devoted himself to leading large research institutions.

In 2016, Witherell was named director of Berkeley Lab, the oldest of the 17 labs in the
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories systems. Berkeley Lab is a global leader in fundamental and applied scientific research in physical, biological, energy, computing and environmental sciences. The lab’s employees have earned 13 Nobel Prizes and played a role in the discovery of 16 elements on the periodic table, among its honors. The lab is managed for the DOE by the University of California.

“Our mission at Berkeley Lab is solving the nation’s most challenging problems through great scientific and technological discoveries. I believe that the national assets in addressing these problems include public universities and the students whom they are educating,” Witherell said.

Before joining Berkeley Lab, Witherell spent six years as director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. He was vice chancellor for research at the University of California in Santa Barbara, where he also held a presidential chair in the Physics Department.

His primary research interest is in studying the nature of dark matter. He was a contributor to the LUX experiment, which in 2016 published the most sensitive search for interactions of dark matter particles with normal matter. He is now part of an international research team that is building a successor to LUX, known as LZ, which will be three orders of magnitude more sensitive. Data collection is expected to start in 2020.

Witherell is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He chairs the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies and serves on the National Academies’ Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy.

“As a nationally recognized, public research university, The University of Toledo is pleased to have Dr. Witherell as our fall commencement speaker. Research not only helps us to discover new knowledge that advances all areas of study, but also instills critical thinking skills that our students can use to approach problems systematically and come up with solutions that improve everyday life,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We look forward to Dr. Witherell sharing his insights with our graduates, especially since he grew up in Toledo and has since made tremendous contributions through research.”

Witherell’s personal success can be traced back to the Glass City, as well. He and his wife, Elizabeth Hall Witherell, head of the Princeton Edition of Henry Thoreau’s writings, grew up in the same west Toledo neighborhood and were high school sweethearts. They have a daughter, Lily.

“The foundation for my career and life was my extended family in Toledo,” Witherell said. “Their support and the value they put on education and public service were central to my personal and professional development.”

Hossain

Hossain, the graduate ceremony speaker, is a native of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who came to UT as an industrial pharmacist with a passion to develop innovative medicines.

“I’ve always been interested in studying health-related fields due to the suffering of people in my homeland from different types of disease,” Hossain said. “My focus is to develop a specific targeting approach for a more effective cancer vaccine. My research examined the utilization of a natural antibody already present in human serum that makes the vaccine more convenient to target tumor cells.”

He is a candidate for a doctor of philosophy degree in medicinal chemistry in UT’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

UT’s fall commencement ceremonies 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; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College.

The College of Law will host its commencement ceremony Sunday, May 5, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Later that week — Friday, May 10, at
4 p.m. — the College of Medicine and Life Sciences will hold its commencement ceremony in Savage Arena.

For more information, visit the UT commencement website.

Staff Leadership Development Program’s first cohort graduates

Twenty-one University of Toledo staff members who were in the Staff Leadership Development Program’s first cohort graduated Nov. 8 and were officially recognized at a luncheon held in their honor in the Thompson Student Union.

The program was launched in 2017 based on feedback gathered during the strategic planning process from employees who wanted a formal pathway to grow professionally.

“I’m very proud of this inaugural class,” said President Sharon L. Gaber. “No one can ever change the fact that each of them was a member of our first cohort, marking a milestone not only in their tenure with UT, but also in the University’s history.”

“Our goal for this program is twofold — to help candidates grow in their existing positions, as well as to prepare them for expanded leadership roles at UT in the future,” noted Wendy Davis, associate vice president and chief human resources officer.

The one-year Staff Leadership Development Program includes complimentary courses, lectures, assessments and experiential learning facilitated by UT senior leaders, faculty and other subject matter experts.

“Each participant was carefully selected by a multidisciplinary team and completed all required assignments, readings and a capstone project in order to graduate,” said Carrie Herr, director of the Center for Continuous Improvement, who has oversight of the program.

The program has been very well-received, with members of the first cohort representing a wide range of staff positions and departments across UT campuses, according to Herr.

“I would definitely recommend this program to others,” said Kelly Donovan, who works at UT Medical Center. “I was able to foster great relationships with future leaders from various departments, plus had access to our current leaders. And the program instilled leadership skills and confidence that I’ll be able to use for future career goals.”

“What I valued most was learning about so many different facets of higher education, from human resources and recruitment to student affairs, legal and financial matters,” said Craig Turner, who works in the College of Business and Innovation. “I also had the opportunity to gain insights firsthand from UT’s leaders, such as Dr. Gaber, Provost Andrew Hsu and Dr. Chris Cooper, in addition to meeting new colleagues from throughout our campus community.”

In addition to Donovan and Turner, first cohort UT Staff Leadership Development graduates are Stefanie Bias, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Stacey Jo Brown, Office of Legal Affairs; Candace Busdiecker, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Lori DeShetler, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Josh Dittman, Intercollegiate Athletics; Shelly Drouillard, Career Services; Jamie Fager, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Beth Gerasimiak, Office of the Provost; Melissa Hansen, College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Heather Huntley, Office of the Provost; Angelica Johnson, College of Arts and Letters; Deirdre Jones, College of Business and Innovation; Sara Lockett, Purchasing/Finance; Elliott Nickeson, Internal Audit and Compliance; Daniel Perry, Facilities and Construction; Jason Rahe, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions; Staci Sturdivant, College of Health and Human Services; Tiffany Whitman, University College; and Matthew Wise, Division of Technology and Advanced Solutions.

A second cohort began course work in October and will graduate in November 2019.

Members of the first cohort to graduate from the Staff Leadership Development Program posed for a photo last month with President Sharon L. Gaber, seated center, and Lawrence R. Kelley, executive vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer, second from left seated, and Carrie Herr, director of the Center for Continuous Improvement, seated between Kelley and the president.

UT among schools named Best for Vets

The University of Toledo has again been recognized as a top school for supporting student veterans.

UT is among 208 schools receiving the Best for Vets 2019 designation, according to the Military Times.

“We are happy to help our service men and women who enroll at The University of Toledo, and this Best for Vets designation recognizes our commitment,” Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College, said. “It is an honor to help our veterans succeed.”

“Military Times’ Best for Vets designation is trusted throughout the veteran community as the mark of excellence for schools and other organizations that work with veterans, service members and military families. It can’t be bought with advertising dollars — unlike some other supposedly veteran-friendly rankings — only earned through a record of steadfast service and dedication to those who have served,” said George Altman, Military Times editor in charge of the rankings.

“Fewer than half of the roughly 500 colleges and universities that competed for the recognition earned the right to call themselves Best for Vets in 2019,” he added. “Their efforts should be commended.”

The rankings are based on the results of Military Times’ annual survey — a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement — as well as a detailed review of public data collected by federal agencies.

Military Times’ annual survey asks colleges and universities to disclose academic outcome and input data; describe many aspects of veteran culture on campus; and document a wide array of services, special policies, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties. Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.

See the 2019 Best for Vets list on Military Times’ website.

Online, blended learning to be discussed at forum Oct. 31

“The Future of Online and Blended Learning” will be the topic of the Future of Higher Education Forum Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The program will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Health and Human Services Building Rooms 1711A and B.

Dr. Claire Stuve, curriculum developer and technology researcher in University College, and Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, professor and chair in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, will lead the session.

They will discuss integrative technology to deliver online and blended learning, as well as emphasize meeting Quality Matters standards.

“Delivering engaging classes in an innovative way for our students is of utmost importance,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, interim associate vice provost of faculty affairs and professor of public health. “We encourage faculty members to attend this forum so they — and their students — can benefit from the expertise offered by Dr. Stuve and Dr. Kucharewski.”

In 2017 and 2018, Stuve won Blackboard Catalyst Awards, which recognize faculty who have gone above and beyond in using technology in innovative ways from impacting the student experience to building exemplary courses. At UT, her responsibilities include creating a research-based curriculum that incorporates emerging technologies and evaluating data on new and redeveloped courses. Her research interests focus on using technology to foster engagement and applying the principles of good course design.

Kucharewski was the 2016 recipient of the DiAnne Masztak Award for supporting online learning in a distinguished fashion and for her commitment to online teaching. She also earned the online Master Teacher certification in 2016. Kucharewski is an online course reviewer for Quality Matters, an independent organization that reviews web courses based on a series of quality indicators and provides feedback to colleges and universities. In 2017, she became a Quality Matters Master Reviewer for online learning courses.

The Future of Higher Education Forums are coordinated by the Office of the Provost in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the University Teaching Center.

Register for this month’s program and read more about the Future of Higher Education Forums, including how to submit proposals for upcoming events, at utoledo.edu/offices/provost/future-of-higher-education-forum.

UT faculty member wins second Blackboard Catalyst Award

Dr. Claire Stuve was among honorees from around the world who were recognized during Blackboard’s annual conference this summer in Orlando, Fla.

It was the second year in a row the curriculum developer and technology researcher for University College won a Blackboard Catalyst Award.

Stuve

Stuve was honored in the category of exemplary course, which recognizes faculty and course designers who develop exciting and innovative classes that represent the very best in technology and learning.

Since its establishment in 2005, the Blackboard Catalyst Awards have honored innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice.

Recipients of the awards are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

The awards program honors clients who have gone above and beyond in using technology in innovative ways from impacting the student experience to building exemplary courses.

Since 2011, Stuve has been a staff member and an adjunct professor in University College; she joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics as an adjunct in 2016.

Her responsibilities as curriculum developer and technology researcher in University College include creating a research-based curriculum that incorporates emerging technologies and evaluating data on new and redeveloped courses.

Her research interests include using technology to foster engagement and applying the principles of good course design.

“I love technology and the impact it can have on learning,” Stuve said. “So I’m interested in finding out what technologies have the biggest impact, how I can help students learn better and increase retention, and how I can help students have fun.”

She is also a campus liaison for New Media Consortium and a Quality Matters Certified Master Reviewer. And she is a master’s student in UT’s Public Health Program. The UT alumna received a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in instructional technology, and a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction.

The course she is being recognized for this year by the Catalyst Awards is called Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Training, which is designed to teach faculty how to use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra with students and how to incorporate it into their curriculum.

As an undergraduate student, Stuve struggled with her work, motivating her to help future students who may be struggling become successful while also teaching faculty how to ensure their students’ success.

“Part of helping students be successful is helping faculty be better teachers and know themselves how to help struggling students,” she said. “Therefore, I wanted to design a course where I could teach faculty how to use innovative and fun technology to help students.”

The training course utilizes innovative technology through advanced multimedia, simulations and web conferencing, and was the first course of its kind offered at UT that incorporated training simulations.

Stuve explained how she recognizes every student is different and learns differently, so she tries to incorporate numerous teaching methods that present content in multiple ways. She also makes it her mission to ensure students are having fun when they’re learning.

“I’m honored to have won a Catalyst Award for a second year because it reaffirms to myself that I am making a difference and that what I do is helping students,” she said.

UT professor to be promoted by Army to lieutenant colonel

Maj. Michael Penney, professor and chair of the UT Military Science and Leadership Department, will be promoted by the U.S. Army to lieutenant colonel Friday, July 6.

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. in Thompson Student Union Room 2592.

Penney

Penney is originally from North Texas and received a BBA from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Since then, he has earned master’s degrees from both Webster University and the Army’s School of Advanced Military Science.

He was commissioned by the Army’s Officer Candidate School in 2002.

Penney came to UT from Carson, Colo., where he served from 2014 to 2017. His time there included two operational deployments — to Europe and to Afghanistan.

Last July, Penney joined the UT faculty as professor and chair of military science and leadership.

Through his department chair position, Penney oversees recruiting, retention, preparation and leadership development of cadets along their path toward their goal of being awarded a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves or the Army National Guard.

He also instructs Military Science and Leadership Level Four Cadets throughout their transition from Cadet to Army Officer and works directly with UT’s University College and its ROTC program.

“My role as head of the ROTC program here at UT is one of the most important and rewarding jobs the Army has given to me to this point,” Penney said. “Leader development is crucial in the Army of today, and having some impact on the lives of future Army leaders is one of the best jobs.”

Penney will remain at UT for one more year and then take command of a battalion in South Carolina.

“This promotion to lieutenant colonel is an important one along the path to reaching my ultimate Army career goals,” Penney said. “But when I think about my nearly 16 years of commissioned service, I think more of those who have helped me along the way; specifically, those who I have served alongside and those who I have had the honor to lead at some point, and, most importantly, my family.”

World War II veteran to graduate from UT

At the age of 96, Robert Edgar Barger will graduate Saturday, May 5, from The University of Toledo with an associate of technical studies degree from University College.

Barger entered the military service in 1940 with the United States Navy, where he served as a commissioned naval officer, earned his naval aviator wings, and was detailed as a naval flight officer.

Barger

After returning from WWII, Barger attended the University, but left before finishing his degree so he could get a job to provide for his wife and two children.

In 2013, Barger met Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs, when he promoted Ghanbari to the rank of lieutenant.

Ghanbari later found out that Barger had not been able to finish his degree.

After reviewing Barger’s transcripts, it was determined the veteran met the requirements to graduate with an associate degree.

“We are proud to honor a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’ at commencement,” said Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College. “It will be a memorable moment to see Bob receive the degree he earned and pay tribute to a veteran who served our country.”

Barger has invited 100 people from his retirement community to the commencement ceremony and plans on having a large graduation party to celebrate his achievement.

World War II Navy veteran Robert Edgar Barger held a photo taken of himself Oct. 9, 1943, during his service as a naval aviator.

He is believed to be the oldest UT graduate.

Barger said that earning his degree is something he will be proud of for the rest of his life and is excited to accomplish something he had set out to complete many years ago.

“I thought I would never be able to accomplish this degree,” Barger said. “My grandson graduated from UT, and he no longer can say he is one up on me; I have a degree, too, just took me a while!”

Barger has four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.

Football legend, technology expert to speak at UT commencement ceremonies

Chuck Ealey and Dr. Helen Sun will return to The University of Toledo to give addresses during spring commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 5, in the Glass Bowl.

Ealey, the football star and businessman, will speak at the undergraduate ceremony at 10 a.m. Sun, a technology strategist known for transforming companies, will come out for the graduate commencement at 3 p.m.

There are 3,094 candidates for degrees from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Business and Innovation; Judith Herb College of Education; Engineering; Health and Human Services; Graduate Studies; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Nursing; Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and University College. There are 987 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, as well as graduate certificates, and 2,107 for bachelor’s and associate’s degrees.

The public ceremonies can be viewed live at utoledo.edu/video.

Ealey

UT will award Ealey an honorary doctor of humane letters.

“It is amazing, wonderful and humbling to have the opportunity to speak to the 2018 graduates of The University of Toledo,” Ealey said. “What I want to share is what I have learned — and am still learning — after I graduated. It’s about a legacy dream that can come true.”

He made dreams a reality as the UT quarterback who became a legend leading the Rockets to 35 victories in three seasons and as a trailblazer for African-American QBs in the Canadian Football League.

After finishing 18-0 in high school in Portsmouth, Ohio, Ealey received a football scholarship to the University. While earning a business degree in economics, he earned some nicknames for his exploits on the field: Mr. Cool, The Wizard of Oohs and Aahs. With Ealey at quarterback, Toledo went 35-0 from 1969 to 1971. He racked up 5,903 yards in total offense and 54 touchdowns while leading the Rockets to final Associated Press rankings of No. 20 in 1969, No. 12 in 1970, and No. 14 in 1971, finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year.

Despite the eye-popping numbers, Ealey was passed over as a quarterback in the 1972 NFL draft. Although offered other positions, he was committed to becoming a professional quarterback and elected to go to the Canadian Football League. As a rookie, he led the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the Grey Cup Championship in 1972 and was named Most Valuable Player. During his seven years in the CFL, he also played for the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

After hanging up his helmet, Ealey was a certified financial planner with Investors Group for 30 years. He recently stepped out of his role as regional director to do more client and corporate coaching. The 1972 UT alumnus also inspires through the Chuck Ealey Foundation, which helps people discover and embrace their undefeated spirit to better themselves and their community.

Sun

Sun, chief technology officer of architecture, engineering and data management at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Chicago, received a PhD in educational technology from UT in 2001. She is an expert in revolutionizing businesses through innovative solutions, including artificial intelligence, cloud, analytics and architecture.

“I’m very excited to be coming back to campus and reflect on how my IT career took shape during the years I attended UT,” said Sun, who developed websites while in graduate school.

“I’ll wrap my speech around three personal experiences: How I started a career in technology — find where your passion lies; how my seemingly diverse career path has taken me to where I am — take risks and never let fear of failure deter you away from opportunities; and who my true hero is throughout these years — don’t let what others do to you change who you are,” she said.

Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase & Co., Sun was vice president for cloud computing, information and architecture at Motorola Solutions Inc. She has held senior leadership positions at some of the world’s most recognizable companies, including Harbor Capitol Advisors, NewEdge Group, Oracle Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc.

At Oracle, Sun became the first woman to achieve Oracle Enterprise Architect status and was honored as Oracle Enterprise Architect of the Year in 2011. In 2016, the Chicago Business Journal named her one of 50 honorees for its Women of Influence Awards.

She is the co-author of “Oracle Big Data Handbook,” “Pro Salesforce Analytics Cloud: A Guide to Wave Platform, Builder and Explorer” and “Master Competitive Analytics With Oracle Endeca Information Discovery.” Sun is a frequent speaker at major conferences and symposia; she gave the keynote address at the Open Group Big Data Conference in 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

In addition to her passion serving as a mentor for women, Sun was a member of the UT Business Advisory Board from 2012 to 2016. She is co-chair of the Computer Science Advisory Board at Bowling Green State University.

Those planning to attend commencement are advised to use the west entrance off Secor Road and the south entrance off Dorr Street to avoid congestion on West Bancroft Street.

The College of Law will hold its commencement Sunday, May 6, at 1 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

And the College of Medicine and Life Sciences’ graduation ceremony will take place Friday, May 25, at 2 p.m. in Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. in Toledo.

University Women’s Commission honors employees, gives scholarships to students

Three UT employees were recognized for exceptional achievement and dedication to the campus community at the 32nd annual Outstanding Women’s Award ceremony.

More than 60 attended the University Women’s Commission program, which was held April 11 in the Savage Arena Joe Grogan Room.

Kelly Andrews, senior associate athletic director who is chair of the University Women’s Commission, told the crowd that since 1987, the organization has honored 173 UT faculty and staff members, and awarded $87,000 in scholarships.

Guest speaker Sherry Stanfa-Stanley, director of foundation and development communications with the UT Foundation, talked about how challenging yourself to go outside your comfort zone can be empowering. The 1983 UT alumna and 2017 Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award winner is the author of “Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truths and Dares,” which just received a silver medal in the humor category of the 2018 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs).

Recipients of the 2018 Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were, from left, Melissa Gleckler, Dr. Revathy Kumar and Dr. Michele Soliz.

The recipients of the Dr. Alice H. Skeens Outstanding Woman Award were:

• Melissa Gleckler, educational technologist with UT Online in University College. She has worked at the University for 11 years. Gleckler won the Ohio Academic Advising Association Excellence Award in 2017, and has presented about advising and learning assessment at national conferences. She is a founding member of the Toledo Academic Advising Association, and she is serving a three-year elected term as co-chair of the communications committee for the Professional Staff Council. The UT alumna received a bachelor of arts degree in communication in 1996, a master of liberal studies degree in 2009, and is working on a PhD.

“She had a wonderful rapport with her students. Her office was next door to mine, and the walls were quite thin. I could hear laughter, sometimes tears and consolation, and lots of encouragement,” one nominator wrote. “Melissa is a proud UT alumna. I have always admired her pursuit of self-improvement and further education. She continuously sought opportunities to add a credential or skill and is pursuing a PhD focused on educational media and technology, with research interests in how course aesthetics and technical design affect the learning experience. As an adjunct instructor, she took pride in enhancing her courses with the latest technology and was passionate about updating the content and course material every semester.”

• Dr. Revathy Kumar, professor of educational psychology in the Judith Herb College of Education. She joined the UT faculty in 2001. Her research focuses on social and cultural processes involved in constructing a sense of self and identity among adolescents in culturally diverse societies. Of particular interest are the roles of teachers, teacher-education programs, schools, communities and families in facilitating minority and immigrant adolescents’ development, learning and motivation. Her work has been published in education and psychology journals.

“Dr. Kumar has started examining the role of mindfulness cultivation among pre-service teachers for enhancing awareness and focusing attention on personal implicit and explicit biases toward poor and minority students. The program of research is both important and relevant because increasing demographic heterogeneity in our country has raised concerns regarding our teachers’ capacity to face the challenging task of teaching culturally diverse students,” one nominator wrote. “She has chosen to develop a line of research particularly aimed at improving undergraduate teacher education at UT and, as responses to her articles indicate, recognized as useful across the nation for constructing teacher education programs that prepare teachers to be effective in the diverse classrooms they will enter.”

• Dr. Michele Soliz, assistant vice president for student success and inclusion in the Division of Student Affairs. During her 17 years at the University, she has worked in the Office of the Provost and served as dean of students. She was chair of the 2017 UT Community Charitable Campaign, which raised $128,934 for nearly 220 nonprofit area organizations. The UT alumna received a master of education degree and a PhD in higher education in 2002 and 2012, respectively.

“Michele has an unbridled passion for helping the students she comes into contact with on campus, as well as those in the community. Her determination and wholehearted desire to help others was apparent to me since the first time we worked together,” one nominator wrote. “She has been a committee member of the Latino Youth Summit and Multicultural Emerging Scholars Program since their inceptions. She is active in the UT Latino Alumni Affiliate, serves as a mentor to African-American female students in the Talented and Aspiring Women Leaders Program, and teaches the course Managing Diversity in the Workplace. Her hours of charitable work confirm she is not only socially conscious, but also invested in the betterment of the world around her.”

Winners of the University Women’s Commission $1,000 scholarship were, from left, Celine Schreidah, Jessica Avery, Shaquira Jackson and Hailey Cox.

The University Women’s Commission also presented $1,000 scholarships to four students. Receiving awards based on academic achievement, support of women’s and gender issues, and campus involvement were Jessica Avery, a senior majoring in history; Hailey Cox, a junior majoring in biology; Shaquira Jackson, a junior majoring in theatre; and Celine Schreidah, a senior majoring in biochemistry.

On the air: UT alumna starts Toledo’s first Spanish-language FM radio station

University of Toledo graduate Linda Parra has just launched Toledo’s first fully Spanish-language radio station, WVZC-LP 96.5 FM Nuestra Gente.

The station officially went on air Dec. 30 and has been broadcasting a lineup of Latin favorites and hits, reaching the Spanish-speaking community in most of Toledo, Rossford and Oregon.

Parra

In 2005, Parra started a Spanish-language program, “Nuestra Gente Radio Show.” After being asked why Spanish-language programming was only on a few hours a week, Parra began dreaming of starting a Spanish-language station.

“The whole community has been asking to hear something in their own language,” Parra said. “There were Spanish stations in other communities, but not in Toledo, where the population is growing.”

She said the station’s long-term goal is to expand the programming the station offers beyond music to news, weather and other vital community information.

“We are contributing to local education and providing a voice to those who speak Spanish who may find it harder to access the media,” Parra said. “Without the station, they would not be able to participate in local news, discussions and debate. It’s empowering for the listeners.

“The music we offer through our station is varied with the traditional rhythms that distinguish the cultures of different Latin American countries,” she added.

In 2008, Parra founded a nonprofit organization called Nuestra Gente Community Projects to serve Lucas County’s Hispanic population. The nonprofit looks to provide a combination of health and community-based programs, including education, social services, and health and safety awareness to residents, migrant workers and families.

This fall, Parra plans on returning to UT to pursue the dual juris doctor and master of public health. She received a bachelor of arts degree in international business from University College in 2016.

For more information on Nuestra Gente or to make a donation, visit nuestragentecommunityprojects.org.