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University’s strategic plan taking shape

After several months of work and with the input of more than 1,000 people at the University, the strategic planning committee has defined the major areas of focus for the institution over the next five years.

The team shared the plan framework with various groups of University leaders last week, and soon will be conducting information sessions with students, faculty, staff and the community to review major components of the plan.

Areas of focus include:

• Student success and academic excellence;

• Research, scholarship and creative activities;

• Faculty, staff and alumni;

• Fiscal positioning and infrastructure; and

• Reputation and engagement. 

The team also identified themes that cut across all of the areas of focus. Those include:

• Athletics;

• Communications;

• Community engagement;

• Diversity and inclusion;

• Fundraising;

• Innovation;

• Technology; and

• UT’s Health System.

In addition to the plan, the strategic planning committee is working on new drafts of the University’s mission, vision, values and purpose statements.

“It is exciting to see the plan taking shape,” said UT President Sharon L Gaber. “It’s clear that we have a lot of things we’d like to do, and we are anxious to get started on the plan.”

Students, faculty and staff will have an opportunity to review the plan and discuss the proposed goals in the information sessions planned for Tuesday, Feb. 28, and Wednesday, March 1; see the chart below.

Black Student Union to host ‘All Around the World’ fashion show Feb. 24

The Black Student Union’s 48th Annual Fashion Show is set to feature the diversity that the UT campus offers. This year’s theme, “All Around the World,” will showcase fashion from countries across the globe that many students call home.

“There will be four countries presented throughout the show,” said MeKayla Pullins, president of the Black Student Union. “The countries represented are Brazil, Jamaica, India and China.”

Pullins explained how this year’s theme was chosen: “Each year around the middle of the fall semester, we hold scene director auditions. These auditions consist of a vision of the show, giving the students a wide and open range of creativity and originality. This year we chose the theme ‘All Around the World,’ which was presented to us by one of the executive board members of BSU, Kyndra Gaines.”

Each year, the Black Student Union chooses a celebrity to host the event. This year’s fashion show will be hosted by Vine and Instagram comedienne Lala (@lalasizahands89).

The event will take place Friday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $15 for VIP seating in the front row, meet-and-greet with the host, and hors d’oeuvres prior to the show. They are available for purchase at Ask Rocky, and will be at the door for $15 and $20, respectively.

All proceeds from the fashion show go toward scholarships to support African-American students.

For more information, contact Pullins at mekayla.pullins@rockets.utoledo.edu.

Reception set for longtime employee

Campus community members are invited to a retirement celebration for Chris Spengler Monday, Feb. 27, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Driscoll Alumni Center Schmakel Center.

Spengler began her career at the University in the Personnel Department in 1977. After serving as secretary for the Geology Department, she became executive secretary in the Office of the President and assistant secretary to the UT Board of Trustees. She assisted three presidents — Dr. Glen Driscoll, Dr. James McComas and Dr. Frank Horton — and one interim president, John Stoepler. 


In 1999, she transferred to the Division of Advancement, where she is director of advancement relations.

“We have been fortunate to have Chris as an important member of our UT family for so many years,” said Brenda S. Lee, president of the UT Foundation. “Her contributions to the Advancement team, as well as the entire University community, are very much appreciated. She will be missed.”

What’s it been like to work at UT for 40 years?

“Every day has been fun — great people and a great place to work,” Spengler said. “The University is so vibrant; there is something new to learn each day. I also have greatly enjoyed working with individuals who have shaped the University into what it is today. I have a favorite hard hat from my days in the President’s Office that has my name on it along with a little saying: ‘I’m in charge of the one in charge.’”

In that power position for 20 years, Spengler has lots of stories; she joked that she knows where the bodies are buried: “I even got my hands dirty. I helped bury Dr. Horton’s dog on the grounds of the former president’s house. He was out of town, and the burying crew was me, Carol Crum, the housekeeper, and George Stamos, the chef.”

During the last four decades, Spengler has left her mark on the University. She founded the Presidential Ambassadors, the honorary organization where select students serve the Office of the President by fostering good relations between the student body and alumni, faculty, staff and donors by representing and promoting UT at various events. And in 2006, she played an integral role in the establishment of UT’s Women & Philanthropy; she developed the bylaws for the collaborative effort of area women and the University’s Division of Advancement. Since then, Spengler has served as administrative contact for the community of female philanthropists who support the mission and goals of the University.

Last year, Spengler and her husband, William, donated $100,000 to the women’s basketball program. The couple gave the funds to the UT Foundation to create a charitable gift annuity. The Spenglers have a long affiliation with Rocket athletics.

“You will continue to see me at all home football and basketball games cheering on our Rockets,” Spengler said.

No surprise Spengler is true to her school: She received an associate of applied business degree from UT’s former Community and Technical College and a master of education degree from the University.

That dedication also will continue: “I haven’t spent much time contemplating what I will miss because I plan on remaining a very active retiree and alumna,” she said. “I’m going to be around a lot.”

UT ready to celebrate Engineers Week

Nerf gun tournaments, marble racing and more will be part of The University of Toledo’s recognition of Engineers Week, Feb. 19-25.

The annual “E-week” was started by the national organization, DiscoverE, to celebrate how engineers make a difference in the world, increase public dialogue about the need for engineers, and bring engineering to life for students, educators and parents.

Spearheaded by the UT Engineering Council, student organizations at the College of Engineering have planned events in the spirit of E-week.

Listed by date, highlights for the week will include:

Monday, Feb. 20 

• E-week Kickoff Luncheon, 11 a.m., Nitschke Hall. This event will spotlight diversity as students and faculty will add pins to a map to represent their countries/states of origin.

• Tire Bowling, 3:30 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

Tuesday, Feb. 21

• Engineer for a Day, 9 a.m. Area high school students will tour UT’s engineering facilities and have lunch with College of Engineering students and professional engineers before spending the afternoon shadowing a practicing engineering professional in the community.

• Concrete Bowling, 12:30 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

• Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream, 3 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

• Catapult Competition, 4 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

• Historical Spotlight on Black Engineers, 5 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

• Spring Career Expo, 12:30 p.m., Engineering Complex. More than 140 companies will visit campus to meet with approximately 600 UT engineering students and graduates. Read more here.

• The Mr. and Ms. Engineering pageant-style competition, 6:45 p.m., Nitschke Hall Auditorium.

Thursday, Feb. 23

• Nerf Gun Skill Tournament, noon, Nitschke Hall.

• Egg-Drop Contest, 1 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall. Students will test their small, lightweight containers designed to protect a raw egg dropped from successive heights.

Friday, Feb. 24

• Corn Hole Tournament, noon, first floor of Nitschke Hall.

• Student Entrepreneur Expo, 2:30 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall. Freshman engineering students will be showcasing their projects, which include a trash can bracket for a lawn mower, an iron-on insert to increase the size of pockets in women’s jeans, a radial dog collar, a modified ankle brace, and more.

• Balloon Rocket, 2 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

• Marble Racing, 4 p.m., first floor of Nitschke Hall.

Saturday, Feb. 25

• Private Screening of “Dream Big,” 2 p.m., Franklin Park Mall. Free passes are available; call 419.530.8040 to learn more.

Spring Engineering Career Expo set for Feb. 22

More than 140 companies will have representatives at the UT Spring Engineering Career Expo Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the College of Engineering Complex.

“Our employer participants include companies such as American Electric Power, Cooper Tire and Rubber, Dana, DTE Energy, DePuy Synthes/Johnson & Johnson, Fiat Chrysler, First Energy, Ford Motor Co., GE, Honda, Marathon, Nationwide, Norfolk Southern, Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois, Zimmer Biomet and many more,” said Dr. Vickie Kuntz, director of the Engineering Career Development Center.

Approximately 600 engineering students, graduates and alumni are expected to attend the expo.

“The current job outlook for engineering students in the UT Engineering College is certainly bright as evidenced by the record number of employers registered to attend the college’s spring career expo,” Kuntz said. “This reflects very positively on the quality of both our programs and our students. It also demonstrates our dynamic and mutually beneficial partnership we have with our industry participants.” 

Employers are seeking undergraduate students to participate in engineering co-op assignments, as well as leadership development programs. Employers also are seeking seniors and graduates for full-time employment. 

The UT College of Engineering undergraduate mandatory co-op program is one of only eight mandatory engineering co-op programs in the country. 

“Many students indicate our co-op program is the reason they attend the UT College of Engineering,” Kuntz said. “Our program requires our students to graduate with one full year of professional engineering experience. Our students feel confident seeking full-time employment upon graduation. Co-op employers are able to work with these students and are able to determine how the student fits within their organizations. It’s a win-win situation for our students and the employers who hire them.”

For more information, go to eng.utoledo.edu/coop/career_expo or contact Kuntz at vickie.kuntz@utoledo.edu

Pianist to perform at Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship concert Feb. 20

International jazz pianist Phil DeGreg will be the guest artist for the 2017 Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship Concert, which will take place Monday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

DeGreg is an accomplished jazz pianist, comfortable in a wide range of styles, ranging from mainstream to bebop to Brazilian jazz. His versatility has led to professional performances with dozens of internationally recognized jazz artists — Woody Herman, Dave Liebman, Dizzy Gillespie and many others — as well as leading and recording with his own groups. He has released 11 recordings as a leader and has been recorded as a sideman on many other jazz projects.


His most recent disc, “Melodious Monk,” was recorded with trumpeter Kim Pensyl and features the music of Thelonius Monk. All About Jazz magazine wrote: “[DeGreg] exhibits an excellent understanding of the complex compositions, and the stride tradition from which Monk sprang … they succeed because they have an undeniable affection for Monk, and their performance is top-notch … Phil DeGreg’s masterful piano interprets Monk brilliantly, and Kim Pensyl’s trumpet is the perfect complement.”

A native of Cincinnati, DeGreg completed a degree in psychology from Yale University before becoming a professional musician. After three years working and studying music in Kansas City, he finished a master’s degree at the University of North Texas and subsequently toured the world for a year with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd.

DeGreg has presented lectures and demonstrations to the International Association of Jazz Educators, the National Group Piano Teachers Association, the Ohio Music Educators Association, the Ohio Music Teachers Association and the Music Teachers National Association, and has published articles for Jazz Player Magazine.

The concert is presented by the UT Department of Music Jazz Studies Program. Proceeds from ticket sales support the Art Tatum Memorial Jazz Scholarship, which benefits minority students who want to study jazz at the University.

DeGreg also will present a free master class for students Monday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Advance concert tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for UT faculty, staff, alumni students and seniors 60 and older. Visit utoledo.tix.com or call 419.530.ARTS (2787). Tickets also will be available at the door.

To support the Art Tatum Scholarship, click here and search “jazz.”

Kids get active, eat healthy with Grow Well With Us program

UT Family Medicine residents are promoting healthy lifestyles with nutrition education and physical activity with the Grow Well With Us program supported by the Ohio Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program.

Grow Well With Us aims to teach kids how to make healthy lifestyle choices and is free for children and teens age 18 and younger.

Sessions are held once a week for an eight-week cycle. Each meeting lasts an hour and consists of a 30-minute interactive presentation focusing on nutrition prepared by a certified dietitian and 30 minutes of physical exercise led by an athletic trainer.

Participants take pre- and post-questionnaires, weights, physical fitness evaluations, and satisfaction surveys to evaluate their progress and provide feedback about the program.

Dr. Reem Tawfik, chief resident in family medicine and lead physician for Grow Well With Us, said after the first cycle of the program, parents saw their kids’ behavior change according to what they had learned at the program.

“Moms used to attend the sessions with their kids, and many of them have told me that their kids started to read labels, look at the calories per serving, and started to try healthy choices that were mentioned in the diet lectures,” Tawfik said. “We have even noticed that some of the residents who were delivering the lectures changed behavior and made healthier selections.”

Participants will receive many incentives such as water bottles, sports bags, lunch boxes, T-shirts and more.

All of the sessions will be held at the Morse Fitness Center in Dowling Hall Room 3324 on UT’s Health Science Campus.

The spring session for 2017 will run on Wednesdays, March 1, 8, 15 and 22 and April 5, 12, 19 and 26.

The fall session also will run on Wednesdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27 and Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25.

Sessions will take place from 6 to 7 p.m.

For more information or to register for the free program, call 419.383.5502.

Army ROTC Rocket Battalion senior cadets to be recognized at UT Military Ball Feb. 17

Seven University of Toledo Army ROTC cadets scheduled to be commissioned as officers in May will be recognized Friday, Feb. 17, at the UT Military Ball.

The annual event, which is hosted by the UT Military Science Department and UT Army ROTC Rocket Battalion to honor graduating students and their families, will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Holland Gardens Banquet Hall, 6530 Angola Road.

More than 100 cadets are scheduled to attend.

“Army military balls are a formal part of military life that many people dream about,” Master Sgt. Johnnie Fields, UT senior military instructor, said. “The special tradition can be an exciting experience. In the ROTC program, it is a time to recognize senior cadets who achieved leadership excellence and military training throughout their college years. They have made sacrifices to be able to accomplish their goals of graduating from college with a degree and also continuing to serve this grateful nation.”

“Being an Army cadet and a full-time graduate student for the past two years has been the most trying time of my life,” said Cadet Joseph Asiedu. “From 5 a.m. until midnight on a weekly basis, the pain, stress and anxiety gave me many good reasons why I should have given up. What has kept me going is my sense of duty to serve my country and challenging myself both physically and mentally to strive for excellence and enhance my leadership capability as I go into the real world. I am moved to tears anytime I think about the end, so I try my best to stay focused and give my best.”

The Army ROTC at the University has commissioned more than 2,000 lieutenants since 1947. The highest ranking alumnus of the UT ROTC program is retired Maj. Gen. David W. Foley from the commissioning class of 1970.

Learn Chinese tea ceremony history and etiquette

Originating in 2737 BC, the tea ceremony is a testament to the impact the drink holds on Chinese culture. With its multitude of health benefits, tea and the act of preparing and serving it is also a means of socialization. These practices differ greatly from other countries, such as Britain and Japan.

“China has the earliest records of tea consumption with records dating back to the 10th-century BC,” said Xinren Yu, program coordinator at the UT Confucius Institute. “Tea was thriving in the Song Dynasty and popular among literati and poets. In the Tang Dynasty, 618-907 AD, one of China’s golden ages, tea drinking became an art.”

It is this deep cultural connection to the beverage that inspired the Chinese tea ceremony class series. The six-class series aims to educate UT community members on the finer points of appreciating and preparing tea.

“We hope that students will not only enjoy the taste of tea, but also learn Chinese culture and tea culture in the class,” Yu said. “Students who are interested in Chinese culture and Chinese tea ceremony will learn about the different types of Chinese tea, utensils for making and drinking tea, stories about tea from ancient times to the Tang Dynasty, as well as how people drink tea nowadays in China.”

Special occasions where one might be served tea include family gatherings and weddings. Serving the beverage to another person is a sign of respect, gratitude and apology. This means that most times, younger generations are the ones serving tea to their elders.

The expansive tea culture in China means that every home has the materials necessary to brew a cup of tea. Hospitality to guests always includes serving tea and sitting down for conversation.

The price to attend the session is $20, with the classes meeting Wednesdays, March 15 to April 19, from 2 to 3 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 1100.

In addition to the series, free walk-in classes will be available Fridays, Feb. 17 and 24, and March 3 and 10, also from 2 to 3 p.m. in Snyder Memorial Building Room 1100. These classes will serve as an introduction to the Chinese tea ceremony, with different types of tea being briefly presented, as well as a demonstration of one type of tea ceremony.

Those interested in learning more about the Chinese tea ceremony may sign up for the class series with Tea Master Xiangling Gong at xiangling.gong@utoledo.edu.

Role of arts in America to be examined at symposium

The UT School of Visual and Performing Arts, and its partners, will present a dialogue on “The Role of Arts in Today’s America” Monday, Feb. 20.

“The purpose of the symposium is to broaden the dialogue and to build a regional coalition with a voice,” Debra A. Davis, director of the School of Visual and Performing Arts, said. “Our partners include the Toledo Museum of Art, the Arts Commission and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.”


The free, public event will feature four sessions and a lunchtime keynote address.

Will Lucas will give the keynote address. He is the founder and CEO of A William Lucas Co., which is home to several technology and media-related businesses, including Creadio, a brand marketing technology company servicing nationally recognized brands since 2007, and Classana, an online platform that helps companies organize educational resources. He also is a co-founder of ICON, a photography on-demand service, and is one of the few young minority TEDx organizers in the United States; he curates the Technology Entertainment Design talk in Toledo.

Lucas, who graduated from the University in 2015, was appointed to the UT Board of Trustees by Gov. John Kasich in February 2016. He serves as vice chair of the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee and is a member of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Session topics will be “Our Current Artistic Moment,” a timely subject exploring concerns about artistic responses to the current social and political moment; “Programming the Arts Across a Divide,” which looks at the challenges of creating meaningful arts events across a range of divides — urban, rural, cultural, ethnic, economic and others; “Arts in Education,” which examines how to ensure that the arts continue to occupy a valued place in the curriculum along with other disciplines; and “Arts and Community,” which considers what is needed to sustain the organizations and projects that provide arts experiences and services to diverse communities.

A complete schedule, including information about the panelists, is available online at utoledo.edu/al/svpa/symposium/schedule.html.

The Arts Symposium will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m. Sessions will take place in Thompson Student Union Room 2592, and the luncheon will be held in the Thompson Student Union Ingman Room.

Box lunches for the keynote address are available for purchase in advance. Attendees do not need to order a lunch to attend the keynote address; they are welcome to bring their own lunch.

RSVP online at utoledo.edu/al/svpa/symposium or call 419.530.7356.