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Rockets earn a 3.202 grade point average; fifth-highest semester GPA in school history

University of Toledo student-athletes earned a combined grade point average of 3.202 in the 2016 fall semester, the fifth-highest department semester GPA in school history.

thumb-rocket-color-logoIt is only the fifth time UT student-athletes have had a semester GPA above 3.2, and the 16th consecutive semester in which the Rockets earned a combined GPA of 3.1 or higher.

“Excellence in the classroom is what we’ve come to expect from our student-athletes, and this past semester was no exception” said Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien. “A department-wide GPA of over a 3.2 is a great accomplishment for our student-athletes, and all those behind the scenes who support their efforts — parents, coaches, faculty, tutors and our student-athlete academic services staff.”

2016-fall-semester-gpaIndividually, 37 student-athletes earned President’s List honors with a perfect 4.0 GPA, while more than 41 percent (154 of 374) earned a spot on the Dean’s List by garnering at least a 3.50 GPA, and more than 66 percent (249 of 374) achieved a 3.0 grade point average or better for the 2016 fall semester.

Fourteen of UT’s 16 varsity sports teams had combined GPAs of at least 3.0. Women’s soccer set the pace with a team GPA of 3.679. Women’s golf (3.672), women’s volleyball (3.556), women’s cross country (3.546) and men’s golf (3.512) also were above 3.5 as a team this past fall.

New assistant vice president named to improve student success, inclusion

Dr. Michele Soliz has been named assistant vice president for student success and inclusion within the Division of Student Affairs.

In addition to leading the Office of Multicultural Student Success, Soliz will focus on strategic retention initiatives across the division and will have a reporting relationship to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.



“This position will support the University’s goals to enhance student success with a focus on the overall student experience on campus,” said Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs. “Dr. Soliz’s experience as a dean of students and leading academic support services on campus and her passion for student engagement make her the perfect fit to fill this new role.”

Soliz will work to ensure the University is enhancing the student experience both inside and outside the classroom, Patten said.

“I am pleased that Dr. Soliz will have a formal role with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion,” said Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion. “This not only provides a clearer path for our divisions to collaborate on multicultural initiatives, but also enables Dr. Soliz to better utilize her retention expertise. This is an excellent move for the University and, most importantly, our students.”

Soliz, who was named to the new position effective Jan. 10, pending approval by the UT Board of Trustees, most recently served as the executive director for academic support services in the Office of the Provost, where she provided leadership to the Learning Enhancement Center, Writing Center and TRIO Student Support Services. In collaboration with partners across the institution, she has increased the usage and visibility of the services that help retain students and put them on the path to graduation.

Soliz, who previously served as the University’s dean of students, 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.

“I am excited to engage students and colleagues in inclusion and retention efforts,” Soliz said. “I look forward to collaborating across campus to have a greater impact on the overall student experience.”

She received a bachelor of arts degree in ethnic studies from Bowling Green State University and earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from UT in higher education, with a research focus on Latino student baccalaureate completion rates and student engagement.

UT calendar of events relaunching

To improve communications, the University’s calendar of events is being relaunched as a single site and more convenient online tool that will house all on- and off-campus, UT-sponsored events to better serve students, faculty, staff, trustees and the public.

calendar-utnewsIn addition to featuring student and University events, this master calendar will include research, athletic and recreation events, as well as University lectures and conferences.

“This one-site master calendar will aid in planning and promoting events, plus ensure that major events don’t overlap,” Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “We also want the calendar to reflect that the University is welcoming, student-centered and richly diverse in its offerings.”

Everyone has access to submit events to the calendar. Activities that should be posted on this master calendar include:

• University-sponsored events that the campus community and public may attend.

• UT-sponsored meetings that support transparency (for example, Board of Trustees and Faculty Senate meetings).

• Official academic calendar dates.

• Campus-wide student organization events and activities.

• Campus-wide alumni and UT Foundation events, such as Homecoming and pregame events, that are open to the public.

• Campus-wide athletic events and activities, including varsity athletic schedules.

• Events featured in UT News, UT NewsBreak and on the myUT portal.

Room scheduling, department meetings and events, personnel meetings, retirement announcements, and events not sponsored nor supported by the University should not be included on this calendar.

Individual areas within the University may continue posting these types of activities and meetings on their own calendars; however, the bulleted list of University-sponsored and campus-wide events above should always be mirrored on the master UT calendar of events.

Within the next couple of weeks, members of the UT calendar steering group will discuss use of the updated calendar with University deans.

To view the calendar, visit calendar.utoledo.edu, and a listing of the day’s events can be found on the myut.utoledo.edu page.

Three Rockets selected to play in East-West Shrine Game Jan. 21

Toledo senior tight end Michael Roberts, senior offensive lineman Storm Norton and senior defensive tackle Treyvon Hester have accepted invitations to play in the 92nd East-West Shrine Game.

The contest will be held Saturday, Jan. 21, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., kicking off at 3 p.m. and televised live on NFL Network.



Roberts was named first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America and Phil Steel Publications. He caught 45 passes for 533 yards and led the nation’s tight ends with 16 touchdown receptions, eight more than the next tight end. A first-team All-Mid-American Conference honoree this season, Roberts broke the Toledo record for touchdown catches in a season previously held by Lance Moore (14 in 2004). He shattered the school record for TD receptions by a tight end, formerly held by Don Seymour (9 in 1973). He had three TD catches in one game against both Western Michigan and Bowling Green.



Norton, 6-8, 306 pounds, is a two-time, first-team All-MAC selection at left tackle. He was the leader of a unit that allowed just 14 sacks in 2016 and powered a Rocket offense that led the MAC in total offense (517.8) and passing offense (322.8). This past season, he was on the official watch list for the Outland Trophy, awarded annually to the nation’s top interior lineman. He recently was named to SB Nation’s All-America Team.



Hester, however, will not be able to participate due to an injury. The 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle is a three-time All-MAC player who earned second-team honors in 2016. In his four-year college career, Hester has totaled 153 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks. Hester led the Rockets with 5.0 sacks this season.

These Rockets join an elite list of football greats, such as John Elway, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and 74 NFL Hall of Famers who have played in the East-West Shrine Game, in addition to more than 265 East-West Shrine Game alumni on NFL rosters each year. More than 100 players from the 2016 game signed with professional teams last spring, and more than 70 made final NFL rosters.

While the teams are divided by East and West, the players come together for the beneficiary of the event, Shriners Hospitals for Children, an international pediatric specialty health-care system.

Running back to suit up for Senior Bowl

UT senior running back Kareem Hunt has accepted an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl.



The game will be played Saturday, Jan. 28, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., kicking off at 2:30 p.m. and televised live on NFL Network.

Hunt led the Mid-American Conference in rushing with 1,475 yards and is a three-time All-MAC honoree. He has run for 4,945 yards in his career as a Rocket and is UT’s all-time leading rusher. His career-high rushing game came in Mobile when he gained 271 yards in a 63-44 victory over Arkansas State at the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl Jan. 4, 2015. Hunt also rushed for five TDs that game, tying a bowl record held by Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State.

The Senior Bowl began in 1950 and has been played in Mobile every year since 1951. Some of the biggest names in college football history have competed in the Senior Bowl, including 17 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

UT recognized as first university in U.S. to dedicate both Blue and Gold Star Memorial markers on campus

The University of Toledo is nationally recognized as the first university campus in the country to simultaneously honor all service members of the armed forces and the families who lost a loved one defending the United States by dedicating both a Blue Star Memorial marker and a Gold Star Memorial marker.

UT unveiled the new markers at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Veterans Day.

The Blue and Gold Star Memorial markers were unveiled in November at the UT Veterans Memorial Plaza, an outdoor area that honors individuals and groups who served in the U.S. military.

The Blue and Gold Star Memorial markers were unveiled in November at the UT Veterans Memorial Plaza, an outdoor area that honors individuals and groups who served in the U.S. military.

Andrea Little, national chair of the Blue Star and Gold Star Families Memorial Marker Program, recently wrote a letter on behalf of the program and National Garden Clubs to Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs, to notify the University of the pioneering honor.

“By these actions taken, you and your staff have elevated this program’s standards; and a distinct precedent has been established by which all other university campuses should emulate,” Little noted. “There is no greater way to honor all our armed forces and their families.”

UT student Clinton Grantham, a senior studying social work, spearheaded the effort with Ghanbari. Grantham, who is a medically retired, active-duty Army veteran, served a tour in Afghanistan as a member of the 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

“UT has a lot of student veterans, and I wanted to do something special not only for them, but for families who lost a loved one in combat,” Grantham said. “When I started the process, I had no idea that no one had done this before. I’m proud we accomplished it in seven weeks, on time for Veterans Day. Future students will walk by every day, hopefully read the memorial markers, and understand what service members and their families sacrifice to serve and defend their country.”

The Blue Star Memorial reads, “A tribute to the Armed Forces who have defended the United States of America.”

The Gold Star Memorial reads, “A tribute to Gold Star Families whose loved one paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America.”

The University has long been recognized as a military friendly school for its commitment to providing exceptional assistance and support to service members, veterans and their families.

In 2017, UT was again recognized by Military Times in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings and by Military Advanced Education & Transition as a top school in its 2017 Guide to Colleges & Universities research study.

UT receives award for being military friendly

The University of Toledo has consistently been recognized for accommodations to student veterans and their families.

After being recognized as a top school for supporting student veterans by Victory Media, UT has been named a Bronze Award recipient for being a Military Friendly School.

military-friendly-bronze-award-2017This award is given to large public schools with outstanding programs and support for veterans and their families.

UT’s name was published on militaryfriendly.com last month and was printed in the December issue of G.I. Jobs and the Guide to Military Friendly Schools. Both publications are produced by Victory Media.

“This recognition demonstrates the commitment of our university and our community to our service members, veterans and their families,” said Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz N. Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs. “With increased support, we can continue to build upon the solid foundation we have created over the last several years.”

UT has been consecutively recognized by Victory Media for being military friendly since 2010 and also has been recognized by the KMI Media Group and the Military Times.

Ghanbari wants UT to be the most veteran friendly school in the region by implementing impactful programs and services that provide military students the opportunity to have successful transitions from military service to the classroom and beyond.

“I encourage our faculty and staff to contact the Military Service Center at 419.530.VETS to schedule Green Zone Training to help provide a better understanding of our service members, veterans and their families, as well as the resources we have on campus and in the community to make sure we are best-positioned and equipped to support our military students,” Ghanbari said.

Rockets, Buffalo Wild Wings team up to help Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital

The University of Toledo and Buffalo Wild Wings are teaming up to help Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

ut-buffalo-wild-wingsBuffalo Wild Wings will donate $10 to Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital for every three-point shot the UT men’s and women’s basketball teams make in games at Savage Arena as part of a “Threes for Kids” promotion this season.

The promotion is retroactive to games beginning Dec. 30. Since then, Toledo’s men’s and women’s teams have made 33 three-pointers, so that means that Buffalo Wild Wings already has donated $330 to Promedica Toledo Children’s Hospital.

Buffalo Wild Wings is a proud sponsor of UT basketball and has locations in the Toledo area in Sylvania, Maumee, Perrysburg, Oregon, Fremont, Defiance and Bowling Green.

MLK Unity Celebration to kick off Week of Service to honor civil rights leader

The 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration will kick off a Week of Service for students at The University of Toledo.

Students, families and leaders in the Toledo community will gather at UT on the holiday for the annual Unity Celebration and then spread out throughout the city to honor King’s passion to help others.

The theme of the 16th annual event on Monday, Jan. 16, is “Reconciliation Through Service: Education, Social Justice and Religion,” named in honor of the three pillars that defined the philosophy of the civil rights leader who created a nonviolent social movement that changed the course of American history.



The free, public Unity Celebration will take place at 9 a.m. in Savage Arena on the UT Main Campus. A free community luncheon will follow the ceremony.

The keynote speaker will be Donzaleigh Abernathy, award-winning actress and daughter of civil rights icon Ralph David Abernathy. She published a book about the friendship between her parents and the Kings titled “Partners to History: Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, and the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Unity Celebration will feature performances by the Scott High School marching band, UT gospel choir, UT Fire Squad dance team, and students from the Toledo School for the Arts, as well as recognition of MLK Scholarship recipients and African-American Leadership Council of United Way Scholarship Award winners.

Throughout the week, UT students will volunteer at local agencies, including the Friendly Center, Padua Center and J. Frank Troy Senior Center.

In addition, UT is partnering with the United Way of Greater Toledo and other local colleges and universities for service activities throughout the month.

“We are proud to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King by working together and helping serve others,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Selfless acts of generosity combined with conversations about issues that in the past have kept us separate will allow us to celebrate our differences.”

mlk-poster-2016-copy“Through meaningful work and ‘Reconciliation Through Service: Education, Social Justice and Religion,’ we can make real our celebration of Dr. King’s life in 2017 and beyond as we strive as individuals and as a city to define ourselves by these peaceful and powerful activities,” Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson said.

Several events are scheduled at UT throughout the week, starting with Cost of Poverty Experience training sponsored by the United Way of Greater Toledo. The two-hour event will guide students through a role-playing simulation to give them a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families in this region. The free, public session will be held Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Thompson Student Union Rooms 2582 and 2584.

UT will show a documentary about the emergence of King titled “Eyes on the Prize: No Easy Walk” Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m. in Doermann Theater. The screening will be followed by a discussion. The free, public event is sponsored by the UT Office for Diversity and Inclusion.

The UT Epsilon Alpha chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is sponsoring a showing of “Alpha Man: The Brotherhood of MLK” Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. in Student Union Room 2592. The documentary tells the story of King’s fraternity days as a member of Alpha Phi Alpha.

Students also are invited to UT’s Driscoll Alumni Center Auditorium, where Dr. Cornel West’s speech at Bowling Green State University will be streamed live Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. West is a social activist, Princeton University professor and author of the book “Race Matters.”

The Unity Celebration is organized by a committee with co-chairs Dr. Willie McKether, UT vice president for diversity and inclusion; Linda Alvarado, executive director of the Board of Community Relations for the city of Toledo; and Pastor Christopher Rowell.

For more information, contact the UT Office for Diversity and Inclusion at diversity@utoledo.edu.

Memorial service set for UT student; fund established in her memory

Visitation and a celebration of life for Molly L. LaBadie, a UT student who was pursuing a degree in anthropology and art history, will be held Saturday, Jan. 7.



LaBadie, 24, passed away from a sudden illness Dec. 22 in the Dominican Republic while on vacation with her mother, Dr. Kandace J. Williams, UT professor of biochemistry and cancer biology, and associate dean of the graduate program in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

The family will receive guests Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. at Newcomer Funeral Home, 4752 Heatherdowns Blvd., Toledo. The celebration of life will begin at 2 p.m. Family and friends then are invited to gather at 4 p.m. at the Toledo Sailing Club, 2701 Broadway St.

LaBadie worked as a lab aide from 2015 to 2016 in the College of Medicine.

The Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology is planning to establish a fund in memory of LaBadie with the UT Foundation.

“Our hope is that this fund will be sufficient to provide modest support for a selected graduate student to travel to a national scientific meeting each year,” Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs, wrote in an email sent to college members. “Given Molly’s past contributions to the department, her love of travel, and Kandace’s devotion to our graduate students, we believe that this would be a fitting way to honor Molly.”

Donations may be made to the UT Foundation with “Biochem in memory of Molly LaBadie” in the memo and left with Mary Ann Schuster, assistant to the chair of the Biochemistry and Cancer Biology Department, in Block Health Science Building Room 413. The UT Foundation also will provide envelopes at the memorial service Saturday at Newcomer Funeral Home.

To share memories of LaBadie, click here.