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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.

Financial planning and retirement to be subjects of Professional Staff Association brown-bag seminar

The Professional Staff Association (PSA) knows how important it is to invest in your future.

When its 2016 professional development survey revealed a need for more education on retirement and financial planning, PSA responded with upcoming brown-bag seminars on Ohio Deferred Compensation Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Ohio Deferred Compensation is a supplemental retirement plan for Ohio employees, and is one of the largest and lowest priced plans in the country.

Brent Tabler, account executive for Ohio Deferred Compensation, will speak at the sessions and inform employees on how they can enroll in the program.

Emily T. Creamer, assistant director for engineering transfer programs, said that the events are open to all members of the UT community interested in personal finance.

“Attendees are welcome to bring their own lunch or coffee while they learn about the supplemental retirement plan,” Creamer said. “I’m looking forward to learning about an additional option. Since I’m in my early 30s, I have a long time until I retire. I do know that financial planning is important, which is why PSA decided to bring an expert on campus to share this information.”

Both sessions will take place Tuesday, Feb. 28.

A session from 11 a.m. to noon will be held in Collier Building Room 1210 on Health Science Campus, and another will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. in Rocket Hall Rocket Room on Main Campus.

Click here to RSVP for the event.

To learn more about Ohio Deferred Compensation, visit ohio457.org, or contact Tabler at tablerb@nationwide.com or 614.579.9817.

To learn more about the seminar, contact Creamer at emily.creamer@utoledo.edu or 419.530.8048.

Carlson Library offering weekly workshops

Having difficulties with a project? Trying to land a job? The University of Toledo Carlson Library has you covered with weekly workshops they will be having on six different subjects throughout the months of February, March, and April.

“Part of the mission of The University Libraries is to enrich the student learning experience. These workshops are one of the many ways we are trying to engage students in the conversation that is research,” said Thomas Atwood, coordinator of information literacy and library instruction.

Topics for the workshops include getting your research started, endnote — -manage your research, company research for the job hunt, identifying fake news, internet privacy, and research in engineering.

All workshops will be held in Carlson Library Room 1025, except research in engineering, which will be held in the McMaster Engineering Library, Palmer Hall Room 2600.

“These workshops not only assist students who are working on research in their courses, helping them connect to better quality academic resources, saving them time and frustration, but also offer real-world skills that will make them better informed citizens,” Atwood said.

The mission of the University Libraries is to drive excellence in life-long learning, discovery and engagement.  Within a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment, they it aims to enrich the student learning experience, facilitate research at all levels, and engage the community through innovative educational services, resources and technologies. 

Dates and times for the workshops can be found at libguides.utoledo.edu/workshops.

Trustees approve campus master plan

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees voted Monday to endorse the Multiple Campus Master Plan 2017 that establishes a guide to the evolution of UT’s campuses for the next decade.

The master plan is focused on four themes: repositioning the academic core, investing in research, consolidating athletics, and enhancing student life.

“This 10-year plan is the result of months of collaborations with our students, faculty, staff, trustees, neighbors and other stakeholders to guide future decision making for our physical campuses to support the University’s mission to serve students and benefit the community,” said Jason Toth, UT associate vice president for facilities and construction. “I look forward to watching the campuses evolve according to this plan.”

Efforts to develop the master plan, which was created in collaboration with the consulting firm Smith Group JJR, began in fall 2014, and the draft plan was presented publicly in December.

It was developed under the guiding principles of student success and student life experience; research, scholarship and creative activities; asset stewardship; campus character; and community interface.

The master plan honors the beauty of UT’s campuses and the Ottawa River by focusing the academic core on Main Campus around the iconic University Hall with renovations to nearby academic buildings, including Carlson Library. The Student Union, on-campus living and recreation options also will be enhanced to boost student life energy and excitement.

The Health Science Campus is positioned to respond to continued evolution in medical education and clinical research as the academic affiliation agreement between the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and ProMedica is implemented and the UT Medical Center plans to add more primary care and behavioral health options to meet the needs of the community.

The plan also calls for a new multidisciplinary research center near Nitschke Hall and a consolidation of athletics facilities moving baseball, softball and soccer from Scott Park Campus to Main Campus.

The campus master plan will be implemented in phases during the next decade.

The executive summary of the Multiple Campus Master Plan 2017 is available online at utoledo.edu/facilities/master-plan.

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. 

Spengler

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.

Nominations needed for Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award

Monday, Feb. 27, is the deadline to submit nominations for the UT Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award.

Since 1985, this award has recognized full-time faculty members who have contributed to the University through outstanding research, scholarship and creative activity in any academic discipline.

Any full-time faculty member who made valuable contributions during his or her time at the University and has not received the award in the past is eligible. A list of past winners is available here.

Both self-nominations and peer-nominations are being accepted.

Nominations must use the form here and address:

• The nature and significance of the research, scholarship or creative activity upon which the nomination is based;

• The impact of the research, scholarship or creative activity on the nominee’s area of specialization;

• How the research, scholarship or creative activity was presented and disseminated to the nominee’s peers and to the wider professional community;

• Awards, honors or other recognition of the significance of the research, scholarship or creative activity;

• Support received for the nominee’s activities; and

• A complete curriculum vitae and signed and dated letters of recommendation (reprints, books and posters will not be accepted).

The Outstanding Research and Scholarship Selection Committee, which consists of past winners of this award, will review all materials. Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president of research, will present the committee’s recommendations to the provost.

“The quality of research and scholarship conducted every day at UT is amazing,” Calzonetti said. “This is a chance to submit nominations so deserving individuals receive recognition.”

Winners will receive $1,500 and formal recognition at the UT Outstanding Awards Reception Monday, April 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the Thompson Student Union Ingman Room.

Nomination forms and questions should be submitted to ofrsa@utoledo.edu.

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

Researchers create online database to help inform public about harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie

It’s now easier for Toledo area residents and businesses looking for information about water quality and the health of Lake Erie to go directly to the source.

Researchers at The University of Toledo launched a website database containing hundreds of reports and studies discussing Lake Erie harmful algal blooms.

In 2014, the city of Toledo issued a ‘Do Not Drink’ advisory for half a million residents for three days due to the level of the algal toxin microcystin detected in the drinking water.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education, with the assistance of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program, gave UT $66,000 in 2015 to develop the database and support research related to harmful algal blooms.

The Lake Erie algal bloom online database project was a collaborative effort between Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, and associate dean of social and behavioral sciences in the College of Arts and Letters; Dr. Kevin Egan, associate professor in the Department of Economics; and researchers from Ohio State University and Kent State University.

The database currently contains more than 300 reports, web links and key contacts, Lawrence said. The team plans to update the database and add more resources before the next algal bloom season.

“The intent is to help educate and inform stakeholders in the Maumee watershed by providing access to the best and most recent research and information so as to drive an open and participatory engagement with discussion about how we can all work collectively on a wide range of solutions to reduce the frequency, size and impacts of Lake Erie harmful algal blooms,” Lawrence said.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education has funded more than 20 projects from several Ohio universities, including cost-benefit analysis for potential options to use wetlands as a form of natural storage and treatment of nutrients from farmland; economic issues associated with improving farm practices to reduce runoff of nutrients; and an assessment of the connections and interactions among stakeholders within the Maumee basin involved or interested in harmful algal blooms and possible measures to address and reduce them.

For more information about Lake Erie harmful algal blooms, the database can be found at lakeeriehabsis.gis.utoledo.edu.