As an urban planner, Dr. Sharon Gaber has a specific interest in taking different pieces of an organization or community and finding the best ways to put them together for the best outcomes. During her first presidential forum, she outlined how she would take that approach to enhancing The University of Toledo if selected as its next president.One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Gaber is the final candidate to visit campus for open forums and meetings with University stakeholders. She is the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas.
Gaber framed her remarks around the questions why me, why here and why now.
Why her? As a nontraditional provost, she said she has a wealth of administrative experience that includes addressing student recruitment and retention with a focus on diversity, fund raising, increasing research funding, hiring quality deans and faculty members, and engaging in visible community outreach.
Why here? Because it bears the name of the city, Gaber said UT is an integral part of the region and an economic engine for northwest Ohio with the unique position of being one of few comprehensive universities in the country.
Why now? It is a time for transformation at UT with a need to increase enrollment, student retention and funding support, and to respond to increased regulations and criticism. Gaber provided examples of how she addressed each of those issues during her career.
Throughout the forum, Gaber expressed her commitment to communication and getting everyone around the table to find the best solutions rooted in data and around a shared vision for the University’s future.
“What I’d like to see is building on the synergy and capitalizing on all of the strengths that are here, putting together a plan to be able to move forward,” Gaber said. “And I envision that all of us in this room — and it’s going to be from the board to the students, faculty, deans, vice presidents — we’re all going to have to have a say in here’s where we are going and how we are going to do it.”
Gaber answered questions from the audience about supporting faculty entrepreneurs, growing and improving the quality of online education, recruiting and retaining a diverse student body, the role of academic advisers, improving student life on campus, using data in decision making, inspiring campus to share a single vision, engaging with students, and the president’s role in the community.
Gaber will host another forum Friday, Feb. 27, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B on Health Science Campus.
If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Gaber’s profile page on the presidential search website through 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.
For more information on the presidential search, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.