2018 November | UToledo News







Archive for November, 2018

University to close for winter break

As announced earlier this year, the University again will close for winter break at a time when most departments are operationally slow.

UT implemented a new winter break policy in 2017 based on feedback received from employees over several years.

“It’s important that faculty and staff have time to enjoy the holidays and rest before spring semester begins,” said Wendy Davis, associate vice president and chief human resources officer. “Our workforce is our greatest asset, and this break affords many employees additional time off to recharge after a busy semester and spend time with their friends and families.”

The break also helps UT to reduce operating costs while still maintaining crucial functions, such as hospital operations at UT Medical Center, approved research activities and public safety. Winter break does not include UTMC employees and certain required positions, which might vary depending on annual need.

In addition to existing holiday pay, the University provides additional paid days off — either three days or four, depending on which day the holiday falls in the year — to cover this specified time period. UT’s 2018 winter break schedule is:

• Monday, Dec. 24 — Holiday (Columbus Day);

• Tuesday, Dec. 25 — Christmas Day;

• Wednesday, Dec. 26 — Paid day off for winter break;

• Thursday, Dec. 27 — Paid day off for winter break;

• Friday, Dec. 28 — Paid day off for winter break;

• Monday, Dec. 31 — Paid day off for winter break; and

• Tuesday, Jan. 1 — New Year’s Day.

Faculty and staff who work on Main Campus or Scott Park Campus are reminded to refrain from being at the University during winter break, unless pre-approved by their department’s leadership in order to conduct essential business. Access to buildings will be restricted, and facility operations and ground maintenance also will be limited.

Leadership members should soon designate any specific employees who will need to be on call and/or must work during winter break in order to provide essential services, which may include research that cannot be conducted at home.

Additional details, including frequently asked questions, are available on the winter break schedule website. If you have any questions after reviewing this information, contact your supervisor or human resources consultant.

Make pledge to UT Charitable Campaign by Dec. 14

All faculty, staff and retirees are encouraged to make a pledge to the annual UT Charitable Campaign by Friday, Dec. 14.

Formerly called the United Way campaign, UT’s collective support helps to fund more than 200 charities represented by four federations — United Way of Greater Toledo, EarthShare Ohio, Northwest Ohio Community Shares and Community Health Charities.

“As we approach the holiday season, I’d like to stress how critical this campaign is in meeting the growing needs of our local community,” said Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion, and chairman of the 2018 UT Charitable Campaign.

“By showing ‘Unity for Community,’ the campaign provides each of us with a convenient way to support others who desperately need our help.”

To make your pledge, check your email for weekly messages from McKether that contain a link to your personalized ePledge form. After you submit your completed form, you no longer will receive additional emails requesting your support.

All UT Charitable Campaign gifts are tax-deductible, and a variety of payment options are available, including payroll deduction, which does not begin until early 2019.

Every faculty, staff and retiree who submits an ePledge form by Dec. 14 will receive a complimentary gift, as well as an invitation to a January breakfast buffet hosted by President Sharon L. Gaber, noted McKether. And gifts of any size are appreciated, he added.

For more details, including a list of nonprofit agencies your pledge can support, visit the UT Charitable Campaign website.

Teddy bear toss to be held at men’s basketball game Dec. 1

A teddy bear toss sponsored by WTOL will be held at halftime during The University of Toledo men’s basketball game vs. Cleveland State Saturday, Dec. 1. Tip-off time is set for 2 p.m. in Savage Arena.

Fans are encouraged to bring a new teddy bear or stuffed animal to the game to be tossed onto the court at halftime to benefit area children during the holiday season.

Prizes also will be awarded during the game to fans wearing the best holiday sweaters.

In addition, Santa Claus will be on the west concourse for children to visit. Kids also will have a chance to play at a bounce house in the Fetterman Center.

And the first 500 UT students will receive a Rocket holiday T-shirt.

University employees can purchase tickets at half price, and UT students are admitted free with ID. Go to the Toledo Rockets website, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office in Savage Arena.

State awards UT $287,405 to continue Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office awarded The University of Toledo a $287,405 grant to continue operations of the Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness, which was created three years ago to help victims of sexual violence and raise awareness.

The center recently expanded outreach and awareness services to UT Health Science Campus.

The new funding is part of $111.8 million recently announced to support more than 400 crime service providers through the Victims of Crime Act and State Victim Assistance Act.

“We are grateful for the state’s support to help maintain the important services the Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness provides to survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual harassment,” said Dr. Kasey Tucker-Gail, associate professor of criminal justice and director of the UT Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness. “We help victims by offering trauma-informed individual counseling, as well as advocacy and support services to all faculty, staff and students in the UT community.”

“These grants will help provide comprehensive care and critical services for victims of crime,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is governor-elect of Ohio. “The funding will support and expand existing programs throughout Ohio and allow new, innovative programs to develop.”

The funding is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Expanding Services and Empowering Victims Initiative, which DeWine created in 2015 to determine how grant funds could best be spent to serve victims of crime. The funding goes toward providing services to domestic violence victims, victims of sexual assault or human trafficking, and child victims.

Undergraduates to showcase research, creative projects

Does the caffeine in eye cream affect skin’s appearance? Does boxing help with speech for those living with Parkinson’s disease? How are feminist theories explored in “The Handmaid’s Tale”? These are a few of the questions UT students are tackling for the annual Scholars Celebration.

The Scholars Celebration showcases the diverse and dynamic undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities at The University of Toledo. Presented by the Office of Undergraduate Research and University Libraries, the event includes student presentations and displays from all disciplines.

A welcome ceremony will be held Monday, Dec. 3, at 3 p.m. in Carlson Library Room 1005 and offer an opportunity to engage with students about their academic accomplishments. Exhibits are on display from Thursday, Nov. 29, through Friday, Dec. 7, in the Carlson Library Concourse.

“This is the fourth year of this event, and each year it grows,” said Dr. Jon Bossenbroek, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and professor of environmental sciences. “This year, I’m most excited about the increased participation of students from the College of Arts and Letters, as we have students from art, anthropology and English presenting their work.”

The Scholars Celebration fosters engagement with the campus community, bringing together students, faculty and staff from across the University to talk, be proud and celebrate the accomplishments of its students. This year will feature art displays titled “The Trees Never Bend” and “Glitched Memory,” among others.

“The Scholars Celebration has been a rewarding experience that has allowed me to share my research and receive valuable feedback from both students and faculty members,” Nathan Szymanski, a senior majoring in physics, said. “It’s also been great to meet others and learn about the fascinating work being done throughout many diverse fields here at UT.”

Rocket named MAC Football Special Teams Player of the Year

Eight Rockets earned 10 All-Mid-American Conference selections, including three first-team nods, and junior wide receiver Diontae Johnson also was named the Special Teams Player of the Year.

For the second straight season, Johnson earned all-conference honors and did so at three different positions: wide receiver (first-team), punt returner (first-team) and kickoff returner (second-team).

Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson also was named a first-team selection.

Joining the two receivers as All-MAC honorees were offensive lineman Bryce Harris (second team), tight end Reggie Gilliam (second team), wide receiver Jon’Vea Johnson (third team), kicker Jameson Vest (third team), defensive end Tuzar Skipper (third team) and safety Josh Teachey (third team).

Diontae Johnson has become arguably the most dangerous return man in the league. He leads the MAC with an average punt return of 18.3 yards, and he is second in kickoff return average at 25.8 yards per attempt. He is the only player in the conference to return a punt and kickoff for a touchdown this season. As a receiver, he is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions, leads UT with 663 receiving yards, and has seven touchdown catches.

For his career, Diontae Johnson has averaged 23.4 yards per kickoff return, which would put him third all-time in UT history, and he is just the second Rocket ever to have at least two punt return TDs and two kickoff return TDs (Lance Moore, 2001-2004). He is the fourth player in program history to be named the top special teams player in the MAC, joining Jeremiah Detmer (2013), Eric Page (2010) and Jason Robbins (2005).

Joining Diontae Johnson on the MAC’s first team is Thompson, who also was a first-team selection in 2016, is tied for the team lead with 43 receptions totaling 592 yards, and leads the Rockets with 10 touchdown catches. He has spent this season climbing in the Toledo record book, where he ranks atop the career touchdown reception list with 30. Thompson is second all-time with 3,257 receiving yards and second in yards per reception (18.5). Off the field, he earned Academic All-District honors for the second straight season.

Harris was named a second-team recipient, his first All-MAC honor. The Rockets’ starting center, Harris has helped pave the way for an offense that ranks second in the MAC in scoring (41.1), total offense (448.5) and rushing (223.6).

Gilliam joined Harris on the second team, and it is also the first all-conference honor of his career. Gilliam has been Toledo’s starting tight end for much of the season and ranks third on the team with three touchdown receptions. He has been an absolute force on special teams, where he leads the country in blocked kicks (four).

Jon’Vea Johnson was one of four Rockets to earn third-team All-MAC distinctions. He ranks second on the team with 611 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, and third with 29 receptions. He leads Toledo in average yards per catch (21.1), a figure that ranks fifth in the country. This is his second All-MAC award; he was a second-team honoree in 2016.

Vest is an All-MAC recipient for the second straight season, landing on the third team. He leads the MAC in scoring (8.6 points per game) and has cemented himself in Toledo football lore, breaking the school records for career field goals made (71) and extra points made (227). He is 14 for 19 on field goals this season, including 4 of 5 from 40 yards or longer.

Skipper was one of two UT defensive players to be placed on the All-MAC squad. A first-time honoree, Skipper has tallied 52 tackles this season and leads Toledo with 8.5 sacks, which rank third in the MAC. His 10.5 tackles for loss rank second on the team, and he leads the Rockets with four QB hurries and two fumble recoveries.

Teachey rounds out Toledo’s All-MAC selections with his first career all-conference accolade. He is fourth on the team with 54 tackles and is among the tops in the conference with 11 pass breakups. He leads the Rockets’ defensive backs with four tackles for loss.

Dec. 10 deadline to make changes to tax-deferred annuities

The IRS has set new limits for tax-deferred annuity plans, which can help employees save for retirement.

A tax-deferred annuity is a plan that enables employees to put aside money into an investment account that can build income for retirement. As a public nonprofit organization, the University can offer its employees the opportunity to participate in investing in a tax-deferred annuity, which is a benefit covered in Sections 403b and 457 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Beginning Jan. 1, contribution limits for 2019 are: $19,000 for those younger than the age of 50, and $25,000 for those 50 and older. This is an increase of $500 from 2018. Employees also may be eligible to make “catch up” contributions to their annuity. Please contact your vendor for specific details.

UT employees who would like to increase or change their contribution amounts for 403b plans need to complete the Salary Reduction Agreement form stating the new per-pay contribution amount. To start contributions the first pay in January, the form needs to be received by UT’s Benefits Department in Human Resources before Monday, Dec. 10. Employees can enroll or make changes to these plans any time during the year.

For Ohio Deferred Compensation 457 plans, employees need to contact Ohio Deferred Compensation to change or start their contribution. More information is available online at the Ohio Deferred Compensation website.

“Also, 12-month employees are reminded that all contributions are for 26 deductions — or 19 deductions for nine-month employees — for 2019,” said Kate Johnson, manager of benefits planning and administration.

When you participate in the tax-deferred annuity program, you agree to have the University take out an amount of money you want to redirect into the annuity, mutual fund or Ohio Deferred Compensation that you select. Contributions are taken from your salary before taxes are deducted, which results in an immediate tax break.

“Investing through a tax-deferred annuity reduces your pay only for income tax purposes,” Johnson said. “It does not affect how pay raises are calculated or any other benefits that are based on pay.”

To establish a tax-deferred annuity, contact a 403b vendor or Ohio Deferred Compensation to create an account. A list of vendors and their contact information is available on the Human Resources website.

For more information, contact a benefits representative at benefits@utoledo.edu or 419.530.4747.

University Women’s Commission holiday party set for Dec. 12

Campus community members are invited to stop by the University Women’s Commission holiday party Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Hot cocoa and cookies will be served from noon to 1 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center Maple Room.

“We invite everyone to take a few minutes to celebrate during this spirited time of the year,” said Kelly Andrews, senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator in Intercollegiate Athletics, who is chair of the commission.

RSVP for the holiday party to brianna.stewart@rockets.utoledo.edu by Friday, Dec. 7.

The University Women’s Commission provides scholarships to female students and each year recognizes UT’s outstanding women.

New and returning members can join at the party or on the University Women’s Commission website.

Provost named president of College of Charleston

Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, has been named the president of the College of Charleston.

Hsu, who has served UT since 2016, was announced as the South Carolina college’s 23rd president Wednesday evening. His start date has not been set.


“I really appreciate the opportunity to work with all of the talented and dedicated individuals at The University of Toledo and especially appreciate President Gaber’s leadership and mentorship,” Hsu said. “We have built great momentum accomplishing our institutional goals, so it is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to UT.”

“I want to thank Andrew for his leadership in implementing the University’s strategic plan and initiatives to enhance our focus on student success,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “The College of Charleston will certainly benefit from his passion for higher education and as a strong advocate for students and faculty.”

An interim provost will be named to lead UT’s academic affairs during the transition to the University’s next provost.

In his time at UT, Hsu led the strategic planning process to create and implement The University of Toledo’s Path to Excellence, which established five strategic priorities to move the institution forward as it heads toward its 150th anniversary in 2022.

Hsu’s leadership to advance a culture of success for students and faculty also resulted in improved student retention and graduation rates, and increased research award dollars.

Success story: UT alum, Grypmat inventor to speak Nov. 29

An alumnus of both The University of Toledo and its LaunchPad Incubation Program, whose invention called the Grypmat is on the cover of Time magazine’s “Best Inventions of 2018” issue, is returning to his alma mater to inspire future entrepreneurs.

Tom Burden, who graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, will speak at a free, public event Thursday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. in the Launchpad Incubator Space on the second floor of Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex at 1510 N. Westwood Ave. Networking will start at 5:30 p.m.

The UT Engineering Leadership Institute is hosting the discussion titled “Idea to Invention of the Year.”

“Tom’s success with the Grypmat is incredible,” UT Vice President for Research Frank Calzonetti said. “We are proud of what he has accomplished as an entrepreneur, but not surprised. He won UT’s Pitch & Pour competition while he was a student here, and he also returned last year to serve as a judge for the annual business pitch contest.”

Burden was recently listed in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30, and the Grypmat was named one of Time magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year.

He plans to discuss his experience taking his product idea to market, including how he landed a deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and built a team.

“The University of Toledo and the city of Toledo have many opportunities that I used to make my way to where I am now,” Burden said. “I am passionate about education, helping future generations of entrepreneurs, and giving back to the people who supported me.”

The Grypmat, which Burden designed as a solution to mechanics frustrated by their tools sliding off aircraft while they work, is a flexible, non-slip tool mat made of a unique polymer-silicone blend that helps grip tools and keep them in place at extreme angles of up to 70 degrees.

The product is popular with aircraft, boat and car mechanics. Burden also said he is working with NASA for its use on spaceships.