2020 May | UToledo News - Part 3

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Archive for May, 2020

State Awards UToledo $613,436 to Lead Harmful Algal Bloom Research Projects

The University of Toledo is among four Ohio universities to receive a total of $2.08 million from the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative in this year’s round of state funding to address Lake Erie water quality and find solutions for algal bloom toxicity.

UToledo scientists situated on the western basin of Lake Erie from diverse research areas were awarded $613,436 to lead four projects related to protecting public health:

• Dr. April Ames and Dr. Michael Valigosky, assistant professors in the School of Population Health in the College of Health and Human Services, will assess microcystin inhalation risk to shoreline populations;

• Dr. Steven Haller, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, will work to create a new therapy for microcystin exposure and hepatotoxicity using naturally occurring Lake Erie bacteria that removes microcystin released by harmful algal blooms in drinking water;

• Haller also will conduct deep phenotyping of human organ biobank specimens for cyanotoxin exposure in at-risk populations; and

• Dr. Von Sigler, professor of environmental microbiology in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, will investigate any risks to beach visitors who come in contact with sand along a beach that has had bloom-enriched water wash up on the shoreline.

The UToledo Lake Erie Center research vessel helps to monitor the lake’s water quality.

“Foreshore sands are frequently contacted by beach visitors and are known to play a crucial role in accumulating bacteria, often harboring potentially pathogenic bacteria in densities exceeding those in nearby waters,” Sigler said. “Although no data is currently available that describes the ecology of microcystis in sands, there is potential for human health impacts.”

UToledo and Ohio State University lead the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, which consists of dozens of science teams across the state and is managed by Ohio Sea Grant.

Researchers from UToledo, Ohio State University, the University of Akron and Bowling Green State University will lead 12 newly announced projects — four from UToledo — to track blooms from the source, produce safe drinking water, protect public health, and engage stakeholders.

The selected projects focus on reducing nutrient loading to Lake Erie, investigating algal toxin formation and human health impacts, studying bloom dynamics, and better informing water treatment plants how to remove toxins.

Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, professor of ecology, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and co-chair of the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative, examines a water sample aboard the UToledo Lake Erie Center research vessel.

“Thanks in part to past HABRI projects, the primary threat of microcystin algal toxin to our Lake Erie-sourced drinking water has been greatly diminished,” said Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, professor of ecology, director of the UToledo Lake Erie Center and co-chair of the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative. “Even under the best-case scenario, however, we are likely to be living with harmful algal blooms for many years to come. This new set of HABRI projects allows us to follow up with questions about other algal toxins such as saxitoxin and anatoxin that we know much less about, long-term exposure to toxins, and secondary routes of exposure, such as inhalation.”

Harmful algal blooms are not only a Lake Erie problem.

“Many lakes and rivers across Ohio are having similar issues,” Bridgeman said. “Several new projects are dedicated to helping smaller Ohio lakes and rivers use remote sensing, groundwater tracing and improved toxin-testing methodology.”

Previous HABRI projects have developed algal toxin early warning systems for water treatment plants, changed the way state agencies collect data for fish consumption advisories, and helped modify permit procedures for safer use of water treatment residuals as agricultural fertilizer.

“Lake Erie is an invaluable resource and a true treasure for the state of Ohio, and we have a responsibility to do all we can to preserve it and protect it,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE). “I’m pleased that our university researchers are collaborating to lead this endeavor.”

The projects also aid the efforts of state agencies such as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Health, and Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“Direct engagement with these front-line agencies continues to allow HABRI scientists to develop research proposals that address both immediate and long-term needs of the people tackling this important statewide issue,” said Dr. Kristen Fussell, assistant director of research and administration for Ohio Sea Grant, who leads the initiative’s daily administration.

A total of $9.1 million in funding was made available through ODHE in 2015 and designated for five rounds of HABRI projects. Matching funding from participating Ohio universities increases the total investment to almost $19.5 million for more than 60 projects, demonstrating the state’s overall commitment to solving the harmful algal bloom problem.

Information about HABRI projects, partner organizations and background on the initiative is available on the Ohio Sea Grant website.

The UToledo Water Task Force, which is composed of faculty and researchers in diverse fields spanning the University, serves as a resource for government officials and the public looking for expertise on investigating the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie, and the health of the communities depending on its water. The task force includes experts in economics, engineering, environmental sciences, business, pharmacy, law, chemistry and biochemistry, geography and planning, and medical microbiology and immunology.

Water quality is a major research focus at UToledo, with experts studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp, and pollutants. Researchers are looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure our communities continue to have access to safe drinking water.

State of Ohio Launches Website for Critical Jobs During COVID-19

A new website is available to connect UToledo students who are able and willing to work during the COVID-19 crisis with businesses that need to hire additional staff immediately.

The website at coronavirus.ohio.gov/jobsearch was created by Ohio’s Office of Workforce Transformation and includes available job listings statewide from hundreds of employers providing critical services, including healthcare, manufacturing of personal protective equipment and food service.

“We ask that you consider giving back to your community during this challenging time, if you are able and willing to work,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, in a letter to college students announcing the website’s launch. “These are great opportunities to help Team Ohio deliver the products and services people need.”

UToledo’s Career Services is another valuable resource for students seeking employment, career preparation or virtual guidance during this challenging time. Support is available for current students as well as alumni.

Advice for Job Seekers During Coronavirus Pandemic

“I was just.” I shudder every time I hear that phrase from a student in the midst of building a resumé.

It all starts somewhere, right? I tell students in order to be considered for a position they need to have a resumé for the employer to review and assess their potential.

True, yet somewhere along the line, a significant number of students presume that the only way they will get hired for an internship is if they have experience in their desired field.

O’Donnell

Now, how can that happen if it is the internship that gets them the experience? How do we convince students that their experiences are so much “more” than they realize? If I had a nickel for each time I heard, “I was just a

• Server;

• Caddy;

• Babysitter;

• Cashier;

• Fill in the _______,” I’d have retired long ago and retreated to my favorite 14th-floor destination in Puerto Vallarta.

It’s hard enough convincing students and job seekers that all experiences matter and that transferable skills — those skills we build in one environment that transfer to our desired careers — are developed and fostered in everything we do.

Add to that a global pandemic that has impacted the economy and hiring plans in unprecedented ways, and you find a bunch of downtrodden, internship-hopeful students who think they’re never going to get a break.

Times are hard now, but they will change. And when they change, you need to be ready. So, unless you work for a healthcare provider, a grocery store, or are a delivery driver for the most popular takeout in the city, you’ve got time to consider how your skills are so much more than you realize and package them properly.

Applicant Tracking Systems scan those resumés that are uploaded to job boards or company career sites “looking” for those keywords or skills that are required for the position.

LinkedIn’s algorithm performs in a similar manner. Sources conduct keyword searches looking for candidates to present to employers. If you’re not aware of the required skills for your industry and how to work them into your job search materials, you will remain “just a______.”

Pro tip: Those required skills are more likely to be the soft transferable skills you have built over your lifetime. I’ve had conversation after conversation with employers who always tout soft skills over technical skills.

Can you communicate? Get along with others? Work on a project longer than you spend trolling TikTok? Done — there’s a job out there for you. Now you just need to believe in yourself and trust in the value of your skills. And, of course, tell the story.

We all start somewhere. Even the richest, most influential people in the world started humbly. Oprah Winfrey was a grocery store clerk. Warren Buffett was a newspaper delivery boy. Jean Nidetch worked in a furniture store. Tom Hanks pushed stadium peanuts. Sound glamorous? Maybe not, but those people learned how to capitalize on their strengths and tell their story. You can, too.

Where do you start? Let me suggest what I do with my students on the first day of class. Ask yourself, “What are my top three skills?” Start small and don’t overthink it. Some of the most common skills are what employers crave.

For example, topping the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ list of attributes employers seek on a candidate’s resumé (Job Outlook 2020) are:

1. Problem solving;

2. Ability to work on a team;

3. Strong work ethic;

4. Analytical/quantitative skills; and

5. Communication.

Here are some real-life examples:

Problem solving: Ever have to figure out how to get your sister to softball practice 20 minutes away when you need to be at work in 15 minutes?

Ability to work on a team: Have you played team sports, participated on the debate team, or picked up sticks in the backyard with siblings? Yep, teamwork.

Strong work ethic: Realize you haven’t looked at the clock for the last two hours while in the midst of a project, or you arrived early or stayed late because it was the right thing to do?

Analytical/quantitative skills: I had an accountant friend of mine tell me he was always running his personal stats in his head — baskets made versus shots taken while he was on the court.

Communication: Can you tell a story and keep people’s attention? Better yet, can you compose one with appropriate grammar?

You’ll find those skills in the most common of places. So, get started. Here is a step-by-step list of how to move forward:

1. Create a list of skills.

2. Without even going to the resumé, develop and type stories recalling how you developed those skills.

3. Compose action resumé statements using those skills and plug them into your resumé — think:

a. What did I do?

b. How did I do it?

c. What was the result?

d. Begin them with action verbs and work in numbers.

4. Reach out to Career Services, the College of Business and Administration Business Career Programs, the College of Engineering Shah Center for Engineering Career Development, and the College of Law Office of Professional Development — they are still working during this shutdown. Check their website to see how they are providing services. This goes for current students and alumni.

5. Move those cleaned up statements into your LinkedIn profile.

6. Identify companies where you want to work.

7. Look for people in the roles you want to play.

8. Reach out with customized invitations and ask to connect — follow career expert JT O’Donnell’s advice in this YouTube video.

9. When they say “yes,” ask for 15 minutes of their time to talk about their career path. Believe me, most everyone has 15 minutes.

10. Listen to how they tell their stories and how they built their skills. I bet they sound the same as yours.

If you apply yourself, in a month’s time you’ll have a bang-up resumé and 25 new influential LinkedIn contacts. Once the economy starts to turn, you will be positioned to transition. So, score the “more.” If you cannot recognize the value of your experiences and articulate them in writing and eventually verbally, you are destined to be “just.”

Amy O’Donnell is Distinguished University Lecturer of Career Development in The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation.

UToledo Scientists Discover New Targets for Preventing Damage From Viral Infections

When the body faces stressful conditions such as high temperatures or lack of nutrients, cells produce the same large structures they make to combat virus infections.

Scientists at The University of Toledo discovered the connection that could be an attractive bulls-eye to aim for when identifying new antiviral targets and immune modulators to fight diverse viruses.

Dr. Malathi Krishnamurthy worked in her lab.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this is a promising avenue to protect people by enhancing immune response and stop the spread of deadly viral infections,” Dr. Malathi Krishnamurthy, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Biological Sciences, said. “There is an urgent need to identify new drugs and new drug targets.”

Research published in the Journal of Virology shows how cells in our body use a unique platform that is normally made during stress to combat virus infection. These new targets have potential to lead to new drug therapies to prevent serious damage to human health by harmful viruses.

“Understanding the molecular mechanisms of how the body defends itself is critical for the development of new treatment strategies against viruses,” Krishnamurthy said. “Currently available antiviral therapies target viral replication or viral proteins, but high mutation rates of viruses often lead to drug resistance. Therefore, identification of host response pathways identified in these studies that are common to many viruses can be used to combat a broad range of viral infections, including SARS-CoV2, and improve human health.”

In this study, the researchers demonstrated how a combination of proteins and RNAs called stress granules produced in response to different types of environmental stress also is produced when an enzyme present in all our cells called Ribonuclease L (RNase L) is “turned on” in virus-infected cells.

During virus infection, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) molecules are produced that alert the host cells of an infection to activate immune pathways.

Specialized cells in our body sense these dsRNAs, which are unique to a virus-infected cell, and produce a chemical called interferon to protect the body and clear the virus infection.

These interferons activate RNase L, which is “turned on” by a small molecule that is produced only during virus infection, and its activity produces more dsRNA to produce more interferon to clear the virus.

“In addition to RNase L, several other proteins in our cells orchestrate response to virus infection, and timely expression and coordination of response is critical to fight viral infections,” Krishnamurthy said.

Unlike the body’s response to conventional stress, these stress granules produced during virus infection orchestrate a more effective and rapid response to increase interferon production to clear viruses.

“Many viruses adapt and evade these host response pathways, and knowledge gained from these studies may help scientists find targets that can prevent serious damage to human health by harmful viruses,” Krishnamurthy said.

UToledo Students Join Volunteer Army of Contact Tracers

A group of nursing, public health and physician assistant students from The University of Toledo is playing a vital role in the region’s effort to curb the spread of coronavirus by serving as volunteer contact tracers.

Contact tracing is a core tool that public health officials use for stopping the spread of infectious diseases. It sounds deceptively easy — interview patients with a confirmed illness, find out who they were in close contact with, notify those individuals, and ask them to pay close attention to their health and limit their exposure to others.

In reality, it’s a time-consuming process that, in a pandemic, can quickly overwhelm existing resources.

Joseph Dake

Dake

“Those calls take a fair amount of time,” said Dr. Joseph Dake, professor and chair of the UToledo School of Population Health. “When there’s only three or four cases coming in per day, that’s no problem. When we get to 30 or 50 cases per day, it’s much more difficult for health departments to keep up.”

In early April, after speaking with Lucas County Health Commissioner Dr. Eric Zgodzinski, Dake put out a call for volunteers interested in being trained as contact tracers. The first group of students began working with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department on April 8.

As of the first week of May, the Volunteer Contact Tracing Program has grown to include 57 public health students, 65 students from the College of Nursing and five students from the physician assistant program. Nearly 100 additional nursing students will be trained early this summer.

“Dr. Dake took the idea of using UToledo students for contact tracing far beyond my expectations,” Zgodzinski said. “Through the work of UToledo, this will allow us to take what we have and may be used as a national model and training program for any local health jurisdiction to protect their community from COVID-19.”

Together, UToledo students have made more than 350 calls to individuals in Lucas County who have either tested positive or been identified as having been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“This is vitally important. You’ll hear a lot in the next few weeks about contact tracing and the need for more trained individuals. At the end of the day, the whole idea is prevention,” Dake said.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials estimates the nation is likely to need nearly 100,000 contact tracers — tens of thousands more than currently exist.

“We really need to have stronger infrastructure for mass contract tracing,” Dake said. “We’re really trying to make sure we build the capacity the right way.”

Dake has been in contact with officials at the Ohio Department of Health and shared one of UToledo’s training modules to be incorporated in their training program.

Bailey Kurtz

Kurtz

The training program developed by Dake takes about six hours of independent study. The students must then do a full mock interview with a faculty member or clinical instructor who is part of the team, and be cleared before they begin making calls.

One of the first students trained was Bailey Kurtz, who is in her first year of the Master in Public Health Program.

“There are times where I’ll spend an hour and a half talking to someone who’s in the hospital and doesn’t have anyone to talk to,” she said. “It’s not just about the data collection. It’s about making sure people in our community are doing OK. Being that light to answer their questions and give them some peace of mind.”

Kurtz, who hopes to eventually go to medical school, estimates that she has made between 20 and 30 calls since she finished training. She’s providing a crucial service to the community and getting hours that count toward her required internship.

The pandemic and their response to it is also giving Kurtz and her peers perspective that’s likely to last the rest of their lives.

“We have to prepare for the unknown. We have a unique opportunity as young professionals. We can implement some of that preparation into our careers later in life,” she said. “We’re going to be talking about this for the rest of our professional careers.”

Union and Management Cooperation Needed to Reopen American Pro Sports

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, professional sports leagues briefly suspended play. The NFL shifted its week two games from Sept. 16 and 17 to January. In the midst of playoff races, Major League Baseball initially announced a one-day pause before extending the cancellation period to three and then six days. The return of baseball on Sept. 17 in some locations, and then on Sept. 21 in New York City, and the return of football on Sept. 23 (and Monday Night Football on Sept. 24), 2001, provided vivid moments for a stunned nation to come together and express its grief and its resolve.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to a suspension of professional and amateur sports far exceeding the shutdowns associated with 9/11 and World War II, and likely to exceed the early termination of the Major League Baseball season during World War I.

For many Americans, the return of professional sports will be the signal moment that the country is ready to shift from crisis response to a “new normal.” The return of sports will be about more than just the big business it entails, but also a symbolic moment for the country. (While leagues have endured lengthier absences at times of labor strife, a return-to-play where the pause resulted from internal matters rather than external forces lacks the same symbolic import.)

Reaching this important moment will require cooperation between the professional league owners and the labor unions representing athletes. Because athletes in each of the major sports leagues are represented by unions, all matters relating to wages, hours and conditions of employment must be the subject of collective bargaining. The length of the season, return-to-work dates for preseason training, and the periods for free agent negotiations and contract signing are all topics included in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for the major sports leagues. CBAs are in force for each of the leagues, with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) concluding voting on a new CBA last month.

So far, the unions and leagues have embraced a cooperative approach to adjustments required by the crisis. The NBA reached quick agreement with its players association to cut paychecks by 25%, with the funds held for a later calculation of reduced salaries based on canceled games (the league can, under the terms of its CBA, reduce pay by “1/92.6th” — around 1% — for a game canceled due to “epidemics,” among other items). The NFLPA’s executive committee and board voted unanimously to accept the NFL’s modification of its off-season rules, which prevents any NFL franchise from bringing players in for off-season work until all 50 states have removed stay-at-home restrictions. Based on the seeming likelihood that the country will re-open gradually, it now seems probable that this agreement will mean that the off-season is delayed even though stay-at-home orders have been lifted in some of the states in which NFL teams operate.

As the lockdown continues, however, there’s a greater chance that modifications required to address the public health crisis will lead to disagreements between the unions and the teams. Scheduling of games is the subject of provisions in each contract — in the case of baseball, detailed provisions, including start times of games and travel issues, cover more than seven pages, and modification might be required in the face of ongoing public health developments. Another obvious topic that could prove controversial are COVID-19 testing requirements for players once games resume. The NBA and its Players Association are investigating technology for “near instant” testing, but how and when such testing is mandatory would need to be subject to agreement.

If the public health crisis continues, each of the leagues will also likely need to consider whether to begin to schedule games without fan involvement. This may involve conducting games in states where stay-at-home orders have been lifted, outside of the ordinary “home territory” of particular teams. For instance, Florida has already exempted sports exhibitions from stay-at-home orders, allowing filming of sports events as long as the public is not allowed to attend (so far, an opportunity that only the “sport” of professional wrestling appears to have embraced).

Resolving these kinds of issues will typically require negotiation between the union and the league because the contracts themselves do not provide a mechanism for responding to all of the issues raised by this public health crisis. Baseball provides for a Safety and Health Advisory Committee (with an equal number of representatives for players and the teams) to deal with “emergency safety and health problems as they arise,” but the committee’s role is purely advisory.

Hopefully, the spirit of cooperation continues, so that communities can again come together to grieve over those lost and recommit to a shared purpose in that only sports provides.

Geoffrey Rapp is the Harold A. Anderson Professor of Law and Values and associate dean for academic affairs at The University of Toledo College of Law, where he teaches sports law and other courses.

UToledo’s National Youth Sports Program Canceled This Year

The University of Toledo is canceling this year’s National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) due to the pandemic.

It would have been the 51st year for the free three-week camp that provides recreational and educational opportunities for local income-eligible children.

“Following the COVID-19 update provided by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, UToledo is taking action to reduce exposure risk for the safety of our faculty, staff, students and campus visitors. Therefore, we are canceling the 2020 National Youth Sports Program,” said Dr. Ruthie Kucharewski, professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, and NYSP administrator.

This is the first time the summer tradition for kids has been canceled, according to Kucharewski.

“Thank you for your continued support of UToledo. We hope to see you at next year’s camp,” she said.

Starting in 1968, UToledo was one of the first universities in the country to offer the federally funded program sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

After federal funding for the program was cut, the University has continued to operate the camp through fundraising, in-kind donations, and commitment from the University to provide some support and facilities.

Preparing Campus: UToledo Aims to Open Campus in the Fall

The University of Toledo is preparing to open campus for the fall 2020 semester with plans to resume face-to-face instruction.

Following the guidance of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, University officials have been discussing a number of scenarios to safely reopen on-campus operations. Among the considerations are personal protective equipment, the ability to maintain necessary social distancing and contact tracking measures, as well as robust cleaning and disinfecting of all campus facilities.

“We are doing everything in our power to prepare our campuses to open for the fall semester,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “As the state of Ohio has begun a gradual and methodical reopening of the state, we expect to safely resume in-person education at The University of Toledo this fall.”

Teams across the University have been developing plans to reopen the University’s campuses following the March closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups are reviewing and preparing plans for all facets of campus operations, including research and sponsored programs, public safety, facilities management, information technology, residence life, dining services, etc. The teams will be recommending a number of new measures, guidelines and precautions needed to inhibit the spread of COVID-19.

Regular updates continue to be posted on the University’s COVID-19 website. Should state or federal guidance cause a change in the University’s plans for the fall, communication will be shared immediately with the campus community as has been UToledo’s practice throughout the pandemic.

“It will take all of us — working together — to create and maintain a safe campus environment this fall,” Bjorkman said.

UToledo Theatre Faculty’s Play Nets 7 Nominations for Chicago’s Jeff Awards

The Chicago production of a play written by Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre with The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film, has garnered seven nominations for the prestigious 2020 Non-Equity Jeff Awards and is tied with four other productions for having the most nominations this year.

As the Tony Awards honor top theater in New York, the Jeff Awards recognize Chicago’s top theater each year.

This photo courtesy of the Red Tape Theatre is from the Chicago production of “All Quiet on the Western Front,” an adaptation for the stage written and directed by Dr. Matt Foss, UToledo assistant professor of theatre.

“All Quiet on the Western Front” is Foss’ adaptation for the stage of the historic novel by Erich Maria Remarque. The play premiered at The University of Toledo with a student cast in fall 2018 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the war in which the novel is set.

The professional premiere of the play featured a unique collaboration between the University co-producing the production with Red Tape Theatre and the Greenhouse Theatre Center — two professional companies in Chicago. UToledo’s support resulted in an extension of classroom learning in a professional setting, with theatre faculty member Stephen Sakowski and a number of former students also participating in the project. Sakowski also received a nomination for his lighting design.

The opening of the production culminated in a unique showcase event highlighting the UToledo College of Arts and Letters’ commitment to the arts, student experiences and innovation.

Two UToledo alumni, Austin Rambo (Theatre 2019) and Bianca Caniglia (Environmental Science and Women’s Studies 2018), also were part of the Chicago production’s cast.

This production was nominated for seven Jeff Awards: production — play; new work (Foss); director (Foss); sound design (Dan Poppen); lighting design (Sakowski, UToledo assistant professor of lighting design); and choreography (Leah Urzendowski). The play also was nominated for best ensemble — considered one of the most prestigious awards in the Chicago theater community for its recognition of exceptional collaboration.

Last spring, the play received the Kennedy Center’s David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, recognizing the year’s outstanding new work premiered at a college or university.

The 47th Annual Non-Equity Jeff Awards and Community Unity Celebration was scheduled to be held virtually June 8. However, the event was postponed in respect of current events. Details on accessing the free program will be made available soon.

Names of award recipients will be released immediately following the virtual program on the Jeff Awards website under Non-Equity Awards.

UToledo Offers Faculty Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan

The University of Toledo is offering full-time faculty a voluntary separation incentive program as part of efforts to address budget deficits exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty members who meet the criteria for the plan will receive a one-time incentive payment equal to half their current base salary in exchange for their voluntary separation from the University by the end of the fiscal year June 30, 2020.

Qualified faculty members also will maintain tuition waiver benefits for themselves and their dependents for four years, have the option to continue University healthcare coverage through the end of the calendar year, and may receive unused vacation and sick leave in accordance with University policies.

To be eligible for the program, faculty members need to have a least three years of service at UToledo or be eligible to retire.

Those interested in voluntarily separating from UToledo need to complete the application by 5 p.m. on June 22. The application and additional information about the voluntary separation incentive plan are available on the Office of the Provost website.

UToledo announced earlier this week salary reduction initiatives that include furloughs, salary reductions and temporary layoffs. The University has already taken a number of cost-saving measures, including implementing a hiring freeze; releasing intermittent call-ins and student workers; canceling most capital projects; and reducing expenditures.

These measures and additional budget cuts being developed are needed because while the full financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet known, to date UToledo has experienced at least a $20.93 million loss due to a reduction of state support, credits for housing and dining fees, lost revenue in auxiliaries without campus events, and decline in revenue from tuition and fees due to expected declines in summer enrollment.

The University is working to address the deficit for the current year as well as the ongoing financial challenges heading into the next budget year with a projected deficit of $36 million.