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Arts and Letters

Professor Emerita to be Honored by French Government

Dr. Ruth A. Hottell will be inducted into the French Republic’s prestigious Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of the French Academic Palms) at the grade of chevalier (knight).

An official ceremony to mark the honor was postponed due to the pandemic, but is expected to be rescheduled.

The French Academic Palms recognize those who have rendered eminent service to French education and have contributed to the prestige of French culture. This esteemed distinction awarded by the Prime Minister of France, upon the recommendation of the Minister of Education, acknowledges educators’ merits, talents and exemplary activities.


“I am so thrilled to receive this award from the French Government; it is significant that the nomination began with the French Consul General to the Midwest. Traveling throughout the region, he has witnessed our dedication to expanding appreciation for French language and culture through our teaching, research and community service,” Hottell, professor emerita of French, said.

Napoleon founded the French Academic Palms in 1808 to honor educators; it is the oldest non-military French decoration. This distinction was initially awarded to outstanding members of the university community and today recognizes the significant contributions of faculty members through their teaching, scholarship and leadership over the course of their careers.

“Dr. Ruth Hottell has dedicated her life to French education and research,” said Dr. Linda M. Rouillard, professor of French and chair of the World Languages and Cultures Department. “She is an expert on French cinema, a topic she has written about and given presentations on for decades.”

Hottell joined the UToledo faculty as an assistant professor in 1988. She was promoted to associate professor in 1994 and professor in 2000. When she retired in 2018, she was designated professor emerita.

During her career, she taught and conducted research in France, and led several study abroad programs to the European country she loves. Hottell’s research focuses on French cinema; she has written numerous articles on Francophone women directors and is working on a book about Agnès Varda’s works. She has co-authored books, including “French-Speaking Women Filmmakers” and “Francophone Women Documentarians.” She continues to coordinate a French film series for the French Program at The University of Toledo and the Alliance Française de Toledo.

Hottell is a member of the American Association of Teachers of French, Society of Cinema and Media Studies, Women in French, Modern Language Association, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

“To accompany my students in their acquisition of French language and cultural competence has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” Hottell said. “I am grateful for the support of my students, colleagues, friends and family as I pursued my passions and goals.”

Toledo Football Player Followed His Heart to Find a Career Path

Like many college students, Bryce Harris arrived on campus as a freshman looking for some guidance.

A scholarship football player, Harris had all the help he needed from the Rocket coaching staff. There was no issue there. But on the academic side, he had no idea what to major in, or beyond that, what he would like to pursue as a career after football. He only knew one thing for sure: He liked working with young people.

Bryce Harris ran with a youngster at Victory Day in 2016.

An introductory career class and some assistance from a UToledo success coach helped send him in the right direction.

The class was Career and Self-Evaluation, taught by DeMya Wimberley, who also became Harris’ success coach. By his sophomore year, Harris had his direction — school counseling.

“DeMya helped me find my academic niche and my career field,” said Harris, the Rockets’ starting center. “My goals in life centered around helping people. I just needed to find a career that would allow me to do that.”

Winberley said Harris possessed all the tools for success before he came to college. He just needed a little nudge.

“I saw right away that Bryce had a maturity about him. He had a focus. He just needed direction,” said Wimberley, who is a program manager for the Center for Success Coaching. “My class helps students learn more about themselves. Sometimes you need to learn a little more about yourself before you can choose a career path.”

Since UToledo does not have an undergraduate major in school counseling, Harris chose psychology as his major with a minor in school counseling. He earned his bachelor’s degree in spring 2019. He then entered the College of Graduate Studies, which does have a school counseling major. He is on course to receive his master’s degree next spring.

While the time commitment of being a student-athlete can pose its challenges, for Harris it has provided an opportunity he might not otherwise have had.

“My home life was very stable growing up, but in reality, I’m not sure I would have even gone to college right out of high school if it wasn’t for football,” said Harris, who attended Firestone High School in Akron. “It would have been a bit tough financially. I probably would have worked for a few years and then maybe pursued it later in life.”

In addition, the circumstances of his athletic career have made it possible for him to finish six years of higher education while on an athletic scholarship. After sitting out his first season as a redshirt in 2015, Harris moved his way into the starting lineup the following season. He became a stalwart on the offensive line, earning second-team All-Mid-American Conference honors as a junior in 2018. However, off-season surgery forced him to sit out the 2019 season, while the Coronavirus pandemic has put the 2020 season on hold. With his athletic career delayed, Harris has forged ahead on his academic journey. A two-time Academic All-MAC honoree, Harris gained the opportunity to earn not one, but two degrees during his playing career as a Rocket.

Bryce Harris posed last year with some students from St. Pius X Catholic School in Toledo.

“Bryce is someone who has always maximized his ability and potential in everything he does, both on and off the field,” said Toledo Head Football Coach Jason Candle. “He’s a mature young man who has really grasped the concept of what it means to be a student-athlete. It takes a special person to be in a position to earn two degrees while playing college football. It says a lot about his parents, too. They have been supporting him through every step of the way.”

Harris said the highlight of his academic experience thus far has been an externship at St. Pius X Catholic School in Toledo. There, he worked with students in a classroom, helping them with their assignments, but also getting to know them as individuals, listening to their problems, and offering guidance. He was required to work 60 hours in the program, but enjoyed it so much he volunteered for an additional 60 hours. He also participated in an after-school program there, spending time with students until their parents or guardians were able to pick them up. For Harris, the experience fit perfectly with his goal to help others. It’s something he does in his spare time as well.

“My parents always taught me that if you’re in a position to help others, do it,” Harris said. “I’ve been doing some type of volunteer work since my freshman year of high school back in Akron. So coming to Toledo and participating in all of the volunteer opportunities they provide for us in the football program has always been a no-brainer for me to sign up. I love working with the youth, or anyone in need. Seeing a smile on someone’s face is all I need to brighten my day.”

Harris’ life away from football is on a pretty clear path right now. He has two more semesters left to finish before he receives his master’s degree in May. He also got married during spring break last March to his high school sweetheart, Janelle Perry, a former track and field star at both Ursuline College and Central Michigan University.

What is somewhat less certain is his future on the gridiron. Like all his teammates, Harris is hopeful that there will be a spring football season so he can wear the Midnight Blue and Gold one last time. There is also more at stake than just school pride for Harris, who is a candidate for the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center and the Outland Trophy as the country’s top down lineman. Another good season also could improve his prospects for a potential NFL career, especially since he has not played football in almost two years.

“I’ve been playing football since I was 8 years old and all that time I’ve dreamed of playing in the NFL,” Harris said. “I worked hard to get an athletic scholarship so I could get my college degree and get a chance to play in the NFL. Hopefully, I can do both.”

Watch Rocket Marching Band’s Virtual Performance in Glass Bowl Sept. 12

In the absence of football on what would’ve been the first home game of the season, The University of Toledo Rocket Marching Band will make its 2020 performance debut virtually from the Glass Bowl with custom-made masks and socially distant field formations.

“Saturday Sounds of the Stadium” will be live-streamed starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 12 on the band’s Facebook page, with more virtual performances to be scheduled throughout fall semester.

Lauren Weinberg plays the mellophone during marching band rehearsal

Lauren Weinberg plays the baritone during rehearsal for the virtual “Saturday Sounds of the Stadium” event.

“Having the opportunity to continue to perform and make music with the Rocket Marching Band is truly a blessing,” Ashley Venrick, a senior at UToledo majoring in music education and one of the drum majors, said. “We were unsure if we would be able to perform at all, and to know it’s actually happening this weekend lifts everyone’s spirits.”

Though the seats in the Glass Bowl will be empty, Rocket Nation can watch from anywhere around the world as the Rocket Marching Band performs music and choreography from its traditional pregame show alongside longtime UToledo standards and Rocket fan favorites.

But the performance will look different as the 175 students follow safety precautions advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“As one of the more visible ambassadors for The University of Toledo, we want to set an example for how we can all ignite our tradition of campus and community pride, while maintaining low-risk operation,” said Tiger Rhodes, associate director of bands, director of athletic bands and associate lecturer of low brass in the UToledo Department of Music. “We have creative and adaptable students and staff who are able to generate unique performance opportunities.”

The band practices exclusively outdoors, rehearses in small groups for 30-minute blocks, and masks the staff, students and instruments.

A member of the marching band plays the sousaphone during rehearsal

The Rocket Marching Band’s first performance of the year will be live-streamed on the band’s Facebook page starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 12.

Instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder, band members are spaced a minimum of 7.5 feet apart — at least four steps.

They wear face masks, including specially crafted masks with a small slit for mouthpiece access that allow students to play wind instruments.

Plus, fitted bell covers are used as “masks” for all wind and brass instruments to prevent the spread of germs.

Rhodes said he worked closely with CLDesigns in Sylvania to create the blue bell covers as well as a mask with a horizontal overlap to allow for a horn to reach the student’s face while also providing the player coverage when the horn is down.

“We are thankful to have the opportunity to continue our tradition of striving for the highest levels of excellence in performance, discipline and academics,” Rhodes said. “And we are most assuredly learning much about the strength of our team in the face of these new challenges.”

UToledo to Honor Holocaust Survivor With Book Release Celebration, Endowed Professorship

The University of Toledo is honoring the life and legacy of the late Philip Markowicz, a Holocaust survivor who was a cherished member of the Toledo Jewish community.

During the virtual event “An Evening in Honor of Philip Markowicz” at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 on Zoom, UToledo and Markowicz’s children will celebrate the release of his book recently published by The University of Toledo Press titled “Losing God in Translation: A Study of the Hebrew Bible” and announce an endowed professorship in Judaism and Jewish Biblical Studies established in his name.

Register for the virtual event at the UToledo College of Arts and Letters website.

Philip Markowicz

“The University of Toledo College of Arts and Letters is grateful for Mr. Markowicz’s many contributions to this community and the generous gift his family has made to establish the Philip Markowicz Endowed Professorship in Judaism and Jewish Biblical Studies,” Charlene Gilbert, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said. “This gift serves as a permanent testament to the scholarship he sought to pursue before his dreams of being a biblical scholar were destroyed by the brutality of the Nazi invasion of Poland.”

Markowicz’s children, Dr. Allen Markowicz and Professor Sylvia Markowicz Neil, together with their spouses Hindea Markowicz and Daniel Fischel, have for the past decade supported a UToledo faculty position in Jewish studies. They and others in the community donated more than $250,000 to fund the new endowed faculty position in Markowicz’s name, and the family will match additional contributions up to $125,000.

“This gift has been fundamental in supporting our efforts to increase our offerings in the study of Judaism and to continue Philip Markowicz’s legacy of scholarship of the Hebrew Bible,” Dr. John Sarnecki, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, said.

The event also will feature a keynote lecture by Dr. Yonatan S. Miller, assistant professor of religious studies and the new Philip Markowicz Endowed Assistant Professor who also prepared and edited Markowicz’s new book.

Markowicz was born in 1924 in Przerab, Poland. The son of a rabbi, Markowicz was known as a Talmud prodigy but his yeshiva education was interrupted by the Nazi invasion of Poland.

He survived the ghetto of Lodz, several concentration camps including Auschwitz, and a death march. Nazis murdered his entire family with the exception of his brother.

After being liberated by the Allies, Markowicz met and married his wife, Ruth, in a Displaced Persons camp and started their family and emigrated to Toledo, where – with no connections or resources – Markowicz trained himself in electronics and created a thriving business.

Philip continued his passion for Torah study and wrote extensively in his retirement. He published an autobiography, “My Three Lives,” in 2010, and completed the manuscript for “Losing God in Translation” shortly before he died in 2017.

The publication of his new book inaugurates a new series from The University of Toledo Press with the imprint of the University’s Center for Religious Understanding.

Greek Life Provides Opportunities to Raise Awareness for Political Science Student

Ala’a Kayed had a plan.

Born and raised in Toledo, UToledo first attracted her interest with its diverse programs, particularly in political science.

“There were people in that program who were passionate about political science and knew what they were doing,” she said.

Hooked, she enrolled as a political science major and made plans to eventually pursue the field all the way through grad school. But a Federal Work-Study opportunity changed those plans. Kayed ended up working at the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, which opened a door to something she’d not considered before: Greek life.


“A lot of people just have different ideas of what Greek life is, and being a student of color and a woman of color, that really wasn’t an idea for me,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got to see a better glimpse of what it was about and what the students of the Multicultural Greek Council were able to do, I began to think ‘Maybe going Greek really is for me.’”

Kayed did go Greek, joining Alpha Psi Lambda National Inc. and the Multicultural Greek Council. She became the president of the council in December and has big plans for the organization heading into the fall 2020 semester. Specifically, she’d like to expand the Multicultural Greek Council’s scope, adding new representation wherever possible.

“Even though we’re under a multicultural title, we, up until this last year, strictly represented organizations that were Latinx or multicultural but with Latinx backgrounds,” she said. “It wasn’t until this past semester that we chartered a Muslim-interest sorority. So we’re really looking to expand our offerings to encompass those cultures as well.”

In addition, Kayed wants to continue the campus conversation surrounding social justice in the United States, a topic that’s come increasingly into the national focus during the summer.

“Especially with the unjust murder of George Floyd and many other innocent Black people, we want to continue to raise awareness around the issues that arise in those communities,” she said. “We want to help our students and show them how to unlearn their subconsciously ingrained ways while relearning new anti-racist approaches.”

Helping students — especially students who may not have a clear idea about what path they’d like to pursue at UToledo — is the crux of Kayed’s college experience, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed among campus leadership.

“Ala’a is a role model for other students who may not necessarily understand the whole college experience when coming into school,” said Alex Zernechel, UToledo’s assistant director of Greek life. “She regularly speaks out against injustice and unfair practices occurring. She is always quick to support her fellow students to achieve their goals. She advances what it means to be a Rocket every single day that she is on campus.”

The drive to help others is natural for Kayed, who added an Africana studies major to her original political science plan. After she graduates, she’ll go on to grad school, ultimately hoping to land a position where she’ll have the opportunity to work with college students, hoping to help others recognize that small opportunities can grow into big things.

“The most important thing to realize is that it just takes that first step and first grain of effort. For me, it just took that one little push.”

Women & Philanthropy Awards Grant for Art Studio

Women & Philanthropy, a volunteer organization that promotes The University of Toledo through grants to UToledo, has given its 2020 grant in the amount of $65,000 to Barbara Miner, professor and chair of the Art Department.

The grant will assist in the creation of the University’s Axon Lab/Studio, which will be the first dedicated digital design and fabrication studio on campus.

The new lab/studio space will build on collaborations across multiple academic disciplines and colleges, and will provide new opportunities for collaboration in STEMM fields and in new curricula development, according to Miner. It will serve as an innovative learning hub where technology, creativity and interdisciplinary practices converge, as students are provided with resources that meet the newest industry standards in relation to software and hardware, and community partnerships are enhanced with new tools and resources.

“The creation of this lab space is pivotal to bringing together traditional skills and contemporary practices in order to prepare our students for the meteoric pace of job/life changes globally. We are so very grateful for this support from Women & Philanthropy,” Miner said.

With this grant, Women & Philanthropy has given a total of 21 grants totaling $623,687 to The University of Toledo over the past 10 years.

“Our mission is to support the University while building relationships among a community of generous, forward-thinking women,” Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy, said. “Through this grant, we are excited to provide students with state-of-the art technologies as they prepare for contemporary careers or admission to graduate studies.”

Women & Philanthropy at The University of Toledo was chartered in 2006 and made its first award to UToledo in 2008. Through this giving circle, members of diverse backgrounds and interests work collaboratively to make positive, meaningful and immediate impacts at the University.

Applications and guidelines for 2021 grants will be available in late fall.

For more information, go to the Women & Philanthropy website.

UToledo History Faculty Member to Give Talk Celebrating Suffrage Centennial

Dr. Chelsea Griffis, associate lecturer in The University of Toledo Department of History, will give an online talk, “Votes for Women,” Tuesday, Aug. 25.

Presented by the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, the Zoom talk will take place at 6 p.m.


“We need to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment,” Griffis said. “It was not a perfect victory, as we know women of color were still denied their legal right to vote. The 19th Amendment, women’s direct connection to political power, changed our nation forever.”

Her talk will focus on the amendment that prohibits states and federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex. The amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920, and officially adopted eight days later.

Register for the event on the library website.

Griffis received a master of arts degree and doctorate in history, and a graduate certificate in women and gender studies, from The University of Toledo.

She is working on a book titled “The Heart of the Battle Is Within: Women of the Political Right and the Equal Rights Amendment,” which examines conservative women’s divergent stances on the ERA based on how they conceptualized their own womanhood.

Dialogue on Diversity to Address Intersection of LGBTQIA+, Black Lives Matter

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation on the complexity of identities, what that means for agendas of justice movements, and how they can be effective allies for each other.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “ALL Black Lives Matter: An LGBTQIA+ Dialogue” will take place Thursday, Aug. 20, at 5:30 p.m. and can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 160 849 0975. The meeting password is DoD6. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

The discussion will be moderated by Sheena Barnes, executive director of Equality Toledo, with participants:

• Dr. Sharon Barnes, associate professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Women’s and Gender Studies;

• Veralucia Mendoza, regional field manager at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio;

• LaVelle Ridley, a 2016 UToledo alumnus who is a Ph.D. candidate in women’s studies at the University of Michigan; and

• Dr. Michele Soliz, UToledo associate vice president for student success and inclusion.

“To assert that ALL Black lives matter is a way to highlight the diversity inside African-American communities and advocate for the liberation of all: queer, female, immigrant, transgender, non-Christian or having a disability,” Barnes said. “For me, it means working always for a deeper and broader understanding of multiple and intersecting sites of oppression, especially the ingrained and difficult to upend white supremacy in our culture. I believe supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is a way to support ending all oppression, with a necessary emphasis on racial oppression.”

UToledo Student to Study in Spain as Recipient of National Scholarship

Ever since she was a middle schooler participating in state writing competitions, Terri Draper knew that language would play an important role in her life.

Now she will have the chance to travel abroad for the first time and immerse herself in the language and culture of Spain as a 2020 recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship.


Named in honor of late New York congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, the scholarship provides students the opportunity to study abroad and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Since its inception in 2001, more than 31,000 students have received the Gilman scholarship to study in 151 countries.

“Without this scholarship, this experience wouldn’t be possible,” said Draper, who is pursuing both a UToledo bachelor of education degree specializing in adolescent and young adult education, as well as a bachelor of arts degree in English. “I would have to work for years to afford it, all without the education, programs and support I’m receiving at UToledo.”

Draper expects to receive her teaching degree next year, followed by her English degree in 2022. After receiving her diplomas, she envisions herself teaching high school English and writing in an urban, public school setting, where she can use her study abroad experience to bring unique perspectives to the classroom.

The Toledo native attended high school at Toledo School for the Arts (TSA), where she became acquainted with UToledo from a very early stage. TSA focuses on providing its students a college-preparatory academic curriculum and an intense visual and performing arts environment. As an eighth-grader, she was able to explore the UToledo campus and meet students and faculty.

Originally, Draper was scheduled to study abroad in summer 2020. However, due to travel restrictions and other complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, her trip is now planned for summer 2021. She will study at Universidad de Granada in Grenada, Spain, and will live with a local family for the entire four to six weeks.

“I knew from the moment I met Terri that she was a very determined individual with a lot to offer the world,” said Chessica Oetjens, program coordinator in UToledo’s Office of Competitive Fellowships. “We are very proud of her accomplishment and hope we can encourage more UToledo students to apply in the future.”

Draper suggests she was successful in being awarded the scholarship because she took an unconventional approach in her application — focusing on what she will do here at home, rather than during her travels.

“I want to bring Spanish language and literature to classes I teach in the future, so my students are exposed to other cultures and perspectives,” Draper said. “I remember learning so much about American and white European literature in school. I think it would be better for students to hear about Latin American, African and other cultures earlier in their education.”

UToledo Student Awarded International Research Grant to Study Black Urban Agricultural Experience

Brittany D. Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in The University of Toledo Spatially Integrated Social Science Doctoral Program in the College of Arts and Letters, is one of four winners of a 2020 MAXQDA Research for Change Grant from VERBI Software and the Global Nature Fund.

Her research project is titled “Empowerment Through Consumption: Land Banks, Land Ownership and Black Food Geographies.” Her co-advisors are Dr. Neil Reid and Dr. Sujata Shetty, professors in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning.


Jones will explore the urban agricultural experience and Black foodways in Toledo and Dayton, two Ohio cities that saw a large influx of African Americans during the Great Migration. They are also legacy cities, meaning they lost a significant amount of population and economic viability after the decline of manufacturing in the region. She plans to look at land use and barriers to urban agriculture in these cities and how it impacts African American communities.

In recognizing Jones as a grant recipient, VERBI noted, “We were greatly impacted by Mrs. Jones’ story and how her life history has inspired her to pursue food system and sovereignty studies. With her project, she aims to uncover racialized hypocrisies embedded within both the local and global food system, which is now as relevant as ever. Mrs. Jones is a first-generation Ph.D. student in her family, and we are glad to be able to support her.”

Jones said in her master’s program, she began to fully understand the nutritional problems of the world she grew up in were rooted in systemic causes. In applying for the grant, Jones said she hopes her work will not only suggest solutions, but improve research methodology.

“Research for change means more than just finding solutions to a complex problem, [it] embodies the [grassroots] efforts of providing resources and realistic methods that can be easily replicated and adapted, all the while acknowledging cultural differences/expectations, which is crucial to long-term change,” Jones said.

Dr. Beth Schlemper, associate professor in the UToledo Department of Geography and Planning, said she believes Jones’ doctoral course work helped her win the grant.

“It makes me happy because I taught the Ph.D. students, who took advanced qualitative methods for spatially integrated social science students, how to use MAXQDA [research software], and she was inspired to use the software in her research methods and apply for this grant.”

Jones agreed: “The skills I acquired through my degree program have allowed me to confidently apply for opportunities best fit for my research. It has taught me that, as a doctorate student, you are the CEO of your degree and must stand in your truth as a contributor to universal knowledge, especially as a scholar of color.”

The $1,600 grant includes a two-year student subscription to MAXQDA Analytics Pro software, two online trainings with certified MAXQDA trainers, a registration waiver to the MAXQDA International Conference in Berlin, and full tech support. In addition, Jones’ research will receive international exposure through MAXQDA promotions.

“This software is highly used to fully integrate qualitative data analysis into your research and is especially popular with mixed methods researchers,” said Jones, who is a graduate research assistant in the University’s Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and president of the UToledo Graduate Student Association.

Read more about Jones’ research project on the MAXQDA website.