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Dialogue on Diversity to Address Role of Black Women in Movements Toward Equity

The University of Toledo is continuing its Dialogues on Diversity series with a conversation on the role of Black women and non-Black allies in movements toward equity in the U.S.

The next virtual town hall in the series titled “Sister Circle: Resistance and Resilience, Then and Now” will take place Thursday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. and can be accessed on WebEx using the access code 160 061 5758. The meeting password is DoD:5Sister. Join by phone at 415.655.0002.

The discussion to be moderated by Malaika Bell, program manager in the UToledo Office of Diversity and Inclusion, is an invitation for the public to join a meeting of the Sister Circle, a group of diverse women from both Main Campus and Health Science Campus who have been meeting weekly for the past several months to promote positivity.

“During our next meeting of the Sister Circle, we invite the community to participate in a conversation about the role that Black women have played in movements toward equity in our nation, how we can truly practice radical self-care, and what we want from our non-Black allies,” Bell said.

Participants will be:

• Charlene Gilbert, dean of the UToledo College of Arts and Letters;

• Dr. Monica Holiday-Goodman, associate dean for Health Science Campus Student Affairs and Diversity, and UToledo professor of pharmacy practice; and

• Tinola Mayfield-Guerrero, immersed vocational rehabilitation counselor in partnership with UToledo.

This is the fifth in a series of recent virtual Dialogues on Diversity in the more than two months since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis when a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking protests against systemic racism across the country.

Staff Members’ Poetry in Spotlight in Local Contest

Home is where the art is — in this case, poetry. Three UToledo employees were honored in the Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Paying tribute to where you live is the goal of the contest, which is open to area residents who submit poems inspired by their ZIP codes — the number of words in each line determined by the corresponding digit in the postal reference tool.

Works by Amal Abdullah, coordinator of doctor of pharmacy admissions in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Charlene Gary, secretary in the World Languages and Cultures Department, and George Hayes Jr., electrician journeyman, were among those selected this year.

43623
By Amal Abdullah

big-box retail stores
restaurants and plazas
the intersection of neighborhoods and consumerism
birds perched
on cable wires

“I consider poetry to be a medium for creative expression that encourages one to reflect on the nuances and the ordinary through engagement with the written word,” Abdullah said. “The poetry contest provided a unique opportunity to write and share a succinct reflection on the space that constitutes my ZIP code. I have an affinity for writing, so it is an honor for my poem to be recognized.”

43616
By Charlene Gary

come time for harvest
loud lumbering combines
growl and grumble and wake the
humans
reminding us we are of earth

“We are kind of rural here in Oregon; there are a lot of farms. What really struck me when I first moved here is at harvest time, I would see these huge rolling machines just driving down the road like this is an everyday thing; it was surreal. The magnificent size of these machines, and the noises that they make driving by, was really striking,” Gary said.

“Poetry is succinct and efficient. When talking, I tend to be too wordy, so writing poetry forces me to use different words, $2 words, in the smallest way possible in order to express what I’m thinking,” she said. “It’s really a challenge, but I like challenges.”

43607
By George Hayes Jr.

Four twenty, birds singing
Gunshot sounds too
Life in the hood not good
0
Mayor says change is going to come

“Toledo is like two cities, the inner city and the rest of Toledo. It’s always been that way in my adult life here,” Hayes said. “This poem is just some of the many things that happen in the hood, daily sometimes, but weekly all of the time.”

He added, “I love poetry because it’s from the heart, sometimes life experiences, sometimes words to encourage others in a time of need. I love performing spoken word as well, kind of like poetry, but on steroids if it’s done with passion and heart.”

See all of the poems selected in the adult category of Toledo City Paper’s Ode to the ZIP code 2020 contest.

Dr. Jim Ferris, UToledo professor and the Ability Center Endowed Chair in Disability Studies, was one of the judges for this year’s contest. He is a former Lucas County poet laureate.

“The Ode to the Zip code is a great way to encourage us all to think creatively about where we live,” Ferris said. “It is particularly important in these unprecedented times to use the imagination to stay grounded and keep connected to our neighbors and our community.”

UToledo Faculty Athletics Representative Named

Dr. Sharon L. Gaber, president of The University of Toledo, has named Dr. Dana Hollie to serve in the position of Faculty Athletics Representative.

The Faculty Athletics Representative serves as an essential liaison between the University’s president, its athletic department, the Mid-American Conference and the NCAA. Hollie replaces Dr. Mary Powers, professor of pharmacy practice, who concluded her term as Faculty Athletics Representative after serving in that role for the past five years.

Hollie

“Dr. Hollie’s academic background, integrity and knowledge of the University make her an ideal choice to serve as our Faculty Athletics Representative. The University will be well-served by her leadership in collaboration with Athletic Director Mike O’Brien, coaches, academic advisers and student-athletes,” Gaber said. “I’d also like to recognize Dr. Powers for her service in this role and the impact she has had on the University as an alumna and dedicated faculty member.”

Hollie is an associate professor of accounting in the College of Business and Innovation, and holds the Alan H. and Karen A. Barry Endowed Professor of Accounting Chair in the college. Hollie earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and later earned a master of business administration from George Mason, a master of science in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in accounting from Washington University. She served as a visiting academic scholar with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the 2019-20 academic year.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve as the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative for The University of Toledo,” Hollie said. “UToledo has very talented student-athletes and coaches, and serving as the Faculty Athletics Representative provides me an opportunity to be even more engaged with students’ athletic and academic successes.”

UToledo student-athletes have an impressive history of academic accomplishment. The Rockets have earned a collective semester GPA of 3.3 or higher in each of the past three semesters, including a record 3.527 GPA this past spring. Toledo also has been the recipient of the Mid-American Conference Institutional Academic Achievement Award in six of the past nine years. That award is presented annually to the conference institution that achieves the highest overall institutional GPA for student-athletes for the academic year.

“The academic success our student-athletes have earned demonstrates our commitment to ensuring their excellence in the classroom,” O’Brien said. “The Faculty Athletics Representative is an important part of maintaining that culture, and Dana’s experience and leadership will only make our team stronger. I would also like to personally thank Mary Powers for her outstanding service and commitment to our athletic program and our student-athletes these past five years.”

UToledo Unites in Solidarity to Identify Solutions to Address Systemic Racial Injustice

The University of Toledo’s campus community united in solidarity and support Thursday evening for those affected by the killing of George Floyd.

The first Dialogues on Diversity Virtual Town Hall brought together University leadership, faculty, staff, students and the public to reflect on their experiences, identify solutions to address systemic racial injustice, and highlight campus and community resources to aid in coping with trauma.

“I am so pleased with the dynamic, meaningful ideas that resulted from our successful discussion,” Dr. Willie McKether, vice president for diversity and inclusion, said. “I appreciate the passion and motivation of our Rocket family and the support we have for each other. This is the beginning of a series of respectful, painful conversations in the coming weeks, including when the semester starts.”

More than 350 people attended the event that featured panelists:

• UToledo Police Chief Jeff Newton;

• Benjamin Davis, UToledo law professor;

• Dr. Monita Mungo, UToledo assistant professor of sociology;

• Dr. La Tasha Sullivan, director of the University Counseling Center;

• Nyah Kidd, president of the Black Student Union;

• Darren Gordon, former president of the UToledo chapter of the Student National Medical Association;

• Giselle Zelaya, president of the Latino Student Union;

• Nick Thompson, president of Student Government;

• Anjali Phadke, vice president of Student Government; and

• Asher Sovereign with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

Members of the campus community shared personal experiences and the great sadness and fear sparked by watching the video of George Floyd’s death.

“As a teen growing up in Mississippi, my parents would consistently remind my siblings and me when we would leave the house for fun or to hang out with our family and friends, ‘Remember we love you, but you must come home at night,’” Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, vice president for student affairs and vice provost, said. “As I got older and started to experience racism, discrimination and prejudice firsthand, I began to understand the meaning of those powerful 11 words. In essence, my parents were saying, ‘Always obey the law and follow their instructions and rules. Do as you are told. Don’t argue.’ These past two weeks have been the most difficult weeks in my life. When will this behavior stop? Am I next? I’m at a loss for words.”

“As I reflect on the events of the last few weeks and our community discussion last evening, I am inspired by our students, faculty, staff and alumni for their commitment, perseverance and passion to change the world,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “Yet I grieve the recent senseless deaths of George Floyd and Breona Taylor. As a human and a mother, I cannot fathom the pain and anguish that their families are experiencing. Racial injustice, police brutality and disparate treatment have painfully existed for longer than all of us have been alive. As a campus community, we have made great strides to create a more open and inclusive community, working together to develop and implement UToledo’s first diversity plan. And yet it isn’t nearly enough. Now is the time to end this in our community, our country and in the world. I challenge each and every one of you to ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’”

Panelists brought forward ideas and solutions to elevate our community, such as training students in nonviolence and conflict transformation to teach them how to respond to what they will face while protesting by utilizing faculty expertise in the Peace Education Program, which is part of the Judith Herb College of Education.

“I am proud of the strength and courage of our students as they engage in deep, thoughtful, critical discussions and examine the ways we can change our society for the better,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “It is our solemn responsibility and our honor to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to lead that change into the future.”

Leaders from across the University have expressed their commitment to embracing the critical role higher education can and must play in facilitating open and honest discussions that empower us as a community and a nation to translate our ideals into actionable change.

• Dr. Heidi Appel, dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College: “We believe in the power of higher education to address major societal problems like this injustice. We hope that by challenging our students to think deeply about the world they live in and to take actions that support greater diversity, equity and inclusion, we are helping to build a better world.”

• Dr. Anne Balazs, dean of the College of Business and Innovation: “It is with great sadness that we bear witness to the events of the past week, with the untimely and violent death of George Floyd and the continuing expressions of hatred and prejudice. As members of a scholarly community, one which is dedicated to education and improving our shared quality of life, it is unacceptable to idly stand by and allow racism in all its many forms to persist.”

• Benjamin Barros, dean of the College of Law: “The past week’s events have shown the realities of the work we must do as a nation to ensure that our justice system protects and serves all people. Our mission at the law school is intrinsically tied to the mission of equal access to justice. We are uniquely positioned to empower future generations of lawyers to evaluate our country’s legal systems, engage in thoughtful discourse, and address inequality. The change we need to see as a nation begins with each of us doing our part to create a diverse, supportive and inclusive community.”

• Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, dean of the College of Graduate Studies: “Life is heavy for all of us today. It has been that way for some of us for many, many days. First, a global pandemic and now violence and division dominate our news cycle. I am sad, I am afraid, and I am hopeful. I am sorry for your loss, I am sorry for your fear, I am sorry for your anger, I am sorry for the lack of justice, I am sorry there is no cure, and I am sorry that I am sorry. You are valued, and we hear you. We are here for you today and every day.”

• Beau Case, dean of University Libraries: “The University Libraries believe that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are not merely ideals — they are core values which we display daily in our work. Our campus doors are open to all. Our services are free of bias. We offer safe spaces for exploration, discovery, lifelong learning and wonder.”

• Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences: “From all appearances, he was neither protected with courage nor served with compassion. Now ‘I can’t breathe’ has become the rallying cry of protests locally and nationally, peaceful and violent. Lurking beneath this are the concerns and outrage of ongoing racism, systemic racism, institutional violence and failed inclusion. If we want to improve the world, we better start close to home with our region, our community and, most importantly, with ourselves.”

• Charlene Gilbert, dean of the College of Arts and Letters: “The peaceful protests occurring in many of our major cities and towns not only reflect the anger over the death of Mr. Floyd, but also represent years of frustration with the injustice and unequal treatment experienced by African Americans and people of color in communities all across this nation. The College of Arts and Letters is a community where we value and celebrate not only critical inquiry, but also thoughtful action. We want to thank every student, faculty member, staff person and alumnus who has participated in some form of action to add your voice to the many calling for justice.”

• Dr. John Laux, associate dean of student affairs in the College of Health and Human Services: “George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police officers is the latest example of violence perpetrated against African Americans. We honor George Floyd’s life, and those who were murdered or assaulted previously by focusing our attention on our society’s history of and ongoing racism and systemic social injustice by working collectively to be agents of change. The College of Health and Human Services trains students for careers in social service, health sciences and criminal justice, including police civil service. We recognize that we are a product of our society. The status quo is not acceptable. And, as such, we have work to do to root out and put an end to individual and institutional racism. We are committed to do the work necessary to be a part of the solution.”

• Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the College of Nursing: “We know that long-term discrimination has negative effects on physical and mental health and that violence, discrimination and racism directly impact social determinants of health and result in health disparities and inequities. Given the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our African-American communities, the health impact of continued disparities is even more profound. As healthcare professionals, we are in a unique position to address the health and the social justice issues that are so pressing in our nation at this time. Change begins with each one of us and is reflected in how we treat each other on a daily basis.”

• Mike O’Brien, vice president and athletic director: “Last night’s dialogue was excellent as it was very informative and insightful. We must stand together and be committed for equity, diversity and the fight against racial injustice.”

• Dr. John Plenefisch, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics: “The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics must translate the powerful words and feelings expressed by those protesting systemic racism into sustained action that makes a concrete difference in our community, including through our work and actions here in our college. As scientists and mathematicians, we can take action against racism, bigotry and prejudice in many ways, including choosing to focus our research on issues that disproportionally impact marginalized communities or groups, and deliberately supporting the careers and training of people of color as future generations of scientists and mathematicians.”

• Dr. Gary Pollack, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: “Our obligation to our fellow human beings is not diminished by the color of their skin, or by how they express their spirituality, or by their country of origin, or by whom they happen to love. Those characteristics, which some voices emphasize in an attempt to divide us, are infinitesimal compared to the many things that make us what we are: the human family.”

• Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the College of Engineering: “I found each of the speakers and the entire event to be compelling and inspiring. It is critical that we have administrators, faculty and student leaders on campus who are speaking out to support the protests against racial injustice in our nation. Eliminating institutionalized racism, white privilege and racist violence will take many voices and much work.”

• Dr. Raymond Witte, dean of the Judith Herb College of Education: “We all want to feel safe when in the presence of the police. This will require time and honest dialogue because many, including myself now, don’t feel safe. I am now faced with the reality that police may not act impartially and without bias. To be honest, most of us are biased in some way. However, the decisions police make can have life and death outcomes.”

The next Dialogues on Diversity Virtual Roundtable is scheduled Thursday, June 25, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Access and panelist participation information will be released prior to the event, which is titled “The Death of George Floyd: Race and Anti-Blackness in America.”

UToledo Doctor of Pharmacy Grads Best in Country on Law Exam

The University of Toledo was the only accredited pharmacy program in the country whose 2019 graduates achieved a 100% passage rate on their in-state pharmacy law exam.

UToledo’s 2019 PharmD graduates also had the highest pass rate among the seven accredited pharmacy programs in Ohio on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination.

The results were announced this spring.

“We are extremely proud of our graduates,” said Dr. Laurie Mauro, associate dean of academic affairs for UToledo’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Both of these exams were made significantly more challenging in recent years. Our students’ success speaks to their preparedness to practice pharmacy and the excellent instruction they’re getting at UToledo.”

The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) tests students’ knowledge of federal and state laws. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) measures a student’s knowledge of pharmacy practice. Both must be passed before a graduate can begin working as a licensed pharmacist.

UToledo’s first-attempt pass rate on the NAPLX was 95.7%, which not only was best in the state, but 23rd in the country out of 133 accredited programs.

All 76 doctor of pharmacy practice graduates passed the MPJE on their first attempt. The next best program on the MPJE recorded a 97.4% pass rate.

Mauro credited Dr. Anthony Pattin, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, for preparing students for the law exam. Though it’s only a small part of their curriculum, students need to effectively know the entire Ohio pharmacy law book.

“It’s a one-credit-hour course,” Pattin said of the Pharmacy Jurisprudence and Ethics class. “There’s no way I can teach them all the laws, so what’s really important for me is that they get used to reading the law. We cover the really important things, but some of the small nuances they may have to learn on their own. I structure the class in a way to give them practice in doing that. It gives them confidence that they can read this stuff, and as they progress, they get better.”

Further evidence of the strength of the UToledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ programs recently came from U.S. News & World Report, which ranked the college’s pharmacy graduate program at No. 57 in the county in the 2021 Best Graduate Schools list, up three spots from the prior year.

University Honors Faculty, Staff for Advising, Research, Teaching, Mentoring, Outreach

UToledo has announced outstanding advisors, researchers and teachers, and recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement for the 2019-20 academic year.

In addition, the inaugural Faculty Mentoring Award has been presented.

“It is important to recognize these dedicated and deserving award recipients, even though we were not able to hold an official ceremony this semester,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “These faculty members and advisors exemplify the excellence everyone at The University of Toledo strives for every day.”

A ceremony to celebrate recipients is scheduled to take place during fall semester.

Recipients of the Outstanding Advisor Award are:

Dr. Lorie D. Gottwald, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Dermatology in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She received her doctor of medicine degree from the former Medical College of Ohio in 1990. Gottwald joined the MCO faculty in 1998.

“It is obvious to anyone who has spent time around Dr. Gottwald how much time and effort she puts toward cultivating success for her mentees,” one nominator wrote. “When one of her students is successful or reaches a goal, she shares that joy with him or her. She is very invested in her mentees.” Another noted, “Dr. Gottwald develops great relationships with her students, especially those interested in dermatology. She is friendly, positive, and always encourages students to pursue their dreams.” Another wrote, “She has frank conversations about strengths and weaknesses, and she is helpful in finding research opportunities.”

Matt Reising, academic advisor for interdisciplinary and special programs, and instructor in University College. He started advising UToledo students in 2016.

“Matt educates and empowers students by listening to them and understanding what their future goals are,” a nominator wrote. “He has a nurturing personality, substantial knowledge about academic pathways, and an overall love for helping students reach their goals.” Another wrote, “Matt creates an environment in which students feel comfortable sharing their goals, fears and concerns. He is a good listener and offers positivity, hope and vision for each of his students.” Another wrote, “I’d be lost without his knowledge and guidance of everything UToledo. I’ve bombarded him with countless emails and calls, and he shows me the way time and time again. Thanks for everything.”

Recipients of the Outstanding Research and Scholarship Award are:

Dr. A. Champa Jayasuriya, professor of orthopaedic research in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. She joined the faculty in 2004 and also holds an adjunct faculty position with the Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.

Her work focuses on injectable bone graft devices to regenerate and repair damaged human bone tissues. She is investigating biocompatible, biodegradable and injectable biomaterials that can be applied for bone regeneration via an arthroscopically administered, minimally invasive procedure. Jayasuriya’s recent research uses a 3D printer to create viable multifunctional bone grafts to regenerate damaged or lost bone tissues. In addition to bone regeneration studies, Jayasuriya’s lab is working on the delivery of drugs, antibiotics, growth factors and cells. She has received $4.6 million for her research and has authored more than 70 peer-reviewed articles, which have approximately 1,750 citations.

Dr. Sridhar Viamajala, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering. He has been at UToledo since 2009.

Viamajala’s research concentrates on sustainable energy production and green engineering. He is working to find a faster, cleaner process to produce fuel using algae without needing to add concentrated carbon dioxide. Viamajala has received nearly $12.1 million in awards for his pioneering work in the areas of algae cultivation, harvesting and conversion. His creative, innovative engineering solutions are aiming for commercial implementation to replace fossil fuels with algal fuels. He has established collaborations with researchers at UToledo, Montana State University and Arizona State University. Viamajala has written more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and technical reports, presented his work at more than 110 conferences, and received 11 patents with colleagues.

Recipients of the Edith Rathbun Award for Outreach and Engagement are:

Dr. G. Glenn Lipscomb, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering. He joined the faculty in 1994.

Lipscomb has led efforts to engage students in chemical and environmental engineering in projects to provide clean water to communities in need. In 2015, he arranged a partnership between the University and Clean Water for the World, a nonprofit organization, for UToledo students to have a multi-year experiential learning project. Students in the chemical and environmental engineering programs produce and install units that deliver up to 300 gallons per hour of clean water — enough water for a community of up to 600 people. These water treatment systems greatly reduce water-borne diseases. Students also raise funds to travel to villages to install the systems. Thanks to Lipscomb, UToledo students have provided clean water to communities in Guatemala and El Salvador.

Dr. Matt Foss, assistant professor of theatre in the College of Arts and Letters. He began teaching and directing at the University in 2017.

Since coming to UToledo, Foss has found opportunities to be involved in the community — and included his students. He has worked with the Toledo Museum of Art on two projects, “Portraits of Toledo” and “The Art of the Cut.” After “Portraits,” the museum requested his assistance with “The Art of the Cut,” an initiative with ProMedica that raised awareness of the role barbershops play in the health and wellness of African-American men. Foss involved students to help stage manage the event, which proved a success in 2018 and was repeated this year. He and students also created puppets of endangered area wildlife and held eco-parades to raise awareness during the Momentum Festival.

Recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award are:

Dr. Gabriella Baki, assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program for undergraduates in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She came to the University in 2012.

“I am so lucky to have the opportunity of knowing such an amazing faculty member. Dr. Baki assists us with finding good internship sites and great job opportunities, and she encourages us to attend conferences to become the best version of ourselves,” one nominator wrote. Another noted, “I love that she always welcomes students to her office. Students can come for help, for questions, for guidance, or even candies she keeps stocked. She will always make sure she has time for students.” “Dr. Baki is friendly but respected, challenging but helpful. She encourages her students to work hard and put themselves out there,” another wrote.

Dr. David Gajewski, associate lecturer of mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The UToledo alumnus received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University, where he started to teach in 2009.

“Dr. Gajewski was my favorite calculus teacher in college,” one nominator wrote. “Not only does he have a real passion for the math he teaches, he also really cares about the students in his class. A lot of teachers are intimidating and hard to approach, but with Dr. Gajewski, it is easy to make jokes and be friendly while still respecting the fact he is a professor.” “He explained things so logically that I found I no longer thought of calculus as some alien language. Instead, it made complete sense. I actually started looking forward to class,” another wrote. Another noted, “He even met students who couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving for dinner.”

Dr. David Jex, professor of music in the College of Arts and Letters. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University in 1973 and joined the UToledo faculty in 1983.

“Dr. Jex is extremely warm and inviting. The first time you meet him, it feels like reconnecting with an old friend,” a nominator wrote. “When sitting in class, I can’t help but admire his creative styles in keeping the class engaged and active with each lesson. He is a leader in the Music Department and has gone unnoticed for far too long. It is because of him and his encouragement that I feel like I’m going to be successful in the future.” “As an accomplished composer, Dr. Jex has always been a champion of the creation of new music,” another wrote. “Dr. Jex is well-liked and well-respected by music students and faculty.”

Teresa Keefe, Distinguished University Lecturer of Information Operations and Technology Management in the College of Business and Innovation. She received a B.B.A. and a M.B.A. from the University in 1987 and 1990, respectively, and began teaching at her alma mater in 2001.

“She teaches each concept with the utmost patience and loves to solve problems for each student. I love that she has a lot of knowledge about whatever she teaches and loves to joke around in class,” a nominator wrote. “She teaches with the best material, which is very simple to understand.” Another wrote, “She is an exceptional lecturer; all of the handouts and learning materials were custom-made by her for the specific class and concepts being taught. I learned and retained more information than in any other class that I can recall because the presentation made it a joy, and I always looked forward to class.”

Dr. Kristi Mock, associate lecturer of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She began teaching at UToledo in 2011.

“Despite only having Dr. Mock as an instructor for one semester, her kindness and helpfulness made a huge impact on me,” one nominator wrote. “Something I found incredibly helpful was the amount of resources she provided. Every class, she would come in with a new opportunity — shadowing doctors, scribing jobs, volunteer and internship opportunities — for those of us who desired a job in chemistry.” “Dr. Mock is an incredibly enthusiastic teacher. She is incredibly knowledgeable and describes subjects in many ways so students can better understand. She is very passionate and grounded when she is teaching. She is very approachable and is always there for her students,” another wrote. Another noted, “Moving forward, we all really miss her lectures and her personality.”

Dr. Ozcan Sezer, associate professor of finance in the College of Business and Innovation. He joined the faculty in 2002.

“I am in the Student Managed Portfolio class taught by Dr. Sezer. It has been the most useful class I have taken,” one nominator wrote. “We receive a huge amount of investment knowledge, as well as learning how to work together toward one main goal. This class is a great simulation of the workplace. It is not a regular class; it is real money, which puts a lot of responsibilities on students, but Dr. Sezer set up the class as an amazing learning experience.” Another wrote, “Dr. Sezer is very laid-back, open-minded and friendly, which makes it very easy to communicate with him. And at the same time, you are feeling respected and appreciated for your effort.”

The recipient of the inaugural Faculty Mentoring Award is:

Dr. Maria Coleman, professor and chair of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering, and associate director of the Polymer Institute. She joined the University in 1998.

“I have worked with Dr. Maria Coleman since 2003. She began serving as my mentor when I arrived on campus and began my tenure-track position. We also have collaborated on research and co-mentored many women in engineering,” a nominator wrote. “She is an approachable, nonjudgmental and thoughtful mentor. She has always been more than willing to help, intervene on behalf of, and to advocate for her mentees. Dr. Coleman has been a longstanding and excellent mentor to several current and former women in the UToledo College of Engineering.”

Distinguished University Lecturers Recognized

The University of Toledo recently recognized three instructors with the distinction of Distinguished University Lecturer.

The Board of Trustees approved the honor at its April 13 meeting honoring the individuals for advancing student learning, supporting student success, and demonstrating a commitment to the University’s educational mission.

The newest Distinguished University Lecturers are:

•  Katharine Fisher, senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics;

•  Dr. Jeanne M. Kusina, associate lecturer in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Letters; and

• Dr. Caren Steinmiller, associate lecturer in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“We’re proud to recognize these individuals with the highest honor our University can bestow upon a lecturer,” said Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “These dedicated educators have earned this recognition because of their passion for teaching and making an impact on their students.”

Katharine Fisher

Fisher

Fisher joined UToledo in 2004. Throughout her career, she has served as a mentor and supervisor for teachers and course coordinators. She co-authored the textbook, “Interactive Applied Calculus,” published by Pearson and has served as one of the program coordinators for summer math camp. Fisher received the College of Natural Science and Mathematics Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016. Her consistently positive teaching evaluations from students note innovative ways for making difficult topics easy to understand.

“I’ve always loved teaching, and it’s a pleasure to be part of a large team of faculty in my department, where we have the incredible opportunity to impact nearly every student who comes to The University of Toledo,” Fisher said. “Many students arrive on campus terrified of math class, doubting their abilities, and questioning the relevance of math to their lives and careers. It’s extremely rewarding to see them develop critical thinking skills and embrace challenging concepts, emerging at the end with a new appreciation for mathematics and its relevance to their future.”

Jeanne Kusina

Kusina

Kusina has been a member of the UToledo faculty since 2009. She specializes in ethics, gender and personal identity, and was recognized in 2014 as a UToledo Diversity Champion. Kusina also has received the Innovations in Teaching Award: Exploring Writing Across the Curriculum. With a strong record of teaching and student-centeredness, her evaluations have demonstrated the impact of her teaching with one student commenting they “will definitely look at the world differently after this.”

“I am deeply moved and humbled to be named a Distinguished University Lecturer,” Kusina said. “In the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, we focus our research and teaching activities on promoting diversity, social justice and critical engagement. Over the years, I have found the interaction with the diverse perspectives of students and colleagues at The University of Toledo to be extremely enriching. I am always excited to teach in this progressive environment and eagerly look forward to the future as a continuing member of a team that places such an emphasis on the success of all of its students and faculty.”

Caren Steinmiller

Steinmiller

Steinmiller joined the University in 2008. She completed four post-doctoral fellowships as part of her training and maintains active involvement in professional organizations. Steinmiller has engaged in numerous research studies, including clinical studies that resulted in peer reviewed publications, and she demonstrated leadership in the UToledo Opioid Task Force. She has a strong record of effective teaching and student success initiatives, including large lectures with student evaluation comments that state she is an excellent teacher and very knowledgeable about her topics.

“Receiving the honor of Distinguished University Lecturer is a highlight in my career as an educator,” Steinmiller said. “I truly love all the students, student organizations and programs that I’ve had the opportunity to really get to know over the last 12 years at UToledo, especially the nickname ‘SNPhA mom’ that was bestowed on me by [the UToledo Student National Pharmaceutical Association] several years ago. This distinction is also a reflection of the great people I work with every day in my department, college, University and community.

“I am especially humbled by my former students who have gone on to begin their own distinguished careers, but still take the time to catch up with me. They have included me in their personal and professional milestones, from weddings and baby showers, to instillation into the U.S. Armed Forces, and as an honored guest at the award ceremonies celebrating their wonderful accomplishments. I am truly honored to be recognized for my part in helping shape the next generation of leaders and educators.”

College of Medicine and Life Sciences Researchers Set Focus to COVID-19

In response to the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, researchers in The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences have swiftly pivoted their focus to projects aimed at thwarting the pandemic.

UToledo scientists are pursuing new treatments, searching for biomarkers that could help physicians better understand disease progression, exploring the body’s immune response to the virus, and investigating the intricacies of the virus itself in hopes of helping build a vaccine.

A research task force led by a pair of veteran medical scientists in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences has been established to foster collaboration and share resources and ideas across the University. More than 100 individuals — including faculty from the UToledo colleges of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nursing, Health and Human Services, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Engineering — have joined the conversation.

“Our faculty have really stepped forward to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences. “Ultimately, COVID-19 will be solved by innovative scientists who figure out how we effectively treat and prevent this.”

The UToledo Medical Research Society on April 17 approved $25,000 in funding to each of three projects in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences to jump start research aimed at confronting COVID-19.

Two of those projects are for clinical trials of drugs that might reduce the severity of symptoms.

Dr. Cheryl McCullumsmith, professor and chair of the UToledo Department of Psychiatry and the co-chair of the COVID-19 research task force, is investigating whether fluoxetine, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, might be a novel treatment able to prevent serious complications from COVID-19.

The drug, sold under the brand name Prozac, has previously been shown to block expression of a cell-signaling protein called Interleukin-6 that can trigger an overwhelming immune response called a cytokine storm. In COVID-19, cytokine storms can prove fatal.

“Fluoxetine has extraordinarily strong evidence in its action as a blocker of IL-6 and cytokine storms in both animal models of infection and in human illness such as rheumatoid arthritis and others,” McCullumsmith said. “This project aims to prevent serious outcomes such as hospitalization, respiratory failure and death in people when they are first infected with COVID-19. The goal is to use an existing drug in a new way to prevent serious complications of COVID-19 during the time it will take scientists to develop more lasting solutions, such as vaccines and antiviral treatments.”

In the second project, Dr. Elissar Andari, assistant professor of psychiatry, is moving to test whether oxytocin, a non-steroid hormone known for its role in sociality and attachment, can reduce hyper-inflammation and boost T-cell counts to help the body fight off COVID-19.

“Oxytocin is safe and has been prescribed clinically for more than 50 years,” Andari said. “We believe the mechanisms by which this drug can have a potential is through its known anti-inflammatory effects, as well as through its protective and pro-immune responses. Oxytocin also has known interaction with the ACE2 system, which is the receptor host of the virus.”

Both clinical trials are planned to begin after receiving final approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board.

The third project granted seed funding from the Medical Research Society will go to a project overseen by Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, associate professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Vijay-Kumar is investigating flagellin — a bacterial component previously shown to eliminate viral infection — as a possible way to harness innate immune responses to fight the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. His project is also aimed at identifying biomarkers that can help clinicians diagnose the early and late stage biomarkers.

“We expect flagellin will serve as an effective therapeutic to restore impaired early anti-viral immune responses, prevent viral entry, and protect against lung and heart damage,” Vijay-Kumar said. “Additionally, we will investigate to what extent DNase I, an enzyme used to treat cystic fibrosis patients, will offer protection against virus-induced lung pathology at late stages.

The Medical Research Society was created in 2014 by a group of community donors to support biomedical research at UToledo. Seed funding from the society has helped provide early data to leverage major grants from nonprofits and federal funding agencies. To date, UToledo faculty have received more than $5.1 million in external funding for projects initially supported by the society.

“It is wonderful to see the engagement of our community leaders who support the Medical Research Society and who have funded three of the projects that are aimed at this scourge,” Cooper said. “This funding will allow our researchers to fast-track these crucial projects.”

Healthcare Entrepreneur, UToledo Benefactor Passes

Frederic D. “Fritz” Wolfe, who built an empire in the long-term healthcare field and shared his wealth in the community, died April 5 at Kingston Rehabilitation of Perrysburg. He was 90.

He joined the family business, the Lima Lumber Co., after attending Yale University and the Harvard Business School. His education was punctuated by a two-year stint as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Wolfe

In 1963, Lima Lumber built its first nursing home. Four years later, Wolfe, at the helm of the family business, ventured into the skilled nursing industry and started two companies — one to manage nursing homes and one to invest in the construction and acquisition of nursing homes.

Wolfe co-founded the Health Care Fund in 1970. It was the first real estate investment trust in the nation to focus solely on nursing homes and clinics. By 1980, the company counted more than $25 million in assets. That company became Welltower, which was valued at more than $25 billion by the late 2010s.

In addition, Wolfe founded Health Care and Retirement Corp. of America in 1981. The nursing home operator was sold for $99 million in 1984.

The generous business mogul shared his wealth with several institutions, including The University of Toledo. In 1997, Wolfe Hall opened on Main Campus. The Wolfe family gave $1.5 million for the state-of-the-art research laboratories for the departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry, and, at the time, the College of Pharmacy.

After UToledo merged with the Medical University of Ohio, the Wolfes donated $2.5 million to support diabetes research through the Center for Diabetes and Endocrine Research, a collaboration between the College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. To honor that gift, the new home for the College of Pharmacy on Health Science Campus was named the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Center. It opened in 2011.

Wolfe was a trustee emeritus of The University of Toledo Foundation Board, on which he served from 1992 to 2003.

The philanthropist was honored by the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2009 when he received an honorary doctor of humane letters.

Cosmetic Science Major Matches Love of Chemistry With Interest in Makeup

Roanne Reyes didn’t learn about The University of Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program until the second semester of her senior year of high school.

The Illinois native was looking at schools closer to home, but a near-random connection online introduced her to UToledo — and changed her path forever.

Graduation Cap

CELEBRATING SUCCESS: During this time when we cannot come together to celebrate our graduates, UToledo is recognizing the Class of 2020 with a series of feature stories on students who are receiving their degrees. Help us celebrate our newest UToledo alumni. Visit utoledo.edu/commencement to share a message of support to graduates and come back online Saturday, May 9, to take part in the virtual commencement ceremony.

“I was on Facebook, and there was an article talking about a woman who started her own business after she had studied cosmetic science,” she said. “And I thought ‘That’s a thing? People do that?’”

They do, but not just anywhere. UToledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program is one of the only of its kind in the entire country. The program, which focuses on the science behind personal products we use every day, promised the opportunity to learn about virtually every aspect of the cosmetic production process. Reyes was hooked.

“I’ve always loved science,” she said. “I was in AP chemistry and AP biology in high school, and I’ve always loved makeup and the idea of working in makeup production.”

She got to do just that and a whole lot more as a pharmaceutical sciences major — with minors in chemistry and professional sales to boot. In her four years at UToledo, Reyes has learned about producing all types of personal-care products, from makeup to shampoos, conditioners, deodorant and even baby-care products.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” Reyes said.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” said Roanne Reyes, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences through the University’s unique Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

Reyes also spent time researching the effects of ingredients in personal-care products, a key aspect of the pharmaceuticals industry. Every product intended for human use or consumption has to be rigorously researched and tested, a process she now knows well.

“I spent 10 weeks studying the effects of penetration enhancers on caffeine penetration into the skin,” she said. “The studies that I ran were 24-hour studies, so I had to be in the lab all the time.”

Her research paid off with several speaking engagements; she presented her findings at the Ohio Valley and Michigan chapters of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, as well as at a sunscreen symposium. She’s also planning to publish a paper on the research with Dr. Gabriella Baki, UToledo assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

“I found Roanne to be a dedicated, enthusiastic and reliable researcher who worked well with little supervision,” Baki said. “She had great ideas and creative solutions for problems that would come up during the research projects. I cannot wait to see all the great things she will accomplish in her career.”

Reyes hopes to land a job on the East Coast after her May 9 graduation. She’s aiming for a position as a formulation chemist, preferring lab work to the sales part of the industry.