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UToledo to Spotlight Sustainable Energy Program That Repurposes Nuclear Reactors for Hydrogen Production

The University of Toledo College of Engineering is hosting a workshop to showcase a national program designed to use the country’s commercial nuclear reactors to produce hydrogen and help the transportation, chemical and steel industries close the carbon cycle.

The event, focused on the sustainable energy program, will start at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, in the Nitschke Hall Room 1027, and bring together representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists from U.S. national laboratories, UToledo faculty, representatives from Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, and industry leaders.

As part of the national project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho National Laboratory is working with the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station on a pilot program to install an electrolysis system to produce hydrogen.

“The University of Toledo is proud to host a workshop to explore opportunities in repurposing light water nuclear reactors for hydrogen production through a hybrid systems design,” said Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering.

“The project is a win for regional industries and clean energy,” Dr. Connie Schall, UToledo associate vice president for research, said. “Nuclear electricity is a low carbon emission power source. The nuclear energy hub model opens many opportunities for regional industries, not only for green hydrogen, but also for other electrochemically driven processes.”

This workshop will explore the current state-of-the-art opportunities for industry, government and academic collaboration, identify current research-and-development gaps, and provide an overview of the U.S. Department of Energy programs that are leading the effort to build a hydrogen economy and innovative power grid solutions.

The agenda and registration information can be found at the workshop website.

The workshop comes three months after the U.S. Department of Energy selected UToledo to host National Lab Day, which connected students and researchers with preeminent scientists from world-class facilities across the country to explore opportunities for partnerships.

UToledo Offers New Pathway to Earn Nursing Degree

The University of Toledo College of Nursing will offer guaranteed admission for freshmen into its competitive Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for select, well-prepared applicants starting fall 2020.

“Nursing is a competitive field, but we feel strongly that by offering a commitment to entering freshman students whose academic achievements show they are uniquely prepared, we can add depth to a highly skilled, compassionate workforce that will meet the needs of northwest Ohio and beyond,” said Dr. Linda Lewandowski, dean of the College of Nursing.

Beginning fall 2020, applicants with a high school GPA of 3.7 or higher and an ACT score of at least 24 will be directly enrolled in UToledo’s B.S.N. Program.

Previously, all applicants pursuing a B.S.N. were first enrolled in UToledo’s Pre-Nursing Program with a requirement that they officially apply in their sophomore year to get into the nursing major to complete their degree. Applicants who do not meet the initial guarantee criteria will still have an opportunity to be admitted into nursing via this current pathway.

“By expanding pathways and opportunities for prospective students into our nursing program, we’re responding to the changing needs of students and the healthcare environment,” said Jim Anderson, vice president for enrollment management.

The College of Nursing’s application process also considers a range of personal attributes, such as community service and leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities, and demonstrated responsibility. Consideration also will be given to those with military experience, first-generation college students, and those who would contribute to the cultural, gender, age, economic, racial or geographic diversity of the healthcare workforce.

The nursing field is expected to be one of the nation’s fastest growing occupations during the next decade as America’s population grows older and current nurses leave the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected there will be more than 370,000 new nursing jobs added between 2018 and 2028.

“Many parts of the country, including northwest Ohio, are experiencing nursing shortages. We are rising to meet that challenge with well-educated, well-trained and compassionate nurses,” Lewandowski said. “Our new admission process, which includes a path to guaranteed admission, is just part of our overall strategy.”

This fall, the College of Nursing experienced a 10% increase in enrollment with the largest cohort of students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and also recently received full 10-year accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education with a positive review of all of the college’s programs. The college also recently launched the state’s first R.N. to B.S.N. online Competency-Based Education Program, which provides unique flexibility to working nurses to advance their careers at their own personalized pace.

UToledo’s Master’s and Doctoral Nursing programs also have been recognized among the best in the nation, with the master’s program jumping 48 spots to No. 135 in the most recent U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings. The Doctor of Nursing Program is ranked 135, up 17 spots from the previous year.

One of Exonerated Central Park Five to Speak at Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth

Dr. Yusef Salaam, whose story is documented in the 2019 Netflix series “When They See Us,” will give the keynote address at The University of Toledo’s 36th annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth Saturday, Jan. 11.

Salaam was one of five teenagers of color, ages 14 to 16, wrongfully convicted of the 1989 beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park. More than a decade later, a murderer and rapist serving a life sentence confessed to the brutal crime, and DNA evidence cleared the five, who were exonerated.

Salaam

Sponsored by Toledo Excel and the UToledo Joint Committee, the conference for seventh- and eighth-graders, high school students and parents will start at 8:30 a.m. in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium.

“Social Justice: A Community Enterprise” is the theme of this year’s event.

“Dr. Salaam understands better than most that we have systems in this country that do not work equally for all of its citizens,” David Young, director of Toledo Excel and Special Projects, said. “However, he has dedicated himself to changing those systems as one of the leading advocates in the nation for criminal justice reform and change.”

In 2012, filmmaker Ken Burns made a documentary detailing the travesty; “The Central Park Five” chronicled the case from the perspective of the teens whose lives were changed by the miscarriage of justice.

Two years later, the quintet agreed to an approximate $40 million settlement from New York City to resolve the civil rights lawsuit over their arrests and imprisonment for the attack that made headlines around the globe.

Their story continues to educate and open eyes. “When They See Us,” a four-part miniseries, was released this year by Netflix and has received numerous awards.

“Since the day we were wrongfully arrested, others controlled the story about us without ever seeing us,” Salaam, an Innocence Project board member, said at the nonprofit legal organization’s 2019 gala.

Since his release more than two decades ago, Salaam has become an activist and inspirational speaker who addresses injustice and the importance of education, and facilitates discussions on race and class, prison reform, and capital punishment.

“This conference will educate students and parents about their basic rights and also advocate all attendees to be change agents where needed,” Young said. “We hope this will encourage a community and collective effort where social justice is needed.”

Following the keynote address, Salaam will participate in a panel discussion on social justice and criminal justice reform. He will be joined by RaShya Ghee, UToledo graduate, adjunct professor at the UToledo College of Law, and staff attorney at Advocating for Opportunity; Albert Earl, cultural educator and prevention education specialist; and UToledo Police Chief and Director of Public Safety Jeff Newton. Rhonda Sewell, manager of external and governmental affairs at Toledo Lucas County Public Library, will moderate the session.

Toledo Excel was established in 1988 to help underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, for success in college. Through summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.

Toledo Excel is part of the Office of Multicultural Student Success, which is in the Division of Student Affairs. The UToledo Joint Committee includes representatives from the University, Toledo Public and Parochial schools, and civic and community leaders from the city of Toledo. The mission of the committee is to bring together people in the community interested in the education of underrepresented youth. The UToledo Joint Committee also serves as an advisory board and support system for Toledo Excel.

Advance registration for the free, public conference is required; go to the eventbrite website.

For more information, email Young at david.young@utoledo.edu or call 419.530.3820.

Growth of Craft Beer Linked to Record Number of States Harvesting Hops

Tasting terroir, or a sense of place, isn’t only reserved for wine lovers drinking a glass of burgundy or champagne from France.

It’s evident, too, in the U.S. craft beer boom and the growing preference for local hops.

Reid

Hops, a key ingredient in making beer, is a crop making a comeback on farms across the country thanks to the incredible rise of the craft brewing industry over the past decade.

Craft breweries and their customers’ thirst for new, locally grown flavors are playing a big role in fueling an unprecedented geographic expansion of hop production across the U.S., according to researchers at The University of Toledo and Penn State University.

Their findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Wine Economics, suggest that as more craft breweries emerge around the country, so may new opportunities for farmers.

“It is fantastic to see the re-emergence of hop production in states which, at one point, had abandoned the crop,” said Dr. Neil Reid, professor of geography and planning at The University of Toledo, who teaches a class titled The Geography of Beer and Brewing. “Hops provide aroma and bittering characteristics in beer. Looking to differentiate themselves from Molson Coors and Anheuser Busch, independent craft brewers demand locally grown hops, experiment with different varieties of hops, and use more hops in beer production compared to mass-produced beers.”

According to the Brewers Association, between 2007 and 2017, the number of breweries in the U.S. increased from 1,459 to 6,490.

The researchers found that the number of breweries in a state is associated with more hop farms and hop acres five years later. The number of hop farms grew from 68 to 817, and hop acreage expanded from 31,145 to 59,429 acres.

Before 2007, hop production in the country was limited to only three Pacific Northwest states—Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Hops are now produced in 29 states, according to the Hop Growers of America.

“Our study is the first to systematically show that the number of hop farms in a state is related to the number of craft breweries,” said Claudia Schmidt, assistant professor of agricultural economics in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “It suggests that in areas where hop production is possible and not cost-prohibitive, breweries are expanding markets for farmers and providing an opportunity to diversify farm income.”

In fact, the growth positioned the U.S. as the largest producer of hops globally, both in terms of acreage and production.

Working with farm, brewery and climate data, the researchers developed a statistical model to determine whether new craft breweries in a state between 2007 and 2017 resulted in a larger number of hop producers and hop acres planted, by both new and existing growers in that state. They built a time lag into their model to identify the effect of new breweries over time. They also controlled for other variables that may influence farmers to start growing hops, such as average farm size, average net farm income and climate.

Their findings are correlational and do not point to a clear cause and effect. However, the time lag built into the model indicates that the growth in breweries preceded the growth in hop farms.

If more brewers are looking for hops grown nearby, then more farmers may be willing to try growing them, even if only on a small scale. For instance, in Pennsylvania, only 17 farms reported hop production in 2017, and their combined acreage is small — only 21 acres in all, according to the U.S. Census of Agriculture.

In contrast, in 2017, there were 100 acres of farmland devoted to hop production in Ohio. According to the Ohio Hop Growers Guild, there are more than 70 farms in Ohio that are growing hops.

While the growing of hops in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania is a relatively recent phenomenon, many Midwestern and Northeastern states have historical connections to the hop industry.

“In 1870, the three leading hop-producing states were New York, Wisconsin and Michigan,” Reid said. “A number of factors, including declining yields, disease outbreaks, high production and processing costs, and an inability to achieve economies of scale, contributed to the decline and disappearance of the hop industry in the Midwest and Northeast.”

Reid, who is affectionately known as “The Beer Professor,” is an expert on the craft brewing industry and its economic geography. His research is focused on the industry’s growth in the U.S. and its potential role in helping to revitalize neighborhood economies.

His previous research found that the craft brewery boom is good for home values. That study showed single-family homes in the city of Charlotte, N.C., saw their value increase by nearly 10% after a brewery opened within a half mile of the property, and center-city condos got a nearly 3% bump.

Reid will give the opening keynote address at the 2020 Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference Wednesday, Feb. 5, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

His new book titled “Agritourism, Wine Tourism, and Craft Beer Tourism: Local Responses to Peripherality Through Tourism Niches” will be published later this month. The book is co-edited with Maria Giulia Pezzi and Alessandra Faggian of the Gran Sasso Science Institute in L’Aquila, Italy.

Neurology Professor Receives New American Headache Society Award

Dr. Gretchen Tietjen, Distinguished University Professor of Neurology, is the first recipient of the American Headache Society’s Women’s Health Science Award, which recognizes a researcher whose body of work has made an outstanding contribution to the understanding of topics related to women’s health and headache medicine.

The award was presented in November at the American Headache Society 2019 Scottsdale Headache Symposium. Tietjen also presented a lecture, “Migraine, Stroke and Toxic Stress,” that provided an overview of her research.

Tietjen

Tietjen joined the then Medical College of Ohio in 1996 and in 1997 was named chief of neurology, which at the time was a part of the Department of Medicine. In 1999, neurology became a stand-alone department and Tietjen was appointed the inaugural chair, a position she held until July 2019.

The American Headache Society has honored Tietjen with other research awards, including the Seymour Solomon Lecture Award (2008), the Harold G. Wolff Lecture Award (2011) and the John R. Graham Lecture Award (2017).

She also received the 2009 Stroke Innovation Award from the American Heart Association journal Stroke, as well as the 2011 University of Toledo Outstanding Faculty Research Award.

Tietjen is retiring from The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the end of the year.

Trustees Receive Strategic Plan Update, Approve Construction Projects

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees received an update on the University’s strategic plan and the Academic Affiliation with ProMedica at its last meeting of the calendar year Dec. 16.

The progress report on the strategic plan highlighted achievements in student success, including improving the six-year graduation rate to 51.2% and exceeding the goal set out in the plan three years ahead of schedule. The first- to second-year retention rate has increased for seven consecutive years, and UToledo enrolled its highest academically prepared freshman class this fall. Student-athletes also earned a record GPA of 3.277 for the 2018-19 academic year and received the Mid-American Conference Academic Achievement Award.

Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Bjorkman also reported on new mentoring programs as part of recent growth in professional development opportunities for faculty and staff; completion of 25% of projects outlined in the multiple-campus master plan; and the 20 academic programs nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Read the strategic plan report card.

Updating trustees on the Academic Affiliation with ProMedica, Dr. Christopher Cooper, executive vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, shared progress that has been made in growing the clinical training opportunities for students and recruiting and retaining talent in Toledo.

Since the Affiliation Agreement went into effect in 2015, the number of hospital beds where students gain clinical experience has nearly tripled, and the size of the faculty has more than doubled. Several residency programs have grown in size, and new training programs have been added in endocrinology, rheumatology, hematology-oncology and patient safety.

More College of Medicine graduates are staying in Toledo for their residencies with 33% more students matching with UToledo over last year. And nearly half of the 2019 graduating residents and fellows who went into practice stayed in Ohio — 32% in Lucas County and 13% in other areas of the state.

In other business, trustees approved funding to support two campus construction projects — a joint Public Safety Center with the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio State Highway Patrol and renovating Driscoll Center to be the new location for Toledo Early College High School.

The new joint Pubic Safety Center at the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road is expected to be complete in December 2020. UToledo will contribute $1.2 million in state capital dollars and $2.55 million of local funds previously budgeted for the project. State partners will contribute $2.75 million to the state-of-the-art facility that will accommodate about 100 employees with better officer-wellness features, more comfortable meeting space for those in need of police services, and improved processing, management and storage of evidence.

UToledo will fund $1.75 million toward the renovations of Driscoll Center that will be jointly funded by Toledo Public Schools, which is contributing another $1.75 million to the project. UToledo and the school district are finalizing a long-term lease for the high school to relocate from Scott Park Campus to Main Campus to provide students more options to experience the college atmosphere. Toledo Early College High School plans to be in the new location for the 2020-21 academic year.

Trustees also approved the Com-Doc campus-wide print management program and Republic Services as the new supplier of solid waste services for campus.

In addition, tuition rates were approved for high school students who take UToledo courses through the College Credit Plus Program. Courses delivered on campus and online will be $145 per credit hour; those delivered off campus by University faculty will be $80 per credit hour; and courses that are taught by faculty-credentialed high school teachers off campus will be $41.64 per credit hour.

Families Set to Celebrate Commencement Dec. 14

More than 2,000 students at The University of Toledo will graduate at commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 14, in Savage Arena.

The University is holding two ceremonies to include both undergraduate and graduate students from each of the colleges.

A total of 2,070 degrees will be awarded: 1,474 bachelor’s degrees, 426 master’s degrees, 104 doctoral degrees, 41 associate’s degrees, 15 education specialist degrees and 10 graduate certificates.

The 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize all Ph.D. candidates and graduates from the colleges of Arts and Letters; Engineering; Judith Herb College of Education; Natural Sciences and Mathematics; and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The 1 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduate and graduate students receiving degrees from the colleges of Business and Innovation; Health and Human Services; Nursing; University College; and Medicine and Life Sciences.

Commencement is always a time to celebrate with family. Their support is critical to achieving success. For several students walking across the stage this year, family was literally at their side for the journey.

Lori and Jordan Boyer in 2001 and 2019

At 48 years old, Lori Boyer is set to take the stage and grasp her diploma on the same day as her son, Jordan.

Lori, a preschool teacher, started taking classes at UToledo in 1990, but stopped to raise her three children.

After returning in January to cross the finish line, the UToledo employee at the Early Learning Center is graduating from University College with a bachelor’s degree in an individualized program of early childhood education and educational leadership. Her son is graduating from the College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering technology.

“I am proud to share this special moment with my oldest son,” Boyer said. “It’s important to me to prove to all of my children that you can accomplish anything no matter what point you are in life. I accomplished something I set out to do a long time ago, and it has the potential to take me in different directions in my career.”

Fall commencement also is a family affair for a brother-and-sister duo who worked side by side as undergraduates in the same exercise biology research lab.

Nicole and Dylan Sarieh

Dylan and Nicole Sarieh, two-thirds of a set of fraternal triplets, both chose to study exercise science as pre-med students in the College of Health and Human Services, while their brother studies business at UToledo.

Together, Dylan and Nicole researched the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle growth under the guidance of Dr. Thomas McLoughlin, associate professor in the School of Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, in order to help clinicians develop ways to help patients grow stronger after suffering from muscle loss.

“The opportunity to do real, meaningful, hands-on work in the lab definitely built our confidence and opened our eyes to what is important,” Dylan said about his undergraduate research experience. “My sister and I both plan to next go to medical school. She wants to be a dermatologist, and I want to be a general physician.”

“Whether at home, in the classroom or in the lab, I always had someone I could lean on who was tackling the same challenges,” Nicole said. “Putting our two brains together — even during car rides — made a big difference in our success.”

For some graduates, they found love and are starting their own family.

McKenna Wirebaugh completed a co-op at the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind. This photo shows Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.

McKenna Wirebaugh, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, met her soon-to-be husband at UToledo. Both she and Travis Mang, her fiancé, will receive degrees Saturday.

Turns out, planning their upcoming wedding is the only item left on the to-do list. Wirebaugh secured a full-time job as a process engineer at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery in Blaine, Wash., located about 40 minutes south of Vancouver. She is scheduled to start her new job in March, about a month after her honeymoon.

“I chose to go to UToledo because of the mandatory co-op program in engineering,” Wirebaugh said. “It guaranteed I would have a paycheck while in school and build my resumé. I’m grateful for my decision because it ended up launching my career.”

Wirebaugh completed four co-op rotations with BP while at UToledo. She also helped build a water purification unit that was sent to Ecuador through the nonprofit organization Clean Water for the World.

Her favorite experience as a student in the Jesup Scott Honors College was a class focusing on creativity. For a group project on the dangers of cell-phone use, they brought in a PlayStation 2 system and challenged students to text and drive on Mario Kart without crashing.

“My professors have truly cared about me inside and outside of my academic career,” Wirebaugh said. “I don’t see the friendships I’ve made here ending anytime soon.”

In the event of inclement weather, the approximately two-hour commencement ceremonies will be moved to Sunday, Dec. 15.

For those unable to attend, the ceremonies will stream live at video.utoledo.edu.

For more information, go to the UToledo commencement website.

University Opens New Germ-Free Research Facility

The University of Toledo is expanding its microbiome research capabilities with the creation of a new germ-free laboratory that will provide unique opportunities for scientists investigating the link between gut bacteria and chronic conditions such as hypertension.

Researchers in the UToledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences have been at the forefront of innovative research that suggests the particular makeup of our individual gut bacteria has major implications on our health.

Doing the honors to mark the creation of a new germ-free laboratory on Health Science Campus were, from left, Scott Bechaz, associate director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Lisa Root, attending veterinarian and director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Resources; Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium; Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy; Marja Dooner, chair of the Women & Philanthropy Grants Committee; Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology; and Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and executive vice president for clinical affairs.

The research is particularly promising with relation to high blood pressure — so much so that the University has recognized the work among its spotlight areas of unique distinction.

“We have been working with available models asking as many research questions as we can. We are getting definitive links, but we haven’t yet found definitive answers for mechanisms,” said Dr. Bina Joe, Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “It is our hope this new lab will help provide those answers and open avenues for new therapeutic methods.”

By studying germ-free animal models that completely lack microbiota, Joe and other UToledo researchers will seek to further their understanding of how the colonies of tiny organisms that call our bodies home benefit or harm human health.

The project received $65,000 in grant funding from Women & Philanthropy and matching funds from the College of Medicine and Life Sciences.

While germ-free models are used for a variety of research applications, UToledo’s lab will be one of the only academic sites in the country with germ-free rats, which Joe said more closely mimic human disease states.

Preliminary work on the new Women & Philanthropy Germ-Free Facility for Biomedical Research is underway, with the facility expected to be up and running in 2020 under the guidance of Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, director of the UToledo Microbiome Consortium.

“The Women & Philanthropy grant is what is fueling this. We’re extremely grateful for their investment,” Joe said. “I think they see the value in promoting a woman scientist, and they see the value in the technology. We at The University of Toledo want to remain the first to fully understand these links and mechanisms in order to develop new clinical approaches. Rather than taking pills and monitoring your blood pressure every day, you might eventually be monitoring your microbiota and transferring beneficial ones as needed.”

“Women & Philanthropy is proud to be a part of such critical research and cutting-edge technology here at The University of Toledo,” Dee Talmage, chair of Women & Philanthropy, said. “It is a pleasure to support this important medical research, particularly when it has such a national impact.”

Women & Philanthropy has allocated up to $65,000 for 2020 grants to be awarded next spring. Learn more on the Women & Philanthropy website.

Health Information Administration B.S. Core Courses Certified

It’s official: All 15 online classes in The University of Toledo’s Health Information Administration Program have received national Quality Matters certification.

Two more online classes in the program recently received Quality Matters certification: Ambulatory Clinical Classification Systems and Services, and Integrative Capstone Experience.

That means the UToledo Health Information Administration Program for a bachelor of science degree is the first undergraduate program at the University to have all core courses certified by Quality Matters.

“We are so proud to have another online degree program with all required courses certified by Quality Matters,” Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College, said, noting classes for a master of arts degree in recreation administration were certified last year. “Our faculty are ensuring their online classes meet the nationally recognized Quality Matters peer review process so they are delivering the best online courses for UToledo students.”

Marie Janes and Nilgun Sezginis, senior lecturer and associate lecturer in the School of Population Health, respectively, have been working on receiving this distinction for the online classes in the Health Information Administration Program since 2016. To date, their program has the most Quality Matters-certified classes.

Janes said the Quality Matters certification demonstrates the program has the correct level of teaching materials, course expectations are clear, and the curriculum produces learning outcomes that can be measured.

Sezginis, who also is a doctoral candidate in the UToledo Health Education Program, said, “The students are receiving the best quality education and learning opportunities because we are making sure that all of our courses are meeting national standards.”

The University has 95 online courses certified by Quality Matters. Janes with eight classes and Sezginis with seven courses have the most individual course certifications.

Quality Matters is a nonprofit organization that provides standards for courses and program review to support quality assurance goals. A recognized leader in quality assurance for online education, its mission is to promote and improve the quality of online education and student learning nationally and internationally through the development of current, research-supported and practice-based quality standards and appropriate evaluation tools and procedures.

The organization also provides recognition of expertise in online education quality assurance and evaluation along with professional development in the use of rubrics, tools and practices to improve online education.

Official Quality Matters course reviews coordinated through UToledo Online are conducted by a team of certified peer reviewers who teach online and have been trained and certified by the organization.

The review process centers around the application of the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric. The standards outlined in the rubric were developed and are periodically revised based on research and established standards in the fields of instructional design and online learning.

Any UToledo faculty member interested in learning more about the official Quality Matters course review process are encouraged to visit UToledo’s Does Quality Matter?

UToledo Study Estimates Impact of Opioid Epidemic at $1.6B in Northwest Ohio

Fatal overdoses tied to Ohio’s ongoing opioid epidemic cost the metropolitan Toledo economy $1.6 billion and more than 2,000 jobs in 2017, according to a new study by The University of Toledo.

At $1.6 billion, the total economic impact of the opioid epidemic is equivalent to approximately 4.5% of the region’s gross domestic product — or roughly the same amount of economic activity generated annually by the entire private construction industry.

“The University of Toledo has an important role to play in addressing the major issues that affect northwest Ohio and beyond,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This research provides another piece of the puzzle as we work together to confront the opioid epidemic.”

The research was led by Dr. Oleg Smirnov, associate professor of economics, in close collaboration with members of The University of Toledo Opioid Task Force.

“Over a relatively period of short time, the number of deaths from opioid overdose has skyrocketed, and the crisis doesn’t show any signs of abating,” Smirnov said. “This report helps give us a better understanding of how the epidemic affects our region and also provides a benchmark to evaluate the effectiveness of our community’s ongoing response.”

Among the report’s key findings:

• Fatal opioid overdoses directly resulted in $1.27 billion in lost economic output in 2017.

• Each overdose death costs the economy $8.67 million.

• The indirect, or spillover, effects of fatal opioid overdose were $329.2 million in 2017.

• Premature deaths caused by the opioid epidemic cost metropolitan Toledo the equivalent of 2,082 jobs in 2017.

• While Narcan is relatively expensive at approximately $130 per dose, there is clear evidence the economic benefit outweighs the cost of administering the drug.

“These new findings add valuable context to our understanding of and response to the opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Amy Thompson, vice provost for faculty affairs, professor of public health, and co-chair of the UToledo Opioid Task Force. “The research can be used to advocate for funding that goes toward prevention efforts and treatment of opioid use disorder. It also can be used to inform local businesses how this epidemic is affecting the job market and creating financial loss in the community.”

The report’s calculations are based on data from the Ohio Department of Health’s Ohio Public Data Warehouse, which documented 147 fatal opioid overdoses in Lucas, Wood, Fulton and Ottawa counties in 2017. Data from 2017 is the most recent finalized figures available.

State records show those four counties had 22 deaths attributed to opioid overdose in 2007. The state data relies on the official cause of death listed on state-issued death certificates and differs slightly from fatal overdose data from local sources.

“While it may seem morbid to put a price on human life, there are established economic models that show how an individual’s premature death ripples through the economy,” Smirnov said. “This report shows just how costly each death is to our entire community, on top of the personal loss of a friend, brother, sister or parent. The opioid crisis may appear hidden to some, but it affects all of us.”

To calculate the economic cost of a fatal opioid overdose in metro Toledo, researchers began with a federally established finding that a premature death has an economic cost of $9.4 million. By adjusting for northwest Ohio’s lower per-capita income and lower cost of living, they arrived at a figure of $8.6 million per premature death and $1.27 billion in lost economic output in 2017.

Each fatal overdose also hurts the economy indirectly. As spending and demand for goods and services shrink, employers may begin to reduce staffing. In turn, individuals who have lost their jobs cut back on their own spending. UToledo researchers calculated those indirect, or spillover, effects cost the local economy $329.2 million in 2017, while reducing full-time equivalent employment by 2,082 jobs.

The total economic burden in UToledo’s report does not include calculations from non-lethal overdoses. While those incidents do have costs associated with them — emergency room visits, criminal justice proceedings and mental health services, for example — the spending stays within the local community.

The report also offers some hints that the region’s response to the opioid epidemic is making a difference.

For example, a comparison of overdose-related 911 calls received by Lucas County dispatchers in 2016 and 2017 to the total number of overdose deaths in those years found the mortality of opioid overdoses declined from 8% in 2016 to 6% in 2017.

Researchers attribute that to first-responders dealing with opioid overdose more effectively, particularly with the use of naloxone.

UToledo’s research also supports the notion that the expanded use of naloxone prevents not only additional deaths, but also significant damage to the local economy.

While first responders in Lucas County administered an estimated $1 million-plus worth of naloxone in 2017, a single premature death would have cost the regional economy $8.6 million.

Access the full economic impact report online at utoledo.edu/economic-impact/opioids.