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Gaber named The University of Toledo’s 17th President

History was made at The University of Toledo Thursday as the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to name Dr. Sharon Gaber UT’s 17th president.

Gaber

Gaber

“The University of Toledo is one of the most important institutions in the region and in Sharon Gaber, we have a president who can provide transformational leadership at a University deeply interwoven in the communities we serve,” said Board Chairman Joseph Zerbey.

“Whether the topic is student recruitment and retention, external research funding, improved student graduation rates, or raising philanthropic support, not only does Dr. Gaber have experience, she has achieved incredible results,” Zerbey added.

At a news conference following the trustees’ vote, Zerbey highlighted Gaber’s accomplishments during her tenure as provost of the University of Arkansas, including:

• A nearly 40 percent increase in enrollment at Arkansas, while simultaneously increasing incoming student preparedness and diversity;

• An increase in Arkansas’ six-year student graduation rate; and

• A reclassification by the Carnegie Foundation of the University of Arkansas to a Very High Research institution, a reflection of more than $120 million in external research expenditures in 2014.

“This University and this community need a leader who can elevate The University of Toledo on a national stage and propel this institution to the next level,” Zerbey said. “And we have found her.”

“I’m excited, honored and incredibly thankful to the Board of Trustees for this opportunity,” Gaber said. “I see so much great work already happening at The University of Toledo and so much potential that we can achieve working together. I can’t wait to begin.”

Zerbey said a timeline for a transition will be established in the coming weeks.

Gaber will be the first woman to serve as UT’s president.

UT’s 16th president, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, led the University for eight years and previously had served as president of the former Medical College of Ohio before the 2006 merger with UT.

Dr. Nagi Naganathan, dean of the UT College of Engineering, has been serving as interim president since July 1.

“I want to thank Dr. Naganathan for his service as interim president during the last year and for three decades as a teacher of our students, a mentor of our faculty, and as a leader at this University,” Zerbey said.

In addition to her work since 2009 as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas, Gaber serves as an officer on the board of directors for the 366-bed Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. She also is a corporate board member of the Simmons First National Corp. and is vice chair of the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.

She came to the University of Arkansas, where she also is professor of sociology, from Auburn University, where she served as interim provost.

Prior to that, Gaber served Auburn as senior associate provost and associate provost for academic administration. She began her time at Auburn as associate dean in the College of Architecture, Design and Construction.

Before her time at Auburn, she was a faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She served as department chair, graduate officer and held the A. Leicester Hyde endowed professorship.

Gaber holds a PhD of city and regional planning from Cornell University, a master of planning from the University of Southern California, and bachelor’s degrees in economics and urban studies from Occidental College. Her research interests are in community needs assessment of marginalized populations and planning methods.

She has served on the National Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Governing Board, and was awarded the 2006 State of Alabama Outstanding Professional Planner of the Year and the 2009 Auburn University Women of Distinction Faculty Award.

Gaber’s second forum focuses on growing resources to support University

Dr. Sharon Gaber emphasized the need for more resources to support all of the great initiatives of The University of Toledo and her experience increasing funding through growth in enrollment, research dollars and fundraising in her second presidential search open forum on Friday.

Gaber

Gaber

Gaber, one of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, said the next president of the University needs to be visible in the community to enhance the reputation of the institution and increase its support. She is the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas.

“In the past several days here, everybody says that The University of Toledo is an outstanding university, and that’s what I’ve seen by talking to people, by looking around, by having the opportunity. And yet people externally aren’t recognizing it as well as people internally,” Gaber said. “At Arkansas, we joke that we were the best kept secret. I said, ‘Well, why do we want to be that?’ And I’d say that’s the same for Toledo. From what I’ve seen, you have all of the component pieces, now the question is how do we make that step?”

Gaber introduced herself to Health Science Campus with a similar presentation about why me, why here and why now.

She said promoting a University is about directing your limited resources in the appropriate ways to support and enhance the institution.

Gaber emphasized her experience increasing enrollment by 37 percent during her tenure at the University Arkansas and at the same time improving the total diversity of the student body by 92 percent. Fundraising also grew from $74.4 million in 2009 to $113.3 million in 2014.

As part of her home institution’s goal to become a top 50 public research university, she noted her strategies of reaching out to program officers and creating collaborations through a health initiative to go after the increasingly competitive National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation research dollars.

Gaber answered questions from the audience about increasing diversity of ethnic minorities, hiring more faculty to improve the the faculty-student ratio, her thoughts on a separate provost for Health Science Campus, engaging with the community, building relationships with UT neighbors, empowering people to do their jobs well, and supporting libraries.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Gaber’s profile page on the presidential search website through 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.

For more information on the presidential search, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Gaber discusses need for collaboration to enhance University in first open forum

As an urban planner, Dr. Sharon Gaber has a specific interest in taking different pieces of an organization or community and finding the best ways to put them together for the best outcomes. During her first presidential forum, she outlined how she would take that approach to enhancing The University of Toledo if selected as its next president.

Gaber

Gaber

One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Gaber is the final candidate to visit campus for open forums and meetings with University stakeholders. She is the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas.

Gaber framed her remarks around the questions why me, why here and why now.

Why her? As a nontraditional provost, she said she has a wealth of administrative experience that includes addressing student recruitment and retention with a focus on diversity, fund raising, increasing research funding, hiring quality deans and faculty members, and engaging in visible community outreach.

Why here? Because it bears the name of the city, Gaber said UT is an integral part of the region and an economic engine for northwest Ohio with the unique position of being one of few comprehensive universities in the country.

Why now? It is a time for transformation at UT with a need to increase enrollment, student retention and funding support, and to respond to increased regulations and criticism. Gaber provided examples of how she addressed each of those issues during her career.

Throughout the forum, Gaber expressed her commitment to communication and getting everyone around the table to find the best solutions rooted in data and around a shared vision for the University’s future.

“What I’d like to see is building on the synergy and capitalizing on all of the strengths that are here, putting together a plan to be able to move forward,” Gaber said. “And I envision that all of us in this room — and it’s going to be from the board to the students, faculty, deans, vice presidents — we’re all going to have to have a say in here’s where we are going and how we are going to do it.”

Gaber answered questions from the audience about supporting faculty entrepreneurs, growing and improving the quality of online education, recruiting and retaining a diverse student body, the role of academic advisers, improving student life on campus, using data in decision making, inspiring campus to share a single vision, engaging with students, and the president’s role in the community.

Gaber will host another forum Friday, Feb. 27, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B on Health Science Campus.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Gaber’s profile page on the presidential search website through 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.

For more information on the presidential search, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Howard’s second forum focuses on success of UT’s academic health center

Dr. Christopher Howard shared his experiences in the pharmaceutical industry and vision for The University of Toledo Medical Center in his second presidential search open forum on Tuesday.

Howard

Howard

Howard, one of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, said the next president of the institution needs to build synergies between Main Campus and Health Science Campus and empower the leadership to create a model for the University’s academic health center that ensures the clinical enterprise is large enough to support its academic mission.

He is the president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

During his visit to Health Science Campus, Howard tailored his talk to focus on the president’s role in supporting translational research, addressing funding challenges impacted by the Affordable Care Act reimbursement model and the imperative to serve indigent patients, keeping up with medical technology, and improving patient and student satisfaction.

We live in a Coke Zero world, he said, noting the advertisement where the young person featured keeps saying “and” to add to the list of his demands in a job negotiation.

“What’s going to happen in places like this is patients and students want zero defect care and a state-of-the-art facility and hospitality, while students want world-class faculty and access to student residencies and fellowships and a reasonable cost. Hence, the Coke Zero ‘and world’ that we live in,” Howard said. “The new president will have to work to address these daunting issues because any perceived shortcomings inevitably end up on Facebook where everybody reads them.”

Howard, who also spoke about his experience with the Bristol-Myers Squibb biopharmaceutical company learning about the miracle of modern medicine, said the leadership of UTMC is well-positioned to handle the upcoming challenges.

He answered questions from the audience about increasing the diversity of students and faculty, what attracted him to UT, working with the Board of Trustees, his average day as a university president, views on funded and unfunded research, working with student leaders, ensuring good relationships with UT neighbors, navigating a challenging financial environment, instituting change while valuing tradition, supporting entrepreneurship, and supporting women in leadership roles.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Howard’s profile page on the presidential search website through Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m.

For more information on the presidential search and schedule for future forums for another candidate this week, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Howard discusses embracing a sense of community in first open forum

The next president of The University of Toledo should embrace its rich history and traditions to be sure students, faculty, staff and alumni feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, Dr. Christopher Howard said in his first presidential search forum.

Howard

Howard

One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Howard is the second candidate to visit campus for open forums and meetings with University stakeholders. He is the president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

UT’s next leader, Howard said, needs to embrace a sense of Community, with a capital C, for the entire institution, as well as smaller individualized communities, with a lower case c, for specific interests and activities, to better engage students leading to improved retention and graduation rates.

“People at The University of Toledo have much to be proud of. An institution founded in 1872 that boasts so many great graduates, faculty, staff, coaches, etc.,” Howard said. “But do the students when they walk into the door connect to your long blue and gold line? Do they have a sense immediately upon entering this campus that they are part of something bigger than themselves?”

Howard, who opened his remarks telling the audience that he believed in the American dream and the power of education because he has witnessed it firsthand in his family, said that UT’s top priority is to serve students meeting them where they are and helping them get to where they need to go. But the University also has a role serving its campus community, the northwest Ohio region and the citizens of the world.

Howard noted that UT faces specific challenges with access and retention of students, completing contract negotiations with its faculty, ensuring the clinical operation is large enough to support the academic mission, offering unique valuable programming, and determining how best to fund operations. Smart change that is rooted in respect, humility, honesty and openness is the best approach to solve those challenges, he said.

He answered questions from the audience about the growth of online education, supporting staff, programs to help minority faculty, his military service, commitment to diversity, support of the arts and humanities, experience with Greek life, and the importance of academic advising.

Howard will host another forum Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on Health Science Campus.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Howard’s profile page on the presidential search website through Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5 p.m.

For more information on the presidential search and schedules for future forums, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Wheatly’s second forum notes importance of health sciences in UT’s future

Dr. Michele Wheatly reiterated her vision for transformative change at The University of Toledo around the theme of courage, the ability to reframe the problem, and a sense of urgency at her second presidential search open forum on Friday.

Wheatly

Wheatly

Wheatly, one of three finalists to be the University’s 17th president, shared her career experience and familiarity with Ohio due to her tenure at Wright State University combined with her ability to view the institution with a fresh pair of eyes as evidence of her readiness to lead UT.

She is the former provost at West Virginia University currently serving as professor and senior adviser to the president.

On the Health Science Campus for her second opportunity for public comment during her campus visit, Wheatly reframed some of her discussion with an emphasis on the University’s role in caring for patients as well as students and the asset of having the health sciences as part of UT following the merger with the former Medical College of Ohio.

“When you really look at the aging population and all the revolutions that are coming in the treatment of illnesses, health care is going to be a driver of the economy for many years to come,” Wheatly said. “And so any university like this that is able to marry the health sciences with the engineering fields, law, business and all of the arts and sciences undergirding and holding up the pillars is going to be in a very advantageous position in my mind.”

Wheatly answered questions from audience members about her experience with and support of simulation, commitment to diversity, enhancing the university research environment, serving underrepresented students, engaging with the external community, partnering with industry, support of academic libraries and her communication style.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Wheatly’s profile page on the presidential search website through 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21.

For more information on the presidential search and schedules for future forums for other presidential candidates next week, visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Wheatly discusses transformational change during first open forum

The characteristics of leaders who can implement transformational change — and the reasons why higher education needs it — were the focus of Dr. Michele Wheatly’s public comments at her first presidential search open forum at The University of Toledo.

Wheatly

Wheatly

One of three finalists to be UT’s 17th president, Wheatly was the first to hold an open forum during candidate visits that will continue through next week. She is a professor and senior adviser to the president at West Virginia University.

Courage, the ability to reframe the problem, and a sense of urgency are the traits of leaders capable of the transformative change that is needed in higher education, Wheatly said.

She shared her career experience as a woman in the STEM disciplines working at West Virginia, Wright State University and the University of Florida, and how those experiences demonstrate the needed leadership traits for the next president of UT.

Wheatly also spoke of the importance of the performing arts and humanities as the way we learn empathy for people’s lived experiences, noting her classic British education and training in the humanities.

After the merger with the former Medical College of Ohio, UT is well-positioned for the transformative change needed in higher education, Wheatly said, because of its unified identity, system to support innovation, position in the community, and efforts to address access to education and health care.

“You have a lot of the foundation built, the launch platform — I mean, I love the Rocket symbology being a woman in science,” Wheatly said. “Everything is ready for the blastoff, but somebody needs to power up the engines.”

Wheatly answered questions from the audience about recruiting couples to the faculty, her views on shared governance, support of the humanities, commitment to diversity and community engagement, support of university libraries, the growth of online education, and mentorship of junior faculty members.

Wheatly will host another forum on Health Science Campus Friday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B.

If you would like to share your views with the UT Board of Trustees, fill out the feedback questionnaire available on Wheatly’s profile page on the presidential search website through Saturday, Feb. 21.

For more information on the presidential search and schedules for future forums visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Details finalized for UT presidential candidate open forums

The University of Toledo will host two open forums for each presidential candidate during their campus visits the last two weeks of February.

Forums for Dr. Michele Wheatly, professor and senior adviser to the president at West Virginia University, will be held:

• Thursday, Feb. 19, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. in University Hall’s Doermann Theater on Main Campus; and

• Friday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B on Health Science Campus.

Forums for Dr. Christopher Howard, president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, will be held:

• Monday, Feb. 23, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. in University Hall’s Doermann Theater on Main Campus; and


• Tuesday, Feb. 24, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000A on Health Science Campus.

Forums for Dr. Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas, will be held:

• Thursday, Feb. 26, from 1:30 to 3:15 p.m. in University Hall’s Doermann Theater on Main Campus; and

• Friday, Feb. 27, from 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. in Collier Building Room 1000B on Health Science Campus.

All forums will provide members of the University community the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates, and the finalists will open each event with a short presentation. Each conversation will be streamed live at video.utoledo.edu.

In addition to the open forums, candidates will meet in smaller groups with faculty and student leadership, as well as college deans, senior administrators, community members and University supporters.

Dates set for presidential finalists’ campus visits

The dates have been set for campus visits for The University of Toledo’s three presidential finalists.

Candidates will tour UT’s campuses; meet with faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni and community members; and participate in open question-and-answer forums on Main Campus and Health Science Campus.

The dates for the visits are:

• Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 18-20 — Dr. Michele Wheatly, professor and senior adviser to the president at West Virginia University;

• Sunday through Tuesday, Feb. 22-24 — Dr. Christopher Howard, president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia; and

• Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 25-27 — Dr. Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas.

“We’re working very hard to ensure that through smaller meetings or the open forums, every constituency group has a chance to hear from the candidates and ask questions,” said Joesph Zerbey, chairman of the UT Board of Trustees.

“We’ll also have a way for the UT community to provide feedback on the candidates through the presidential search website. As I have said from the beginning, we are committed to being as transparent as possible throughout this process.”

The presidential search website is utoledo.edu/presidential-search.

Noting the visit on Sunday, Feb. 22, Zerbey emphasized that day would include a tour of UT campuses and that all interactions with members of the University community would take place during the workweek.

Zerbey said invitations to leadership groups across campus and publicity regarding the campus open forums would go out in the next few days.

Finalists for University of Toledo presidency announced

The University of Toledo has announced its presidential finalists. Candidates who will be invited for campus interviews are:

• Dr. Sharon Gaber, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas. Read more here.

• Dr. Christopher Howard, president of Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, Va. Read more here.

• Dr. Michele Wheatly, professor and senior adviser to the president at West Virginia University. Read more here.

Calling the group of leaders outstanding, UT Board of Trustees Chairman Joseph Zerbey told the UT campus community in a letter Thursday that the most important part of the search was still to come.

“The most important part of the search will take place in the coming weeks and as members of the UT community, you will play a critical role,” Zerbey said, noting that UT plans to set up feedback opportunities through the presidential search website.

Zerbey said that itineraries for the candidates would be developed and published in the coming days.

“While here, they will meet with leadership from our faculty, students, staff and administration, learn about the campus, and participate in open forums where members of the UT community can come ask questions and hear about the candidates’ visions for this University’s future,” Zerbey said.

Zerbey also had praise for the presidential search committee.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to say how thankful we are for the input, expertise and guidance from faculty, staff and student leadership, as well as alumni, UT supporters and members of the community who served on the search committee.”

Visit utoledo.edu/presidential-search for the most up-to-date information.