In her fourth annual State of the University address delivered via video amid the global coronavirus pandemic, University of Toledo President Sharon L. Gaber recognized the resilient leadership of the campus community to stay true to our mission amidst difficult circumstances.
The speech was shared with campus via email April 7 at the same time it was planned to be an in-person event before the COVID-19 outbreak required social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus. The State of the University video address is available online.
“Despite these unprecedented times, our role as a public research university is more important than ever,” Gaber said. “We are educating the next generation of critical thinkers and innovative leaders, advancing knowledge through groundbreaking research, and serving as a strong community partner with our region and our state.”
Following a theme of “Proving Resilience: Leadership in Action,” the president highlighted success stories from the academic year and positive momentum that indicates a bright future ahead. Gaber discussed ways UToledo is innovating educational programs, how students are succeeding like never before, growth in research excellence, and ways the University is supporting our communities.
Reflecting an ongoing, campus-wide commitment to student success, Gaber underscored the University’s record-high six-year graduation rate of 51.7% after fall 2019 commencement. UToledo surpassed the target rate of 50% listed in the Strategic Plan three years ahead of schedule.
The president also recognized faculty researchers who continue their important work to apply for grants, test theories and publish papers even though we are not on campus.
“Our researchers are leaders in their fields facing the world’s most urgent problems head on, with a cross-disciplinary approach and innovative solutions,” Gaber said. “In just the first six months of this year, we received $32.2 million in competitive research awards, an increase of nearly 24% over this time last year.”
The University’s growing partnerships with the U.S. Department of Energy national labs after hosting a National Lab Day in October was featured in a video story about Dr. Michael Weintraub, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences, who is researching the terrestrial aquatic interface. Another video story shared the student success story of Naba Rizvi, who will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in information technology following internships with Google and Adobe and another opportunity lined up at Microsoft.
The University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was lauded throughout the president’s address. She recognized faculty and staff for finding innovative ways to make resources available to students remotely and highlighted how faculty experts are helping the community better understand the impact of this pandemic on our health and the economy.
“These may be challenging times, but we’re in this together,” Gaber said. “Thank you for all you’ve done, and continue to do, for The University of Toledo. I am so proud of how you’ve stepped up — as students, as faculty, staff, alumni and community members — to not only ensure that our academic mission continues forward, but also realizing that our collective sacrifices are for the greater good of our region.”