The University of Toledo inaugurated Dr. Sharon L. Gaber as its 17th president Friday in a ceremony filled with the traditions of the institution and the promise for a bright and collaborative future between UT and the surrounding community.
Nearly 500 UT faculty, students, administrators, trustees and University delegates processed from the Student Union to Savage Arena, where more than 1,200 watched their arrival.“This is a University of us,” Gaber said, a refrain she repeated several times during her inaugural address to emphasize the critical ties she sees between the city and the University.
“Our name is not incidental or casually chosen,” she said, identifying universities across the nation named for their cities in mutually supportive relationships. “We are part of a proud tradition of institutions that are advanced regionally and nationally through engagement with their communities.”
The president pointed out that UT is one of the most comprehensive universities in the nation, providing many more opportunities for collaboration between faculty and students and the private and public sectors of the region.
Gaber put forth to the University and the community a call to action, asking for help advancing five primary priorities:
• Elevating UT’s reputation and prominence on a national stage;
• Increasing the numbers and preparedness of students enrolling at UT and ensuring they graduate;
• Increasing externally funded research and faculty scholarship;
• Increase philanthropy to raise dollars for scholarships, endowed faculty professorships and university initiatives; and
• Reducing administrative costs.
Embedded within all of these priorities, she said, is an ongoing commitment to increasing and celebrating the strength created by our diversity.
“Being inaugurated as the 17th president of The University of Toledo marks the beginning of a new era,” Gaber said. “And while I rarely emphasize it, I am proud to be the University’s first female president. I recognize the responsibility that comes with being ‘first’ in any leadership role, and I commit to you that I will work hard to meet that responsibility.”
As Gaber concluded her remarks, she had one additional request: the adoption of a sense of urgency to move forward.
“No strong university sits idle; UT must always work to set a faster pace.”
The president quoted former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt:
“‘One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.’
“I ask that you choose to walk with me on this journey,” Gaber said. “And I believe together we will achieve the remarkable — for this University and this community.”
In her remarks, Sharon Speyer, chair of the UT Board of Trustees, praised Gaber’s leadership.
“In President Gaber, we have a passionate leader who puts students first and is dedicated to ensuring their success,” Speyer said. “She is an academic who is committed to supporting the research and scholarship of our talented faculty.
“And UT’s 17th president is a true community partner eager to strengthen those existing ties and form new relationships with UT donors and collaborate with organizations that will further enhance this University, this city and our region.”
During the ceremony, Gaber was welcomed by Cody Spoon, president of Student Government; Dr. Kristen Keith, president of Faculty Senate; Catherine Martineau, president of the UT Alumni Association Board of Trustees; and Gary Leidich, president of the UT Foundation Board of Trustees.
A video of UT students, faculty, staff and community leaders welcoming Gaber to the University also was played, punctuated by words of support from Gaber’s children, Allison, Jennifer and Peter.