UToledo News » Alumni








Associate VP of Alumni Relations to Retire

Dan Saevig has been part of The University of Toledo every day for more than half of his life, first as a student and then as an employee at the institution he loves.

That will change soon: The associate vice president of alumni engagement and executive director of the UToledo Alumni Association will retire Monday, March 2.


“I love The University of Toledo; I know its life-changing powers,” Saevig said.

The native of Oregon, Ohio, received a bachelor of arts degree in communication and a master of business administration degree from UToledo in 1984 and 1989, respectively.

Then Saevig joined the staff at his alma mater as assistant director of alumni relations in 1990. Three years later, he was promoted to executive director of alumni relations. He left the University in 1999, but returned to campus in 2002 as associate vice president of alumni relations.

“Dan has dedicated his life to The University of Toledo. With his Rocket passion and energy, he has helped grow UToledo’s alumni participation, as well as alumni programs and donations,” President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We thank Dan for his tremendous service to the University for 27 years.”

Under Saevig’s leadership, the Office of Alumni Engagement has:

• Upped its annual programs from 40 in 1990 to 200 in 2019.

• Grown UToledo Alumni Association membership five consecutive years; this includes an 8% increase last year and an 8% increase so far this fiscal year, totaling more than 27,000 members around the globe.

• Helped increase alumni donations from 2.59% in 2015 to 5.37% last year as measured by U.S. News & World Report, with a portion of membership dues as a gift to the UT Foundation; 66% of donors last year were members of the UToledo Alumni Association.

“When I started working in the alumni office, we were mostly promoting events in Toledo. Now we truly are a national program,” Saevig said.

He added he is proud of the diversity of the UToledo Alumni Association Board and how the Koester Alumni Pavilion was a project that came together in six months in 2012. “The Koester Alumni Pavilion, a gathering spot just west of the Glass Bowl, is a real point of pride for alumni and friends of the University,” Saevig said.

In addition, he played a pivotal role in the expansion of Art on the Mall, the UToledo Alumni Association’s signature event that started in 1992 and has become a summer tradition. The UToledo Alumni Association also is financially secure, having increased its reserves by 300% during his tenure.

“I can leave UToledo knowing we have the right person to lead the Office of Alumni Engagement for the next 20 years,” Saevig said. “[William] Billy Pierce is that person. He’s an alumnus, he’s well-liked, he’s personable — alumni will enjoy connecting with him.”

Pierce, senior director of alumni engagement, will succeed Saevig.

A longtime UToledo donor, Saevig is giving a $150,000 parting gift to his alma mater — provided there is no official sendoff celebration.

“The donation is a thank-you for the University’s impact on me and my family,” he said. “It’s important for employees to give back. We are blessed to be working at UToledo. I wouldn’t be who I am without the friendships and relationships I developed here over the years. I want to show my support for the institution that I love.”

Rocket Named to Freshman All-America Team

Toledo redshirt freshman offensive lineman Nick Rosi has been named to the Freshman All-America Team by the Football Writers Association of America.

He is the only player from the Mid-American Conference to make the 2019 team and the first Rocket to be so honored since Eric Page in 2009.

Rosi started every game at left guard for Toledo in 2019; he earned third-team All-MAC honors.

The Powell, Ohio, native was an integral part of an offense that ranked second in the MAC and 18th in the country in rushing (224.5 yards per game).

Rosi was named a second-team All-American by Pro Football Focus.

Interim Leader Named Permanent Provost

Dr. Karen Bjorkman, a leading scholar in the field of astrophysics and The University of Toledo’s most senior dean, has been named provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Bjorkman, whose appointment to the permanent post is effective Jan. 13, had served as the interim provost since Jan. 15, 2019. She previously served as the dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics from 2010 to 2019.


“Dr. Bjorkman has demonstrated throughout her academic career a passion for our educational mission and is, above all else, committed to student and faculty success,” UToledo President Sharon L. Gaber said. “We have made great progress on achieving the goals set forth in our strategic plan, including increased retention rates and record-high graduation rates. Under her leadership, I know we will continue to enhance the educational experience for our students and opportunities for faculty scholarly research and service activity.”

Bjorkman, also a Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and the Helen Luedtke Brooks Endowed Professor of Astronomy, has been a member of the UToledo faculty since 1996 when she joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the University in this leadership role,” Bjorkman said. “I look forward to working with our outstanding deans and faculty across all of our colleges to realize our collective vision of being a nationally ranked, public research university.”

Bjorkman is a leader in the research field of stellar astrophysics, applying spectropolarimetry to better understand the variable gaseous disks around massive stars. Her research has focused on studying the physical characteristics of these disks and the mechanisms behind their formation and variability.

In 2017, Bjorkman was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific and engineering society, in recognition of her important contributions to scientific discovery.

“Our students, faculty and scholars are champions in our pursuit to improve the human condition. They are internationally recognized for their expertise in research, teaching and clinical practice. It is my honor to work with them in achieving our educational mission,” Bjorkman said.

Prior to joining UToledo, Bjorkman was a scientist in the University of Wisconsin’s Space Astronomy Laboratory and a systems engineer for Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace.

Rockets Earn 3.302 Grade Point Average Fall Semester

UToledo student-athletes earned a combined grade point average of 3.302 in 2019 fall semester. It is the highest semester GPA in a fall term for the Rockets, and the second-highest mark ever, trailing only last spring’s 3.306.

It is also the 10th consecutive semester in which UToledo student-athletes have earned a semester GPA of 3.2 or higher, Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien announced today.

Softball recorded the highest semester team GPA with a mark of 3.723. Men’s golf (3.709), women’s golf (3.708) and women’s soccer (3.705) were each above the 3.7 mark, the first time in school history that four teams had GPAs above a 3.7.

Other highlights from this past semester include:

• 48 student-athletes earned president’s list honors with a perfect 4.0 GPA.

• 46.6% (173 of 379) were on the dean’s list by garnering at least a 3.50 GPA.

• 71.0% (269 of 379) made the honor roll by securing a 3.00 GPA or higher.

• A record-high 17 student-athletes competed in their sport while enrolled in graduate school courses.

“The superior academic achievements of our student-athletes have become an expected part of what it means to be a Rocket,” O’Brien said. “We have had consistently spectacular academic success in our program, winning the Mid-American Conference Academic Institutional Achievement Award for highest GPA in the conference in six of the last eight years. Our student-athletes can be very proud they have maintained and even exceeded the academic tradition that has become a hallmark of our program.

“I would also like to express my deep gratitude once again to the Student-Athlete Academic Services staff, dedicated University faculty, coaches and parents who support and nurture the efforts of our student-athletes,” O’Brien said. “Special congratulations goes to Head Coach Joe Abraham and our softball program for posting our highest team GPA just six months after winning the 2019 MAC Championship.”

Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services Ericka Lavender added, “Congratulations to all of our student-athletes for another outstanding semester in the classroom. The same dedication and determination to be successful in their sport also drives our student-athletes to excel academically. I am also grateful for the support and great work of my staff, as well as our head coaches and administration that makes these achievements possible. I would also like to thank our faculty and staff for all of their continued and outstanding efforts on behalf of our student-athletes.”

Toledo 2019 Fall Semester Team GPAs
Overall Department GPA: 3.302
Team GPAs

Baseball 3.200
Men’s Basketball 3.155
Women’s Basketball 3.189
Men’s Cross Country 3.375
Women’s Cross Country 3.615
Football 2.916
Men’s Golf 3.709
Women’s Golf 3.708
Softball 3.723
Women’s Soccer 3.705
Women’s Swimming and Diving 3.439
Men’s Tennis 3.599
Women’s Tennis 3.374
Women’s Track and Field 3.413
Women’s Volleyball 3.581

Toledo Women’s Basketball to Host Wine Night Jan. 29

The Toledo women’s basketball program will host Rockets’ Wine Night in Savage Arena before its showdown against Eastern Michigan Wednesday, Jan. 29.

Cost for this event is $30 and includes a game ticket, wine samples and appetizers. Tickets are $20 for fans who have already purchased their game tickets. The cost for designated drivers is $20 and includes a game ticket and appetizers with soft drinks.

Attendees for the event will be required to show a valid photo ID upon entry. No refunds or exchanges will be provided for failure to provide ID or failure to attend.

Wine Night will take place in the Fetterman Gym from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and is for fans 21 and older.

For more information, visit the Rocket Ticket Office in Savage Arena, call 419.530.GOLD (4653), or go to the Toledo Rockets’ website.

Purchase UToledo Beanie to Support Fight Against Pediatric Cancer

The University is selling UToledo-branded Love Your Melon beanies to support a good cause.

When you buy a beanie, another beanie will be donated to a child battling cancer.

In addition, for every UToledo beanie sold, $10 will be donated to the University Student Food Pantry.

Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to supporting the fight against pediatric cancer; 50% of net profits are given to support charitable programming and research through the Love Your Melon Fund and other nonprofits in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Since 2012, Love Your Melon has given away 191,425 beanies and $7,186,239 to nonprofit organizations that support the fight against pediatric cancer, conduct cutting-edge research, create therapeutic experiences, and fund programming initiatives for children and their families battling cancer.

The UToledo Love Your Melon beanie is for sale at The University of Toledo Copy Center for $35; accepted payment methods are cash and credit. The Copy Center is located in Thompson Student Union Room 1550 next to Chick-fil-A and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more, visit the Love Your Melon website.

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.


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.

Basketball Tickets Available for $8 as Part of Winter Spectacular

The Toledo men’s and women’s basketball programs are providing a holiday special to Rocket fans for six different games over the next five weeks with their annual Winter Spectacular.

With UToledo students home for winter break, fans can sit in the bleacher seats for just $8 (includes parking) for men’s games vs. Wright State Saturday, Dec. 21; Western Michigan Saturday, Jan. 11; and Central Michigan Tuesday, Jan. 14.

For women’s games, general admission tickets are available for just $8 (includes parking) for contests vs. Canisius Sunday, Dec. 29; Buffalo Wednesday, Jan. 8; and Akron Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Tickets are based on availability; prices will increase to $9 on the day of each game.

To purchase tickets for the Winter Spectacular, stop by the Rocket Athletic Ticket Office in the Sullivan Athletic Complex at Savage Arena, go to the UToledo Ticket Central website, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

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.

UToledo Cricket Team Continues Winning Tradition

The University of Toledo Cricket Club has won the Michigan Cricket Association’s Division I Championship this fall, besting 24 teams from across the Midwest.

The club finished the season with an 11-1 record.

The UToledo Cricket Club celebrated after winning the Michigan Cricket Association’s Division I Championship this season.

“The club has been a part of Toledo and the surrounding areas for the last four years,” said Akshay Chawan, captain of the club and associate network engineer in Information Technology. “Our organization’s goals are to build a proud tradition of developing cricket and life skills, with a dedication to teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and a competitive spirit.”

Chawan is among UToledo alumni on the team, along with Keyur Kulkarni, Club President Mohmmad Majid and Sai Hitesh.

UToledo students on the team are Sahil Patel, Hassan Sajwani, Hitanshu Dudeja, Akshay Roge, Gandhar Yedsikar, Shardul Sawant, Abhijeet Thakur, Saaj Aryamane, Shubham Gaikar, Vighnesh Nayak and Rohit Jadhav.

Community members Rodcliff Hall and Chinmay Kushare also play for the club.

“The University of Toledo Cricket Club has been able to showcase its talent and achieve some accolades in the last three years. We are very proud of our achievements and the hard work of a lot of people connected with the club that has led to on-field success,” Roge said.

The UToledo Cricket Club also won the runner-up trophy at the Michigan College Cricket Championship this year.

“Each and every player aspired to be best for the team and not to be the best on the team,” Kulkarni said. “In the past three years, this commitment has yielded the UToledo Cricket Club with many accolades.”

Last year, the team won the Greater Toledo Cricket Club Championship. In 2018, the club was Division II runner-up, which led to competing in Division I this year. In 2017, the club reached the semifinals in the Michigan Cricket Association Division II. And in 2016, the team won the American College Cricket Midwest Championship and competed in the national tournament in Florida.

Highest runs this season for UToledo were community member Israr Ul Haq with 231 and Chawan with 190. Highest wickets for the club were Chawan with 16, Aryamane with 14 and community member Adeel Ahmed with 7. Chawan was named man of the match in the championship game, while Hitesh and Roge received that honor during the semifinals.

Then came victory at the Michigan College Cricket Championship this season. The team began by beating Wayne State and Saginaw Valley State University in league play before a semifinal win against the University of Michigan at Dearborn. They lost a rematch with Wayne State in the final round, but the UToledo Cricket Club brought the runner-up trophy to campus.

UToledo alumni Rohan Kapkar and Arjun Ajbani joined the team during the college cricket championship, and Ajbani was named the most valuable player of the tournament.

“The UToledo Cricket Club is an emerging and highly respected team in our area,” Majid said. “We would love the University community to support its cricket club and learn more about the sport.”

For more information, visit the UToledo Cricket Club Facebook page or contact Chawan at akshay.chawan@utoledo.edu.