Skin pathologist battles melanoma

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Vicki L. Kroll

Nicole Dominiak smiled for the camera after receiving the doctor of medicine degree at UT in 2012.

Nicole Dominiak smiled for the camera after receiving the doctor of medicine degree at UT in 2012.

In 2012, Dr. Nicole Dominiak was finishing her medical degree at The University of Toledo, planning her June wedding, and looking forward to moving to Charleston to start her residency in pathology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

But there was a snag.

“The mole was on my back, so I really couldn’t see it very well, but I could feel it on my shoulder and it would catch on my clothing,” she recalled.

Since Dominiak (A/S ’07, Pathology Certificate ’10, Med ’12) happened to be on a dermatology rotation at UT Medical Center, she asked Dr. Lorie Gottwald, professor and chief of the Division of Dermatology, to take a look at the back of her right shoulder and the dark, raised spot that measured about 6 millimeters.

“It was bothersome, so I just wanted the mole to be taken off. I asked her to biopsy it because I knew there would be a delay if I waited to establish with a dermatologist in Charleston. And I’m very grateful that she did,” Dominiak said.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers at Match Day in 2012. She matched at her first choice, the Medical University of South Carolina.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers at Match Day in 2012. She matched at her first choice, the Medical University of South Carolina.

Those biopsy results, however, caught everyone off-guard: invasive melanoma.

“Nicole’s mole was changing and also out of context with others on her skin, so it was biopsied,” Gottwald said. “I was somewhat surprised at the result, but if you biopsy something, the suspicion is there.”

“I got the phone call from Dr. Gottwald explaining my diagnosis. With that kind of startling news, I asked if I could come into her office. No appointment, no nothing. She said, ‘Absolutely,’” Dominiak said. “Meanwhile, while I was on my way — I didn’t know this at the time — she had called Dr. [Prabir] Chaudhuri from surgical oncology. So when I was sitting in her office, Dr. Chaudhuri came over in between his surgeries to take a look at everything and talk to me about the case.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers

Eighteen hours after her diagnosis, Dominiak was in surgery. Chaudhuri performed a wider excision of the area on her shoulder and a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which showed micrometastases in two of three sentinel nodes. He then performed a completion lymphadenectomy.

“Nicole is an amazing girl,” Chaudhuri, professor and surgical director of the UT Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center, said. “She handled the tremendous obstacle of undergoing a major operation in the face of her upcoming graduation and marriage ceremony. She was always upbeat, had an extremely positive attitude, and did not allow the diagnosis of melanoma to compromise the enjoyment of the finer things in her life.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their wedding day in 2012

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their wedding day in 2012

Stage-three melanoma was one life-changer Dominiak didn’t plan on. Three weeks after surgery, she married Sean Powers, firefighter and paramedic. Seven days later, she received the doctor of medicine degree, and the newlyweds moved to Charleston two weeks after commencement.

“Everyone says, ‘Oh, that’s so ironic you chose dermatopathology after your diagnosis.’ The real irony is I had already decided this was the area I wanted to specialize in and my diagnosis came after,” Dominiak said. “If I wasn’t interested in that area, if I didn’t have the knowledge that I had from being in medical school, I’m not sure my course would have been as positive and optimistic.”

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Nicole Dominiak and Sean Powers on their honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Her confidence grew at the Medical University of South Carolina, where she was treated by oncologists who specialize in melanoma.

“At that time, there weren’t a lot of treatments after surgery,” she said. “Pretty much the only therapy that was approved for stage-three and stage-four melanoma in the adjuvant setting was interferon. Based on the fact that I had positive sentinel lymph nodes and the depth of my tumor and after speaking with a medical oncologist, we all agreed that going that route would be the best course.”

So the 27-year-old started her pathology residency on weekdays, received interferon injections on Fridays, and had PET-CT scans every three months.

“In May 2014, during one of the routine monitoring scans, we found a nodule in my left lung. Thinking it was one nodule, and that was the only disease we could find on imaging, we pursued a surgical route,” the Toledo native said. “Because of where the metastasis was located, they had to remove an entire lobe of my left lung. Unfortunately, during surgery, they found another metastasis on the other lobe of my left lung, so they had to remove a portion of that lobe as well to remove the tumor.”

Two months later, imaging found the melanoma had metastasized to her brain.

Now in her dermatopathology fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Nicole Dominiak looked at skin biopsies.

Now in her dermatopathology fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina, Nicole Dominiak looked at skin biopsies.

But an immunotherapy drug was showing promise for melanoma.

“Ipilimumab was the first immunotherapy drug to show some benefit to melanoma patients. It’s supposed to rev up your own immune system to start recognizing the tumor and attacking it,” she explained.

In August 2014, she began ipilimumab infusions and received gamma radiation for the tumors in her brain.

“For the patients it worked for, ipilimumab seemed to have a substantial and sustainable response, which was incredibly encouraging,” Dominiak said. “It was just a matter of will I be one of those patients?”

After completing the immunotherapy treatment, the young doctor learned in October the drug did not work for her.

“After I finished the entire treatment, we found out the cancer had progressed and I had more metastases — in my lung, some in my liver and in my lymph nodes,” she said.

Nicole Dominiak posed for a photo this month outside the Medical University of South Carolina.

Nicole Dominiak posed for a photo this month outside the Medical University of South Carolina.

Then a new treatment possibility emerged.

“I got incredibly lucky; pembrolizumab had just been FDA-approved for use,” Dominiak said. “Pembrolizumab blocks a different receptor on your lymphocytes, but the ultimate goal is the same with all the immunotherapy: to help regulate your own immune system to recognize things that are foreign to you, the tumors, and it can begin to fight the tumors and clear them from your body.”

So far, so good.

“I’m still on the pembrolizumab, just over two years with — knock on wood — very few side effects and a fairly good response,” she said.

Through it all, she’s relied on her supportive home environment with her husband and their pets, Cooper and Nutmeg; family and friends; and specialists and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina.

“I share my story hoping to help just one person,” Dominiak said.

She also encourages everyone to see a dermatologist once a year for a regular skin check.

Cooper the dog and Nutmeg the cat are part of Dominiak’s support system.

Cooper the dog and Nutmeg the cat are part of Dominiak’s support system.

“You also should keep an eye on your own moles and look for the ABCDEs — asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution. If anything looks questionable, ask your physician or dermatologist to check it,” Dominiak said. “Also, sunscreen is incredibly important: Use it every day if you can.

“I know when I was younger, tanning beds were very trendy. Stay away from the tanning beds.”

“Nicole has been courageous in sharing her story and stressing the importance of regular skin exams. I am proud to call her a graduate of our medical school,” Gottwald said.

“Nicole will not only always remain one of my favorite students, she will also be my role model in dealing with adversity,” Chaudhuri said.

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Library renovations to include new veterans lounge named for UT alumnus

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Meghan Cunningham

The second phase of renovations underway at Carlson Library will include a new veterans lounge, a glass wall spanning several stories allowing for more natural light, and an expanded concourse when you enter the building.

The $3 million renovations funded by state capital dollars will focus on the first and second floors of the library. The renovations, which are expected to be completed prior to the start of fall semester, follow the work on the third and fourth floors finished last year that included the creation of more than 20 new group study rooms and new paint, carpet, ceilings and lighting to transform the learning space.

“The south side of the second floor will be renovated to include group study rooms and study carrels like those that have become popular on the recently completed third and fourth floors,” said Barbara Floyd, interim director of University Libraries. “We recently conducted a survey asking students if they were satisfied with the renovations done, and the comments were overwhelmingly positive, with many students crediting the renovations with their success in the classroom.”

The second floor of the library also will be the new home for the University’s Veterans Lounge, which will relocate from its current location in Rocket Hall.

“Our student veterans were interested in a more centrally located space and in this academic setting they also will have better access to library resources for research and homework with longer hours to take advantage of the lounge,” said Navy Reserve Lt. Haraz Ghanbari, UT director of military and veteran affairs.
A $20,000 donation from the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes supports the creation of the new lounge, which also will be larger with a separate social area and private study section.

The coalition’s gift was made in recognition of Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski, a UT alumnus and Army veteran who is the immediate past chairman of the organization’s board. The lounge will be named the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge in his honor.

vet 2

Lt. Col. Thomas Orlowski spoke after being recognized by the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes with its Hometown Hero Award and the news that the veterans lounge at his alma mater will be named in his honor. Orlowski, who graduated from UT in 1965 before his 20-year career in the U.S. Army, is being recognized with the naming of the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge that will be relocated to the second floor of Carlson Library.

“It’s a fantastic idea, and I’m proud of the University for doing it. I’m just very humbled to be honored as part of the project,” Orlowski said. “The exchanges that will occur in this lounge will start with, ‘What are you studying and with what professors?’ But after that familiarity builds up, then the war stories come up. It will definitely help veteran students academically, but a secondary benefit that people may not realize is the camaraderie of others who have been where you’ve been and done what you’ve done.”

Orlowski graduated from UT in 1965 with a degree in English literature, and he also was a middle linebacker for the football team. He joined the Army later that year, and his 20-year military career included assignments in the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), HQ U.S. Army Europe, HQ U.S. Continental Army Command and the Office of the Adjutant General of the Army. For his service in Vietnam, he was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor with two Oak Leaf Clusters and Air Medal.

The new Veterans Lounge is expected to open in early summer.

Veterans lounge

This rendering shows what the Lt. Col. Thomas J. Orlowski ’65 Veterans Lounge may look like when finished on the second floor of Carlson Library this summer.

Library renovations will continue through the summer, with the addition of a glass wall on the east side spanning the height of the building that will open up the library with more sunlight. The staircase from the first to second floors also will be redesigned with a mezzanine area on the second floor further opening up the space.

The separate hallway that you currently pass through when walking into the library will be removed so that guests will immediately be in the lobby when they walk in from outside. The redesign also will bring all of the library’s patron services — including circulation, reference and instruction — to the first floor. The information technology help desk recently moved from the back of the floor to share space with the circulation desk at the front.

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Alumna leads public art project at Toledo Correctional Institution

January 30th, 2017 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni
Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

Standing in front of the mural painted by incarcerated participants was revealed were, from left, Matt Taylor, Emily Numbers, Yusuf Lateef and Rachel Richardson. The four, who worked together to make the project happen, spoke at a press conference when the work was revealed.

Criminal justice reform is in the spotlight. Across partisan lines, public figures are talking about a need to reform criminal justice policy, especially sentencing and the prison population.

The United States holds 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but 22 percent of its prisoners, according to the Sentencing Project. Roughly 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons and jails — a 500 percent increase in the last 40 years — and the effects on children, families and neighborhoods are even farther-reaching. Poor people and people of color are disproportionately impacted. These circumstances, among others, have prompted conversations at the national level about the state of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Community artists, organizers and incarcerated people completed a public art piece inside the walls of Toledo Correctional Institution to contribute to that dialogue at the local level.

The project, a 6-foot-by-14-foot mural, was developed by community art coordinator Emily Numbers (A&L ’14, Honors ’14) in collaboration with People for Change, Art Corner Toledo, and artists Matt Taylor and Yusuf Lateef. A public unveiling was held in November in the lobby of One Government Center.

art close-upPeople for Change is comprised of incarcerated individuals and UT faculty, students and alumni who organize educational initiatives inside the Toledo Correctional Institution. It is an alumni group of the national Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project, in which university students take a course inside a prison alongside incarcerated people. Other People for Change initiatives include workshops, community speakers and an academic library.

Numbers took the Inside/Out class as a UT student in 2013. Since then, she has been a part of the People for Change alumni group.

“The Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project opened my eyes to the talent, intellect and desire to make positive change that exists within prisons, and introduced me to the vast injustice that is mass incarceration in the U.S.,” she said.

Numbers, who became interested in the concept of art as a catalyst for social change as a law and social thought student at UT, designed the project to humanize the prison population and to promote civic dialogue on issues surrounding incarceration. The art was painted on a series of 21 2-foot canvasses due to limitations on materials allowed in the prison.

“I learned about the principles of community-based art in Thor Mednick’s Arts Diplomacy class at UT, in which we painted a mural with artist Dave Lowenstein and community members at the Frederick Douglass Center. The elements of dialogue, participation and collaboration were key aspects that I wanted to keep central to this project,” Numbers, communications and public relations specialist in the College of Engineering, said.

Taylor, Lateef and Rachel Richardson, director of Art Corner Toledo, got involved when Numbers invited them to speak to the workshop group about their art in the community. After that initial meeting last spring, the three decided they wanted to continue their involvement with the project. Numbers’ vision and coordination, Taylor and Lateef’s expertise, Art Corner Toledo’s community connections, and the dedication of the incarcerated participants came together to result in this work of collaborative, community art.

Art Corner Toledo helped secure funding from the Lucas County Commissioners, who have a current focus on criminal justice. The Art Supply Depot and the UT Inside/Out Project in the College of Arts and Letters also provided support for materials and supplies.

Over several brainstorming sessions with the artists, organizers and incarcerated participants, the group arrived at the final design for the piece. The imagery was ultimately inspired by the sharing of poetry written by incarcerated individuals and represents the experience of incarceration and the aspirations of the group. Viewers’ perspectives place them at the bottom of a well, looking up toward a bright opening. Both flowers and weeds fill the bottom of the well, and one determined vine makes its way into the light. Several bees are included in the image, both coming and going from the viewer’s perspective.

“To the incarcerated participants, the well represents the physical limitations of the maximum security prison in which they reside, as well as the social barriers that may have led them to the circumstance of incarceration,” Numbers explained. “The flowers indicate the possibility for life and beauty to thrive in unexpected places, and the bees represent the exchange of ideas necessary for that hope to thrive. The bees can be interpreted as teachers, family members or volunteers, for instance, who refuse to turn a blind eye to the damages done by incarceration, and who refuse to turn their backs on individuals who will ultimately return to our community.”

art painters

Incarcerated individuals worked on the mural at the Toledo Correctional Institution.

The piece is accompanied by a collective poem written by the incarcerated participants, elaborating on the visual metaphor.

All of the incarcerated participants in this workshop have taken college-level courses through the UT Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project. Many of the discussions leading to the design were centered on the concept of education as the key to reaching post-incarceration aspirations.

Dr. Renee Heberle, professor of political science, brought the Inside/Out Prison Exchange Project to the University in 2010.

“Inside/Out and People for Change give UT students and incarcerated students a unique opportunity to engage and learn with individuals they might otherwise not only never meet, but would perhaps, otherwise, stigmatize and fear,” Heberle, coordinator of the program, said. “It has literally changed lives and career paths of students, on the inside and the outside. The innovative pedagogical model and ongoing opportunities for engagement beyond the classes cultivate democratic and collaborative skills as students confront issues related to social justice and create social change.

“This mural represents the underlying principles and values of Inside/Out in the collaborative process of its creation, while being a beautiful and aesthetically important work of art on its own terms.”

The art made its debut at One Government Center and is now hanging at the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. It will be installed in public spaces in Toledo. After completing its tour around the city, the work will be donated to a local organization selected by the participants.

“It is the intention of the incarcerated participants that this public art project will serve as a sign of hope for all viewers who may face barriers or confines of their own,” Numbers said.

“As the project travels around Toledo, it carries hope for the transformation of the criminal justice system, hope for incarcerated people seeking meaning and growth despite their circumstances, and hope for anyone facing conditions that confine, imprison or isolate.”

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The University of Toledo Year In Review

December 26th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

Under the direction of President Sharon Gaber and with the support of students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, many great things were accomplished at the University of Toledo in 2016.  Here is a recap of a few of the many newsworthy moments from this year:

January
  • The Ohio Attorney General’s Office awards UT $214,000 to help victims of sexual violence on campus. The funding is used to create the Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness.
  • bubble-tea-guysUT alumni Prakash Karamchandani and Hochan Jang open Bubble Tea in the Gateway.
  • For the 10th year in a row, UT Medical Center receives the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines® Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
  • Some 2,000 attend the 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Celebration in Savage Arena.
  • UT student-athletes earn a combined grade point average of 3.216 in the 2015 fall semester, the highest department GPA for a semester in school history.
  • The University’s surgical residency program ranks No. 14 in the nation when it comes to outcome-based measures, according to the Journal of Surgical Education.
  • The College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences celebrates the opening of the Shimadzu Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Research Excellence. Shimadzu Scientific Instruments’ gift of $250,000 funds several new state-of-the-art instruments.
  • Total enrollment for spring semester increases to 18,849, according to official 15-day census numbers. That’s up from 18,783 in spring semester 2015.
February
  • 02012016-1861Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc., visits campus Feb. 1 for the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series and shares the story of how he and Steve Jobs — and their business partner Ronald Wayne — revolutionized the computer industry. More than 3,000 attend the event in Savage Arena.
  • White House National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli visits Scott Park Campus and holds a Toledo Community Forum on Responses to the Opioid Epidemic, discussing evidence-based programs to prevent and treat prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.
  • Open forums and focus groups take place to gather input for the University’s strategic diversity plan.
  • The UT Board of Trustees approves the merger of the College of Health Sciences and the College of Social Justice and Human Service. The new College of Health and Human Services will be established July 1. Dr. Christopher Ingersoll will serve as dean.
  • To stabilize the University’s budget, division and college leaders are asked to identify a 1.5 percent reduction to the operating budget for fiscal year 2016 and
    3 percent to the entire budget for fiscal year 2017.
  • Will Lucas, alumnus and co-founder and CEO of the technology company Classana, and founder of Creadio, is named by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the UT Board of Trustees.
  • UT is among eight Ohio universities to receive a total of $1.9 million from the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative.
March
  • beier-2016bThe UT Foundation achieves a 2.3 percent total investment return for the 2015 fiscal year, surpassing the 2 percent average for participants of similar asset size, in the National Association of College and University Business Officers-Commonfund Study of Endowments.
  • Mark Beier, the longtime radio play-by-play voice of Toledo Rockets football and men’s basketball, retires.
  • matchdayA total of 165 fourth-year medical students learn where they will train for their residencies at Match Day.
  • hsuDr. Andrew Hsu, dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State University, is named UT provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and will start his new job July 1.
  • Donald Kamm, associate director and Title IX deputy coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago Office for Access and Equity, is tapped as director of Title IX and compliance and Title IX coordinator for UT.
  • ut-tps-press-conferenceUT and Toledo Public Schools partner to create a new initiative called Teach Toledo to recruit and prepare the Glass City’s citizens to become Toledo’s teachers.
  • Nearly 1,700 students, faculty and staff spend March 19 giving back to the community during the Big Event.
  • Senior Sammy Richart becomes only the seventh Rocket in program history to qualify for the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Meet.
  • The Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center is named one of the 2015 top 100 hospitals and health systems with great oncology programs by Becker’s Hospital Review.
  • The women’s golf team breaks a school record by winning its fifth tournament crown of the season with an eight-stroke victory at the Kingsmill Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va.
April
  • Dr. Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell starts his new job as associate vice president and dean of students April 4. Most recently, he served as associate vice provost for student affairs and dean of students at Jackson State University in Mississippi.
  • bancroft-at-podium-smiling-by-danPolar explorer Ann Bancroft speaks April 5 in Doermann Theater as part of the Jesup Scott Honors Distinguished Lecture Series.
  • Students dance for 13 hours at RockeTHON and raise $147,530 for the Children’s Miracle Network.
  • chan-screen-shotThe Dr. Cyrus Chan Endowed Scholarship Fund is established by friends and colleagues of the 39-year-old resident who is battling stage IV colon cancer. Chan passes away April 21.
  • banner-signing-autorgraphs-by-danMore than 650 pack the Student Union Auditorium to hear rapper, record producer, actor and activist David Banner discuss “Diversity in Politics.” His keynote address is part of Diversity Week and Diversity Month.
  • Dan Barbee, vice president for clinical services, is named UTMC interim CEO to replace Dave Morlock, who announces he is leaving the University.
  • Trustees approve the merger of the College of Adult and Lifelong Learning and YouCollege with UT Online to form University College. Dr. Barbara Kopp Miller, associate provost for online education, will be dean beginning July 1.
  • UT and BP partner for the new Rocket Engineering Prep Program that will ensure full tuition and fee scholarships for four years for select Toledo Public School students to attend the College of Engineering in exchange for successfully completing three summers of enrichment and mentoring programs at the University during high school.
  • The University is selected as one of America’s Outstanding Navy Reserve Employers for 2016. Out of more than 100 employers nominated for this recognition, 50 are chosen, and UT is the only higher education institution selected to receive the designation.
  • glass-bowl-turf-project-5A new FieldTurf surface called Revolution 360 is installed in the Glass Bowl.
  • The College of Business and Innovation is listed in the top 100 best undergraduate business schools in the nation by Bloomberg, a global business and financial information and news leader. The college is No. 96.
  • The women’s basketball team finishes 24th best in the country in home attendance, averaging 4,050 fans per contest for the second highest total in school history. The Rockets lead the MAC in attendance for an unprecedented 26th consecutive season.
  • brown-dwarfUT astronomers identify a new object in space approximately 100 light years from Earth, estimated to be roughly five to 10 times the mass of Jupiter and 10 million years old. The free-floating planetary mass object is a brown dwarf and called WISEA J114724.10-204021.3.
  • Don Reiber LectureSavage Arena’s production control room is renamed in honor of Don Reiber, associate professor of communication and director of the Department of Communication’s Media Services, who passed away Sept. 20 at age 68. More than 400 attend a memorial service April 24 to remember Reiber, who spent 36 years at the University teaching television production, live-truck production, and radio production and programming.
  • Golfer Sathika Ruenreong is one of six individuals selected to participate in an NCAA regional hosted by the University of Alabama. She is the first Rocket to compete in an NCAA event in the program’s 21-year history.
  • manilowThe UT Concert Chorale sings three songs with Barry Manilow April 27 as part of his Farewell Tour at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.
May
  • UT 2016 Spring CommencementDr. Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, and former U.S. Congressman and physicist Dr. Rush D. Holt address 2,843 candidates for degrees at commencement ceremonies.
  • Stephanie Sanders, an executive consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a firm that specializes in strengthening higher education enrollment practices, is named interim vice president of enrollment.
  • Five peregrine falcon chicks hatch atop University Hall’s tower.
  • Women’s Golf Head Coach Nicole Hollingsworth, who in March signed a contract that will keep her at the Rockets’ helm through the 2018-19 season, is named MAC Coach of the Year.
  • brown-and-mcketherDr. Willie McKether, associate professor of anthropology who has been serving in a temporary role as special assistant to the president for diversity, is named UT vice president for diversity and inclusion.
  • Former Utah assistant Jonas Persson is named head women’s swimming and diving coach.
  • Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Desjardins speaks in front of 254 candidates for degrees at the College of Medicine and Life Sciences commencement ceremony.
  • UT student-athletes earn a combined grade point average of 3.249 in spring semester, the third highest department semester GPA in school history. The men’s golf team sets the all-time UT record for team GPA with a 3.759 mark.
  • Dr. Amanda Bryant-Friedrich, associate professor in the Department of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry, is named dean of the College of Graduate Studies. She replaces Dr. Patsy Komuniecki, who will retire July 1.
June
  • Graduate student Holly Embke is the first researcher to discover direct proof of grass carp, a type of invasive Asian carp, spawning in a Great Lakes tributary.
  • A group gathers to celebrate the Merger Anniversary.The 10-year anniversary of the merger of The University of Toledo and the Medical University of Ohio is celebrated.
  • Trustees approve the $737.8 million budget for fiscal year 2017.
  • The board also approves the merger of the College of Languages, Literature and Social Sciences and the College of Communication and the Arts.
  • Dr. Jamie Barlowe will serve as dean of new College of Arts and Letters starting
    July 1.
  • UT is selected to join the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. The association operates world-class astronomical observatories and works to promote observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research.
  • Lawrence R. Kelley, who has been interim chief financial officer, is appointed to the position.
  • balbinotVeteran sports broadcaster Brent Balbinot is the new “Voice of the Rockets.” This fall, Balbinot will serve as play-by-play broadcaster for football and men’s basketball, and host the respective coaches’ radio shows.
  • Dr. Rebecca Schneider, professor and chair of curriculum and instruction, receives two state grants to train local high school teachers to teach college courses to their students as part of an expansion of the state’s College Credit Plus program.
  • Fiscal year 2016 ends with a total of 10,529 donors giving $18.5 million to the University. It is an increase in donors of nearly 17 percent and an increase of nearly 10 percent in dollars.
July
  • As part of the Academic Affiliation, UT learners on the ProMedica Toledo and Toledo Children’s Hospital Campus begin occupying a new academic space. The renovated area provides classrooms, on-call sleep rooms, a lounge, lockers and shower facilities for students and residents.
  • arboretum-july-2016-by-danStranahan Arboretum is No. 40 on the 50 Most Beautiful College Arboretums by Best College Reviews.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich names Alfred A. Baker, a retired vice president from Owens Illinois Inc., to the UT Board of Trustees.
  • appelDr. Heidi Appel, senior associate director of the Honors College at the University of Missouri, is named dean of the Jesup Scott Honors College. She will start her new job Aug. 15.
  • The Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center and UT Physicians are selected to participate in a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services pilot program designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of oncology specialty care.
  • A Helicopter lifts steel beams that are being used to reinforce the bell tower.W.R. Meyers Co. of Napoleon, Ohio, uses a helicopter crane to deliver steel beams that will be used to reinforce University Hall’s iconic tower.
  • UTMC is recognized by the National Health Resources and Services Administration as a platinum-level partner for its efforts to promote organ, eye and tissue donation as part of the Workplace Partnership for Life Hospital Campaign.
  • Domino’s opens at the Gateway.
  • art-on-the-mall-close-up-2016-by-danMore than 10,000 attend the 24th annual Art on the Mall, presented by the University of Toledo Alumni Association.
  • Business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi holds a ceremony in honor of Sierah Joughin July 30 in the Student Union. Joughin, who was entering her third year as a student in the College of Business and Innovation, died last month at age 20. About 100 attend the event, which includes a candlelight vigil.
August
  • The University and the city of Toledo announce the Toledo Talent Keeps Toledo Great internship program to allow all students the opportunity to earn experience working in city offices and provide local government with additional talent to serve the community.
  • A total of 173 medical students receive their white coats and recite the pledge of ethics at a ceremony Aug. 4 in the Lois and Norman Nitschke Auditorium.
  • Dr. Frank Calzonetti, vice president for government relations, is appointed vice president of research. He led the University’s research operations for a decade before moving to government relations in 2011.
  • Former Rocket quarterback Bruce Gradkowski opens Social Gastropub Aug. 15. The renovated eatery replaces Gradkowski’s.
  • bridge-shot-by-danClosed since March, the new David Leigh Root Bridge on Stadium Drive opens. The span features UT’s signature lannon stone and six-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the road.
  • Carlson Library’s $3 million renovation of the third and fourth floors is celebrated Aug. 18. Funded by state capital investment funds, the renovation includes the creation of more than 20 new group study rooms on the floors.
  • Male student-athletes are the recipients of the 2015-16 MAC Faculty Athletics Representative Academic Achievement Award for the highest overall grade point average for all men’s sports.
  • UT wins the 2015-16 MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award for the best GPA in the conference. UT’s 377 student-athletes post a school-record grade point average of 3.235.
September
  • Enrollment for fall semester increases by 267 students, marking the first gain in six years. Total enrollment for fall semester is 20,648, according to official 15-day census numbers. UT had 20,381 students enrolled in fall semester 2015.
  • The facilities master planning team holds open forums to receive feedback on scenarios.
  • Trustees conduct their first performance review of President Sharon L. Gaber and voice their full support of her leadership.
  • steak-n-shake-construction-signUT extends its contract with Aramark for six years and announces Steak ‘n Shake is scheduled to open in spring 2017 and replace Rocky’s Grill in the lower level of the Student Union.
  • A memorial service is held for Dr. Lancelot C.A. Thompson, professor emeritus of chemistry and 55-year UT veteran, who died Sept. 10 at age 91. President Gaber announces the Student Union will be renamed in his honor. A trailblazer, Thompson was the first African-American full-time faculty member at the University, the first black to receive tenure, the first African-American vice president, and the first person to hold the post of vice president for student affairs.
  • The University is ranked among the world’s top research schools in the 2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  • UT helps launch the White House mentoring program called My Brother’s Keeper in Toledo, which will prepare local students for college and career readiness.
  • The University hosts the 13th annual International Human Trafficking and Social Justice Conference.
  • strategic-planning-dinnebeil-by-danThe UT strategic planning committee holds its inaugural meeting Sept. 27.
  • Dr. Xin Wang, associate professor of psychiatry, receives $3.38 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the brain for early signs of post-traumatic stress disorder after an injury.
  • youngAndrew Young makes history come alive at the Edward Shapiro Distinguished Lecture Sept. 29 as he shares his 60 years of experiences in the civil rights movement, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations, and as mayor of Atlanta. More than 500 attend his talk in Savage Arena.
October
  • kellersUT alumna Janet Keller gives $1 million to support generations of future teachers. She and her husband, the Rev. Gerald Keller, are inspired to advance the Judith Herb College of Education’s strong reputation as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.
  • The Ohio Senate presents a proclamation honoring the Athletic Department for earning the 2015-16 MAC Institutional Academic Achievement Award.
  • Trustees approve Oct. 10 the issue of $30 million in bonds to address maintenance needs on Main Campus and Health Science Campus. Parks Tower and other academic and administrative buildings will be renovated.
  • The Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness receives a U.S. Department of Justice $299,202 grant to prevent and address sexual assault victimization on college campuses. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine awards UT $286,782 to continue operations of the Center for Student Advocacy and Wellness.
  • chapmansGeorge and Leslie Chapman donate $1 million for the construction of the new basketball office complex in Savage Arena.
  • The Toledo Rockets win the Battle of I-75 for the seventh consecutive season with a thrilling 42-35 Homecoming victory over the Bowling Green Falcons Oct. 15 in front of 30,147 fans in the Glass Bowl.
  • Daymond John, an investor on ABC’s Emmy award-winning reality television series “Shark Tank” and founder and CEO of the clothing line FUBU, speaks Oct. 18 in front of a capacity crowd in the Lois and Norman Nitschke Auditorium. He shares his success story as part of the Jesup Scott Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series.
  • Strategic planning open forums are held to gather input from the campus community.
November
  • UTMC is again verified as a Level I Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.
  • The 16th annual Great Lakes Water Conference focuses on “Safe Drinking Water: A Tale of Three Cities” Nov. 4 in the Law Center.
  • thompson-exterior-sign-by-danThe Student Union is renamed Nov. 7 in honor of Dr. Lancelot C.A. Thompson, the longtime UT professor and administrator who devoted his career to student success.
  • UT is recognized as a top school for supporting student veterans. Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs®, STEM JobsSM and Military Spouse, gives the University the 2017 Military Friendly® School designation. Military Times lists UT in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2017 rankings, and Military Advanced Education & Transition names UT a top school in its 2017 Guide to Colleges & Universities research study.
  • veterans-dayArmy Sgt. Richard Perry, UT professor emeritus, receives the French Legion of Honor at the annual Veterans Appreciation Breakfast and Resource Fair Nov. 11 in Savage Arena.
  • blue-star-memorial-by-bk-photographyNew markers are unveiled Nov. 11 at the UT Veterans Memorial Plaza. The new Gold Star Memorial and Blue Star Memorial markers pay tribute to the Gold Star families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price defending the country and to those Blue Star families who have defended, are defending, or will defend the United States.
  • The Ohio Department of Public Safety certifies the UT Police Department for meeting new state standards for the use of deadly force, agency recruitment and hiring.
December
  • A draft of the campus master plan is presented to the public Dec. 7. The proposal focuses on repositioning the academic core, investing in research, consolidating athletics, and enhancing student life.
  • Senior tight end Michael Roberts is named first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America and Phil Steel Publications.
  • utmcUT Medical Center is named one of America’s 32 best teaching hospitals at preventing central-line infections in intensive care units, according to Consumer Reports.
  • The Board of Trustees approves the conversion from a 16-week semester to a 15-week semester.
  • Toledo loses to Appalachian State, 31-28, in the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl Dec. 17 in Montgomery, Ala. Senior running back Kareem Hunt rushes for 120 yards and two touchdowns to become UT’s all-time leading rusher.
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Alumna’s gift makes holiday bright for one UT student

December 26th, 2016 | No Comments | Posted in From Our Alumni

By Vicki L. Kroll

alumnagiftDaniela Somaroo hopped in her car Dec. 18 in Detroit and drove down I-75 to visit friends in Toledo — and to make one special delivery.

First stop for the UT alumna: the home of Dr. Sammy Spann, assistant provost for international studies and programs.

She handed Spann a check for $4,000, a donation to the Center for International Studies and Programs.

“He immediately rejected it, which I expected was going to happen,” Somaroo recalled. “And I said, ‘No, this is something that I really need to do, and I’m not going to take it back because this could help somebody else.’”

“This was an unexpected blessing,” Spann said of the generous donation. “This will be used to help a young lady from Haiti who was getting ready to go home due to lack of funds. Now she can take classes next semester.”

Two years ago, Somaroo was that young lady lacking funds for school.

“During my last semester, the government body that administers currency exchange in my country wasn’t approving the release of dollars for me to be able to pay for school anymore,” the native of Caracas, Venezuela, said. “And, of course, if you don’t pay your last semester, you don’t get your diploma. That was my concern: If I didn’t have my diploma, I wouldn’t be able to submit my paperwork for a work visa.”

Somaroo was at the Center for International Studies and Programs and happened to see Spann.

“Like the awesome person Sammy is, he asked, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Were you able to pay for your semester?’ I wasn’t going to lie to him, and I told him I was still about $4,000 short, and I was graduating in four days,” Somaroo said. “I can walk in the ceremony, but I wouldn’t receive my diploma.

“So he talked to Cheryl Thomas, executive assistant in the Center for International Studies and Programs, who is also a great person, and he said, ‘Hey Cheryl, can you find $4,000 for Daniela’s account?’ And then he said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve graduated.’ That was just a shocker. Things like that don’t happen all the time. It was a life saver. I am forever indebted to him.”

It was December 2014, and Somaroo received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. Then she landed a job as a service engineer at Honeywell International Inc. and moved to Merrillville, Ind. For the past couple months, she’s been filling in at the company’s Detroit office.

“Sammy didn’t say it was a loan,” she said. “But I made myself a promise once he gave me that money to pay for the semester; I told myself I had to pay it back somehow someday. It took me two years, but I made it.”

Spann was moved to tears by the gift and posted about it on his Facebook page.

Comments poured in: “So awesome people like her still exist. Wow!” “She truly has a heart of gold.” “Thank you so much for showing love to our students.” “What an inspiration. I can’t wait to give back to the Center for International Studies and Programs!” “It is so amazing to see Rockets helping Rockets!” “Thank you for reaching back and investing in others!”

Somaroo was surprised by the post — and the comments.

“It was just extremely overwhelming. I didn’t expect anything. Sammy’s thank-you and knowing where that money is going to were more than enough, and I told him that,” she said. “The amount of comments and love I’ve received from that post — my heart is full.”

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