University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber addressed students, faculty and community members concerning the state of the university on Wednesday, highlighting student and faculty accomplishments and campus improvement efforts.
It was a full house in the Thompson Student Union Auditorium, as students waited for the president to speak.
President Gaber thanked students, faculty, physicians and staff for their innovation and dedication. “[These] are the pillars of our campus community. Thank you for your ongoing effort.”
Further into the speech, Gaber announced various new changes UT was making and the progress toward of the university’s Strategic Plan was also discussed.
Improvement in students’ success has been one of the most successful components of the plan.
The highest average incoming first-year student GPA of 3.45 in university history was recorded for last year. Retention and graduation rates have also been steadily climbing.
UT’s value to students was also exemplified, as Gaber announced, “I am proud to report that when you compare average annual salaries to total student loan debt held after graduation, we are the most competitive public university of our size in Ohio.”
Many students that have made commendable accomplishments in the past year were highlighted, including graduating disability studies student Justin Tapp, who has spent this semester in Washington D.C. at RespectAbility as a policy fellow and Rose Mansel-Pleydell and Tara Yarzand, who created the University Hall clock tower mural in the Carlson Library together.
She included recently graduated alumni such as December graduate Quinton Babcock, who serves as the mayor of the Village of Oak Harbor in Ohio.
Gaber also discussed new changes UT is working on to improve the campus for students.
For instance, the Rocket Fuel Recovery Program has given more than 700 pounds of leftover catered food to students since this February and will continue its efforts into next year.
The Rocket Recovery Emergency Grant is another new service provided for students, offering up to $1,000 grants to students in emergency situations for expenses to protect them from having to drop out of school.
Transportation on campus will also continue to be improved for students.
Twice the amount of Lime scooters are now available for individuals to use, both on main and Health Science Campus. More than 5,500 people have already used them since the beginning of this academic year.
With the renovation of the pedestrian bridge by Savage Arena beginning soon, a launch point for kayaks available for student use will be constructed there. Kayaks will be available at the Student Recreation Center.
In addition to these new changes, a new public safety building will also be created on the corner of Dorr Street and Secor Road.
Among discussing the progress UT is making, Gaber also congratulated faculty members for their internationally-recognized work as well.
One of those recognized was Yanfa Yan, who’s received a $1,100,000 grant to research and advance solar energy technology from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Rupali Chandar was congratulated for her recently won valuable observation time with NASA’s Hubble Telescope. She is now heading the Space Telescope Users Committee with renowned astronomers from across the world.
"I thought the address sounded really interesting and I've been trying to get more involved around campus, so I thought I would come today,” said Chantal LeDoux, a first-year biology student before the event began.
Maddie Lawson, a third-year UT student, said that she decided to attend the address because she’s become a lot more involved on campus during her time.
Lawson also said she was very happy to hear about so many professors’ recognized research, adding, she never realized how prominent UT was in various many research fields.
All of the news shared by Gaber culminated in her announcement of a new brand, called
Fueling Tomorrows, for the University of Toledo, that will be unveiled on July 1.
The university is hoping to inspire pride for UT and create a strong, nationally-recognized brand.
Gaber ended the address with, “As you’ve seen today, at the University of Toledo, we are a community inspired to help our students succeed through inclusive collaboration, scholarly research and hands-on experience.”