Jesup Scott Honors College

Faculty of the Month Profiles


PROF. Emily Bedwell

Meet Dr. Emily Bedwell, an instructor of HON 2010 Multicultural Toledo this semester!

What is your professional and educational background?
I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I then moved to the beach in San Diego where I worked as a freelancer for a community Emily Bedwellnewspaper. Later, I got my Master’s in Public Administration from Indiana University and moved to New York to work as a consultant for an engineering firm. For 10 years, I handled solid waste planning, community planning, and management consulting. I moved to Lexington while working as a consultant to get my Ph.D. in Public Administration at the University of Kentucky. After I finished my coursework, I moved to Toledo when my husband accepted a job at the Toledo Museum of Art. I finished my dissertation after moving here and raised my two children. Now that my children are older, I am going back to work. I taught a Political Science course last Fall in the Teach Toledo program. This semester, I am an adjunct professor for a section of the Honors Multicultural Toledo course.

What has been your favorite moment or experience with Honors students?
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the students! Their level of engagement during class is incredible. They are interested in the issues we cover and offer insightful perspectives. It’s a lot of fun to teach when students are excited to be in class and learn new things!

What is one piece of advice you would give to JSHC students?
I would say that students need to realize that it’s fine to not have a plan all the time. You don’t have to figure everything out right this minute. My life has taken a lot of twists and turns since college and so will everyone's. A lot of things will change between now and the time you’ll graduate, and even after you graduate - so understand that you will have to be flexible and open to these changes. Instead of worrying about the future, take the time to do things that you love and that make you happy. Find hobbies or activities that you are passionate about, and don’t take yourself too seriously!

PROF. Anneliese grytafey

You will be teaching a section of the Honors Community Engagement course in the Fall. How will you prepare for it and what attracted you to the opportunity?
Anneliese GrytafeyMaking the best of any learning experience requires a lot of preparation. To prepare for this class, I've been drawing upon my career in the social sector to distill stories of how real people are able to create change in their communities. What intrigued me about HON 3010 is that it equips students with the knowledge and skills to be change agents in the community today – not 20 years from now. As an undergraduate, I remember being told to “be patient” when it came to getting deeply involved in my local community – that it would be better to wait until graduate school to take on projects of significance. This course flips that idea on its head, allowing undergraduate students to dive into the important work of community problem-solving. The centerpiece of the course is a community project, which gives students the opportunity to create solutions for a current community issue.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?
I originally thought that I would have a career in the arts, but working in the arts actually made me aware of inequities in our society. While teaching violin lessons at an after-school program in a low-income neighborhood, I became curious about how law, policy, and public investment decisions can perpetuate these tough conditions for our kids. That’s when I decided to apply to law school.

As an attorney, I started out in the field of civil legal aid. While working at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, I was able to help bring a micro-lending program to Toledo to help grow small business development. At Toledo Community Foundation, where I serve as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Grantmaking, I have the privilege of helping to direct charitable grants to nonprofits that are making a difference in our community. That work brings me joy every day.

What are some of your interests outside of your career field?
I love to be outdoors. One of my favorite things to do is to bike around Northwest Ohio. My husband and I love figuring out all of the destinations we can get to on a bike from our house in the Old West End.  When I have free time, I can often be found getting my hands dirty with various home renovation projects or working in my garden.

For our recent JSHC graduates, what advice would you give regarding looking for a job out of college?
Work on creating a reputation of impeccable reliability. Leaders need to know that you have their back. When they see this quality in you, they will reward you with greater responsibility earlier in your career.  Also, be an active participant in professional networks as early as you can. Volunteer to chair the event, write for the newsletter, and so on. It gives you exposure to leaders in your field who will recognize you as a trustworthy, capable contributor. They may even seek you out for a job rather than the other way around.

I also believe that it is important to follow your curiosity strategically. I have certainly made some big shifts in my career. As I moved from the arts to law to philanthropy, I recognized that each phase of my education and career was setting me up for the next. If you want to make a change, the important thing is to give each phase your all – then find the right windows of opportunity to make strategic shifts.

chessica oetjens

Brand new to The University of Toledo, Chessica Oetjens has been building from the ground up her new position as Program Coordinator for the Offices of Competitive Fellowships and Undergraduate Research over the past month. She already has many plans to assist students and faculty reach their full Chessica Oetjenspotential and step onto the national stage in pursuit of their scholarship.

What is your professional and educational background?
I was actually an elementary teacher for 12 years in Monroe, MI. I then began coaching staff on technology integration within their classrooms, which I did for about five years. My Master's degree is from Michigan State University and my Bachelor’s is from the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where I was born and raised. I met my husband there, who was going to chiropractic school and had a job waiting for him in Michigan. I've now lived there for 21 years!

What made you want to transition into higher education?
I was looking for something different. I had been working with kids for so long and then transitioned into the technology field, which I loved as well. It's all about growth and trying new things. I find it interesting because I sort of followed my own children. I was a stay-at-home mom for a while and then went back to work when they were in kindergarten. Then I switched to teaching third grade when they reached third grade. Then they got interested in technology, so I went into that field. Now I have one daughter in college and two approaching that level.

What does your new position involve?
Two-thirds of the time I spend working on competitive awards and the remainder I spend promoting undergraduate research. For example, last week we read over 70 summer undergraduate research proposals that will be funded through our office. With competitive awards, we feel we have so many students here at UToledo who qualify for these national prizes, but they might not know about them. My goal this year is to watch their application cycle, identifying students based on GPA and other indicators who may qualify before reaching out to them personally and encouraging them to apply.

Do you have any other goals right now?
I'm very excited about the first ever Fulbright 101 Week that we will be hosting April 8th – 11th. We'll have short, informational workshops at both 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm every weekday in Carlson Library 1035. The great thing about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is that it's available for students from all majors. Applications open April 2nd, which is why we're having the Fulbright workshops the following week to help students who are interested in applying. It is a rigorous process and it does take a while to apply, so the key is starting early. I feel like we have a lot of humble students at UToledo and they need to be recognized for their amazing work! After that, we have a Fulbright faculty workshop scheduled for April 19th. We also obviously have a lot of wonderful faculty members here who are interested in and qualified for the program.

Since arriving here a month ago, what has been your favorite thing about UToledo?
Definitely the students! I have loved meeting with them, and it’s one of my strengths. Considering my experience always being around elementary students, I didn't want to lose the personal touch of working with students when I came to UToledo. So building these relationships is something I really value.

Tell us a little more about you personally – what are some of your passions?
I love being a mom. I have twin daughters that are 16 and I have a daughter that's enrolled at Michigan State University. Aside from being a mom and a wife, I also love to golf. I got a hole-in-one last summer! I'm not great, I just got really lucky!

Prof. olivia summons

Prof. Olivia Summons realizes there is more to life than school, work, and living in a personal bubble. She believes that strong communities thrive because of the engagement and volunteerism of its citizens. The Northwestern University graduate is teaching her second semester of the Honors Community Olivia SummonsEngagement course. We discussed with Prof. Summons the benefits of engaging with the community, the JSHC’s vision in offering this course, and how it can be a stimulating as well as challenging opportunity for students in any major.

How did you hear about HON 3010?
I met Dean Heidi Appel through mutual acquaintances who thought my community involvement might lend itself to the course work.  Dean Appel described the class and noted she was looking for someone with my background to teach it. I was intrigued by the prospect of working with Honors students and my original profession as an English teacher only heightened my interest. And, as she has often reminded me, “You bring real life experience!” That sealed the deal!

I recently retired from the Toledo Refining Company (formerly Sunoco Toledo Refinery) where I served as Director of Community and Government Relations. Prior to that, I was executive director of a local nonprofit. During this time, I served on a variety of community boards – activities I continue to this day. I was also fortunate to be appointed by Ohio’s governor several years ago to the UToledo Board of Trustees and later was elected Chair of the Board – hence my strong devotion to UToledo. All these experiences gave me perspectives from both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors of our region.

To someone considering taking HON 3010, what makes it special?
This class provides a great opportunity for students, regardless of discipline, to work in teams with representatives from local nonprofit organizations. These “community partners” identify specific projects that will help them fulfill their mission. Students make site visits, prepare a scope of work, and conduct research on the topic that will enable them to develop and write a grant as well as make recommendations or provide data to their partner. The semester culminates in student presentations of their findings to the community partners and various community leaders.

During the semester, various guest speakers introduce students to the local nonprofit sector and our community resources – information and skills that can be transferred to any community. Representatives from the United Way of Greater Toledo, the Toledo Community Foundation and the Center for Nonprofit Resources are just a few of the organizations that participate. The students refine their skills in brainstorming techniques, developing logic models, and enhancing their visual literacy. The strength of the course lies in the ability of the students to provide “real world” information, data, or recommendations to the nonprofit partner agency.

Last semester, the students worked with Toledo GROWS and Schools as Community Hubs/Toledo Public Schools. This semester, they are working with the ProMedica Ebeid Institute as well as the YMCA and their pre-kindergarten programs. Each project is unique, and the agencies are pleased to work with the university students, valuing their input. It’s a true exchange of ideas and thoughts.

How has this class impacted you thus far?
This is only my second semester teaching, yet last semester which I co-taught with Dean Appel was very fulfilling – and this semester is proving to be the same. The students are engaged in their work and I am excited to introduce them to the nonprofit world, all that it has to offer, and all that it needs.

Dr. carla pattin

Though a recent addition to the JSCH faculty, Dr. Carla Pattin has already made a home for herself in the Honors College. A Toledo native, Dr. Pattin’s familiarity with the surrounding community makes her a perfect fit for the HON 2010 Multicultural Carla PattinToledo course she teaches – a one-of-a-kind experience for Honors students. Although travel to Africa and time living in Detroit has had an immense impact on her interests and career, she still finds her center here in Toledo, a connection she attributes to her close family. This was clear, her mom sitting with us through our conversation looking more than proud of her daughter.

What’s your background leading up to your time with the Honors College?
I was born and raised in Toledo, and grew up in Hillside area. I’ve received all of my degrees from The University of Toledo. I earned my Bachelor’s in Africana Studies in 2007 and then my Master’s of Arts in Sociology in 2010. My defense date for my Ph.D. is coming up, so cross your fingers! For my dissertation, I studied black women and the American dream. I collected nineteen stories from black women as well as their definition of the American dream and found some interesting things. My interests also lie in multicultural education. I started teaching at 23-years-old at Owens Community College in Sociology, loved it, and then did medical sociology. I’m not sure how I even got into that, but I adored it, too. After a while at Owens, I came to UToledo to teach Africana Studies. I wanted to teach a course about black women, so I created one called “Black Women in America.” I also have some experience teaching introductory courses for Women and Gender Studies. All of this brings me to the Multicultural Toledo course that I teach today. I try to bring a multicultural approach to every topic I discuss in a course and pay attention to the differences within the group.

Can you tell us more about Multicultural Toledo?
This past week was my first time teaching it, and I loved it! The Honors College is a place where I can really be my interdisciplinary self. I can use all of these lessons from literature, anthropology, and philosophy to make sense of any given issue that comes up in the classroom. On top of that, I get to use my training in social foundations to help me shape my teaching strategy. What the Honors College tends to value in Multicultural Toledo is a walkabout teaching strategy using the “City as Text” model. Everything that the students study is a textbook, so we go out into the Toledo community to explore and use our senses for the students to be agents of knowledge creation. For instance, we are going to visit a mosque and do a mall walkabout at Franklin Park. It’s going to be fun!

What can students expect to gain from the course?
Part of the class is to increase the cultural competency of students so that they can get a framework of understanding the values of multiculturalism. Usually, Honors students are going to be leaders in their respective fields, so you have to have some kind of cultural competency. For example, if you’re going to interact with patients that are different from your identity, you’ll be able to take a step back, look at your own positionality, put yourself in their shoes, and gain that understanding so you can deliver the best care. With that, when they see things that are oppressive to other groups, they’ll have that awareness to object, intervene, and transform that space to facilitate equality for everybody.

What has kept you in Toledo?
My mom! Though, I didn’t want to leave, I did spend around four years in Detroit. I will say, that was probably the best time in my life. Even though I had taught at Owens, I wasn’t so sure what my path was. I was a substitute teacher for awhile, teaching at some of the most dangerous schools in Detroit. I actually had a table thrown at me! It sounds crazy, but even though the school faced challenges, I felt perfectly safe – like I was at home. Once I became one of the most requested teachers for that agency, I realized teaching is definitely my purpose. Anytime I can get kids that are throwing tables and chairs to enjoy learning, that’s when I knew. Eventually my husband got a job here at UToledo, so we moved back to Toledo in 2015. Within three months I had a call to take over a class here. But mostly I didn’t want to leave because of my mom.

What do you hope to do or gain from working with the Honors College?
That’s a big question! Honestly, just continuing my work to serve students. That’s why I’m here. It may sound cliché, but I owe everything to my students. I want to let students know they are not alone. Some of the things they’re dealing with are not due to them, but rather social forces that shape our lived experiences. Whether income disparities, age inequality, ableism, homophobia, sexism, or racism, they’re experiencing these things because society shapes it that way. When students come across things that are oppressive, they’ll have the tools to challenge that. That’s what I hope for my students and what I want to do at the Honors College.

dr. todd crail

“We don’t need more environmental scientists if that’s not your passion. We need more interpreters and implementers. We need people out in business, finance, education, law enforcement, and social work who have an understanding of the environmental costs of any choice that we make.”

Experimentation seems more than just a tool of the trade for Dr. Todd Crail, associate lecturer in Environmental Sciences. It also seems to be a personal Todd Crailphilosophy for this early Web coder and fish biologist who ultimately traded in the boardroom for the classroom. Honors students will have the opportunity to sample his brand of experiential instruction in the Spring HON 4960 seminar: “Lucas Co. Environmental Science: Know Your Place.”

Where has your career taken you up until now?
That’s a long, long story – but I’ll give you the abridged version. I’ve always lived in Northwest Ohio. I grew up in Lima, moved to Toledo, then went to Bluffton University for my undergraduate studies, and finally came back to Toledo. I was not engaged during my undergraduate career, but I began to work on this thing called “The Internet” – trying to get people to develop Web pages and learn coding. I worked in corporate America for about fifteen years, and during that time I became really interested in fish. I started learning more about fish and ran into some people who said, “You know a lot about fish, why don’t we teach you statistics so you can do something with it?” I then completed a Master’s followed up by a doctorate in Biology at UToledo. During that time, I fell in love with teaching and classroom instruction. It worked out that we had an opening in our department, so when they heard I had an interest in staying here, they offered me a spot. I developed a lot of community contacts during my graduate work and initiated a lot of service opportunities for students. Even though Bowling Green State University had offered me a position before UToledo did, I had already built too much here.

What got you so interested in fish?
It started when I was a little guy and my grandpa took me fishing. During my undergraduate studies, fish is what I really wanted to learn about, but nobody was as interested as I was. Unfortunately, no one helped me redirect that energy toward something positive. After I started working on Web development, I had a little money and bought a 125-gallon aquarium for fish I wanted to catch. I wanted to see how they struck their food and thereby learn how to catch them better. Little did I know, I was doing science! Then I ran into other people who were keeping native non-game fish who collected them as if they were collecting bait. What I came to learn was that the baitfish were way more interesting than the fish that I had been obsessed with for all that time.

Your focus at UToledo is not just on research but also classroom instruction. How does this change the way your classes are run?
In some ways, I’m tied to those past traditions, particularly in large format lecture. Regardless, one aspect I focus on always is critical thought. For example, in large format lecture we provide an open-ended question for which there isn’t a solution, to get people to think about what the content of the lecture is providing. I also am keen on making sure students understand content at a local scale. One of the things that I did to restructure the large format class was to talk about local issues only. When we’re talking about problems that are global, we bring it down to the local scale so that people can understand what is going on in their lives and how they affect things at hand. At which point, the global understanding comes by default. I focus a lot on getting students to talk to each other, to talk outside of class, and to express their opinions. I try to teach students that there aren’t always clear-cut right or wrong answers – there’s pros and cons to every choice that you make.

What can you tell us about your Honors class next semester?
This is a first run, so we’ll see how it goes. The plan is to get as far away from a PowerPoint as I can get, and go out to see, engage, learn and experience these different natural elements of Lucas County. It will help students see how to create and build a social network, but also enact change on campus. We’ll do two service projects, one with an aquarium of native fish that needs interpretation and another with native plants to be embedded around the Carlson Library. Science at its core is experiential, not fact-based.

What is your hope for students by the end of the class?
I hope they will see that they don’t have to wait for me. They don’t need my permission to do anything. They don’t need anyone’s permission. No one can know everything, but they can know enough. Education in our society has been very knowledge-based, but that’s not the point. The point is try and accept the risk of failure, learning from it so you can do better next time. That’s a far more constructive model for young folks.

PROF. Alysha Cook

“If I could change anything about the world, it would be people’s inability to put themselves in the shoes of others.”

For many Honors Students, Alysha Cook is a familiar face. As the programming coordinator for the Honors Learning Community, many students see her Alysha Cookevery other weekend – doing everything from enjoying a symphonic performance to getting dangerous on an aerial obstacle course. When not leading these events, Alysha is teaching her HON 1010 course, welcoming new Honors students to UToledo. Having previously taught Composition, Alysha deeply appreciates the Honors College for its sense of community.

Tell us about yourself!
I grew up in Toledo. I went to Start High School and took classes at UToledo while there. I got my Bachelor’s here, then my Master’s, and now I teach here! I’m still relatively new to the Honors College, but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it.

What’s it like teaching Honors students?
Honors students can be a little stressed at times because they can be very concerned about their grades. While that’s important, there’s so much more to gain from your classes. In HON 1010 and 1020, we’re really able to facilitate a broader discussion to take place outside of grades. Students are able to loosen up a little bit and talk about real world issues and how they relate to their lives, beyond memorizing terms and preparing for tests. The Honors College has a wonderful way of encouraging students to develop holistically.

What was it like moving from teaching Composition to Honors?
I also teach community college classes, where the students tend to come from rural areas. They are typically older than me and have families and jobs. Composition students are your typical fresh out of high school 18-year-olds. It’s similar for Honors, except it’s obvious from day one these are students that were always on the honor roll! The source of motivation is the only thing that really separates the students. My community college students are often parents and are motivated by their families. Composition students are motivated by the potential of what a college degree can do. Honors students are motivated by pressure. A lot of them have been influenced by this notion that they have to go to college in order to be successful.

What is it like leading the Honors Learning Community?
I’m a pretty outgoing person, so I enjoy it! There have been times where I may have seemed nervous, but the students will start talking to each other and get excited, then that energy rubs off on me. I wanted to be immersed in the Honors community, but I’ve learned so much being in charge of the HLC. The best example I can give is when we did the Aerial Adventure Course at the Toledo Zoo. I would have never – in my life – done that if I wasn’t a part of this. This is one of those activities where I could really push Honors students that usually spend their time studying out of their comfort zone. In the days leading up to it, I was thinking about not doing the course myself, but I sat back and thought what type of message that would send to my students. I was terrified, but seeing my students who were also terrified encouraged me! Students don’t realize how inspiring they can be to instructors and staff.

How about a fun fact about you – what was your first concert?
The first concert I ever attended was a huge deal! I was totally that emo punk kid in junior high. I had all the bracelets and super thick eyeliner. My parents would never let me die my hair, but I had all of these colorful clips in it. My first concert was to see Good Charlotte. I was obsessed! If one of their songs comes on the radio, I still get so hyped up by it. I was in the 8th grade and I went with my friends. We had a chaperone, but I think my parents were nervous just because of the punk rock stigma. But they trusted me and everything turned out just fine. I don’t much listen to that kind of music anymore – now it’s more The Decemberists.

PROF. Dan mcinnis

“Some of the Honors students asked me recently, if I won the lottery, what would I do? I'd take care of my loved ones and friends, give a big chunk to people who need it more than me, I'd keep working, and I'd open a disco in Toledo. Yes...a disco. A really, really big disco. We need dancing and escape more than ever these days. We need a DISCO.”

Daniel McInnisProf. Dan McInnis may have only arrived on campus a few weeks ago, but he has already begun contributing to the life and mission of the Honors College. Having studied film and photography at Ithaca College and later at the Savannah College of Art and Design for his M.F.A., his work and teaching revolves around the growing field of visual literacy – examining the many ways in which we consume art and media, as it shapes every element of our lives. Whether you see him in an HON 1010 section this semester or riding around campus on one of the new motorized scooters, it’s hard to miss the excitement he has for his new home.

Tell us about your field of study and what inspired you to choose it.
My undergraduate degree was in Film Study and Production, but I gravitated more towards documentary work – and I also did some graduate work in photography. Social issue photography was my biggest interest, and I also loved learning about portrait photos. My first experience with film and photography was when I was taken to a museum as a child. I remember seeing some of Andy Warhol’s work, and though I didn’t understand it at the time, I was fascinated by the artistry; it simply looked so different than the other works. This paired with the love of watching and making films is what changed my life and gave me the inspiration to follow down this path.

What were your expectations coming to UToledo?
This is my 23rd year of teaching, so the prior experience has helped me transition well to campus. One of the best experiences I’ve had in my career was teaching an honors class at Bowling Green State University. The privilege of getting to be around students that are interested in diverse areas of study is something that I had hoped would continue when I arrived here, and the experience here so far has been so incredible. Thus far, I have really enjoyed engaging with these students and bringing whatever visual and artistic experience I have to the table.

What are some of the things students do in your class?
The Honors students I teach are able to really explain and talk about their positions on life and the world. I do all I can to relate my classes to the ideas of visual media and media in general, so students can get an idea of how the two worlds relate. It’s a privilege to come into a room full of students that have great intellect and be able to bring my knowledge into conversation with their perspectives on life.

What are some interesting things about you, and what has been your favorite part of UToledo so far?
Not being from only one discipline of study is something I find is interesting about me. While film and photography are related in many ways, they are so vastly different, too. I like the fact that I can go between those two mediums. Also, I have taught for eight institutions now, one of which was overseas. Because of this, I know have a great idea of how institutions function, and how different demographics of students bring difference into play, and that has helped me adapt to a lot of different environments. While being at UToledo, I have really just enjoyed the presence of students and getting to work with them every day the most.

PROF. Mysoon rizk

You can pick just about anything in the Toledo Museum of Art, spend some time with it, and come away with a better understanding of the world.”

Associate Professor in Art History, Dr. Mysoon Rizk, has become a mainstay instructor in the Honors College. Specializing in modern and contemporary art,Mysoon Rizk Dr. Rizk shows Honors students why art history is useful to all majors. After teaching an Art & Disease Honors section this semester, she will follow it with a Fall Honors seminar in Visual Literacy – a topic she argues is important for all students. If you have any question whether to take a class with Dr. Rizk, see below how interesting her classes can be!

Give us a bit of your biography up until your time at Toledo.
I graduated from Oberlin College, which is not far from here, in 1983. I don’t think I was a very good college student, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had a few different majors going; for a couple years, I majored in Physics and Studio Art. I loved Physics, but after I got to the place where we were learning about Quantum Physics, I had to drop that and stick with Studio Art. After I graduated, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I think of myself as having backed into the career I have; I didn’t think about Art History as an Art student, even though we all had to take Art History courses. I always liked to write and I had loved art my entire life, so at a certain point it started to dawn on me that it was a very natural fit. There was about seven years working different jobs before I finally got back to graduate school in Art History in 1990. After about seven more years in grad school, I came out with my doctorate and a job in Milwaukee, WI. I worked there for three years before I got a job with UToledo in 2000!

You’re teaching a course on Art & Disease. What drew your interest to the topic?
The AIDS crisis drew me to teaching the class. It was something I was already interested in because of an artist I wrote about in graduate school – and whom I’m still writing about, was very much outspoken about the AIDS crisis and died of AIDS, spending the last six years of his life making art about it. But he wasn’t the only one; there were hundreds of artists making art about AIDS. I started to see how disease played out in the history of art and I became really fascinated with how history unfolds through disease.

What kind of work do your students do in the course?
I spend a lot of time lecturing about just whatever art I can think of through the whole history of art. I also assign readings to students. This semester, the students are reading a book called The Plague, which is set in a modern day Algerian town that suddenly gets this outbreak of disease and exhibits how that city handles that outbreak. We learn about what happens to a society when they suddenly confront this major catastrophe. It’s fascinating to look through history and see how that kind of experience is handled. There’s a lot of patterns that fall into place, such as the structures that seem to hold up common values, like funerary rights, fall to the wayside. People stop paying attention to the law, then some people rise to the occasion and become leaders.

Next semester, you’re teaching a Visual Literacy Honors seminar. Have you taught this course before?
It’s brand new! There’s parts of it I’ll be first experiencing with students. Ever since I’ve gotten here, I have used the Toledo Museum of Art as a laboratory for my classes every semester. What you can get by looking at the art isn’t just about the art, it’s the skills you gain from doing that. Just learning how to look and figuring out ways to look more clearly and with more comprehension is something you have to practice, and it’s not something anyone necessarily does. This class is a way to hone those skills. Visual literacy is something that can apply to any field, making it important to all majors. The TMA has classes from the medical school come over and practice looking at art to help them do their jobs better. For this class, I’m teaming up with Kate Blake, the Manager of Curriculum for the TMA, who will be leading students through visual literacy exercises in the galleries, in one of the best museums in the world.


“It’s a blast to teach Honors students. They’re witty and ask each other and myself hard questions. They’re innately curious and see insightful connections in the work we’re doing.”

Shelley CavalieriShelley Cavalieri, Associate Professor for the UToledo College of Law and JSHC instructor, has spent time just about everywhere. From the U.S. to Europe to Latin America, Prof. Cavalieri sees the world as a big place with plenty of work to be done. Shortly after her undergraduate stay at the University of Virginia, she spent time in Italy, working with Nigerian women who had been trafficked as sex workers. While in law school at UC Berkley, she took a year off to do research in Guatemala. This summer she will continue her research abroad in Ecuador on the topic of women’s housing related to social activism. In the U.S., she has clerked for judges in Nashville and San Francisco, and even taught at West Virginia University for two years before coming to UToledo. Prof. Cavalieri has numerous publications in her varying research interests, which she claims are all connected in the end. In short, she is an Honors instructor with whom every student should have a conversation.

You have traveled extensively – what’s next?
I think the world is fascinating, but now my family and I have been in Toledo for 7 years. This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I was growing up in Columbus. We still travel and we’re moving to Ecuador this summer! I received a Fulbright Scholarship to do research for a year and to teach at a law school there. I’ll be moving with my husband and two small kids to Quito, where we’ll spend about a year living and working.

Will your kids learn to speak Spanish there?
I had a very Midwestern childhood and I love the Midwest, but I’d like for my girls to have a more global sense of themselves. I learned a few languages during my twenties and feel like its valuable to speak another language, but I aspire for them to have a greater level of fluency than I ever established. My husband and I both speak Spanish. I actually met him, an instructor in the Sociology department here at UToledo, in Honduras where he was a Peace Corps volunteer.

Why is travel so close to your heart?
We’ve always had this sense that being overseas is valuable, both because we can contribute useful things and because of the ways being international can change who we are. A lot of people think that when you go overseas, it’s to help or change other people. We benefit too, though, by developing a deeper curiosity about another culture, cultural competency, and linguistic fluency. But we also benefit because it shapes our values. We lead simpler lives because we spend time with people who have almost nothing. We’ve been in villages where people literally have nothing to feed us as guests except for piles of roasted green corn because it’s the only food in the village.

Do you enjoy teaching Honors students?
Teaching Honors students is fabulous! I can’t quite believe I get to do it. I love my law students, but we train law students to hone their analyses very specifically. In my Honors classes, the students come from an array of majors and haven’t yet had the disciplinary constraints put on them. Their brains think in malleable ways, and I love watching their minds get blown.

Can you tell us more about your Honors classes?
I am currently teaching an Honors seminar on health disparities – a topic that allows us to think about the role of discrimination in shaping outcomes through resource allocation. I am giving my Honors students six weeks of material and they are each facilitating 45 minutes of class over the course of the remainder of the semester. They have assigned the readings on a topic that interests them and are going to facilitate class and grade each other’s response papers with my guidance. So I’m putting them in the role of leading class!

Dr. jonathan bosseNbroek

“I’m always interested in learning, reading, and experiencing new things. Fittingly, I feel my role as the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research is to try to instill the idea of curiosity into students.”

Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek, the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, has been bringing his talents to UToledo and its students for the last Jonathan Bossenbroekdecade of his career. “I grew up in Columbus and moved several times for college and graduate school,” he explained. “I came here from a post-doctorate position at Notre Dame University after getting my Ph.D. at Colorado State University and have been at UToledo since – for 12 years now.”

Dr. Bossenbroek, also an Associate Professor of Ecology at UToledo, is passionate about continuous learning and seeing his students succeed in their academic and personal endeavors. “To me, life is about trying to make the world a better place; in order to do that, we need to better understand each other and the world,” he said. “My favorite moments are when I hear about the successes and adventures of students: the successful graduate school application, the new trip, the new job, or overcoming a personal struggle.”

Appropriately enough, Dr. Bossenbroek says that he is learning from his students all of the time. “I have learned about new places, new species, new games, and mostly, I gain new perspectives,” he said. “We all come from different backgrounds and places – let’s try to understand it all together.”


“I love teaching for Honors. The chance to work with smart, engaged students and get them thinking about tough texts and complicated issues is exactly what I’d choose to do each day.”

Dr. Leslie Ann B Chambers, an Honors professor focusing in English, has quite the background that has lead to her career in education. As an alumna of Leslie ChambersUToledo and the Honors Program, Dr. Chambers has undergraduate degrees in English, Philosophy, and Music from UToledo. She also earned a Master’s in English from OSU and is now finalizing her Ph.D. in English there. Throughout her training, she has concentrated on rhetorical theory, science fiction and fantasy, feminism, and creative writing.

“My students could probably tell you that my background influences how I teach my sections of Honors classes,” she explained. “For example, in my HON 1010 class, we read philosophy and use it to interpret episodes of science-fiction television shows that are interested in the human condition. In my HON 2020 course, we focus a lot on feminist principles like perspective-taking, empathy, and inherent worth, and we complete creative-writing projects.” Aside from teaching for the Honors College, Dr. Chambers works as an editor, copywriter, and proofreader for the library distributor Midwest Tape and its sister companies Dreamscape and hoopla. “My students could probably tell you that style, syntax, grammar, and rhetoric are also very important to me. This is especially true in HON 1020 where I spend a lot of time working with them to polish their writing skills,” she said.

Ever the scholar, Dr. Chambers says that teaching Honors students helps her learn even more. “I enjoy empowering my students to take the lead in explaining and exploring different texts and issues,” she said. “My students’ questions and observations help me improve my teaching each semester.”

jon Richardson

Jon Richardson, an instructor within the Honors College, spends his time out of the classroom differently than does his colleagues. Richardson, a full-time Jon Richardsondefense attorney in downtown Toledo, has designed and taught a course focusing on the relationship between the law and literature for nearly a decade. “I’ve been practicing law for forty-five years, but secretly, my favorite job is teaching,” he said. “For most students, this is unique and uncharted territory. It’s a privilege to be the guide when they venture into it.”

His course examines the foundations, function, and application of the law through literary works, exploring the origin of law as well as its limitations and fair implementation.

Richardson has been in education since 1967 when he taught English at Scott High School while attending law school at night. Richardson says he has always been fascinated by the connection between his two professions and benefits from the strengths that each teach. “Thinking like a lawyer, or being good at a narrow but powerful methodology, is a professional necessity,” he explained. “Literature teaches the complexity of the human condition - something that law school certainly acknowledges but does not teach.”

His favorite part of instructing Honors students, Richardson says, is the opportunity to teach bright minds of varied majors that are ready to grapple with the serious issues that his course discusses. “It rejuvenates me when my students engage questions they have never had to think about before,” he said. “I am always re-learning because of teaching.”

PROF. Catherine chengges

Professor Catherine Chengges, an instructor within the Honors College, can be found not only in the classroom but also in the English Language and Catherine ChenggesLiterature Department offices. Chengges spent nearly 13 years of her career teaching Composition before being promoted to an administrative position there – that of Administrative Coordinator. “I choose to additionally teach on top of being a full-time administrator,” she said, “as I have always loved being in the classroom with promising and engaged students.” Chengges received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from UToledo, then transitioned to become part of the faculty.  “Opportunities came to me, and I was open to them,” she added.

Chengges currently teaches HON 1010 and orientation classes ranging in concentration anywhere from English to the Social Sciences. The relationships she forms with her students are just as valuable to her as the lessons are to them.

The quote, “When one teaches, two learn,” which is painted on a wall of Gillham Hall, is something that is special to Chengges and reflects her classroom. “My favorite moments with my students are the connections that we make during in-class discussions and out-of-class chats,” she said. “I like that I get to experience a variety of perspectives and hear about their personal interests.”

Dr. barbara mann

"I take knowledge and learning – my own and students' – very seriously. I will always go the extra mile for an engaged student."

Dr. Barbara Mann, a professor of Humanities in the Honors College, is consistently showing her dedication to broadening her students’ horizons. As a Barbara Mannpublished author of 13 books and over 200 articles, an internationally renowned scholar, and a keynote speaker at several global conferences, Dr. Mann has a strong passion for her studies and the lessons she teaches.

Over the last few years, Dr. Mann has been heading up the Buffalo Project, where she is striving to bring back the American Bison to Northwest Ohio. She has worked closely with the Native American Alliance of Ohio, an organization of which she is a co-chair, and with the Honors College to put together this project. Beginning in 2015, three Honors students have had the opportunity to partner with Dr. Mann and perform studies for the Buffalo Project, funded by summer research grants. “Ultimately the project looks to provide summer internships for our own Honors students, as well as benefits to the local NW Ohio community,” she explained.

Dr. Mann says that if there is anything besides conservation that she wants to teach her students’ generation, it is helping to solve the issues with Internet searching.  “Once people pull up one site, the Internet thinks that they are looking for more of the same, with the result that they see only more of what they initially clicked on,” she said. “This results in the genuine sense that they have seen all there is to see on the issue; whereas in fact, they have seen only what the Internet has decided is what they want to ‘buy.’ I think that, next to the environment, rectifying this is the most important problem that our students’ generation will have to tackle.”

Dr. Mary templin

"I wouldn’t trade this job for any other! But it took me more than a decade to realize that I wanted to teach college. I found out that not knowing at age 20 what you want to do with your life is not the end of the world."

Dr. Mary Templin, a senior lecturer in the Honors College and published author, shows her passion for literature and teaching every day in the classroom. Mary TemplinShe is, after all, in the midst of her dream job. “To be able to read interesting books and then sit with a room full of smart people talking about the ideas in those books is amazing,” she said. “On top of that, the experience of being there when a student understands something they didn’t before, or starts to see something in new ways, is what makes teaching feel worthwhile.”

Dr. Templin began teaching in UToledo’s Honors College in 2002 and has taught a multitude of classes including HON 1010, HON 1020, HON 2020, HON 2030, and multiple Honors seminars. Although she is the one creating the lesson plans and assigning the readings, Dr. Templin says that she is taught something new routinely. “Because every student brings different experiences and perspectives to the reading of a text, class discussions continually bring up points I’ve never thought about or new interpretations of a scene, even if I’ve taught that book five times before,” she said.

Although she typically teaches her students during their first years at UToledo, Dr. Templin says that many of her favorite moments with her Honors students occur at graduation, when they receive their Honors medallions. “To watch students whom I may have had in class two or three years ago receive their medallions never loses its thrill,” she said. “I am always so proud of how hard our students work and how much they accomplish!”

Dr. GLENN sheldon

“What I make look casual is actually the result of a lot of preparation and real attention to specific outcomes. The ease that most students relax into in my classroom is carefully devised.”

Dr. Glenn Sheldon, a professor of humanities in the Honors College, is known as witty and down-to-earth by his students and colleagues. A published poet,Glenn Sheldon Dr. Sheldon brings his passion for literature into the classroom. “What may appear to be a bit of ‘wandering off topic’ in my classroom is actually an intellectual process that I label ‘discovery’,” Sheldon explained, “If a work we are studying inspires students to make clear connections to their worldviews, they are actually breathing life into that literary work.” Sheldon takes pride in the moments when he is able to renew his students’ interest in poetry. “I think I bring them back to poetry on new terms,” he explained. “I like to see them ponder along with a poet’s thoughts and how poetry can shape our views of the contemporary world.”

Although an experienced professor, Sheldon says he has been able to learn a lot from his students. “Students who share their real lives, their pasts, their joys, or their sorrows with me remind me anew of the compassion we all must have for each other, both in the classroom and outside of university walls,” he said.

Dr. Page Armstrong - Emeritus

“When I retire, I plan on winning the Nobel Prize in Physics by disproving the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

Dr. Page Armstrong, once a familiar presence within the halls of MacKinnon Hall, had worked with the Jesup Scott Honors College for Page Armstrongmany years. As the Director of the Honors Learning Community, adviser for The Voice of Honors, and coordinator of Honors service opportunities, Dr. Armstrong was thoroughly involved in her students’ experiences in the JSHC. “There are too many big moments to choose from as my favorite, so I guess I’ll go with the small, more everyday things,” she had said. “I adore those times that I find myself in a room filled with students and conversation long after the hours of classroom work are over.”

In her time with the JSHC, Dr. Armstrong had learned from her students while teaching them lessons from philosophy and literature. “In a classroom full of engineers and artists, pharmacists and political science majors, I learned that the diversity of thought is every bit as important as diversity of race, gender, and ethnicity,” explained Armstrong. “I came to understand that following my students’ lead was sometimes the best strategy. Teaching in Honors means that I get to be a perpetual student, so thank you all for the encouragement to keep pushing.”

Last Updated: 10/1/19