University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber, right, and interim provost John Barrett, walk across UT’s campus to a meeting at the student union with success coaches.
Sharon Gaber listened as much as she spoke on her first morning as the University of Toledo’s new president.
The 17th leader took over the job on Wednesday. On her first day, she met with senior administrators and success coaches who guide students from orientation to graduation.
Ms. Gaber, 51, emphasized her goals to elevate the university by improving its reputation, growing enrollment and research, retaining students, reducing administrative costs, and raising money.
She also delivered the message, in-person and online, that she plans to connect with the campus and community.
“I want to hear from you,” she told the success coaches. “You are so critical to what we are doing on campus.”
Though Wednesday was the official start of her presidency, Ms. Gaber previously met with state legislators, business leaders, local politicians, and others.
Her Day One itinerary introduced her to even more constituents — student government leaders, medical center personnel, and faculty senate members.
Officials also planned an evening open house to meet her Ottawa Hills neighbors at the presidential house recently purchased by the UT Foundation.
She told success coaches she already has been recognized and greeted warmly at a grocery store.
In the coming weeks and months, she plans to keep up this fast pace. She has a list of several hundred people to meet and a message to share.
“This is a critical junction, and UT is a big player in what we are doing in Toledo,” Ms. Gaber said during a Wednesday morning interview with a Blade reporter in her presidential office at University Hall.
Later, she urged a conference room full of administrators to be mindful of enrollment, retention, and reputation-enhancing priorities.
“Be bold,” she told the 14 senior leaders gathered around a table. Work out solutions in creative, new ways. Update her by text message or phone call, though she promised not to micromanage.
University of Toledo President Sharon Gaber, standing, meets UT success coaches Mary Youngs, left, and Marissa Reid, right, during a meeting at the University of Toledo’s Student Union.
She asked for briefings from each cabinet member, who responded with information on finances, human resources, and the proposed affiliation agreement between the Health Sciences Campus and ProMedica.
Dr. Christopher Cooper, dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, told Ms. Gaber that he and others continue to work on an agreement and transition plan.
The president also established an online voice.
She and her staff, with her approval, will post to Twitter under the username @UTPresident.
Her first tweet, sent at 7:15 a.m., included an exclamation point to highlight her first-day enthusiasm and a link to a nearly three-minute video in which she delivers a personal hello and outlines her UT vision.
She fills a vacancy created by the departure last year of former president Lloyd Jacobs. Nagi Naganathan, who served as interim president during the presidential search, returned to his post as dean of the College of Engineering.
Ms. Gaber, the former University of Arkansas provost, signed a five-year contract with UT that pays $450,000 a year, plus bonuses.
She will join the boards of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Growth Partnership.
University of Toledo officials are planning an inauguration ceremony on Sept. 25 for the new president, who was received warmly by employees and administrators on her first day.
“She’s dynamic, she’s smart, and it’s going to be a great next few years as we get to work with her and see what all we are able to accomplish under her leadership,” said interim Provost John Barrett, who attended morning meetings with Ms. Gaber.
Wednesday marked a new chapter in UT’s history, Ms. Gaber told her cabinet at the conclusion of their first session.
“Let’s go get ’em,” she said.
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