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UToledo Launches New Degrees in Data Science and Analytics

Due to skyrocketing demand from employers for data-savvy professionals, The University of Toledo is offering two new undergraduate degrees in data science and analytics.

Beginning in fall 2020, the University will debut a bachelor of arts degree in data analytics in the College of Arts and Letters, and a bachelor of science degree in data science in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

“The ability to interpret large quantities of data, translate insight and understand broader implications is critical to success in modern organizations throughout every industry,” Dr. Karen Bjorkman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said. “These degrees will give our students a competitive edge in our rapidly changing economy driven by big data and the increasing exchange of information as part of our everyday life and culture.”

Employment in data science is expected to grow nearly 20% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The undergraduate programs prepare students for employment in positions dealing with big data and data analysis in nonprofit, government and business environments. They share a core set of courses in econometrics, geographic information systems, data visualization and ethics.

UToledo is enrolling students to start in the fall semester who are interested in learning how to make informed, mathematically valid and ethically sound decisions based on the analysis of data.

The bachelor of arts degree in data analytics has an emphasis on social sciences and will prepare students for careers that focus on interpreting and applying structured data for clients who can use the data to make decisions.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the data analytics degree draws on the wide range of expertise in the College of Arts and Letters, from the social sciences to philosophy and visual arts. It includes courses in social statistics and quantitative research methods; computer science and engineering technology; and research and writing for different audiences.

“Focusing on important social, behavioral and cultural contexts, this experience will empower students to better understand the results of their work and to better communicate those results to their employers, policy makers or others in need of the information, especially nonprofit organizations who desperately need individuals trained to use data effectively in order to better leverage their resources as they work to solve challenging problems,” Charlene Gilbert, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said.

The bachelor of science degree in data science is designed to prepare students for careers that involve statistical tools to extract meaning from large data sets for specific applications. It includes courses in calculus; statistics and probability; object-oriented programming; and machine learning.

The data science degree emphasizes the analysis of data in the applied sciences with training in math and computer science to develop data from different sources and apply the results in fields ranging from astronomy to the environment to human health and beyond.

“In the past few years, our ability to collect detailed data has dramatically expanded, impacting every area of modern life,” Dr. John Plenefisch, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said. “However, our ability to extract useful information from this sea of data has lagged because we simply don’t have enough data scientists. This new degree program will help out students gain the knowledge, skills and experience that will position them to succeed in this expanding career area.”

Beyond the undergraduate degrees, UToledo also offers master’s degree programs in business analytics in the College of Business and Innovation; a minor in data science in the College of Health and Human Services; a minor in data analytics in the College of Arts and Letters; and a concentration in data science in mathematics in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


UToledo Student Becomes First Black Editor-in-Chief of 52-Year-Old Law Review

Second-year law student Damon Williams made history as he was selected to be the next leader of The University of Toledo Law Review.

Williams will be the first black student to hold the prestigious position of editor-in-chief in the publication’s 52-year history.

Damon Williams

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I have been afforded,” Williams said. “Becoming the first editor-in-chief with African-American heritage is an amazing milestone, and I am beyond honored.”

The law review, which was first published at the UToledo College of Law in 1969, is a student-run journal written by law professors, judges and students.

“I am delighted that Damon was selected as editor-in-chief of The University of Toledo Law Review,” D. Benjamin Barros, dean of the College of Law, said. “He’s exceptionally bright and will be an excellent leader. Although we wish this milestone would have happened sooner, his selection is encouraging as it reflects progress.”

“This is but a step in, what I hope to be, a continuing process for The University of Toledo,” Williams said. “I am striving to help foster subsequent diversity milestones and continued Law Review success, and I look forward to my future collaboration with community members.”

Law review members are selected as editor-in-chief after a highly-competitive, in-depth interview process. The elections committee considers academic performance, writing ability as demonstrated by their academic writing and editing throughout the year, and leadership potential.

“From a technical perspective, Damon’s formal yet graceful writing style and his superior academic performance made him a competitive candidate among his peers,” said Lindsey Self, law student and the current editor-in-chief of The University of Toledo Law Review. “He demonstrates conviction in his vision for the journal but is unafraid to take calculated risks. Damon’s writing and leadership demonstrate a unique balance between sensibility and practicality with inventiveness and ingenuity – a balance that is difficult to find in practice, let alone law school.”

Williams, who also serves as president of the Black Law Students Association, was born and raised in Toledo. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in forensic science at Bowling Green State University.

He hopes his law degree will help him facilitate the social and political changes he wants to see in the world. Although he is still figuring out his next steps, Williams is considering a federal clerkship or doctor of juridical science.

“This is much bigger than me alone,” Williams said. “I have a fantastic executive board in Hayley Mise, Cameron Morrissey, Kate Murray and Morgan Isenberg. Their continued excellence and support are essential to the success of the law review. In addition, Lindsey Self has been a shining north star, guiding me toward the path to success.”


From UToledo to NASA, Recent Graduate’s Discovery Sheds New Light on Newborn Stars

Making her dreams come true, a recent graduate of The University of Toledo’s physics program is in the midst of a sky-rocketing year.

Dr. Nicole Karnath earned her Ph.D. last summer and quickly moved to California to serve as instrument scientist at the SOFIA Science Center, which is based in NASA Ames Research Center, where she flies regularly aboard the world’s largest airborne observatory.

On top of her already soaring career success, this week the Astrophysical Journal published Karnath’s research completed while she was a UToledo student, sharing her discovery that reflects a new understanding of what happens at the early stages of star formation.

Dr. Nicole Karnath, UToledo alumna and instrument scientist at the SOFIA Science Center in California, stands in front of SOFIA, the world’s largest airborne observatory.

She credits her student research and the support of her advisor Dr. Tom Megeath, UToledo astronomy professor, for the job offer from NASA before she had her diploma.

“I am very happy. I enjoy the science, and I love studying the universe,” Karnath said. “Astronomy is an international, collaborative field because we’re working on telescopes all over the world and taking in huge amounts of data. The opportunities are there for students to break in. UToledo astronomy professors know so many people all over the world. Take advantage of their expertise, connections and need for help analyzing data. That’s how I ended up here.”

“Nicole made one of the most exciting discoveries to come out of our UToledo Star Formation group,” Megeath said. “Just as a talent agent’s biggest dream is to find the actor or actress who will become the next star, for an astronomer, the dream is to find the blob of gas that’s in the process of becoming a star. Nicole has found four such blobs — collapsing gas clouds that are in the first 6,000 years of forming what is called protostar. In ‘star years,’ this is the first 30 minutes of their lives.”

While a graduate student at UToledo, Karnath was part of an international team of astronomers who used two of the most powerful radio telescopes in the world to create more than three hundred images of planet-forming disks around very young stars in the Orion Molecular Clouds.

Pointing both the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to the region in space where many stars are born, the result is the largest survey to date of young stars, called protostars, and their protoplanetary disks, or planets born in rings of dust and gas.

Among the hundreds of survey images, four protostars looked different than the rest and caught Karnath’s attention.

“These newborn stars looked very irregular and blobby,” Karnath said. “We think that they are in one of the earliest stages of star formation and some may not even have formed into protostars yet.”

It is significant that the scientists discovered four of these objects, which Karnath estimates to be younger than 10,000 years old.

“We rarely find more than one such irregular object in one observation,” said Karnath, who used these four infant stars to propose a schematic pathway for the earliest stages of star formation.

This schematic shows a proposed pathway for the formation of protostars, based on four very young protostars observed by VLA (orange) and ALMA (blue). 
Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), N. Karnath; NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton and S. Dagnello

To be defined as a typical protostar, stars should not only have a flattened rotating disk surrounding them, but also an outflow – spewing away material in opposite directions – that clears the dense cloud surrounding the stars and makes them optically visible. This outflow is important because it prevents stars from spinning out of control while they grow. But when exactly these outflows start to happen, is an open question in astronomy.

One of the infant stars in this study, called HOPS 404, has an outflow velocity of only two kilometers per second, or 1.2 miles per second. A typical protostar outflow has a range of 10-to-100 kilometers per second, or 6-to-62 miles per second.

“It is a big puffy sun that is still gathering a lot of mass, but just started its outflow to lose angular momentum to be able to keep growing,” Karnath said. “This is one of the smallest outflows that we have seen and it supports our theory of what the first step in forming a protostar looks like.”

“These very young protostars don’t match existing theory very well, meaning that we still have a lot to learn from future studies,” Megeath said.

Karnath’s stellar work continues in California at the SOFIA Science Center. SOFIA is a flying observatory made out of a modified Boeing 747, capable of making observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest ground-based telescopes.

SOFIA, which stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center and under contract with the Universities Space Research Association.

As an instrument scientist, Karnath is responsible for one of five instruments rotated on and off the telescope on the plane, depending on the type of data astronomers are looking to gather.

“I work on an instrument called FORCAST. It’s an imaging instrument and also a spectrometer,” Karnath said. “I’m up there making sure we’re getting the filters needed or the different wavelengths, or looking at a certain target for the right amount of time, and also troubleshooting issues.”

Karnath also is using SOFIA to continue her own research. She submitted a proposal and was awarded observation time on SOFIA scheduled for February 2021.

The curiosity and determination that first fueled her journey as a little girl still powers this successful woman in science today.

“My dad was an amateur astronomer who had a telescope and regularly had me looking at Saturn or a meteor shower,” Karnath said. “I thought astronomy was the most fascinating subject I ever studied. In high school I enjoyed physics and learned that you could make a living off of this. I never looked back, and I’m so lucky that I still love it.”

Karnath said she couldn’t have accomplished so much so soon without the support of Megeath, the UToledo astronomy program, and past advisors at Lowell Observatory and Ohio State University.

“The best part of my job is handing over astronomical data from a cutting-edge observatory, such as the Spitzer Space Telescope, Hubble Space Telescope, ALMA, or the Lowell Discovery Telescope, to a graduate student and seeing the discoveries they make from the data. They never know exactly what they will find,” Megeath said.

“In Nicole’s case, she did an extraordinary job working with an international team spanning three continents and involving universities and institutes across the U.S., Chile and Spain. She combined data from two of the most powerful radio telescopes on Earth to discover these objects. The exciting part is that every discovery brings new mysteries to solve.”

Prior to UToledo, Karnath earned a master’s in applied physics from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s in physics and astronomy from Ohio State University.

UToledo is a member of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, a prestigious consortium of 47 U.S. institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories for the National Science Foundation and NASA.


Students From Across U.S. to Travel to UToledo for Sales Competition

Professional sales students from 36 universities across the United States will visit The University of Toledo’s College of Business and Innovation this weekend to compete in the fifth annual UToledo Invitational Sales Competition.

The sales competition, which features nearly 200 role plays selling a product and more than 300 interviews, will take place Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22 in classrooms and meeting rooms throughout the Savage & Associates Business Complex. The awards ceremony will occur Saturday afternoon in the Thompson Student Union.

The Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in the UToledo College of Business and Innovation organizes this first and only national sales competition dedicated exclusively to juniors, sophomores and freshmen because graduating seniors are typically already placed in jobs due to high corporate demand.

Formed in 2000 and endowed in 2002, the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales believes in transforming the profession of sales by creating knowledge, shaping people and making connections, and the UToledo Invitational Sales Competition is an ideal platform to accomplish just that.

“The UToledo Invitational Sales Competition plays a central role in increasing sales program enrollments nationwide and fueling the tomorrows of future sales leaders and organizations,” said Deirdre Jones, director of the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales and the UToledo Invitational Sales Competition. “The competition is the conversation starter for universities nationwide to engage early with freshman and sophomore students, and it is also a vehicle for students to pay it forward and shape their leadership skills as a peer coach.”

The first rounds of the competition will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Friday, followed by the wild-card round from 1:45 to 3 p.m. and quarterfinals from 4 to 5:40 p.m. The competition will conclude Saturday with the semifinals from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. and the finals from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Approximately 100 sales leaders and recruiters who participate serve as buyers and judges for the role plays and also interact with the students during coaching and interviewing sessions.

Sponsors include 3M Co., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Mediasite, Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans and Polymershapes, among others.

Participating universities that will be in attendance at this year’s event include Kansas State University, the University of Cincinnati, Florida State University, Clemson University, the University of Minnesota and Baylor University. The University of Toledo Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales also will have a team competing.


Chemistry of Chocolate Among Saturday Morning Science Topics

Saturday Morning Science is returning this month to The University of Toledo.

The free, public talks will begin at 10 a.m. in Wolfe Hall Room 1205 on Main Campus.

Another eclectic and cool slate of topics will be explored, according to Dr. Joseph Schmidt and Dr. John Bellizzi, co-directors of Saturday Morning Science.

“There’s really an aspect of randomness to selecting the topics,” Schmidt, professor of chemistry, said. “If it’s something that sounds fun and is even tangentially related to science we’ll do it.”

“We try to do stuff that is on the mind of people in the community as well,” Bellizzi, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, added. “For instance, we had someone from Flint come down and talk about clean water.”

Schmidt and Bellizzi would like people to leave these talks with an appreciation and a greater understanding for any given field of science.

Sessions are appropriate for middle school students and older.

Listed by date, Saturday programs and speakers will be:

  • Feb. 22: “Glass Is a Verb, and So Are You” by Dr. Jane Cook, director of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.
  • Feb. 29: “Bon Bon Bon and the Chemistry of Chocolate” by Alexandra Clark, chocolatier and owner of Bon Bon Bon in Hamtramck, Mich.
  • April 4: “What’s Happening With Solar Cell Science and Technology These Days?” by Dr. Michael Heben, professor in the UToledo Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Endowed Chair at the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization.
  • April 25: “The Science of Jams, Preserves and Marmalade” by Tara Grey, jam maker and owner of Gus & Grey in Detroit.
  • May 2: “Life, But Not Alive” by Dr. Kate Adamala, assistant professor of genetics, cell biology and development at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

All talks include complimentary light refreshments donated by Barry’s Bagels. The program is funded by the Office of the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.


UToledo to Celebrate Engineers Week

More than 800 local school students will visit The University of Toledo College of Engineering for Engineers Week.

Founded in 1951, Engineers Week will be celebrated Feb. 16-22 across the country and is dedicated to increasing understanding and interest in engineering and technology careers.

This year’s theme is “Be a Pioneer of Progress.”

“I am confident that Toledo’s celebration of Engineers Week is one of the best in the nation, and I am proud to have the College of Engineering play a big role,” Dr. Mike Toole, dean of the UToledo College of Engineering, said. “Almost 250 high school students will join us as an Engineer for a Day, working on hands-on activities to help them learn about the engineering disciplines. And I am proud of our annual award-winning Introduce a Girl to Engineering program, which has grown every year.”

Area high school students will come to campus around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18 for Engineer for a Day.

Students will learn about different careers during a tour of UToledo’s engineering facilities and engage in hands-on activities with University students. After lunch, the high school students will shadow a professional engineer in the community.

The UToledo College of Engineering also will host its third annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. More than 600 seventh- and eighth-graders from 16 school districts will visit the University from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20.

During the day, the girls will tour UToledo’s engineering facilities and work with engineering students and members from more than a dozen local companies on a variety of activities, including robotics building and testing; traffic design experiments; Lego and balloon cars; rocket building and testing; pipeline design; chemical reactions; highway design; and virtual reality construction programs.

“This event has been built to inspire the next generation of women to pursue careers in STEM fields by working with our UToledo, community and corporate partners to showcase the many ways engineers impact our daily lives,” said Bryan Bosch, manager of diversity, inclusion and community engagement initiatives in the UToledo College of Engineering. “We’re excited to have such a large group on campus this year from so many of our area school districts.”


UToledo Spotlights Unlikely Friendship Sparked by Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Case

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage five years ago in its landmark “Obergefell v. Hodges” case.

Next week the named parties on opposing sides of one of the most important Supreme Court rulings in recent history will be at The University of Toledo to discuss the case and their resulting friendship.

Jim Obergefell

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff who sued the state of Ohio for refusing to recognize his marriage on his husband’s death certificate, and Rick Hodges, the defendant and UToledo alumnus who served as director of the Ohio Department of Health at the time of the case, will take the stage for “Finding Friendship in a Contentious Place: A Conversation with Obergefell and Hodges from the Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case on Same-Sex Marriage” 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 in the Doermann Theatre.

Benjamin Barros, dean of the UToledo College of Law, will moderate the free, public event presented by The University of Toledo Law Review.

Rob Salem, professor and dean for diversity and inclusion at the College of Law, will provide legal commentary of the challenges same-sex couples still face five years after the decision.

“We’re honored to host these guest speakers not just because of their prominent role in a landmark Supreme Court case, but because they embody the spirit of civility and celebration of differences,” Salem said.

Jim Obergefell works as an LGBTQA+ activist and serves on the Board of Directors for Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, the oldest and largest national non-profit organization that advocates for and provides services for LGBTQA+ older Americans. Obergefell co-authored the book “Love Wins” with Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Debbie Cenziper.

Rick Hodges

Rick Hodges is an executive in residence and visiting professor at Ohio University. He also is the director of the Ohio Alliance for Innovation in Population Health. Hodges is a former member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He earned his master’s degree in public administration from UToledo in 1991.

For those unable to attend, the event will stream live at toledoalumni.org/events/law-finding-friendship.html.


Volunteers at UToledo to pack more than 200,000 meals to feed families

For the fourth consecutive year, volunteers will gather in shifts and give back at The University of Toledo by assembling nearly a quarter of a million meals to feed families around the globe on Friday and Saturday, February 7-8, in the Health Education Building on Main Campus.

The two-day mobile pack, part of the Feed My Starving Children program, is organized by 100 UToledo students who are members of the Klar Leadership Academy in the College of Business and Innovation. The academy was founded in 2015 with the support of Steven Klar, a 1971 UToledo business alumnus and a New York City builder and real estate developer.

More than 1,100 UToledo students, employees and alumni, as well as teams from companies around Toledo, will invest some of their free time to split into groups to assemble nutritious rice meals with vegetable blend, vitamins and minerals. The meals are scientifically formulated for undernourished children.

The organizers raised $48,000 and have a goal to build over 208,000 meals. Last year, volunteers packed 202,000 meals.

“The University of Toledo has a global impact, and the students are the driving force behind this incredible initiative to fight hunger worldwide,” said Dr. Clint Longenecker, Distinguished University Professor at the UToledo College of Business and Innovation. “This is a very compelling feel-good story of Toledoans coming together to positively impact the lives of those in destitute countries.”

The shifts will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, February 7th, and from 9 to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, February 8th.

The over-arching goals of The Klar Leadership Academy are to provide its student participants with a transformational learning experience to build on their University of Toledo education so to enable them to better lead themselves, others, teams, organizations, communities and change the world for good.


NAACP Division Director to Speak at UToledo for Black History Month

Activist Tiffany Loftin, director of the NAACP Youth and College Division, will talk about advocacy and empowerment for communities of color when she visits The University of Toledo for Black History Month.

She will speak 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6 in Doermann Theatre.

Tiffany Loftin

For the NAACP, Loftin serves more than 700 youth councils and high school and college chapters fighting for civil rights. She is known for her passion for membership-based organizing at the local, state and national levels.

She believes her mission is to develop students into leaders who can stand up for what they believe in.

“My first value in this work is to make sure that our young people are treated as respectable young adults,” Loftin said during an interview with The Crisis Magazine. “Our young folks are more woke, taking more risks, and having more important conversations at a younger age that a lot of us didn’t have to have when we were young.”

“We are excited Tiffany Loftin is coming to campus to give our keynote address during Black History Month,” David Young, UToledo director of Toledo Excel and Special Projects, said. “She is a dynamic leader, and we expect her to fire up our students to get involved and make a difference in the fight for equality.”

Prior to joining the NAACP last February, Loftin was senior program specialist in community advocacy and partnership engagement at the Center for Social Justice with the National Education Association. Her responsibilities included aligning the association’s priorities within the African-American and progressive communities and creating opportunities to address racial and economic gaps that affect educators, students and communities.

She also worked for the AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice and served as racial justice program coordinator for the Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department, where she focused on creating dialogue and action addressing the racial and economic disparities impacting workers.

When Loftin was 24 in 2013, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in Higher Education.

In 2011, Loftin became the first person in her family to graduate from college when she received dual degrees in American studies and political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She became president of the U.S. Student Association, the largest student-led organization in the nation that represents student governments and students, and coordinated campaigns addressing student loan debt and expanding financial aid for low-income and students of color.

In addition to Loftin’s free, public talk, the University will pay tribute to this year’s theme, “Celebrating Resilience,” with several events during Black History Month. Listed by date, events will include:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4 — Black History Month Basketball Game, 7 p.m., Savage Arena. Catch the Toledo men’s basketball team playing Northern Illinois; during the game, student organizations, alumni and students who exemplify excellence will be recognized.
  • Saturday, Feb. 8 — “Reclaiming Our Narrative: Ending the Epidemic,” 4 p.m., Collier Building Room 1000 on Health Science Campus. International HIV activist Hydeia Broadbent will speak in honor of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The free, public program is presented by the Ann Wayson Locher Memorial Fund for HIV Care and the UToledo Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 — Black Career Night, 6 p.m., Thompson Student Union Ingman Room. This event sponsored by the Black Student Union will bring together local community members who will talk about their businesses and organizations and allow students to network and learn about career opportunities.
  • Friday, Feb. 21 — Black Student Union Fashion Show, 7 p.m., Thompson Student Union Auditorium. Ticket prices to be announced. Proceeds from the 51st annual event go to a student scholarship that aids in the retention of black students.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25 — “Honing in on Triple Negative Breast Cancer: Improving Health Outcomes for Women of African Ancestry Using Precision Medicine,” 5:30 p.m., Health Education Building Room 105 on Health Science Campus. The free, public forum is hosted by the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29 — Ujima Day of Service, 10:30 a.m. Volunteers will meet in Thompson Student Union Room 2500 for breakfast and then volunteer at the MLK Kitchen for the Poor, the Ronald McDonald House and the Beach House Family Shelter. Ujima is one of the seven principles of Kwanza and stands for collective work and responsibility. “Ujima means to build and maintain our community together and to make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together,” Young said.

UToledo Law Scholar’s New Book ‘Originalism’s Promise’ Illuminates the Constitution

In the midst of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and heading into the 2020 presidential election, a constitutional law scholar at The University of Toledo released a new book providing the first natural law justification for an originalist interpretation of the American Constitution.

In “Originalism’s Promise: A Natural Law Account of the American Constitution” published by Cambridge University Press, Lee Strang, John W. Stoepler Professor of Law and Values in the UToledo College of Law, provides a summary of the history of constitutional interpretation in the U.S. and writes a thorough and detailed description of how originalism operates in practice.

“This book provides an argument for how Americans should interpret the Constitution and offers a way out of the bitterness exemplified by the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh,” Strang said. “Faithfulness to the Constitution’s original meaning is supported by sound reasons, reasons that help all Americans achieve their own human flourishing.”

The College of Law is celebrating the book’s release with a book launch that features a lecture by Strang at noon Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium. The free, public event will be followed by a book signing.

Lee Strang

Strang, who was a visiting fellow at the James Madison Program at Princeton University during the 2018-19 academic year, has published dozens of articles in the fields of constitutional law and interpretation; property law; and religion and the First Amendment.

“In this presidential election year, my goal is to inform Americans as they debate the Supreme Court’s future,” Strang said. “‘Originalism’s Promise’ is the product of more than 20 years of thinking through two common American commitments. First, Americans strive to be faithful to our Constitution. Second, and following the Declaration of Independence, many Americans are committed to some version of natural law. Together, these commitments suggest that Americans of all stripes should utilize originalism to interpret our common Constitution.”

The UToledo College of Law awarded Strang the Faculty Scholarship Award in 2019 for “Originalism’s Promise.” He was the recipient of The University of Toledo Outstanding Faculty Research and Scholarship Award in 2017.

In 2015 Strang served as a visiting scholar at the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

Strang said the inspiration for writing the book stems from his experiences as a younger person attending political events with his parents, his education as a law student, and how vigorously Americans disagree about how to interpret the Constitution.

“I listened as politicians and activists argued that the Constitution supported their positions, so this book grew out of an attempt to identify how Americans can ascertain which claims are correct,” Strang said. “Also, as a student taking constitutional law classes, we did not study the Constitution’s text, structure and history. I remember we nearly always read Supreme Court opinions, which themselves rarely paid attention to the Constitution’s text. This book both criticizes and supports aspects of that educational approach.”