Owens graduates, photo montage

Commencement Speakers
Fall 2016

Keynote Speaker

Sharon L. Gaber, Ph.D.

Sharon L. Gaber, Ph.D., Keynote Speaker

Dr. Sharon L. Gaber began her tenure as the 17th president of The University of Toledo in Summer 2015. Throughout the past year, she has worked to build upon the many strengths of the university, while also identifying key areas for growth.

Collaborating with faculty, physicians, staff and students, Dr. Gaber has established five strategic goals for the University:

  • Raise its national status by recognizing the tremendous achievements of faculty, researchers, clinicians and students;
  • Increase student enrollment and ensure students are better prepared;
  • Increase externally funded research so UT may continue to make gains in developing new knowledge in multiple fields;
  • Grow philanthropic support for student scholarships, faculty endowments, updated facilities and other university initiatives; and
  • Reduce administrative expenses to improve UT's financial standing.

Additionally, Dr. Gaber is moving the university forward through several major plans, including: a strategic plan that will chart UT's course for the next several years; a diversity plan that helps to ensure UT's campuses are welcoming and inclusive for everyone; a master facilities plan to reduce UT's footprint and use space more efficiently; and an enrollment plan to increase enrollment and improve student retention rates.

By realigning the administrative team, she also has streamlined executive positions and, with approval from the Board of Trustees, has merged UT colleges to reduce the number from 16 to 13.

Dr. Gaber currently serves on the board of trustees for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, as well as the board of directors for the Regional Growth Partnership. A city and regional planning expert, she came to UT following six years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas. Prior to that, Dr. Gaber served in multiple roles in the provost's office at Auburn University in Alabama, and also worked at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

She earned her bachelor's degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles, a master's degree from the University of Southern California, and her doctoral degree in city and regional planning from Cornell University. Dr. Gaber is the mother of three children, including one who is a UT student.

Class Representative

Jacquelle Luckey

Jacquelle Luckey, Class Representative

Jacquelle Luckey of Toledo has been selected as the Owens Community College class representative and will address the graduates during the 36th Fall Commencement ceremony. She is graduating with an Associate of Applied Business degree in the Medical Office Support major and with Cum Laude honors.

Luckey, 46, enrolled at Owens during Fall Semester 2014 after her office job was outsourced to Costa Rica. She recalled her doubts when she considered earning a higher education. She said she thought it was too daunting a task, because she was too old and a college campus was intimidating.

She said she overcame her fears, got started and gave herself a two-year deadline to earn a degree. She's meeting her self-imposed deadline this evening.

"My experience at Owens has been great," she said. "I followed the rules and put in the work. I did what I needed to do to get done. It's a strong academic community at Owens. You are part of something that's going to help you move forward in your life. I want to stay connected to Owens after I graduate."

Personable and self-motivated, Luckey will discuss empowerment in her speech.

"Jacquelle sets a high standard for herself and is an outstanding example to others," said Sherri Johnson, the secretary in the Transportation Technologies academic department who supervises Luckey in her role as student worker. "Many students have gone to Jacquelle for support and advice, and she has been unwavering in stepping up to support and direct her classmates to be successful. Other students have sought her out to work on group projects with them."

Luckey was born in Hawthorne, California and grew up in San Fernando Valley, graduating from Chatsworth High School about an hour northwest of Los Angeles. After briefly considering her future at a local community college, she caught a break and got a job working as a model in the fashion industry. She continued modeling until she was in her mid-twenties.

Her fashion career took her to Europe, where she lived in Paris and Toulouse, France as well as Madrid, Spain. "In my young adult years, I used to be able to speak three languages. I traveled the world. But I missed my family. I was burned out."

She returned to California for a decade. About 10 years ago, at a time Luckey was going through a divorce, members of her immediate family moved to northwest Ohio. Andrea Guice, her mother, relocated first. Luckey soon followed, as did her grandmother, Annie Bumpus, who passed away during Luckey's time as an Owens student.

Luckey's close-knit family also includes her daughter, Jessica Guice, a junior at the University of Toledo "who's been my study partner the past two years," as well as her fiancè, Renzie Williams, who she said supported her throughout her academic pathway.