Giving back to Toledo by never leavingWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Weinblatt didn’t have to leave Toledo to realize the value of his hometown. The 1997 Sylvania Southview graduate decided to attend the University of Toledo where his father worked. He liked the idea of free tuition and wasn’t ready to the leave the city where he was born.
Ten years later, Weinblatt is not sure he’ll ever say goodbye to Toledo. Unlike many of his classmates, he’s one of the few to stay in town.
He’s pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education administration at UT; the trumpet player earned a master’s degree in liberal studies with a focus in jazz studies in 2004.
“People talk about brain drain — this is my way to give back,” said 28-year-old Weinblatt, assistant director in the Office of Alumni Relations at UT. “I am staying here and doing what I can do.
“Sometimes people look down upon growing up here and then staying here,” he said. “I think people have that about their hometowns: in order to grow, you need to leave. For me, I grew a lot here.”
Weinblatt graduated from UT in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in music and the Monday after began working as an outreach coordinator in the school’s alumni office.
One of the reasons the former marching band member was hired was to form the Student Alumni Association. He’s grown the membership from zero to 1,300 — the largest student organization on campus and the largest student-alumni organization in Ohio, he said.
In June, Weinblatt was promoted to the assistant director in the Office of Alumni Relations. He works with alumni affiliations and chapters. Tony Packo’s parties are a fun part of the job.
“We ship out hot dogs,” Weinblatt said, who attended the Las Vegas Packo’s party. “It’s a flavor of Toledo they cannot get where they are at.”
UT boasts 19 college and special interest alumni affiliates and 33 alumni chapters all over the United States and two in China.
“It is a common misconception that when you work in alumni relations that you are a fundraiser,” Weinblatt said. “But I am not raising money. I am a ‘friend-raiser,’ reuniting alumni.”
Weinblatt inherited Rocket pride from his father, Charles S. Weinblatt, a retired university administrator, and from grandfather, Dr. Morris Weinblatt, a star football player for UT in the 1920s.
“I certainly am proud, especially since his sister took off for San Francisco,” Charles Weinblatt said, laughing. “I am glad Brian is here. He picked up a master’s while working full time and now is getting close to a Ph.D. His job is more than full-time — lots of evenings and weekends — and he gets tired at times, but I think he is particularly well-suited for the job.
The most underestimated part of Toledo is the arts and the plethora of eating pleasures; one of his favorites is the Diva Restaurant. Toledo is what a person makes of it, he said.
But will he stay? That’s a tough question, he said. UT is in his heart, but the Ph.D could take him elsewhere.
“If the right doors open here, I would like to stay in Toledo,” he said. “I could see myself staying here my whole life, but being here my whole life, maybe it’s time for me to leave.”