During an evening of heartfelt accolades, President Dan Curran brought down the house by poking fun at himself at a June 4 fundraising dinner celebrating his 14-year presidency.
In a short video clip (play video at left) dated 4:55 p.m., June 30, Curran packs up his office, muses that he’s happy he didn’t crowd surf at the formal dinner — “just not the right demographic” — and discovers a disturbing fact as he peruses the wall of presidential portraits in St. Mary’s Hall.
Measuring with his hands and squeezing in sideways beside the portrait of Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., he exclaims, “Wait a minute, there’s no room for mine! They’ll have to draw me real skinny.”
The crowd howled when a moment later he discovered where his portrait hangs. (Spoiler alert: the men’s restroom.)
It was a disarming moment that displayed Curran’s lighthearted side and unpretentious style. It’s one of the reasons why students affectionately call him “Dr. Dan.”
The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company kicked off the festivities with “Mellow Tones,” a jazzy ballet set to Duke Ellington’s timeless music.
Introducing a highlight reel that fast-forwarded through a montage of headlines and photos — from the acquisition of NCR property to the enrollment of record classes — emcee Sharon Howard ’78 told the crowd of nearly 400 that Curran will be remembered as “a bold leader who led with imagination and faith.”
Mark Ensalaco, director of human rights research, announced that alumni and friends committed more than $600,000 to support the University’s new Human Rights Center, one of Curran’s legacies. Of that, the trustees gave $400,000, a sum raised in 12 days.
“Dan had a bold vision for this center, a center based on advocacy in the Catholic, Marianist spirit that animates this university,” said Ensalaco, praising the president’s commitment to the center’s mission to be “a voice for the voiceless.”
Steve Cobb, chair of the board of trustees, reflected on Curran’s “leadership DNA,” which he described as selfless and visionary.
“Beyond our academic reputation, beyond our beautiful campus, beyond the classrooms, beyond the graduation rates, record enrollment and retention rates, he has served — served our students, served the community, served our Marianist charism and culture,” Cobb said. “And as I mentioned at commencement, he has been an amazing steward of this remarkable asset known as the University of Dayton.”
Past president Fitz “inducted” Curran into “the esteemed order of President Emeriti” and named him the order’s president. To laughter, Fitz described himself as a certified counselor who can treat Curran for PPSS — Past President Stress Syndrome.
Turning serious, Fitz said, “When we were looking for a new president, the board asked my thoughts. I said we need someone who can understand the emerging vision and expand it to new horizons. Dan, you’ve done that.”
Leading a champagne toast by raising pom-poms from her Dayton Flyer cheerleading days, emcee Howard saluted Curran’s presidency: “Your legacy will live in our hearts forever.”