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Celebration, inauguration, alleluia

9:19 AM  Apr 6th, 2017
by By Gita Balakrishnan & Michelle Tedford

The installation of the University of Dayton’s 19th president was truly a celebration: the Faculty Brass Quintet heralded the arrival of faculty and invited guests, University of Dayton Chorale proclaimed “alleluia,” and two former UD presidents took the stage to embrace their newest counterpart.

More than 1,110 members of the campus and wider community gathered at UD Arena April 4 for the installation of Eric F. Spina as president. The celebration signaled a renewed vision for UD, one both bold and rooted in the principles of the community gathered that day.

The audience, and Spina himself, felt the historic importance of his installation as he choked back tears offering what he said was a “too meager, but deeply felt” thank you to his family, colleagues and Marianists for trusting him with the University’s future.

He retold the University’s simple origins as a primary school for 14 boys, acknowledging that the University has always been a transformative force within itself and to its surrounding community.

“Our story throughout our 167-year history has been one of both humility and boldness,” Spina said.  “… The University of Dayton has quietly, yet dramatically, transformed itself by turning big dreams into bold moves — always with the common good at the center.”

And with a nod to our past, Spina spent the next 45 minutes outlining highlights of the University’s 20-year vision, which included a push for innovations in academics, research and leadership that create tangible impacts in the lives of people — to make a global statement that we are the “University for the Common Good.”

Of utmost importance was the theme of creating a diverse and inclusive campus to facilitate entrepreneurship and multidisciplinary research and enrich our personal connectedness with one another.

“By definition, excellence requires greater diversity as it enriches our learning environment and expands our institutional intelligence and creativity.  … [W]e recognize a special obligation to embrace socioeconomic and racial diversity,” Spina stressed to an applauding audience.

His hope for the Class of 2037 is to produce graduates who will be inspired learners, rooted in a deep understanding of their vocation and their role in their community thanks to a UD education anchored in experiential learning.

“As innovators, scholars and builders, they will have learned how to both fail and rebound from failure. They will be culturally nimble, as they will have worked across differences in diverse communities on meaningful issues. They will be prepared for success in life because they will have gained skills in self-learning, problem-solving, collaboration and conflict resolution,” Spina said.

Part of that vision will require space for students to collaborate with faculty and local businesses, to experience real-world problems before graduating to develop confidence.

Spina revealed in his speech that future renovations at Chaminade Hall and a pending agreement as an anchor tenant of the Dayton Arcade will help facilitate that vision, creating spaces where there would be collaboration between entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, higher education, research institutions, and arts and cultural organizations.

Spina ended his talk with hopes for the future: “We view serving the community and our world as a fundamental part of our Catholic, Marianist mission … and we find that we are called to be — indeed, we must be — The University for the Common Good.”

To punctuate the excitement, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. took the stage. They danced as the tuba music bubbled, with everyone joining in clapping a joyous welcome for UD’s future.

 

Photos by Kristin Davis ’18, Larry Burgess and Knack For Substance photography.

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