How is 42 years at the University of Dayton measured? Some might say piles of papers, stacks of books and even walls of awards. However, Don Polzella says what measures experience is not tangible — it’s how he’s remembered by others.
From professor to associate dean, Polzella has been dedicated to his work at UD since 1972 until his retirement last month. He taught many semesters in the Department of Psychology and spent the last eight years of his service as associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Though he will surely miss his coworkers and lecturing, he says it feels great to finally be off the clock.
“The college is a wonderful place to work. We all get along. We care about each other; it’s not some hierarchy. Everybody is kind of on an equal basis,” he says. And plenty of his coworkers agree.
“He’s awesome,” says Colleen Brennan, senior administrative assistant. “Very generous and wonderful to work with.”
On Wednesday, June 18, the Dean’s office hosted a retirement reception for Polzella in KU Torch Lounge. Faculty, staff, students and friends gathered to swap memories, reflect on and commemorate his contributions to the University.
“[At the reception] The dean said some nice things, and I went up and did a little speech – not quite stand-up – but people who know me know my sense of humor. So I got up there with a goal to make people laugh,” he says. “My kids said, ‘Dad, I saw a side of you I’ve never seen!’ So that was fun. Lots of goodbyes…but it’s much more fun to not take yourself too seriously.”
Polzella says he and his wife are planning on moving but are staying in the area, and he will continue working on a grant with sociology professor Jeremy Forbis in the next year or so.
“I’ll still be working on a grant that we got from The National Endowment for the Arts. Technically, I’ll still be working part of my time for the University, but as a principal investigator on this grant,” he says. “After that, I don’t know really. I love to read, I love to write. Who knows what will happen.”
Towards the end of his term, Polzella says he spent less time teaching and more time writing grants and working on other projects. However, one of the things he will miss most is being in the classroom and lecturing to students.
“I don’t think my legacy would be ‘he instituted a new program, he donated stuff to this or that,’ or my accomplishments. What I want my legacy to be, if it is a legacy, is for people who knew me to think back and say that they liked working with me. And they thought I was cool, funny, smart,” he says. “And it’s part of what I’ve been receiving, through notes and emails from people. That’s worth a lot, because I want to be remembered in that way. ‘Oh, Dr. Polzella was a character, cracking jokes, not afraid to criticize.’ That’s what I would like. To be remembered for the kind of personality I am.”
The Center for Catholic Education hosted their third-annual Catholic Education Summit at River Campus on July 14.
This event was intended for educators, administrators and counselors, but this writer attended solely as a student, and there was something for all of us to learn.
There were 16 presentations that attendants could choose from, but a common message was consistent among a number of them. In considering the topics of this year’s theme: Charism, Culture and Curriculum, many presenters urged, “You can’t force it.”
Presenter Lorraine Ozar (pictured above) began with a discussion on the integration of values into standard-based curriculums like the Common Core. She proposed a both/and principle – that curriculum can be both academically excellent and Catholic faith-based.
“We’re not talking about turning every class into a religion class,” she said. “We won’t find the explicit both/and principle in every lesson; that would be forcing it. You just find where the values fit best into the academics.”
A similar message came from presenter Daniel Mulhall who discussed the role of culture in forming Catholic identity in schools. By establishing the guiding principles of culture for their school — attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors — educators can determine who they are and who they want to become, and who they hope their students will become.
“We often learn a culture just by living in it, and as educators, our goal is to bring forth the transformative element for students,” he said. “The experience of goodness cannot be forced, we can only provide them the opportunities for it.”
Now consider UD’s culture, does a certain word come to mind? It’s a word that many of us heard before we even began our first year. But now, you find it everywhere – in the classroom, in the neighborhood, in every Flyer’s heart.
Around here, community fits, it’s never forced. It’s only natural.
Father Bertrand Buby, S.M., opened the newest version of his book, Mary of Galilee — Volume I: Mary in the New Testament, and didn’t recognize much beyond a reprinted letter in the back of the piece, a bibliography and his photo.
He trusts, however, that this version is true to the original published in 1994 and reprinted close to a dozen times. A friend told him it was.
Because of his ties to Dayton’s Chinese Catholic community, Buby’s three-volume work found its way to Taiwan and diocesan priest Father John Lai, who said he wanted to share it with his congregation.
Father Lai, who has a doctoral degree in theology from Urbaniana, a prestigious Catholic theological university in Rome, gave it to his sister-in-law Rosa Lai, who has a doctorate in education from Australian Catholic University. She completed the translation of Volume 1 in a year. An academic foundation based at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan covered the cost of publication.
Father Lai received the book from his sister, Maria Worthy, one of Buby’s parishioners in Dayton. With a master’s degree in computer science and another in Chinese literature from a university in Taiwan, Worthy first read Buby’s book in English, and then read the Chinese translation her relatives completed.
“She said it’s an excellent translation and helped her understand the English version better than she did on first read,” Buby says. “It might be the first book translated into Chinese for a Marianist.”
Buby says he’s impressed by the art used for the cover of the Chinese translation, which features a stained-glass motif with multiple images of Mary and Jesus. Nearly all of the words inside are in Chinese, save for “The Virgin Mary in Intellectual and Spiritual Formation” (the 1988 Letter from the Congregation for Catholic Education delivered in Rome), the bibliography and Buby’s name and title printed below his picture.
Buby smiles when he reiterates that he can’t read a word of the book, but he’s glad his Chinese parishioners can. He meets with the group, which includes current students and alumni, every six weeks for Bible study either at the Marianist community house on Stonemill or at the home of one of the participants. About 15 people attend the sessions.
Now, thanks to the Lai family’s support, Buby can share more of his scholarship with Chinese Catholics near and far. His books examine the earliest texts the church has used to develop its tradition of Mary.
Buby is celebrating his 50th year as a Marianist — he was ordained March 14, 1964, in Fribourg, Switzerland. He is among 17 Marianists who will be recognized in August for Jubilee anniversaries in the Society of Mary.
“I look at it as a little gift from God during my anniversary year,” Buby says.
Bells will ring — and hopefully the sun will shine — when Immaculate Conception Chapel again fills with Flyer Faithful celebrating wedded bliss.
Alumni Kerryanne Miske ’10 and Jason Bollman ’09 continue a long line of Flyers choosing to say “I do” on campus. The couple, slated to wed July 19, will be the last to marry in the chapel before it is closed for a yearlong renovation.
“It is important to us to marry in the chapel because UD is where we met and grew in our faith; we wanted to honor that,” Bollman said, noting that while they are eager to see the renovations, they are also excited to marry in the chapel as they remember it.
The two met thanks to UD’s Summer Appalachia Program, and had been dating for several years when Bollman insisted on taking Miske, a tax accountant, out for a relaxing evening.
“He pampered me,” Miske said. “We went for massages, had drinks at a winery, had a nice dinner, then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”
The couple became Lay Marianists while at UD, and Bollman was also involved in the Center for Social Concern, Best Buddies, Circle of Friends, and Beta Theta Pi.
“Joe Tedesco, or ‘Father Teddy’ as I know him, is an honorary member of my fraternity,” Bollman said. “He’s not only my Marianist brother, but also my fraternity brother. It only seemed right for him to marry us.”
The wedding is expected to have about 200 guests and touches of UD throughout, including eight groomsmen and bridesmaids who the couple met on campus.
“The rehearsal dinner is going to be at the Torch Lounge in KU because we wanted to have it somewhere close and familiar,” Miske said.
The final Flyer touch? The couple plans to take a picture with all UD alumni at the reception in front of a UD banner.
Now, that’s love.
Think hard and remember that day in high school. A UD admission counselor is speaking to your class, or calling you on the phone, or walking you around campus on your very first visit.
On June 27-29, former director of admission Myron Achbach ’58 brought more than 50 of those same admission counselors together again.
“During my time as director, I hired many people,” he said. “Some stayed for a short time, others for a long time, but they were all very special.”
Every generation from the past 40 years had their own successes and challenges in their world of counseling and recruitment, but the spirit of UD has only strengthened with time.
According to Bob Byrne ’76, the end of the Vietnam War increased interest in the University considerably during his counseling years from 1976-79.
“Dayton has always had a strong reputation among Catholic high schools on the East Coast,” he said. “We looked for students with a strong desire to succeed, who were well rounded and serious about their education, even if they weren’t valedictorian. We took students who had maybe hit some bumps in the road, because Dayton always saw those bumps as motivators for the future.”
Fast forward to the ’80s, when counselors on the road used maps to find their target high schools, and stopped to find a phone when they were lost or delayed. Yet Kathy Kehner, a current counselor who began working at UD in 1984, said their recruitment ideology remained the same.
“Students have come from everywhere, but they’ve always been the same type of student,” she said. “I could look at someone, see their genuine and down-to-earth personality and just think, ‘They are UD.’ ”
Ten years later, admission counselors were witnessing a big change in enrollment, and the UD community was growing stronger than ever. Alison King Duchene ’97, a counselor from 1998-2001, saw the University begin its first waiting list.
To date, UD’s acceptance rate is 59%. And while some of that number can be attributed to admission counselors’ influence on family, UD’s reputation sometimes spoke for itself.
“My son gravitated here on his own,” said Missy Wildenhaus Natale ’87, a counselor from 1984-88. “He’s heard my husband and I talk about how great UD is for all these years, but we never pressured him to go here just because we did. He visited with an open mind, and he chose it because it felt right to him.”
Just as it has to generations of Flyers.
People say that the truth will set you free. Alumna Carrie McAteer ’97 didn’t know how true that statement was until she begun telling others about her journey with epilepsy.
“Epilepsy will affect one in 26 people during their life, but the number of people who are actually open about having epilepsy is a lot smaller,” she explained. Diagnosed with epilepsy as a teenager, McAteer said she kept the fact hidden for years.
“There was an awful stigma attached to the disease, but my parents empowered me to manage epilepsy and not let it hold me back,” McAteer said. “At UD, it helped that I always felt a strong sense of community. I could walk across campus from one end to the other and run into friends.”
Chance meetings with fellow Flyers didn’t stop at graduation, even after McAteer returned to her native Chicago. After reading a newspaper story about Danny Stanton, a four-year-old who died from epilepsy, McAteer reached out to the child’s uncle, Tom Stanton ’98, who served as executive director of a nonprofit in his nephew’s memory.
The Danny Did Foundation works to prevent deaths caused by seizures by advancing public awareness, enhancing communications between medical professionals about Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), and promoting mainstream use of seizure detection and prediction devices. The foundation has provided funding support for families facing epilepsy spanning across 46 states and six countries.
“I reached out to Tom via LinkedIn, and discovered he was also a Flyer,” McAteer said. “We graduated only one year apart, but we never met at UD. We also both completed our master’s degrees in nonprofit management at DePaul University, yet never met in graduate school. It was epilepsy that connected us.”
A volunteer with DDF for the past year, McAteer was appointed president of the foundation’s board of directors in April.
“I am grateful to DDF for connecting me to people like Tom, who have similar goals to increase awareness about this disease, and for allowing me to fulfill a passion of helping others who have not yet found a voice to tell their story of living with seizures,” she said. “The more people who understand and talk about epilepsy increases knowledge and decreases fear.”
For more information about the Danny Did Foundation, visit www.dannydid.org.
What started as an educational immersion experience for ROTC Cadets, a trip to Bosnia this summer became an opportunity to touch thousands of lives in a time of tragedy.
Twenty-one cadets from across the country, including University of Dayton junior Haley Roach (pictured left), were assigned the mission of teaching conversational English to Bosnian military members to help them develop better communication skills. However, the country received record rainfall this spring and experienced severe flooding and landslides, displacing more than 10,000 people.
The cadets were reassigned to aid in recovery efforts, and began their stay at Eagle Base in Tuzla, Bosnia. Their first mission was on June 10, when relief groups from 11 other countries including the UK, Turkey, Scotland, Italy and Spain joined them in the city.
“All of their vehicles were lined up along the street, and you could see the water lines on buildings – the highest point being around 10 feet,” Haley said. “It smelled awful and there were a lot of mosquitos, but most of the water had dried up.”
She witnessed people dragging items from nearly every house as they piled furniture, rugs, broken glass and insulation outside their doors to be picked up.
Haley and the other cadets spent two out of three weeks cleaning and providing necessary aid to the locals. Their last week was spent how they had originally intended – at the officer candidate school closely interacting with Bosnian military members, while learning about Bosnian officer training techniques and participating in physical training exercises.
While their initial plan was delayed, Haley said their unexpected reassignment was rewarding.
“The way we were approached by the locals really struck me, we were greeted at every house and they fed us cookies and coffee,” she said. “Although we were only there for a short time, and we didn’t think we were doing much, people were so appreciative. You see, 15 years ago, the U.S. defended these citizens during the Bosnian War. They see us as what saved them from being conquered; they still have that image of us in their mind. So as ROTC members, we represent the United States Army, and it was a really neat experience to know that they know we care about them.”
Click on image to view a gallery, and see more pictures and information on Roach’s trip on Facebook.
Kennedy Union Torch Lounge transformed into an international learning platform Friday, June 20. Intensive English Program students presented posters in hopes of improving their English communication skills and learning more about American culture.
Since last fall, IEP students have been putting together projects centered around a common theme that garners interest from native English speakers, but provides a learning opportunity with the international students.
“Part of the idea is for the students to practice for their final presentation,” said Courtney Colborn, IEP instructor. “The session is the final step in preparing for it.”
Last session was about national parks; this session was about famous Ohioans. The celebrities ranged from the Wright Brothers to Ronald Sega. Computer science graduate student Badr Alduraymih said he presented his project on Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.
“It absolutely went well,” he said. “It helped me learn how to create a presentation, research and gather images.”
Education graduate student, Omalkhair Horeb, said she presented on Guy Fieri, a famous chef, and that the experience helped her to become more successful at communicating.
“It’s a challenge to converse, and I am sometimes confused. I make improvements when I practice pronunciation and vocabulary,” she said. “I’m happy about my presentation.”
Other students used interactive multimedia platforms, such as iPads installed in poster board, to present Ohio celebrities.
“The posters are getting better, and there were more visitors this session,” Colborn said. “Although, we would love to have more Americans present to help students practice.”
Most of the IEP students’ native languages are Arabic or Chinese – completely different alphabets. Sessions like this give the students a chance to learn outside of the classroom.
“I don’t want the students to feel like they’re in an isolated English program,” Colborn said. “I want them to feel a part of UD, part of the community.”
Marianists working at the University established the Marianist Service Award in 1987 to honor full-time staff whose behavior, over a significant number of years, has been congruent with the University’s Catholic and Marianist character.
For Tom Westendorf of enrollment management and Marge DeVito of dining services, following those values and principles comes naturally.
Being part of UD is nothing short of a family affair for both 2014 recipients. Westendorf, his parents, wife, siblings and children are all alumni. He, his wife and children have earned 13 UD degrees.
“I had a great childhood,” said Westendorf, assistant vice president and registrar. “We had the Marianists over for dinner a lot. Being surrounded by great people from UD just felt like part of how life was supposed to be. Following UD’s values is a ways of life for me.”
Westendorf, who says the best part of his job is watching students grow from freshman to alumni, was humbled to receive the award.
“The best part has been all of the congratulatory emails and phone messages I have received,” he said. “Father (Norbert) Burns, S.M., left me one that I am going to keep on my voicemail as long as possible.”
Westendorf has chosen the Marian Library, the UD Summer Appalachia Program, the William J. Hoben Scholarship, the Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., Diversity Scholarship, and the Father Matthew Komescher, S.M., Scholarship as honorariums for his award.
Four of five children in DeVito’s family are alumni. Her children’s interest in the University sparked DeVito’s decision to work here, but she’s stayed since they graduated because she loves her job so much.
“I love the people at UD the most,” she said. “The people I work with have become my friends and the people I’ve encountered that work in various departments are so nice. There is a definite kindness weaved into the University.”
DeVito, a Catholic who believes in the power of prayer, mainly works in Barrett Dining Hall serving faculty and staff but started in the dish room 13 years ago.
“Working in the dish room was very hard,” she said, “We would have piles and piles of pots and pans. If I knew someone needed prayer I would offer it up and pray for them as I scrubbed and scrubbed. It made the job more enjoyable.”
DeVito felt honored to be recognized, and said she cried upon hearing she received the award.
DeVito named the UD Summer Appalachia Program and the Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., Diversity Scholarship as recipients for her award.
Christine Alwan ’14 said she always romanticized the thought of visiting exotic places, but her experience in Malawi, Africa, was eye-opening.
As part of the Malawi Research Practicum in Rights and Development, Alwan spent 10 weeks alongside the locals, experiencing their culture and researching the state of their orphan care.
While there is abundant research on material resources for children who have lost their parents to HIV and AIDS, other needs aren’t necessarily being met.
“They’re not talking about the human piece of the problem,” she said. “It’s not about money, or having a roof over their head. It’s that they miss their dad, or their mom died and they don’t know why. We can give a society all the material resources in the world, but we can’t expect them to progress if they’re dealing with these kinds of emotions under the surface.”
Choosing this area of research was a personal choice, one that allowed Alwan to intimately connect with her subjects.
“I lost my mother when I was 19, and I had never experienced grief in such a real way before then,” she said. “I’m lucky to have a family that loves and supports me, but among the Malawians, loss is common. The average life expectancy is 48-50 years, so nearly every child grows up knowing they will lose a parent. How can no one be talking about this suffering?”
Alwan plans to get people talking. She will attend Purdue in the fall to obtain a master’s degree in psychology and a doctorate in political science while she builds on her existing research. She hopes to continue emphasizing mental health and meeting human rights needs across different cultures.
“I always want to remember who I’m doing my work for. It’s not about getting published — that’s an expectation of my job,” Alwan said. “Human rights is about doing everything out of love, and giving my time to people who need it.”