From a small country in West Africa, Tchamie Thierry Kadja, S.M. is a man with big goals and even bigger success.
Kadja graduated May 7 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from the University of Dayton and was the recipient of both the L. Duke Golden Award of Excellence to the Outstanding Senior in Engineering Technology, which recognizes hard work, dedication and academic success, and the Richard R. Hazen Award of Excellence to the Outstanding Graduate of the Electrical Engineering Technology Program.
“Since my younger age, I have always been committed to my academics,” Kadja said. “So for me, it is a recompense of all of the hard work that I have been through.”
Though his hard work and dedication allowed him to achieve these prestigious awards, Kadja said he couldn’t have done it without the support of the UD community.
“With the support I’ve received from the brothers, the faculty and the students, I was able to manage everything,” Kadja said.
Kadja lives in community with Marianist brothers at 100 Chambers St., and credited the religious life for contributing to his success. The brothers have a very structured lifestyle, in which Kadja was able to compartmentalize his time spent in prayer, community and study. Additionally, the encouragement Kadja received from his brothers allowed him to feel safe and at home.
“Especially at the beginning when you don’t know anyone, your reference is your community,” Kadja said. “When you get back home in your community, you feel safe, home, protected somehow from the outside world. They gave me that shelter.”
Originally from Togo, Kadja graduated from Collège Chaminade Kara and was excited to continue his education within the Marianist community at UD. He spent time studying math at Molloy College in Long Island, New York before coming to the University of Dayton, and decided he wanted to pursue something more practical than theoretical, leading him to choose engineering.
Kadja’s favorite part about studying engineering at UD is the diversity and community spirit. Through the School of Engineering, he met students from places all over the world.
“They have given me some of their own taste of what engineering is,” Kadja said. “When you have teamwork, people approach things differently depending on where they’re from. So I benefited from this community.”
Kadja will pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering at UD in the fall. He hopes to one day take his skills back to Togo where technology is not as advanced and help his community.
Eager faces of parents, families and friends filled University of Dayton Arena for the spring 2017 commencement May 7. Led by faculty, students filed in from all entrances, and guests whistled and waved happily in an attempt to catch the attention of their beloved graduate. When all graduates were seated in the center of the arena, everyone fell silent, ready to see these students enter the next phase of their lives.
Addressing the Class of 2017, the largest graduating class in University history, Provost Paul Benson offered welcoming remarks before inviting the graduates standing before him to place a medal around their necks featuring Blessed Father William Joseph Chaminade on one side and the University seal on the other.
Following Benson’s welcome, Crystal Sullivan, director of campus ministry gave an invocation and Anne Elizabeth Scott ’17 filled the arena with her voice for the national anthem.
Devin Mallet ’17 addressed his graduating class, telling the story of his journey of finding the University of Dayton and ending with a warm wish of good luck for his fellow classmates. His message was clear: The University of Dayton is the reason these students are standing here today, ready to face the world.
Before the 1,502 undergraduate degrees were conferred, University President Eric F. Spina invited the newest alumni to be a “porch light” for the world and heroic in all they do.
“Use your education to make a difference in this world that needs many differences to be made. Make a child’s life better. Advance the frontiers of medicine. Use your knowledge to create products and services that help those who most need help. Use your creative talent to help us all see the truth. Use your education to serve others, to make positive changes in the world,” he said.
Commencement ended with students getting their moment in the spotlight as their names were called to receive their diploma, making their very first transition: from student to alumni.
Though, as all Flyers know, and as Spina reminded: “[ … ] You will always be part of this special campus community. This will always be your home, and we will welcome you with open arms whenever you return.”
After a 13-hour flight, it was New Year’s Day when students hopped off the plane to ring in the new year, on a new continent. The 18 students traveling with the School of Business Administration (SBA) to China and Hong Kong had arrived at the starting point of a two-week journey.
In conjunction with the University of Dayton China Institute, faculty members Paul Sweeney, Terence Lau and Vince Lewis guided students across Asia during the spring 2017 intersession.
“In China, there is enormous and unprecedented economic growth and success,” Sweeney said. “No one has come further, faster in history than China, and it’s worth it for our students to understand that.”
Students who enrolled in the International Business course (INB 352), Doing Business in China and Hong Kong, prepared with bi-weekly meetings before travel. Once abroad, the learning was more experiential.
As the group visited nearly 20 different companies, including General Electric, Jabil, PwC, Crown and Emerson.
“The experience brought to life a lot of the concepts we discuss in class,” said junior entrepreneurship major Lyric Fields. “It reminded me why I’m in school doing what I’m doing now.”
When not visiting companies, students were tasting new foods, like octopus and jelly fish skin, and exploring the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Imperial Summer Palace and other historic landmarks.
“The culture was different in every city we visited — from Beijing to Shanghai to Suzhou,” said junior international business and economics major Nathan Stemen. “I learned I have a deep appreciation for culture and new ideas, and I can definitely see myself living and working abroad in the future.”
This was the second year the SBA offered the trip with plans to offer it again over the spring 2018 intersession. Interested students should contact Paul Sweeney at firstname.lastname@example.org in the fall for more details.
The Department of Art and Design held the Annual Horvath Juried Exhibition that displayed 40 pieces of student art work this past month, recognizing outstanding student achievement in the visual arts.
Dozens of pieces filled the room in Raymond L. Fitz Hall and its surrounding hallways with paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings, ceramics and designs between March 30 – April 27.
The department hosted a special reception in April as a closing event to the annual Bro. Joseph W. Stander Symposium to present selected students with awards for their pieces. The categories included: Horvath Award for Realism, first place/Best in Show, Best in Design, second and third place, Outstanding Photograph, as well as honorable mentions. Additionally, $1,600 in cash prizes were divided among the winning students.
Michael Conlan, Radial Gallery coordinator, accepted over 110 submissions for the exhibition, but only 40 were selected.
“The Horvath exhibit is an important opportunity for students to exhibit their work. Additionally, it is professional. There is a $5 entry fee. That’s how it works in the real world — you have to pay to get in,” explained Conlan.
Support for the awards comes from the Bela Horvath Award Fund established by Mrs. Horvath in honor of her husband, a Hungarian artist who found refuge in Dayton during and after World War II. Bela Horvath taught painting at the University of Dayton in the 1950s.
The students’ artwork can be purchased by contacting the gallery coordinator at email@example.com or 937-229-3204.
Even though Ohio has made changes to its requirements for educational licensure, the University of Dayton Department of Educational Administration (EDA) continues to adapt. In the beginning of April, the department held a workshop that prepared students for the examination required to become superintendents and principals in Ohio.
The Ohio Assessment for Educators (OAE) replaced the Praxis examination and is used as a tool to gauge students’ knowledge in four specific areas: visionary and inclusive leadership, student learning, systems for capacity building and resource management, and educational law.
“We see this as a departmental initiative, a continuation of our program,” said Charles Russo, Panzer Chair in Education. “It’s not just come, pay your tuition and never hear from us again. We want to be able to help [students] continue in their careers.”
Russo helped craft a workshop for the Praxis exam prior to its replacement and joined Larry Smith, clinical faculty in EDA, and David Dolph, department chair, to put together this OAE workshop after sensing a need for such preparation from students.
“For some, the passing rate has been significantly lower across the state,” Dolph said. “It’s a tougher test, so from that standpoint we really felt the need to provide this opportunity for people to help them.”
“Because we are concerned about whether or not they pass this test,” Smith added.
During the workshop, students were able to ask questions about the exam, as well as review the four main sections of the test with EDA faculty members. There was also a session for students who previously took the exam to share their experiences with workshop attendees.
This month’s session was a success, but the future of the workshop holds even more promise as the faculty makes changes influenced by student feedback. According to Smith, the upcoming workshops will spend more time showing students where to find practice tools for the exam, as well as more conversations with students who have previously taken the exam.
The department intends on making this workshop a regular program with the next session scheduled for fall. For more information, visit the EDA site.
University of Dayton alumnus Zach McHale won first place and $25,000 for his stadium seat device in the University of Dayton’s 11th annual Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest collegiate-level business plan contests in the country.
McHale’s patent-pending Neet Seat is a pouch that can be attached to stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items. McHale, a 2006 graduate who studied chemical engineering, was announced as the winner during a banquet Tuesday night after six rounds of multi-national competition featuring more than 200 teams.
On March 25, teams had 20 minutes each to pitch business ideas to a table of judges, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The judges included business advisors, investors and others involved in Dayton’s start-up ecosystem.
“The quality of the teams has gotten better year after year,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University. “This year’s six finalists are all fundable business opportunities, with three of the finalists already having sold some products and one already having raised some capital. It is exciting through the course of the competition to see the teams develop ideas and transform them into viable opportunities.”
More than 200 teams applied to take part in Flyer Pitch, which took place in Dayton, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Suzhou, China.
Since the competition began, 27 businesses have been launched, 20 of which are still in business today.
Second place, and $15,000, went to a former professional baseball player, Jim Ward, and his daughter, UD alumna Tiffany Pikas ’05, for their design of Hit-Grip — a patented device to help control and improve the swing of baseball players and golfers.
Third place went to a group of current UD students who developed the Solar Thermal Adsorption Refrigeration (S.T.A.R) system, an environmentally friendly refrigeration method designed for usage in areas without reliable power grids. The group was awarded $10,000.
“This is definitely the first step for us into the business world in a journey that I am sure is going to get more exciting,” said S.T.A.R. team member Claudia Labrador Rached. “I truly believe that S.T.A.R. can make an impact in the developing world, where vaccine access and health care quality are compromised by the lack of reliable supply of electricity.”
The remaining three teams tied for fourth place, winning $5,000 each.
Stander Symposium continued to grow UD’s “community of learners” Wednesday, April 5. Rooted in the Marianist tradition, Stander Symposium is an annual event dedicated to student research in all academic disciplines.
Students took their perch for poster sessions in the RecPlex while a forum for climate change ran simultaneously in Roesch Library. Oral presentations, panel discussions, performances and visual art displays were held throughout campus all day long.
For many students, Stander is a day to present capstone projects. Through the management information systems capstone course, seniors Aidan Hamor, Kyle Massie and Seth Meyer partnered with Ross Group to implement classroom knowledge of point-of-sale systems into a real-life situation.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to present to students outside of our class,” Meyer said. “To have them come and be interested in our project is really rewarding.”
A new format for presentations was implemented this year was Porch Projects. The 10- to 15-minute presentations were held on various porches in the student neighborhoods.
Senior Liz Kelsch created her own classroom and sheet sign at 464 Kiefaber to discuss The Journey of an Honors Thesis Student.
“I talked about my thesis with my friends and roommates for the past two years,” Kelsch said. “I wanted to bring the same conversation to the student neighborhood. I think it is a better way to learn about the research process than simply looking at a poster of my results.”
Held in memory of late professor and Provost Brother Joseph W. Stander, S.M., the event has been a UD staple for 28 years.
By 5 p.m. campus began to calm as the closing reception in conjunction with the Horvath Awards commenced in the Fitz Hall Radial Gallery. The Horvath Awards, begun in 1975, awards student work in the department of art and design.
On Thursday, April 6, the celebration officially concluded with a keynote address from Harvard physics professor Lisa Randall in Kennedy Union Ballroom.
Professor Camilo Pérez-Bustillo began class by asking his law students, “What does the world look like?” His students looked around blankly, so Pérez-Bustillo countered with another question, “Where do we (the United States) fit in terms of human rights?”
The answer he gave left a blanket of silence — possibly awe — over the room.
“The U.S. has been leading the global retreat of human rights since 9/11.”
The International Human Rights Law class is new this year and is co-taught by Pérez-Bustillo, executive director of the Human Rights Center and research professor of human rights and law, and Adam Todd, associate professor in the UD School of Law. The course challenges law students to analyze current laws to determine if they are in violation of human rights.
“The students studying human rights in this class will be the next generation of lawyers doing similar actions on behalf of peoples’ rights on the front lines of preserving liberty in this and other countries across the globe,” Todd said.
Pérez-Bustillo refers to the current immigration situation in Europe as, “the second biggest humanitarian crisis in terms of displaced migrants since the second World War.”
“Thousands of people have died in the desert or Mediterranean trying to get to Europe,” he continued. “One person has died every day on their way to the U.S. for the past 20 years.”
Recently, the class discussed these facts in light of the several executive orders put in place by Pres. Donald Trump since he took office.
Anita S. Teekah, a lawyer and human rights activist in New York City, started a discussion around analyzing the executive orders regarding security at our Mexican borders and the ban of entry into the country for immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Teekah asked, “Is immigration control within the executive branch or under presidential control?”
Her question led to an engaging discussion between students who are writing semester-long papers on immigration law and the travel ban executive order as they relate to human rights.
A student in the class, Emily Feliz, expressed her opinion while questioning the timing of the orders.
“Yes, immigration control is within the president’s jurisdiction, but there are discrepancies in how the orders were handled, errors in reporting and there was no consultation with the department of state which led to confusion on the ground,” she said.
The class will be offered again next fall to allow law students the opportunity to analyze the laws they will one day be upholding.
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.