University of Dayton students, faculty and staff kicked off the fall 2016 semester with the first day of classes on Aug. 24.
A new semester and a new school year set the stage for new goals. Most faculty, such as English professor Dr. Shannon Toll, like to get to know their students personally right off the bat. Dr. Toll asked her students what each of them is looking forward to for this academic year. Her students’ responses varied, depending on the student age, such as getting more involved with on-campus activities and clubs, deciding a major, cooking food in an apartment and not a dorm, graduation and finding a job.
Sara Leahy ’18, a public relations major from Cleveland, was happy to be back on campus.
“So far so good! Excited to be back,” she said.
Many students, like chemical engineer Ashley Reed ’19 from Cincinnati, took the traditional first day of school picture, as a form of special first day traditions.
“I’ve done it every year since I was in kindergarten. I send it to my mom and family; what I’m wearing that day,” Reed said.
Whether Flyers have been here for 35 years or five days, all are excited for the journeys of this upcoming year.
Bridget Oleksy and two other UD students, Anne Marie Pavlis and Jennifer Walsh, interned for a nonprofit, the Keep on Keeping On Foundation (Team KOKO), in Chicago this summer.
Team KOKO is co-founded and directed by UD alumnus Dave Kunicki ’99. The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting people living with severe physical disabilities, and educating and empowering others to make a difference in their communities.
Oleksy, a third year business major, became involved with the nonprofit because she was looking for something related to her major, entrepreneurship and marketing. After being interviewed by Kunicki, finding out that he went to UD too was a “pretty cool connection,” she said.
Oleksy’s primary duty included planning for the 2016 Team KOKO 40-Day Challenge. Beginning August 29, Team KOKO co-founder and president Tim Wambach will run from Orlando, FL to Chicago, IL in 40 days, running 30 miles per day, to raise awareness and money for people living with severe physical disabilities. Thousands of team members will also challenge themselves by pushing their own limits and reaching personal goals. “It’s an awareness campaign, and it’s also a kindness campaign,” said Kunicki.
This internship was Oleksy’s first experience with a startup, something she’s very interested in learning about and as for a future career, she said. It’s a new organization, powered by people who work full time in addition to this.
“I think it’s great. There are so many people in the community coming together,” Oleksy said. “It just made me aware of the types of organizations that are out there for people to support and work for. It made me more interested in working for nonprofit, and reaffirmed my desire to help people in whatever I do.”
As first-year students joined their new classmates on campus last weekend, many events were already in the works to help welcome in the new members of the UD community.
By dusk on the second day of New Student Orientation, held Aug. 20-23, students were funneling out of motivational speaker Stan Pearson’s presentation in the RecPlex and headed to KU Plaza as Rudypalooza began with pizza provided by Dominos and ice cream from The Galley.
Rudypalooza offered various events that catered to student interests. Students had the option of going to KU Boll Theatre for a performance by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company or to the RecPlex Gymnasium for a mentalist performance by Sean Bott.
DCDC had an interactive performance that allowed students to come on stage with the company dancers in between pieces and learn a few moves, while the mentalist took other students on stage to help out with his mind reading performance.
Later that evening, a capella group “The Filharmonic” – which was a side performer in the movie “Pitch Perfect 2” – performed at the RecPlex.
“I was just about to say I hope the a capella performance is like ‘Pitch Perfect,’” Kenzie Volz ‘20, a biology major from Cincinnati, said as she learned the group is from the movie. “I decided to go see [“The Filharmonic”] with girls on my floor and now I am really excited to see them perform!”
Once the a capella group’s act ended, comedian group “Mission IMPROVable” took the RecPlex stage.
“The motivational speaker was my favorite part of orientation so far,” Kelley Peter ‘20, from Cincinnati said. “He really kept my attention the whole time.”
As Sunday came to a close, first-year students continued their official welcome experience as they prepared for the first day of classes to begin on Aug. 24.
In the evening of Sunday, Aug. 21, the New Student Orientation program hosted an ice cream social at the Humanities Plaza, sponsored by Campus Ministry.
It was a successful turnout, with several hundred first-year students, orientation leaders, resident assistants and Marianist brothers and sisters in attendance.
First-year students enjoyed free ice cream while also getting the opportunity to learn about and sign up for Campus Ministry events, meet new classmates and play corn hole.
Kelly Adamson, associate director of Campus Ministry, said that this event is “an opportunity for us to get to know first-years, and to let them know we are approachable, real people.”
A myriad of opportunities for ways to get involved with Campus Ministry were presented to students. Students could sign up for further information on events to grow in their faith, such as: retreats, small Christian communities, or UD Interfaith Alliance; events regarding service and social justice, such as: plunges, “Break Out” trips or summer immersion trips; or Mass or worship service assistance, such as: Eucharistic minister, altar server or music ministry.
Upperclassmen students volunteered through Campus Ministry to scoop ice cream or walk through the crowd, informing first-year students about the department.
Noel Michel ’20, a mechanical engineering major from Columbus, enjoyed the relaxing time at the end of a full day.
“Orientation has been good, really good, but long,” Michel said. “I do feel super prepared for the school year now. Every question I had has been answered.”
New Student Orientation is a four-day experience that began on Saturday, Aug. 20. Classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 24.
University President Eric Spina urged the 2016 incoming class to make their education a top priority of their college experience as more than 1,800 new students begin their journeys on campus.
During his opening remarks at New Student Convocation held at the RecPlex Tuesday morning, which marks the beginning of the formal academic school year, Spina motivated students to stay focused during their next four years.
“Education is job one. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but make your education central to your college experience,” Spina said.
He also spoke to UD’s holistic take on education by telling each student to “build relationships that are healthy, productive and true to your values.”
UD student Maggie Schaller ’17 built on those remarks by pushing students to become as involved in their academics and campus life as possible, as those experiences would help shape the person they would eventually become.
“I want you to become you. Go to events on campus… Find your people-both other students and faculty- and begin building a community around you that will support and challenge you.” she said. “Have the college experience. Make it rich and interesting and full of life.”
And to those students who remained uncertain at this time of change, associate professor of philosophy Denise James assured them that “a real education has a way of chipping away at that uncertainty” and that an “education should make tangible for you that there is so much more to see, do and learn.”
Convocation ended with students reciting the Honor Code and with faces smiling and hopes abounding, they followed the tradition of pinning one another as a sign of their commitment to the Marianist characteristics of learning, leadership and service.
The University of Dayton community celebrated the first anniversary of the dedication of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on August 16.
The liturgy included two Scripture readings from the original dedication mass a year ago in addition to prayers and music to honor the solemnity of the event.
Father Tom Schroer, S.M. led the mass, which was attended by the chapel’s architect who attended the service to celebrate.
During Father Schroer’s homily, he spoke about the location of the chapel and the frequency of its rounded, curved shapes. The chapel is on a hill in the center of campus for a reason, he explained. “It is the core of the original campus, as four surrounding buildings were built after it. It’s the center of our mission, the core of our own spiritual life and the heart of spiritual development,” he said.
Father Schroer also focused on the structural features of the chapel, noting the “amazingly few sharp angles.” He said that the abundance of round shapes gives the church a “womb-like feeling.” He added, “The womb is where it all begins. The title of the chapel is fitting.”
Senior Mary Kate Kilroy appreciates the sacred space and came to the dedication anniversary observance.
“It’s been a whole year with this new prayer space and it provides new meaning for me,” Kilroy said. “It inspires you to want to pray.”
The director of Campus Ministry, Crystal Caruana Sullivan, described the meaning of this anniversary. “It’s a remembrance, remembering the importance of our life of worship and the presence of God alive in our community, symbolized in the chapel,” she said.
The new UD president connected immediately with first-year students and families by taking a selfie with his audience for Instagram.
President Eric F. Spina captured this moment of new beginnings for the Class of 2020 at the start of the President’s Welcome, part of the Aug. 20 opening ceremony at the UD Arena. This year, there are more than 1,800 first-year students hailing from 34 states and territories and 18 countries.
Spina began by letting students and their parents in on a little secret. “The Class of 2020 will always have an extra special place in my heart because we are starting our journey together. We are taking this first step together: you as the brand new students and me as the brand new president,” he said. “…We will get to know the best shortcuts across campus together, we will both learn where to go to get the best sandwiches and the best cookies and together we will become veteran members of – and contributors to – the UD community.”
He informed the audience about the word community, stating, “You will quickly learn that ‘community’ is not a word used lightly here. It’s a way a life. It’s a shared vision.”
Spina reminded this incoming class that in an essay, each of them told the University how he or she will impact the world. He challenged them to “stretch yourself farther than you think you can be stretched, ask big questions, leave your comfort zone – and have the courage to risk failure.”
As cars with license plates from across the country rolled onto UD’s campus Saturday morning, the University’s Alumni Association tried to help students and their families by setting up a tent on KU Field for “Drinks and Directions.”
Ice cold water and soda was provided along with a handy list of directions to useful places with college essentials, such as, Target and Meijer. With name tags and smiling faces, the volunteer alumni group also helped guide the new UD community members to wherever they needed to go on campus.
However, for some families, the UD campus has been a familiar place for a long time. Currently, there are 720 legacy students at UD and 184 of those are incoming first-years – all of whom grew up with a special place for UD in their hearts.
Wanting to give a special welcome to the legacy students and their families, some alumni volunteers broke away from the tent to re-visit their old freshman dorms and chat with the new Flyers.
Lilly Barnett ‘20, communication major from Louisville, Kentucky, was settling into Founders Hall with her parents awaiting her two brother’s arrival.
“I’ve been going to UD at least once every couple months since I was in 7th grade,” Lilly Barnett said.
Lilly Barnett’s mom, Sally Barnett ‘86, was also a Flyer and although her Dad is not, Lilly is the last of their three children to attend UD.
“We always found a reason to come up here,” Sally Barnett said. “I just am excited that she’s a Flyer,” she continued as she began to tear up and hug her daughter.
With Lilly Barnett on campus, the whole family now has another excuse to visit UD for four more years.
Since 2013, UD has been welcoming their faculty, staff and students to a new school year the best way they know how – with prayer and refreshments.
On Aug. 17, Blessed Beginnings, a yearly tradition, brought UD community members of different faiths together for a time of prayer, song and conversation.
“Being inclusive takes constant work, re-evaluation and reflection,” Father Kip Stander, S.M., university chaplain, said. “This service allows us to gather in a short reflection time to focus thoughts on our mission as individuals and as a community.”
Around 260 UD community members gathered for silent reflection, psalm prayer and to hear readings from different religions represented on campus. This year, readings came from the Hebrew Scriptures, Muslim Tradition, Christian Tradition, as well as a reading honoring UD’s Marianist Heritage.
To end the service, the congregation raised their hands over members of the president and provost councils in a group blessing before turning to bless one another. After the blessing, there was a reception in the Torch Lounge.
“As a Catholic University, it is great for us to come together to recognize and acknowledge God’s presence among us,” Kathy Sales, assistant director of Campus Ministry for liturgy, said. “This prayer service allows UD to recognize the dignity of each person, as well as, recognize we all come from different faith traditions showing respect to them.”
For Dr. Karen Velasquez, director of experiential learning, the strong UD community became evident during the service. Attending the mass on her second day working at UD, Velasquez said, “you can tell people have a genuine and deep sense of community here. It brings you together in an interesting way when you sing and pray together.”
First-year students at the University of Dayton are getting a jump start on their transition to college with their participation in Camp Blue.
Camp Blue, which took place Aug.14-19, is a week of leadership strengthening and new student life development. Taking place both at the Camp Ernst YMCA campsite in northern Kentucky and the University, students are called to live out the University’s philosophy, “Learn, Lead, Serve”.
This year the camp hosted 104 campers and 16 counselors. By Tuesday, Aug. 16, three days into camp, students had begun creating friendships and bonds with one another. Tuesday night the group travelled from their Kentucky campsite to UD, and enjoyed a “PJ party” at the Hangar in Kennedy Union.
Anna Parks, the graduate assistant for the camp, explained why this camp is so unique and important to first-year students.
“Coming in as a freshman can be a nerve-racking experience. This camp is designed to ease that transition,” Parks said. “Incoming freshmen can make new friends, develop and strengthen leadership skills and become acclimated to new student life and a new home with a built-in community.”
Students like TJ Belstering, 2016 Camp Blue’s “Mr. Camp Blue”, appreciated the new faces and new friendships he had made. “I’ve met so many people and, on a certain level, I can go into orientation easier with a base of relationships,” Belstering said.
Freshman Gianna Pou, from Puerto Rico, chose camp as a way to settle in easier. “I saw it on the website. I thought it was a cool way to get to know everybody early,” she said. “I thought it was a great way to make new friends and get myself accommodated to the campus and student life.
To the class of 2020: welcome!