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A witness to history

5:25 PM  Jan 16th, 2018
by Gita Balakrishnan

“Now take me to my people.”

That was the statement by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he visited President Richard Nixon at the White House during the civil rights era.

The people King wanted to see were the African-American employees who worked in the basement of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  And one of those employees was a butler.

During the annual campus MLK prayer breakfast Jan. 16, The New York Times bestselling author and journalist Wil Haygood spoke to a full ballroom about how he met Eugene Allen and made it his mission to tell the story of Allen’s years working in the White House as a butler.

Haygood’s article “A Butler Well Served by This Election” was published in The Washington Post and became the inspiration of the award-winning movie The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.

Haygood told the audience how he developed the idea for the story as he was covering the 2008 presidential election. He had traveled to dozens of cities and states and “had a feeling” that Obama was going to win.

It was this feeling that made Haygood want to find a White House African-American employee who had worked during segregation to show how the country had progressed under the backdrop of the first black man winning the U.S. presidential election.

After days of phone calls and asking people he knew trying to locate African-American White House employees, Haygood was given the name of Eugene Allen.

Allen served as a White House butler under eight U.S. presidents, beginning his career in 1952 and ending it as head butler in 1986. Allen saw firsthand American politics and culture evolve as various administrations filtered through the White House doors.

He was also in attendance as Obama was sworn in as the first African-American U.S. president.

“When I was in the White House, we couldn’t even dream to have a dream like this,” Haygood recalled Allen telling him.

As Haygood called on the audience to be wary of governments and leaders who “foment anger and agitation” he asserted that “there is no doubt that America is at a crossroads.”

University provost Paul Benson emphasized the University’s calling to take on the challenges and obstacles on the journey toward equality.

“If UD is to be truly excellent, we must increase diversity, among our students, faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees,” Benson said. “That’s not a hope or a dream, and it can’t become a ‘woulda’ or a ‘shoulda’ — it’s an imperative.”

The University is holding several events this week to celebrate King and his legacy including hosting Nikole Hannah-Jones, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, who will deliver the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, at Kennedy Union ballroom. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

 

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VASE lecture series continues in spring

2:28 PM  Jan 10th, 2018
by Cari Zahn ’18

A new opportunity for UD students, as well as the greater Dayton community, emerged fall semester from the department of art and design.

Assistant professor of art education Darden Bradshaw organized the Visiting Art and Scholar Educators (VASE) lecture series to provide students and the public a chance to learn from artists in the field about their work and its ties to social justice.

Io Palmer, an associate professor at Washington State University, kicked off the lecture series with a presentation of her collection entitled “Working Ideas.” In her work, Palmer addresses class, capitalism and societal access.

One of Palmer’s favorite and most featured mediums is hair, either real or synthetic, as it represents issues in African culture. As seen in “Combs in Hairballs,” Palmer attempts to show how people express themselves socially and culturally through their hairstyle.

Other major influences of Palmer’s work include her parents and her African and Jewish roots. Aside from sharing the influence and inspiration behind these pieces of art that she has shown all over the world, Palmer also addressed the art students in the room, offering one simple piece of advice.

“You just gotta work,” Palmer said.

The next VASE lecture will take place during the spring 2018 semester. The featured artist has yet to be announced.

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Advent banners on display

4:48 PM  Dec 18th, 2017
by Elysse Winget ’19

Through the partnership of Campus Ministry, the Department of Art and Design and dozens of volunteers, four Advent banners now hang from the ceiling of the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception through the remainder of December.

Two professors in the Department of Art and Design, Suki Kwon and R. Darden Bradshaw, guided the project. They conducted 19 workshops for the UD community to contribute to the final banner design.

During these workshops, each attendee received a 6-inch square piece of wool that would eventually be bound together to create the 4-foot-by-26-foot banners.

The project took 10 months and nearly 1,000 hours to complete, according to both Kwon and Bradshaw.

“The preparation it took to create these banners emulates the preparation and anticipation of the Christ child,” Bradshaw said.

Kwon and Bradshaw will continue creating banners for the chapel as three more sets are in the works for upcoming religious holidays.

“The energy that the banners bring to the Chapel continues to surprise me,” said Kathy Sales, assistant director for Campus Ministry for Liturgy. “We are thankful that both Suki and Darden were so gracious and willing to share their gifts with the community.”

 

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A dog’s goodbye

11:20 AM  Dec 14th, 2017
by Elizabeth Kyle ’18

Among the busyness that comes along with finals week, students made sure to take a break to stop by the retirement party in honor of Baxter, the therapy dog that has been helping to relieve stress for UD students the last several years.

Baxter, a 13-year old flat-coated retriever, has been serving as a therapy dog for the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association for five years. He has been visiting UD’s campus to serve as a destressor for students during finals week since 2013.

On Dec. 11, members of UD’s community gathered on the first floor of Roesch Library to celebrate Baxter’s retirement with cake, cookies and lots of love for through pats on the head and hugs.

Community counseling graduate Tina Donovan ’08 told the crowd many stories about her dog, including when she recognized his calling. She recalled one of their first outings together was at a dog park. Although there were other dogs running around and wanting to play, Baxter was more interested in interacting with humans. Baxter soon became known as the “Walmart greeter” of the park and Donovan decided to enroll him in therapy classes.

“We called Miami Therapy on the spot for classes and I’ve been following his lead ever since,” said Donovan.

At the party, Baxter’s only focus was on his newfound friends — UD students who wanted to take a little break from their studies during finals week. It was clear Baxter would be missed.

Maureen Schlangen, Roesch Library’s e-scholarship and communications manager, is one of many who will be missing the puppy-dog eyes and wagging tail next semester.

“Baxter is such a good dog, the library is his favorite place to be,” she said.

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Most magical night of the year

12:11 PM  Dec 9th, 2017
by Cari Zahn

The Humanities Plaza, recently packed with students and an air of exam stress, was filled with hundreds of eager UD students and their buddies last night, waiting for the lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree that signified the start of their favorite event of the year.

Behind them, a giant, lighted “54” sign sat atop the Jesse Philips Humanities Center, representing the 54 years students have paired annually with nearly 1,000 students from Dayton city schools to give them a Christmas of dreams.

This year’s theme was “O Come All Ye Flyers,” and joyfully they came, leading their little buddies through buildings on campus bursting with activities, performances and students interacting with the kids.

Some students begged their kids to put on their warm clothes, while others just expressed how glad they were the kids were there. Each kid looked delighted and ready to be led through this magical Christmas maze by their newfound friend.

Veterans of the event, held on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, could once again enjoy the live Nativity scene, horse and buggy carrying the famous Claus couple, and a carnival of games in UD’s RecPlex. However, fans of Christmas carols were in luck with this year’s event additions.

Two brand new a cappella groups debuted, including UD’s first all-female acapella group, The Flying Solos. The lobby of Science Center overflowed with onlookers standing on furniture and crowding the group as they serenaded their new fans with a rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe.”

Almost simultaneously at Kennedy Union, frontman Jordan Kenny ’19 introduced Underscore , a 10-person co-ed a cappella group, also gave its first performance featuring an arrangement from popular a cappella group Pentatonix.

Following the “brand new” theme, Heritage Coffeehouse held its first Christmas on Campus event. The coffeehouse is the newest division of Flyer Enterprises, and it opened earlier this year. The coffeehouse hosted crafts for the children.

The new events, though exciting, were just three of more than 60 planned by UD students in the eight committees that make up the Christmas on Campus club. Students have been working since March to make this event happen, and to Eva Schuller ’18, event coordinator, the best part is finally getting to bring UD students together with the rest of the Dayton community.

“My hope is that [UD students] will experience a sense of selflessness and joy in working to give the children of the Dayton community a magical night,” she said.

And a magical night it was.

 

Photos by Larry Burgess, Kristin Davis ’18 and Cari Zahn ’18

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In. Bam.

11:35 AM  Dec 7th, 2017
by Teri Rizvi

In the first 20 minutes alone, 150 writers registered for the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop paving the way for a sellout in record time — just shy of five hours.

(Actually four hours and 42 minutes, but who’s keeping track?)

Writers are flocking to Dayton from 41 states, three provinces in Canada, and Madrid (yes, the one in Spain). We have big contingents from Ohio, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Indiana. Nearly half — 167 registrants — are first-timers. Five are mother-daughter duos.

If you’d like to add your name to our wait list, click here. The workshop runs April 5-7 at the University of Dayton.

Several writers likened the opening of registration for the workshop to standing in line for concert tickets. “Anyone remember back in the day when you would camp out overnight outside the mall waiting for concert tickets to go on sale? That feeling of we are willing to do whatever it takes, and we are all in this together?’ That is what this feels like. Good luck, fellow Ermites. I’ll meet you in the front row,” wrote Lisa Packer of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Others described their elation after receiving confirmation: “I’m feeling like that kid in first grade who’s wound up and can’t sit in his seat and can’t hold his pencil because he’s so tense with excitement, so he’s poking his desk mate and singing songs and bouncing in his chair, and the teacher is all, ‘Jimmy, if you don’t settle down you’re going to the principal’s office,’ when in reality Jimmy is just happier than he’s been in a while and doesn’t know what to do with all of the emotion coursing through his veins. Yeah, that’s what Erma registration day feels like,” said Joanne Brokaw of East Rochester, New York, who developed a “happiness overdose headache.”

Lela Davidson, of Rogers, Ohio, expressed her joy in two words: “In. Bam.”

One writer humorously detailed her pre-registration preparation: “For weeks beforehand, I did hand and finger calisthenics ensuring that my digits were as nimble and fast as can be. Then, I went online and ordered a bunch of things I didn’t need to test how fast I could put in an order for “stuff.” The day of registration, I got up early, did my hand exercises for two hours, ate plenty of protein, set up my computer to open on humorwriters.org, set up three back-up computers, just in case, closed the cats out of my office, (despite the mewing and scratching at the door), took the phone off the hook, and prayed. One minute to registration, I was poised and at the ready. I was fortunate enough to get straight in on the first try, but because I have a double last name, had trouble. So I did the only thing I could, I deleted my husband’s name and went with my maiden name. It worked. I exhaled YUGELY after I got my confirmation, let the cats back in, and ordered a pizza,” said Allia Zobel Nolan of Norwalk, Connecticut.

Ann Morrow, of Custer, South Dakota, shared her game plan, too: “I marked it on my calendar. Told Siri to remind. Set the timer on the stove. Had my credit card ready and my hands poised over the keyboard like a NASA launch conductor waiting to send the shuttle into orbit. Other than that, I didn’t stress out about it at all.”

Two writers registered despite adversity. “With power down here for hundreds of miles due to nearby fires, I caught a momentary wink of electricity, allowing my registration to go thru, and got in! See you in April!” tweeted Margaux Hession, of Santa Barbara, California, one of the 10 finalists for the inaugural A Hotel Room of One’s Own: The Erma Bombeck | Anna Lefler Humorist-in-Residence Program.

First-time attendee Julie Burton, of Overland Park, Kansas, registered on her smart phone while “completely nude and feet still comfortably in stirrups” during her annual pap smear. “I’m finally going to meet some of the best humor writers in the world. I’m going to learn from them and laugh with them,” she wrote after landing a spot.

Christy Heitger-Ewing, of Avon, Indiana, noted one of the hallmarks of the workshop, its supportive atmosphere. “I think it’s beyond awesome how we all freak out about getting registered but even after registering cannot rest easy until we know all our friends got in, too. It’s like being on the Titanic and making sure our loved ones are in a lifeboat!” she posted on Facebook.

Welcome to the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

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Student receives NASPA Rising Star Award

4:09 PM  Dec 6th, 2017
by Anna Lagattuta ’19

Senior Hailee Rennels was watching a movie from her couch when she got a phone call from her adviser congratulating her for winning the prestigious NASPA Rising Start Award.

“It was a moment of pure excitement. That was not a call that I was expecting to get,” Rennels said.

The award is presented annually to students actively involved in the division of student development in colleges and universities. One undergraduate student from each state receives the honor.

Rennels has been involved in student development activities since she first arrived on campus. She is the founding president of National Residence Hall Honorary, has worked as a resident assistant and desk assistant and has served, since her freshman year, as the president for the Student Alumni Association.

Through her work in the division of student development, Rennels has gotten to know people who have made a profound impact on her personal and professional life and hopes that she has been able to do the same for others.

“I’ve grown a lot through these organizations. I don’t think that the people I have worked with understand how much they’ve impacted my life. I have gained an appreciation for that over time and have realized that those small moments are what make an experience special,” Rennels said.

In November, Rennels attended a conference in Detroit where she officially accepted her award.

“For me to get chosen from this pool of 86 universities is something that I don’t take lightly. It is such a huge honor,” she said.

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Philanthropy in the classroom

11:09 AM  Nov 30th, 2017
by Braden Wagle ’20

In 2001, sports management major Eric Schutter’s cousin, Mitchell Callahan, was diagnosed with autism. While Mitchell’s parents could afford a variety of treatment options for their son, they encountered many families who struggled to pay for services.

They decided to help those families and started the Lil MAC Kids Foundation in 2006 to help families pay for autism care services, and thanks to Schutter, the foundation has $600 more to assist families in need.

Schutter won the 2017 philanthropy tournament for his sales and fundraising in sport class this semester and donated his $600 award to the Lil MAC Kids Foundation, based just outside Columbus, Ohio. This is the third year of the tournament.

“We’re working to show students they can have an impact on others while they are still in school just by using the power of their words and actions,” said sport management professor Peter Titlebaum, the course instructor.

The prize money comes from the Gary Mioli Leadership in Community Fund, which gives UD students the opportunity to contribute to organizations in their communities.

The Mioli fund was started in spring 2016 when the sports management program in the Department of Health and Sports Science worked with the Mioli family and the Division of Advancement to honor Gary Mioli’s legacy of service. Mioli, a 1979 UD graduate, dedicated his life to leading young athletes on and off the football field in Park Ridge, N.J.

Judges chose Schutter and the Lil MAC Kids Foundation from 25 participants.

“It was a little surreal, I knew others I had strong presentations,” Schutter said. “I was surprised and it was an awesome moment. I was able to give back in a way that I couldn’t by just volunteering. I knew I was helping a kid get something they needed.”

Since 2006, Lil MAC Kids Foundation has donated $130,000 to more than 30 families, helping with everything from therapy to purchasing iPads to help with visual learning.

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Running for a cure

10:50 AM  Nov 28th, 2017
by Gita Balakrishnan

Hundreds of runners from around Ohio laced up their sneakers and gathered on campus in October to take part in the sixth annual Hope It’s a Beach Thing 5K race to help raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research.

The event is held in memory of Tim Beach ’81, who had just turned 53 when he passed away from a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor in April 2012. After his initial surgery, he was expected only three to six months to live, possibly six to nine months if he underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

But, with the help of clinical trials, Tim battled the cancer for 21 months, all the while spreading a message of hope.

After his passing, his family made it their mission to help the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, which conducts brain tumor research. The 5K run is the family’s annual fundraiser to raise money for the institute.

Since it started, the 5K run has raised $310,000 for the institute and this year, the event raised a record-breaking $60,000.

Annually, the event attracts families and friends from across Ohio who have been impacted by the disease. This year there were approximately 400 runners and walkers – the highest turnout yet.

Tim’s daughter, Renee Sample ’11, helped organize the event with her family and was overwhelmed by the support of the community.

“It’s been so great to see the event become an outlet for other families that have been affected by brain tumors in the Dayton area,” she said. “It’s powerful to see families that would otherwise not be connected come together for a day of fundraising and hope and to support each other on the journey.”

 

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Dictators are dinosaurs

11:44 AM  Nov 20th, 2017
by Erin Frey ’18, Photo credit: Kristin Davis ’18

Applause echoed throughout Kennedy Union ballroom as William Dobson, chief international officer of NPR, kicked off The Social Practice of Human Rights conference Nov. 7, sharing his views on democracy.

Dobson, who has both a law degree and a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, discussed the evolution of democracy, the decline in dictatorships and how that phenomena affects the international community.

“It’s not easy being a dictator these days,”  Dobson said. “It is impossible to keep your worst deeds a secret.”

Dobson said the idea of democracy as a legitimate government structure came to the forefront toward the end of the Cold War. He said there was an estimated 41 democratic regimes in the 1980s but by 2005, there were around 120 — a significant increase.

In regards to how some dictatorships have stayed in power this long, Dobson said: “Today’s authoritarians are more savvy nimble than ever before. They have new techniques, methods and formulas for preserving power. In the modern world, the best forms of coercion are subtle.”

Dobson joked that dictators were dinosaurs — in that they were a dying breed. Thanks to the media, he said, authoritarians are constantly being questioned and challenged.

“Just as dictators have grown more nimble so to have those who challenge them,” Dobson said.

Dobson also spoke to America’s current political atmosphere and the strong feelings felt by both republicans and democrats and said he believes the bold reporting methods of today’s journalists would continue to keep leaders in check.

He said: “I remain convinced that if it’s hard to be a dictator these days, it’s not getting any easier.”

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