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The case for diversity

5:02 PM  Mar 2nd, 2017
by Shannon Shelton Miller

During a 90-minute public forum Feb. 22, Larry Burnley, the University’s inaugural vice president for diversity and inclusion, outlined his emerging vision and aspiration toward making campus a more welcoming place for all.

His most powerful statement, however, was summed up in just four words.

“Diversity makes us better,” he said.

Faculty, staff and students filled most of the seats in Sears Recital Hall to hear Burnley discuss the University’s strengths and challenges related to enhancing diversity and inclusion efforts on campus, and his plan during the next four years to advance UD’s strategic goals and objectives related to diversity and inclusion.

Shortly after his arrival in fall 2016, Burnley convened more than two dozen listening and learning focus group sessions to learn more about the existing campus climate related to diversity and inclusion, and to solicit suggestions and recommendations for improvement. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students attended those sessions during the fall, and Burnley presented key findings from those talks during the two recent forums.

Burnley said he also hoped to understand how UD’s Catholic, Marianist values intersected with core values of diversity and inclusion, and how the Marianist tradition of educating the whole person through community, working toward social justice, connecting learning to leadership and service; and collaborating for adaptation and change could influence those goals.

Burnley also stressed that UD’s diversity and inclusion effort should be grounded in equity — insuring that all have the tools needed to be successful — versus equality, which treats everyone in a similar fashion without acknowledging any disparities that place individuals and groups at an initial disadvantage.

On his future aspirations for the University, he said: “Driven by our Catholic and Marianist traditions, UD will be internationally renowned for its resolute commitment to social justice, high degree of cultural intelligence, intercultural competency, its awareness of different identities and their significance to higher education.”

At the end of the forum, Burnley outlined goals for the rest of the 2016-17 academic year and the 2017-18 academic year, which include:

-Holding “listening and learning’ session with community leaders and residents in West Dayton

-Hiring new staff in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

-Conducting training for staff in the Division of Enrollment Management on recruiting a diverse student body

-Forming a campuswide advisory committee on diversity and inclusion

-Hosting a diversity scholar-in-residence for a two-day visit to campus, which would include a public lecture.



A garden for Mother Mary

4:04 PM  Mar 1st, 2017
by Meagan Pant

The University of Dayton library will house more than books this spring. For the first time, it will feature a living indoor garden filled with some of the hundreds of flowers and plants named in medieval times as symbols for the Virgin Mary.

The Mary’s Garden exhibit, which runs March 25 – May 10, also includes paintings of flowers by area artist Holly Schapker and history on Mary gardens from the personal collection of the movement’s founder, John S. Stokes Jr.

“It is really a unique approach to library exhibits,” said Sarah Cahalan, director of the University’s Marian Library, which houses the largest collection in the world of printed materials and artifacts on Mary, mother of Christ. “This is an opportunity for everyone to think about how gardening can play a role in their lives and to reflect on the spirituality of our interactions with nature.”

Gardens were first planted specifically for Mary as early as the seventh century. In the early 1950s, Stokes revived the tradition and brought it to America. His Mary Garden research is housed in a special collection at the Marian Library.

“Stokes really wanted to make Mary’s gardens accessible,” Cahalan said. “They were meant to be places of meditation and prayer, and he wanted them to be available even in the hustle and bustle of modern life. He wanted there to be options for people who didn’t have a lot of space or time, so he had suggestions for kitchen gardens, dish gardens. There isn’t just one way to plant a Mary’s garden. It can be different things to different people.”

The garden planted inside the library will change four times during the exhibit to reflect spring, summer, winter and fall. Visitors can stroll through the garden on a paved walkway. It is made possible through a partnership with Grunder Landscaping, owned by University alumnus Marty Grunder.

The exhibit is free and open to the public inside Roesch Library. The opening event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26.

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The traveling scarf

10:40 AM  Feb 22nd, 2017
by Julia Hall ’18

The purple and gold threads weave together both the fabric of a traveling scarf and the women on UD’s campus. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarf is in full swing this spring semester — taking place from Feb. 13-March 30.

The University of Dayton’s Women’s Center modeled the event after The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie and novel.  The office hopes that the exchanges will foster a closeness and connectedness with women on campus.

“It is almost like despite that we all have these differences there is something that connects us even if it is as simple as a piece of fabric,” Margaret Murray, the Women’s Center program coordinator, said.

Participants are encouraged to schedule the exchange of the scarf over a cup of coffee or with a simple smile.

Lisa Rismiller, a past director of the Women’s Center and current associate secretary of the board of trustees, and senior psychology major Nichole Hamburg exchanged the scarf and shared personal stories during their meeting.

Hamberg said the garment exchange was perfect for women.

“I just think we like to trade clothes a lot,” Hamburg said. “We do not care about ownership. We just care about sharing it.”

After the hand off, participants are urged to write short reflections regarding their “scarf day” experience.

Christina Smith, director of Residence Life, exchanged the scarf over lunch with first-year business major Jennifer Conrad where they discussed the life and experiences of the scarf.

Smith could only imagine the stories that would pour out as she pondered out loud the possibility “If the scarf could talk, right?”


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New sorority on campus

3:26 PM  Feb 20th, 2017
by Danielle Damon ’18

At UD the names of seven sororities buzz around campus. However this semester after an eight-year hiatus, Sigma Kappa Sorority will return to become the eighth chapter on UD’s campus.

From 1996-2004 the Kappa Gamma chapter of Sigma Kappa was active at UD before leaving due to low membership.

“Unfortunately, the chapter membership never flourished,” said Melinda Mettler, director of extension at Sigma Kappa Sorority national headquarters. “In 2004, the tough decision was made to assume dormant status in hopes of returning to the University of Dayton when the time was right.”

Mettler believes it is now the time for Sigma Kappa to re-establish its partnership with UD.

“I see a lot of parallels between Sigma Kappa and UD,” said Dana Finley, a senior leadership consultant for Sigma Kappa. “I really resonate with the sense of authenticity here . . . I think the type of people at UD are friendly and welcoming and I see us as a good fit for this campus because of that.”

Sigma Kappa will offer a different type of Greek life experience to UD women by allowing members to have leadership roles right away and to start their own philanthropy event on campus involving their national partner, the Alzheimer’s Association.

Since UD’s formal recruitment process ended Feb. 3, a total of 988 women at UD wear Greek letters.

Sigma Kappa looks forward to seeing the number of Greek women at UD grow and is hosting its own recruitment process Feb. 22-26.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about or joining Sigma Kappa at UD can follow SKDayton on social media, visit www.lovesigmakappa.com or e-mail dayton@sigmakappa.org.

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Bold. Imaginative. Distinctive.

5:18 PM  Feb 17th, 2017
by Teri Rizvi

Eric Spina has been doing a lot of listening these days.

The University of Dayton’s president criss-crossed the state this week before coming home to meet with 80 community leaders on a “listening tour” designed to generate and test creative ideas for shaping the University’s future 20 years on the horizon.

“Being bold is in our DNA. Now is our time to be bold,” he told 80 Cincinnati alumni at the Kenwood Country Club Feb. 16. “I’m here to listen to you about the University we want to create together.”

In sessions in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton, Spina asked participants for their feedback on six potential strategic aspirations  — from striving to be known as “the premier Catholic university for leadership development in civic engagement, community building and social innovation” to achieving national leadership in such growing research areas as environmental sustainability and energy.

Before hitting Ohio’s major cities, he visited alumni communities coast to coast and held a Facebook Live event in Dayton Spina will go live on Facebook again at 6 p.m., Feb. 22, to talk to alumni about their aspirations for UD’s future.

“I’ve learned that the heart of the University of Dayton, the community spirit, is here in spades. In being bold, we’ll build on our Catholic, Marianist core,” Spina told Cincinnati alumni before asking, “Which of these strategic directions resonate with you? Which are critically important? Is there something not on here? We want to be bold, imaginative, distinctive.”

Alumni in this session expressed support for greater experiential learning and leadership development opportunities for students, but shared concerns about affordability and diversity.

“Those are two existential threats,” Spina acknowledged. “It would be very easy for us to slip into being a university only for the wealthy. We’re also not where we need to be from the boardroom to the student body in terms of diversity. We need to prepare students for a world where other people are different from them. For me, this is a very high priority.”

A mechanical and aerospace engineer by training, Spina said he believes the University of Dayton can become nationally recognized in a range of scholarly and applied research fields.

“We’re ninth in the nation among private, comprehensive, research universities without a medical school in the amount of research we do,” he said, noting last year’s record $117.6 million in sponsored research contracts. “We can take it to the next level and move more technology (from the labs) to the marketplace.”

Spina, who became UD’s 19th president last summer, said he’s spent the last seven months learning the University’s story and its values. In all, 2,700 alumni, faculty, staff, students, trustees, supporters and community leaders have weighed in on the University’s emerging strategic vision that will lay the foundation for a major fundraising campaign and guide future curriculum, facilities and research endeavors.

As he’s done in group gatherings, Spina closed the evening’s conversation by sharing red-and-blue “friendship bracelets” personalized with an image of the chapel and the words, “Learn. Lead. Serve.” in bold white type.

“This reminds me what we’re about. It reminds me I’m connected to you,” he said.


Behind the scenes with MPG

11:50 AM  Feb 14th, 2017
by Gita Balakrishnan

Mike Kurtz directs volunteer library docent Ann Persensky to look into the camera as she describes the Mirror of Hope exhibit on display in Roesch Library.  He adjusts the lighting and stands in various positions to achieve the right angle.

He stops again. Examines how Persensky is standing, and tells her to use gestures and movement as she describes the intricate pieces of the display; he wants to add depth and action into his multimedia piece.

Take two.

For over 25 years, the University’s Media Production Group has been producing high-end videos to share the campus stories with audiences worldwide. Kurtz is the group’s executive producer and director.

Along with the expertise of video editor Brian Mills and associate video producer Brigham Fisher, MPG is able to produce around 150 in-depth videos each year, showing the different ways the University makes positive impacts in the world.

Created in 1988, MPG captures the sights and sounds made on campus that reflect the true quality of a UD education.  For example, click here to see how engineering students are learning.  Learn how we make progress in human rights or see how our faculty are breaking ground in new research.

Kurtz enjoys being able to share the achievements happening on campus.

“There are so many great stories at the University with our alumni and our students. Our goal is to tell those stories so that alumni and prospective students can get an idea of why our university is so great,” Kurtz said.

Click on the link to see how the  Mirror of Hope video MPG worked on turned out.

And while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel.

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NYC trip helps launch student careers

9:00 AM  
by Courtney Mocklow ’17

For many of the students who attended, the art and design department’s trip to New York City this past October wasn’t just a chance to tour art studios and museums – it was an opportunity to investigate a possible career.

“As a New Yorker from Long Island, I plan on moving back home after graduation and pursuing a graphic design career in New York City,” said Jackie Meares ’17. “I went on the trip to get a preview of what it will be like to work in the graphic design industry in Manhattan.”

For one student in particular, the dream has become a reality. Danny Martin, who graduated in December, landed a New York City summer internship after touring one of the downtown studios during the fall trip.

“Our last visit was to a design firm called SpotCo, which does the designs for a ton of Broadway posters,” Martin said. “I ended up interning there the summer after my junior year, and it launched my career. I’m working at Disney now, and that happened just because I decided to go to NYC.”

Jeffrey Jones, a professor in the Department of Art and Design, started the trip eight years ago. Over the years, his students have been welcomed by several big names including Hugo McCloud, Cordy Ryman and Mark Zimmermann.

Jayne Whitaker, another professor in the art and design department, started accompanying Jones and the students on the trip six years ago, helping schedule tours at various studios, galleries and museums throughout the city.

“We set up visits with fine artists, photographers, ad agencies and design firms so that the students can meet an artist and hear about their work and processes,” Whitaker said. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to learn.”

These tours and visits proved invaluable for the students. Megan Bollheimer ’17 was one such attendee grateful for the chance to meet professional artists and learn about their work.

“As a young designer, it’s helpful to see how a designer or artist works and to understand their design process,” Bollheimer said. “These designers were once just like me in their undergrad studies, which is a great reminder to always hustle and do good work. It’ll get you far.”

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Civic engagement with Beyond the Ballot

1:45 PM  Feb 10th, 2017
by Julia Hall ’18

Post-election season, the student ambassadors of Vote Everywhere have initiated a new, three-part lecture series called Beyond the Ballot, running Feb. 15, March 8, and March 22. The series will feature speakers from the political science department as well as the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.

Three political science majors function as the UD ambassadors for Vote Everywhere: Katherine Liming ’18, Margaret Schaller ’17, and Nick Hancart ’17. Vote Everywhere is a grassroots campaign initiated and run by the Andrew Goodman Foundation. With a bipartisan philosophy, the group organizes programming to encourage increased civic engagement among college students.

“We are a pretty disenfranchised population, regardless of our race or our gender. The government isn’t reaching out to us because [they think] we are young and naïve and stupid,” Liming said.

Despite the dilemma of being green, young adults have been exceptionally engaged in politics in the last year.

Liming believes the lecture series should be attended by all students majoring in government or interested in the subject since they are intended to provide students with an outline of how to be well informed, politically vocal and how to be heard.

Beyond the Ballot was primarily conceived by the desires of young adults wanting to be impactful in today’s political climate.

“How can you protest effectively? How can you contact your representatives effectively? It is really hard. I do not want people just shouting into an abyss,” Liming commented.

The first lecture, “Messaging in the Media,” will focus on differentiating between opinion and fact in the news. The event will be held from 7-8 p.m. in Marianist Hall 218.

Liming hopes the lecture series will provide students with concrete information that they can trust, as opposed to getting information from social media sites.

The two lectures scheduled to follow, “Outreach to Officials” and “People, Protest, and Petition,” will focus on vocalizing well-researched, well-informed opinions, effectively.




Speaker series: Race and the nation

9:48 AM  Feb 2nd, 2017
by Julia Hall ’17

William Jelani Cobb, a professor of journalism at Columbia University and a staff writer for The New Yorker, spoke to an overflowing room of students, faculty and community members Tuesday, Jan. 24 at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative speaker event on campus.

Cobb captivated the room with personal stories, historic references, profound statements, and explicit examples addressing racism in the United States.

He began by telling a story of a coincidental moment from his coverage of the Dylan Roof trial. While on an unrelated business trip in California, he met a man from Charleston, N.C. who was personally affected by the shooting. Cobb explained how the meeting demonstrated that issues of race do not exist within isolated pockets, but permeate every corner of the nation. This concept became the main fixture of his speech.

“We cannot understand America without understanding race,” Cobb said.

As a specialist in the areas of post-Civil War African-American history and twentieth century politics, Cobb traced racism back to the creation of the country. He used the example that the Constitutional Convention, “copy-edited black freedom out of the Constitution.” This historical context translated into wide-eyed, quick-pen reactions from the audience.

As Cobb continued, he gradually transitioned to his hard-hitting point: racism’s presence in modern society. Topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, voting complexities and incarceration were discussed at length.

In one example, Cobb identified what he calls the “new caste system through incarceration.” Further, he emphasized the oppressive implications surrounding the geography of prisons.

 While many weighty subjects regarding racial injustices pervaded Cobb’s speech, he remained hopeful, especially when he referenced the predecessors of the Civil Rights movement. Cobb noted, “we are indebted” to those who came before us who did “the heavy moral lifting.”

On progress, Cobb suggested that it does not inevitably continue to move forward: it is cyclical.

“Progress doesn’t just happen,” Cobb said. “It happens by people doing things.”  

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Father Chaminade Mass celebration

10:20 AM  Jan 30th, 2017
by Erin Frey ’18

In the midst of the French Revolution, the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade stood in solidarity with those being persecuted and proclaimed that his politics were the politics of Mother Mary. As a Roman Catholic priest in 1790, Chaminade opposed the secularization of the clergy. He vowed to love the Son and have unwavering faith. His mission gave rise to the Marianist family.

On Monday, Jan. 23, the University community gathered to recognize and honor the death anniversary of Father Chaminade. President Eric Spina, along with faculty, staff, community members and students, sang songs dedicated to Mary and later listened to stories about her victorious spirit.

The Gospel of John demonstrated Jesus’ ability to perform miracles. In 2:1-11, Jesus attends a wedding where the wine runs out. When Mary comes to Jesus, he tells her to have faith.  With unwavering trust, she tells the disciples, “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary never lost faith in Jesus, and neither did Chaminade, a lesson instructive for today’s students.

Senior Tommy Tappel is a member of the Chaminade Scholars program, which educates students to grow in their faith and understanding of what they are called to do. “The Chaminade Scholars take after Father Chaminade’s desire to follow in Mary’s ‘yes’ to God’s call to vocation,” he said.

The Mass closed with “Go to the World,” a song that proclaims, “Go struggle, bless and pray; The nights of tears give way to joyful day.” Chaminade reminds us to look to Mary when we are weary and follow his call to live as Jesus did.

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