Glance at the bookcases that line professors’ offices and you have a window into their lives.
Take the shelves of Maureen Tilley, associate professor in the department of religious studies. Yes, she has books in her third-floor Humanities office, but two high shelves near a window are full of candles used by practitioners of voodoo and other religions.
Some depict Catholic saints, others warn of death. All are instructional aids she uses when she teaches Afro-Latin religions such as Voudou (Tilley’s preferred spelling), Santería, Candomble and Umbanda, all religions of the African diaspora in the West.
At a Catholic university, why teach these subjects, which for many Americans conjure images of zombies, magic, animal sacrifice and more?
Well, because those things are not really central to these faiths, which are genuine religious traditions practiced by millions, said Tilley. Santería, the Cuban form, is one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States. All satisfy the needs of practitioners, interact with Catholicism in fascinating ways, and are badly misunderstood if known at all. In fact, Tilley prefers the French spelling “Voudou” to distinguish her topic from the connotations “voodoo” conjures.
Just imagine her students’ very serious conversations: “I’d love to, but I can’t go. I’ve got to study my voodoo.”
Interns are not just getting coffee these days. Thomas McDonald stars as the enigmatic Tom the Intern in a humorous, action-filled “flanimation” production to introduce potential clients to Media Production Group, located in the basement of Anderson Center.
A collaboration of team members created “The Adventures of Tom the Intern,” an interactive production that allows viewers to “choose their own adventure.” An intern for the group since April, McDonald, a junior communication major with an emphasis on radio/TV, hocks the group’s video, CD-ROM and DVD services with the flair — and plaid suit jacket — of a carpet discounter. The flanimation presentation combines flash software with video, graphics and text that can be sent through e-mail. McDonald is at turns agile, reliable and ridiculous. “I could see myself involved in political ads in some way in the future,” he said.
Besides starring in the production, McDonald has been involved with other shoots, helping his bosses Mike Kurtz and Brian Mills set up and tear down the equipment and running focus groups from a multimedia standpoint. “I think he has a future as a used car salesman. There were times during recording that we couldn’t stop laughing,” said Kurtz, senior producer.
It’s all in who you know.
With graduation right around the corner, students — including myself — are eager to learn the dos and don’ts of getting a job. The communication networking day on Nov. 15, coordinated by five students in the Public Relations Campaigns course and sponsored by the communication department, gave us a chance to talk with alumni, have our résumés critiqued and learn more about the communication organizations on campus. Already involved with Phi Beta Chi and PRSSA, I went to the career services table for a critique. The women there were very honest and helpful, and complimented my work experience.
At the alumni table, several women who now work in the Dayton area were talking about their experiences at job interviews, how they got the job they have now, and what their positions entail. All alumnae of PRSSA and Phi Beta Chi, they said they “were here to give back to the organizations.”
Rachel Olszewski ’06, one of the students who planned the event, said, “After talking to Dr. Don Yoder about the possibilities of a campaign, a networking day seemed like the best way to bridge the alumni with current students.” A popular event with students was the job search strategies panel discussion, featuring Megan Cullen ’02, Mari Jo V. Sellers ’03 and Megan Houston ’04. After receiving advice from alumnae and critiques of my resume, I feel well prepared to continue my search into the “real world.”
Mike arrived covered in mud from head to toe. Literally. On the first truly cold evening of the year, he showed up last night wearing a knit cap, a couple of layers of T-shirts, shorts and flip flops. And mud everywhere — in his hair, on his face, all up and down his arms and legs.
But what drew him off the soccer field to Marianist Hall last night was the same thing that brought about 40 sophomores over two nights to informal and completely voluntary conversations: a book.
Heidi Gauder at Roesch Library has launched a year-long series of “Porch Reads,” informal book discussion groups designed to get UD students to read for pleasure more.
Two groups met last night to talk about Jon Stewart’s mock civics textbook America. One student explained why Andrew Jackson was his favorite president (for ignoring the Supreme Court when it suited him), while another was trying to figure out why Nixon seemed to be hers (“He was just the one who got caught.”). A self-identified conservative picked FDR and wished Roosevelt could have traveled through time to react to Sept. 11. They pointed out their favorite sections and talked about the state of politics.
No grades, no assignments for next week, just students getting together to talk about a book. They went more than an hour, long enough for Mike’s mud to dry and cake up all over him.
On what threatens to be fall’s last sunny Friday, we break out of our Barrett Dining Room rut and amble through the student neighborhood to the ArtStreet Café for lunch. The feature of the day is a ham and cheese panini dubbed the Hamilton “Ham” Porter — the chunky kid who plays catcher in the movie The Sandlot . My dining companion opts for half a Hamilton and half a Picasso salad; the Southwest chicken panini and DaVinci salad sound good to me. We settle into retro chairs and peruse the reading material that doesn’t normally make its way to St. Mary Hall. A flier advertises “Healthy Relationships,” a discussion led by the inexhaustible Father Norbert Burns, S.M. A postcard promotes “Resonance,” an exhibition of student artwork on display in Roesch Library through Dec. 15. “OffBeat,” a monthly newsletter produced by ArtStreet students, features satire, advice and true stories of residence life, including a tale of the retaliatory theft of tightie-whities.
Students drift in and out for coffees and smoothies, wraps and bagels. Susan Byrnes, ArtStreet director, stops by for a take-out order.
The music is pleasant – Natalie Merchant, Tracy Chapman – although we suspect the volume ratchets up at night. Sun streams through the windows, lighting a chess set on a glass coffee table. One of UD senior Sam Wukusick’s paintings hangs behind our table. After lunch, we wander through Studio D to see the rest of his exhibit, “The Other Side of the World: A Visual Study of My Experience In India,” drawn to “Frogs in Deephali.”
Duty calls. We walk past the amphitheater and up Evanston to peek in the windows of the RecPlex, where workers are buffing the newly installed basketball court. The bright red hoop and backboard look inviting – a good place to work off panini calories the next time we stray from our Barrett routine.
If you squinted real hard, you could see Paul Laurence Dunbar shadowed on the stage curtain, hiding from the spotlight aimed on Herbert Woodward Martin as Martin brought the long-dead poet to life for the UD Arts Series last Thursday in Boll Theatre.
The professor emeritus flitted between characters, alternating commentary in his own voice with the voices of Dunbar’s fiery preacher, nosy granny, proud widow. He pulled colored silk handkerchiefs out of his pockets, props that embodied large matrons in bold hats.
“Someone asked me where I found these voices,” he said. “I found these ladies in the Baptist Church,” but added they can be found populating any “protest-ant” — as he prefers to pronounce it — congregation.
Martin’s tone was also serious. During an extensive post-performance Q&A, Martin noted Dunbar’s genius in elevating the humanity of black Americans. The slave in “When Dey ‘Listed Colored Soldiers” shows empathy for her white mistresses whose men have also gone to war, an emotion they cannot reciprocate.
The education and entertainment was part of Celebrate Dunbar!, public events held in the coming year to honor the nation’s first celebrated African-American poet 100 years after his death. Martin danced around the stage like a devilish child in “Opportunity,” belying the fact he has performed as Dunbar for 33 years and suggests retiring it when the celebration concludes.
As he described another poem, Martin threw a glance up stage. “Dunbar’s standing behind me and he’s saying let you ask the questions if you want to.”
Whatever would we do without you bringing life to the poet and his song?
Each autumn we interview and photograph the students who will “star” in the viewbook, the glossy publication that will be sent to high school juniors next spring and join the stack of similar materials from other universities piling up in kids’ rooms around the country.
So we try to make UD’s viewbook stand out. UD students have so many engaging stories to tell, they make it easy. Take sophomore Lee Lochtefeld, an entrepreneurship and finance major from New Bremen, Ohio.
A student in UD’s Davis Center for Portfolio Management, he’s traveled twice to Manhattan, visited the New York Mercantile Exchange and dropped in on Westina Matthews-Shatteen, a UD alumna and a first vice president at Merrill Lynch. “Dr. Matthews had snacks set out for us in the CEO’s private dining room on the 34th floor,” said Lee, who at 6 foot something, is possibly still growing.
At last year’s RISE symposium, Lee worked on the team charged with welcoming and staffing the VIP keynote presenters. “I know Ben (Bernanke, recently named to succeed Alan Greenspan as Federal Reserve chair). He’s a great guy,” Lee said.
Lee also had the job of welcoming H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart, to UD for the symposium. The motorcade pulled up outside UD Arena; staff and security scurried around; and Lee extended his hand to greet the head of the world’s largest retailer.
Mr. Scott eyed Lee’s name tag.
“Lee, huh? I like that name,” Scott said.
“Sir, I can only hope it works for me as well as it has for you.”
John Heitmann is restoring a ’71 Porsche 911. Ed Garten drives an Acura TL, a six-speed manual.
That’s the kind of stuff you learn about UD professors if you read AutoWeek. Rich Ceppos, who writes “Life with cars” for AutoWeek, America’s only weekly car magazine, recently visited a class team-taught by Heitmann and Garten — Science, Technology and the Modern Automotive Corporation — and wrote about it in the Oct. 31 issue.
You can also learn there about the Kettering name, that graces UD buildings as well as the history of the automobile. And about the forces identified by Ceppos that have reshaped the auto industry over the last 15 years in what he calls “one amazing ride.”
And you can learn that Heitmann is amazed “there are actually no books about how the car has transformed our culture.”
So Heitmann is writing one.
Halloween is a day that many people think is for little kids. At UD, we like to challenge that notion.
Halloween is for the big kids.
It’s the one night all year when every student competes to see who can look the most ridiculous, who can confuse the most people and who can have the most creative costume of the night.
With Halloween on a Monday this year, many students used this past weekend to show off their creativity and their imaginations. I took to the streets to watch it all unfold.
The neighborhood sidewalks were jammed with Care Bears, cows, pirates and Oompa-Loompas. Every house seemed to be entertaining those students willing to venture into the night, including Indiana Jones. When he stopped to ask me for directions I, of course, could tell him right where he was — I was Carmen Sandiego.
Ballerinas, butterflies and a few Batmen came through St. Mary Hall and other buildings around campus today collecting candy a few days before Halloween. Preschoolers from three Bombeck Family Learning Center classes — the Jets, Voyagers and Explorers — made the rounds, doing what for some of them may be their first trick-or-treating. (The Rocket class will be by later.) Lots of parents with cameras tagged along too as their little ones went from office to office, bags open and filling quickly.
By the time the children get to our office on the fourth floor, their legs are tired and their goodies getting heavy, but they’re still a sight: a pterodactyl here, a little mouse there, cowboys, turtles, wizards and witches. Employees who work in St. Mary’s enjoy it even more than the kids.
If you’re in Dayton this time of year, visit St. Mary’s. We can’t possibly eat all of the leftover candy we have every year, yet somehow we find a way. Please save us from ourselves.