The NCAA First Four in Dayton has a way of bringing people together — including seven people crammed into one car that made its way to Dayton from Kansas.
Katie Hammbrschmidst, sister of Wake Forest assistant coach Brett Ballard, spent the first half of the Wake Forest vs. Kansas State basketball game March 14 at UD Arena holding her 1-year-old daughter, Hadley, who slept contentedly on her mother’s shoulder.
“We drove nine hours all the way from Kansas,” Hammbrschmidst said. “My husband and I, our four children and their grandmother in one car. It was a bit crammed, but the kids were great.”
Hammbrschmidst and her family are originally from Kansas, and her brother previously worked for University of Kansas basketball.
“We traveled a lot when he was there because there were so many tournament games,” Hammbrschmidst said.
Though Ballard has made the move to Wake Forest, she still enjoys cheering on her brother and his team.
“It’s so awesome that he made the tournament,” she said. “We’re here to cheer him on, and Dayton has been great so far.”
She’s among the fans who go the distance to get to Dayton.
On Tuesday, March 14, press row at UD Arena filled as the First Four commenced.
Communication and media professionals traveled from across the country to warm courtside seats. Even though female professionals were present, they were scarce.
Erin Meyer, assistant director of athletic communications at Wake Forest, shared her experiences about what it is like to be a woman in athletics.
“Most of the time [being female] doesn’t really seem to make a difference,” Meyer said. “But, there have been times when people outside of sports have asked me, ‘Are you a cheerleader, dancer or what do you do with the team?’”
Meyer is the primary media contact for various sports teams at Wake Forest and the secondary contact for men’s and women’s basketball. She grew up in a basketball family and always knew sports was the place for her.
As a St. Louis native, Meyer sees the NCAA First Four as an opportunity to come back home to her Midwest roots and connect to more female media professionals.
Traveling for Wake Forest sporting events is a perk, she said, and has allowed Meyer to meet many females who are in her same position.
Her advice to women working in athletics: “See yourself as an equal, and you will be treated as one.”
I have attended college basketball games before, but I have never taken part in behind-the-scenes activities — until I attended NCAA First Four open team practice Monday, March 13, at UD Arena as a student writer for University of Dayton Magazine or UDQuickly.
I am a dancer. I know art events, and the day’s practice session felt like a dress rehearsal. Exploring the rooms and hallways felt like exploring backstage. Journalists and photojournalists from all over the country were busy at their laptops writing stories and jotting down notes or capturing the best shots from the basketball players on the court. I looked down and realized that these national reporters were wearing the same press credentials around their necks that I had dangling around mine.
I have never been a basketball person. Did the second- and sixth-grade boys sitting behind me have better basketball predictions? Without a doubt. But, through my reporter’s eye, I got to see the game as few do. I saw what it takes to put on such an event, from the woman whose job it is to sweep the floor after each practice session to the man dressed in black who guards the media refreshment area to a student whose task it is to refill water pitchers for press conferences.
I witnessed basketball as a high-production event and less as a sport. A basketball bounced way too close to my head, and I’ll never get used to the extremely loud buzzer, but I’m happy to have been an insider in an athlete’s world.
In Dayton, Ohio, the fragrance of March is in the air, and some residents in Oakwood can feel it too.
Just up the hill from the University of Dayton campus is Oakwood, population 9,000, including Shannon Tucker. “I went to Ohio State and there was just something in the air on football game days,” she said. “You just feel it. And here, we get it up in Oakwood, too.”
As a mother of two boys living not far from UD Arena, Tucker chaperoned her sons and their friends to the open practice Monday, March 13. The basketball-loving group of six can be split in equal parts of second- and sixth-graders, also known as, the “littles and the middles.”
With candy-covered lips and hot dogs and nachos in hands, the boys discussed their predictions for the tournament. Will UD be playing Duke in the final round, or will Arizona be winning it all?
This was the group’s first trip to the practice session, but not the Tuckers’ first trip to the First Four. With the “little” not quite old enough to stay up past bedtime, Tucker takes her older son as her “date” to the games. This year, they will occupy two of the 13,000 arena seats for the fourth year in a row. UD Arena has opened March Madness since 2001.
Families can follow the fragrance to the final First Four open practice sessions Tuesday, March 14, from noon to 3 p.m at UD Arena. Sessions are free and open to the public. The opening game will begin March 14 at 6:40 p.m.
Fifteen students took part in the University’s first hackathon on Feb. 18-19 to work across disciplines to help find solutions to local sustainability issues.
These students assembled at ArtStreet to compete in the design competition called Hack for Impact. The event was hosted by the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT), Hanley Sustainability Institute, KEEN/Visioneering Center, Learning Teaching Center and a team of cooperative partners.
Open to all, students in computer information systems, economics and engineering were just some of the majors who were represented in the competition.
Typically, a hackathon is an event that lasts several days where individuals meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.
Participants began with idea building and a rapid prototyping session involving Lego pieces, then expanded their equipment from Legos to laptops as the weekend went on.
“The mission of this hackathon is to bring a diverse group of students together outside the classroom to solve sustainability issues in the local community,” said Mike Puckett, program coordinator of IACT. “As students, you can develop project management skills, creativity, presentation skills and leadership.”
Unlike other hackathons, Hack for Impact relied on the creative design process rather than pure technological skill.
Participants could select any of the four challenges to address: urban youth impact through sustainability, connection and creation of local green businesses, solution for the food desert problem in Dayton and establishing a city-wide solar network in Dayton.
First-year student Tyler Berkshire participated, and his team won an award for best technical solution for their website Situalis. The website connects local businesses by offering a medium where they can sell goods that are approaching expiration for a fraction of the price. Or, the unused raw materials can be sent to a compost facility. This is an attempt to help connect businesses and solve the food desert problem in Dayton.
“I’ve gained information about the setup it takes to solve a problem,” said Berkshire, a computer science major. “It’s a different way of thinking about problem solving, since you’re starting from the very beginning.”
A second award for best social solution went to students Smit Mistry, Ashley Brown and Samantha Rennu. Their team created a mentoring program called Fridays for the Future that helps high school students prepare for life after graduation by talking with professionals about their careers.
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.
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.
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?”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.