“I didn’t know you would be here,” old friends now reunited exclaimed as they ran across the Central Mall lawn to embrace and introduce each other to their families.
The luncheon cookout Saturday, Sept. 15, was one of several events on the Black Alumni Reunion calendar this past weekend. The reunion, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of Alpha Phi Alpha on the University of Dayton campus, welcomed back more than 200 black alumni.
Tables began to fill with families and friends enjoying burgers and hot dogs, sipping sweet tea and lemonade. There was a strong sense of community as individuals, dressed in Dayton red and blue, enjoyed a meal and memories together.
Rodric Cooper ’89, a fraternity brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, had come from Rochester, New York. He helped organize the fraternity’s 70th anniversary black-tie gala.
“The best part of this weekend has been seeing my brothers again,” said Cooper, who anticipated a sold-out celebration later that evening.
Cooper wasn’t the only Greek member of the crowd. Sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha wore their pink and green letters and laughed and danced together as music played over the loudspeakers under the tent in the Central Mall. Frank Brunson ’80 sat with his fraternity brothers from Phi Beta Sigma as they looked over a photo album.
“Is that David?” Brunson asked his friend, Fred Brownlee ’80. “I just went to his daughter’s wedding.”
Brunson, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, said he has enjoyed seeing how the University has developed throughout the years.
Held every few years, the Black Alumni Reunion seeks to seeks to find a permanent home among a host of University celebrations, said event organizers.
Dozens gathered in the University of Dayton RecPlex, listening to the haunting 911 call made on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, when Sean Ferguson ’15 was struck by lightning. Used to commence the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hands-only CPR kiosk located just inside the RecPlex, the call detailed the vital moments as Ferguson struggled for his life.
The event on September 15 served as a reminder that knowing CPR in dire situations can save lives. Michelle Lovely, board chair for the American Heart Association of Dayton, reminded the audience that when performed immediately, hands-only CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
“Our key goal is to train an army of lifesavers,” said Nicole Aiello Sapio, executive vice president for the American Heart Association Great Rivers Affiliate.
The partnership between UD, the American Heart Association and Dayton Freight Lines, Inc. is an important one. Sponsored by Dayton Freight, the kiosk represents the company’s initiative to servant leadership. According to Mike Cronin, Dayton Freight’s executive vice president, there isn’t a better way to help people than preparing them to save lives.
The University of Dayton is the first university to host a kiosk of this kind on a college campus. With approximately 400,000 visits to the RecPlex per year, according to Eric F. Spina, university president, the kiosk will provide countless opportunities to educate the UD community on how to save lives.
“As a Marianist university, we are called to employ our head, and our heart and our hands in service to others,” Spina said.
A representative of that kind of service is Matt Lickenbrock ’16, the UD student that saved Ferguson’s life by administering CPR. Ferguson was struck by lightning as he was walking across a campus parking lot. Ferguson said the kiosk will give everyone the opportunity to be a superhero “just like Matt.”
Just before the ribbon cutting, Father Jim Fitz, S.M., rector, spoke of the “twofold purpose” the kiosk has. First, it is a gift to “promote the fullness of life,” he said. Second, it is a reminder that, “We, like our God, are to be givers of life.”
That kind of lifegiving skill is still a blessing in Ferguson’s life today.
“Not a day goes by where I don’t stop and pause to be reminded of the gift of life,” Ferguson said. “It’s a great opportunity to reflect back on what a great gift that is.”
It wasn’t just the lure of free lemonade, trays of taco dip or buzz of music that attracted honors students to Humanities Plaza on September 8.
During the Signature Program Showcase, new and old members of the honors program were drawn to the white tent to learn about the variety of opportunities offered to them and to discuss their own experiences.
Liz Gibbons is a sophomore honors student welcome leader who received the Hull Grant to study abroad last year, which she used to travel to Guatemala.
“There are a lot of really cool programs that are available only to honors students – that’s one thing that was really appealing to me last year. Spending time in D.C. or in London or India…it’s just not available anywhere else. I think that’s exciting in itself,” Gibbons said, who is planning on applying to the Global Flyers program this semester.
According to Breana Smith, a graduate assistant who coordinated the event, the showcase was designed as a way to expose students to new honor students’ programs.
“Instead of hosting only formal information sessions, we wanted to give students an opportunity to hear about the programs from students and we wanted to give students that have participated in the programs or opportunities a chance to share their experiences,” Smith said.
Many freshmen came out to ask questions and socialize, and walked away feeling informed.
“I got to meet other honors students and we could ask them questions about the program. Sometimes, I feel like that’s better than a presentation because you get to hear their personal experience,” Alexa Denney, a freshman Discover Science major, said.
Denney appreciated the hands-on nature of the event, mentioning how she would much rather speak to a real person than sit through a lengthy information session.
“You can see all of the options and figure out from them what is best for you,” Denney said of the event.
This fall was the first year the honors program hosted the event and organizers are already hopeful for the next one.
“We are very excited that it was received well by students, so next year is expected to be even better,” Smith said.
It wasn’t being homesick. It wasn’t the culture shock. It wasn’t being on her own in India.
The biggest adjustment Andrea Mott ’18 had to make during her three-month excursion to India this summer as part of the Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities (ETHOS) program was changing her engineering habits and adjusting to her work environment.
India, according to Mott, presented many engineering challenges: resource availability was limited, power outages halted work for hours, and structure for assignments and project schedules was nowhere to be found.
What Mott did have was a major project to complete and only three months to adapt to a new system.
The goal? To build a six-meter tall, 3-D printer to help construct houses out of clay for the community’s residents.
While Mott and her team did not finish the project, the printer was nearly assembled and remaining tasks planned out when they left — an accomplishment in itself, Mott said.
Problem-solving and adapting to a different culture were some of the learning experiences Mott credits the ETHOS program for teaching her.
“ETHOS combines everything I’m really passionate about, which is engineering, service, adventure, traveling, culture; so it’s a great program,” Mott said.
Immersed in a completely new culture, Mott said she was forced to reflect on her own beliefs in a way she hadn’t before, and answer questions such as “What does it mean to be female?” and “What does it mean to be American?”
“I questioned a lot of things,” Mott said. “Why do I believe what I believe? You learn, don’t just blindly follow things.”
The most rewarding part for Mott? She said, oddly enough, it was leaving. Saying goodbye to all of her new friends was “really hard and really sad” according to Mott, but made her realize how much she gained during her experience.
“I built a life here and really strong relationships here. Those things made it so hard to leave,” Mott said.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD
Joseph Desch ’29
Bachelor of Science
During World War II, Joseph Desch played a key role in helping U.S. forces decode enemy messages from German U-boats. As an electrical engineer and inventor, Desch was already conducting research regarding the use of tubes and circuitry in counting devices with the hopes of creating high-speed mathematical machines for the National Cash Register Co.
In 1942, the Dayton native’s research in electronic counting helped NCR convince the U.S. Navy that they could decrypt the coded messages being sent by German enemy warships better than the current technology. Desch’s lab became the United States Naval Laboratory.
Over the next 14 months, Desch, his team of 600 WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) and an engineering staff of 24 created 121 top-secret decoding machines called Bombes.
The Bombe was taller than a person and twice as long, with miles of wiring attached to thousands of vacuum tubes. As it worked to find different letter combinations, the noise rose to deafening levels.
Based on some historian accounts, up to 54 U-boats were destroyed because of information received from the Bombe.
Desch was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry S. Truman July 16, 1947. Desch continued working at NCR until his retirement in 1972. He died in 1987 before his secret mission was declassified.
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
Not many people can say they dunked Justin Timberlake in a pool of green slime. And got paid to do it.
But for Jonathan Judge, that’s part of his job. Judge is enjoying a career as a television and film director and producer. He has directed shows that have aired on Nickelodeon, Disney, Comedy Central, CBS and HBO.
“It’s just such a perfect fit for me,” Judge said. “I have the best job in the world. I don’t know what else I’d be doing if it wasn’t this.”
Among his accomplishments, he is the recipient of the 2014 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programs and a winner of a British Academy Award in 2006. He also has been nominated three times for the daytime Emmy Awards.
Judge has directed 12 pilots, 10 of which have gone on to series. He has directed the shows Tosh.0, Blue’s Clues, School of Rock and Life in Pieces, to name a few.
He said the University prepared him to remain inspired and humble always.
“To have a purpose and an intent in life, then work hard for it — those things were instilled and encouraged at Dayton,” Judge said.
SPECIAL SERVICE AWARD
Bachelor of Science
Master of Science
Management Science ’79
John Beran has served the University in just about every way possible. He became involved with volunteering 25 years ago with alumni relations and has remained a constant figure.
He currently is a member of the advisory council at the School of Engineering, where he was an integral part of its strategic visioning process. Previously, he has served on his reunion committee and the Alumni Association board and has been an executive in residence at UD, working on initiatives including the Innovation Center, ETHOS and the Center for Competitive Change.
His passion for the University stems from his own experience as a student when his professors taught him important lessons, both academically and in life.
“My professors were not just going through the motions,” Beran said. “They would meet us anywhere to help us understand a topic. They taught me about the person I wanted to be.”
Currently, Beran is serving on the board of Flyer Enterprises as an expert adviser. He is the retired executive vice president and CIO for Comerica Inc., where he was also a member of the Comerica management policy committee as well the bank’s board of directors. He has had a successful 43-year career in information systems management, marketing and electronic banking. Beran continues to serve on multiple industry and community boards.
CHRISTIAN SERVICE AWARD
Christine Hill ’78
Bachelor of Arts
In Ohio, she is known as Chris Hill. But in Nairobi, Kenya, she is affectionately called “Mama Uji.”
Because of Hill’s relentless and selfless work at an elementary school in the middle of the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum of Nairobi, 2,100 students who would otherwise go without receive breakfast — a maize-based meal called uji.
Hill became involved in 2002 with Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School after a talk with Brother Ray Fitz, S.M. Since then, she has returned twice a year to volunteer, helping the children who live in the slum.
In 2007, Hill realized that most of the children attending school would arrive on empty stomachs. They were not alert in class, and test scores were low. She approached Father Marty Solma, S.M., who was running the school, on how to help these children get nutrition.
After some discussion, it was decided the smaller kids could receive one cup of uji at the start of the day. Hill and her husband, Allen, underwrote the cost to feed the children in kindergarten through fourth grade.
Later, a parish in the UK and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Nairobi joined in and underwrote feeding the remaining fifth through eighth grades. Since then, test scores have risen.
“The gift is in the giving,” Hill said. “The people there celebrate me, but they don’t understand what their happiness and progress does for me. They are giving me the gift. It’s an absolute privilege to be able to do this for them.”
JOE BELLE MEMORIAL YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
When John Gravier decided to join Teach for America for service after graduation, he didn’t intend to be an educator for the long haul. In fact, he planned to become a lawyer.
However, after spending time teaching sixth- and eighth-graders math for a few years, Gravier knew that teaching was his calling. In his three years with Teach for America, he contributed to improving the school’s rating from an F to a C and won Teacher of the Year at 24 years old.
“I think teaching is the most important job out there and the hardest job in the world,” Gravier said. “I work with the best kids and am trying to teach them and create the best school in the city. It’s really cool and fun.”
Gravier moved from Florida to New Orleans and is now the school director of Dolores T. Aaron Academy — a role he accepted after being at the school for six years. As director, Gravier has moved his school from an F+ rating to a C within three years.
Gravier admitted that teaching in the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina has been a challenge but also his focus. Every school in the city was damaged, and buildings have only recently been rebuilt.
“Our kids deserve the best education,” he said. “I am very focused and driven to make that mission happen. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
JOE BELLE MEMORIAL YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD
Bachelor of Arts
Molly MacCready established the nonprofit organization Child Restoration Outreach Support Organization (CROSO) in 2007 to provide post-secondary scholarships to former street children in Uganda.
MacCready envisioned CROSO during her junior year of college when she studied abroad in Uganda. At the end of the semester, MacCready had to write a paper and chose to interview children who were being helped by Child Restoration Outreach where she interned.
“When I interviewed one of the oldest boys (George), I was really surprised to hear he had been accepted to a university but couldn’t go because of a lack of funding. I was struck by the injustice of my friend’s situation. He had lived on the streets as a young boy and had overcome countless obstacles. I couldn’t believe that he was getting stopped now.”
When she returned home, MacCready gave a presentation to her church and included George’s story. A fellow parishioner came up to her and said, “Tell your friend George to start dreaming because I’m going to pay for the rest of his education,” which in Uganda is $2,500 per year.
MacCready then founded CROSO, which has now supported more than 30 former street children in attaining higher education.
“Working for CROSO is one of the ways I have found to acknowledge what’s possible when people are given opportunities, and now my job is to inspire others to see that potential, too,” MacCready said.
This summer, the Marian Library sponsored a special exhibit portraying pieces of artwork honoring Mary, the mother of Christ, from various Asian perspectives.
The exhibit Ex Orient Lux’: Marian Art of Asia features pieces from China, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Korea. The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, and nativity scenes, each one crafted in a unique, cultural style.
Michele Devitt, curatorial assistant and volunteer, helps manage the library’s exhibits and says she finds this particular one unique.
“The artwork to me is a lot of clean lines…it’s simple; you can stare at it and see a lot of things, but it’s not too overwhelming. Some art is overwhelming. I think [the art in this exhibit] is very digestable,” she said.
Devitt describes how although each piece is a representation of Mother Mary, it represents her in different ways — as a figure who serves multiple purposes to humanity.
“Some people will see Mary as a queen. Others will see Mary as the common woman, and some would see her as more of a god; someone that they pray to and rely on. I think part of it is our personal need — if we need to relate to somebody as more of a friend, versus somebody who is going to be our source of strength,” she said.
The exhibit has been open to the public since June 26 and is closing Sept. 18.
The Marian Library is open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
The Central Mall came back to life Friday, Aug. 25, as students filled the center of campus for the annual Up the Orgs event.
The event gives students the opportunity to both promote and sign up for University clubs as the academic year begins.
Tri-fold posters decked out with photographs, neon announcements and confetti bordered the walkways up and down the sidewalks where many gathered.
As attendees approached the center of campus, students were greeted with a frenzy of activity. Blenders buzzed at the sustainability booth, with students mixing fresh fruit and juices into smoothies. Pop Tabs for Charity rattled their jar of collected metal tabs, and a line of people waiting for a free Red Scare fanny-pack snaked its way through the crowd.
Some organizations present such as Sustainability Club, UD Miracle or Outdoor Adventure Club, are already well-established and well-known.
Others, like Solar Power Club, are relatively new to campus, and members utilized Up the Orgs as a way of promoting their organization.
“Our goal is to implement solar panels in organizations throughout the Dayton area. We want to encourage people to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle,” Grace Berton, a fifth-year student and member of the Solar Power Club, said.
The founders of another new organization, the African Student Association, are excited to kick off their club’s very first year on campus. ASA plans to celebrate African culture and heritage through music, food, dance, and socialization.
“What we really want to do is create a community within a community,” Eromogbai Omoijuanfo, one of the executive members of ASA, said.
Up the Orgs attracted numerous UD students, particularly first- and second-years eager to see what alternative activities campus has to offer.
“I was looking for clubs that I could get involved in [which] are unrelated to my major, and I was surprised by the number of different clubs UD has,” Maggie Feder, a first-year music education major, said.
Friday’s turnout was notable with freshly energized upperclass students and an ambitious new group of first-years, hinting that UD’s student organizations will be bustling with activity this year.
Assistant professor of health and sport science Anne Crecelius presented the following keynote address at today’s convocation ceremony after thanking the many people who made New Student Orientation 2017 a success.
… Perhaps most importantly, thank you students. You are the reason we are here today. I want to thank you for being here — being here this morning, early, after a whirlwind couple of days. More than that, thank you for being here at the University of Dayton. As you well know by now, you are the largest, most diverse and one of the most academically qualified first-year classes ever at UD. You have made the choice to join our community, and for that, I am grateful.
I’d like to start by telling you a little bit more about who I am. In addition to being an assistant professor, I am a proud UD alumnae, and more than a decade ago, before this building even existed, I sat at my own convocation, curious as to what the next four years at UD would bring. Today, many years later, I am also a physiologist. I teach about and study how the human body works. And in that light, I’m going to ask you to do me a small favor and put your bodies to work. If you’re able, please stand up.
So, why is this crazy lady asking me to stand up right now?! You’re not the first to ask that question, but I have two reasons. No. 1, numerous studies have shown that prolonged sitting can be harmful to your health and it is important to interrupt sedentary time. No. 2, I want to highlight the wonder of a simple suggestion I made to you. When you stood up, amazing things happened, whether you were aware of them or not. Neurons fired, muscles contracted, pulling on tendons then bones to help you rise. Your cardiovascular system adjusted to the dramatic change in gravity that resulted and now, as you stand, your body is at work to stay balanced. You will be asked to stand again, around four years from now, as your academic degree is conferred upon you. I guarantee many more amazing things will happen within you and to you between now and then. You can take your seats now.
So, the physiologist in me knows that I’ve done you a healthy favor by interrupting your sitting time — but I was asked to speak on the academic mission of our great institution. Classes start tomorrow, and you’ll get syllabi and cover in detail specific academic expectations. So this morning, as we are here in the RecPlex, beneath the running track and across from the climbing wall, I’m going to take a slightly different approach. I want to talk about what showing up and putting in work (as you are going to be asked to do) can result in, and provide an example from my own life that has happened right here in these walls.
A little over a year ago, after two years of chemotherapy, surgeries,and radiation, I was in remission from cancer but carried an excessive amount of weight. I both needed and wanted to make changes and set a goal of getting back to my pre-cancer weight and fitness levels. I wasn’t sure exactly what the future held for me — probably much like you sit here this morning — but I knew it was going to be different. The first step on the path to any type of accomplishment is pretty simple. You did it about an hour ago. You’ve got to SHOW UP.
To accomplish my goal, I chose to show up here at the RecPlex, usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I’m not the only one that makes that choice by the way; as an FYI, you may have a “Spina Sighting” around that time as well. The way you choose to show up can be different for everyone. I thought about myself and chose a place, time and modality that worked for me. I made a plan, and that plan was flexible because circumstances might and often do change any given day or week.
Even with a plan, I couldn’t accomplish my goal alone. I sought out someone with experience and expertise. A person I could connect with. My trainer provided me with specific programs and he asked me questions, but he couldn’t lift those weights for me. That was on me.
Even with a plan and a coach, to accomplish my goal I had to work hard. There were days when I just didn’t want to get up. Days when I was embarrassed with my current level, frustrated that an exercise was harder now than when I had done it before. Days when I outright failed at an exercise. My plan sometimes interfered with having fun. And yet, I knew I had to stay consistent. If I “slipped,” I got back on track, continued to show up, work hard, and little by little, it became easier.
Accomplishing my goal was about more than showing up, following my plan and working hard at the gym. I’ve mentioned how amazing our bodies are — they are also incredibly complicated. Sleep, proper nutrition and mental self-care all combine to impact how our bodies perform. Without all my body systems functioning, my work would be wasted. I could work on some of these areas myself, and for others I needed help, from family, friends and trained professionals.
And what do you know, but by showing up, not working alone, putting in the hard work, and taking care of my whole self I was able to accomplish those goals that seemed so scary at the beginning. I gained strength. I lost weight. I made progress. But the thing is, I’m not done. Taking care of our amazing bodies is not something that can stop. It’s an everyday thing, with new challenges we must face, new situations to encounter and new work to be done. I’ll keep showing up, so as to not let all this work be wasted.
I’m sure you enjoyed my nice little story — but what does a public service announcement for being active and staying healthy have to do with our academic mission?
It’s really the same thing! Your academic career is a process. You’re in training. It’s going to be long, hard at times, and there will be rewards and setbacks along the way. The similarities to preparing for an athletic event or getting in shape are many:
Make your plan and show up. It has to be the plan that works for you. Your major, whether it be exercise physiology, English, mechanical engineering, marketing or human rights, has to fit your interests and skills. Your study habits may not be the same as your roommate. Just like in the gym, some are early birds, some night owls, prefer to show up with friends or without, work to tunes or in silence, and can be found at a campus building, in your residence or out in the community. The important thing is that you consistently do whatever works for you, and don’t be afraid to experiment a bit to find the best plan.
You. Are. Not. Alone. Look around you. We as faculty and staff are your trainers. We are here to provide programs, feedback, encouragement and rehab if you’re hurt. Remember, you are the ones doing the heavy lifting.
It will be hard. It has to be. There’s a physiological concept called the principle of overload. Essentially, for a muscle to grow, it must be stretched, even broken down a little, pushed further than before so that it can be built back stronger. Growing academically and as a person is not without challenge.
It’s not just about academics. You have joined a community of learners, a community of doers that is focused on integrating knowledge, searching for the truth, and pursuing the common good. Outside of class, you’ll find yourself engaged in athletics, service, faith life, research, employment, and myriad other activities that campus, Dayton, the U.S. and the world offers you. Stay balanced, and make sure you’re taking care of your whole self.
You can make it happen. You can achieve more than you might think possible right now. You will inspire others, including me, with your passion, ideas and dedication. I am so excited to see what you will all accomplish.
I’m standing here today and my body is doing amazing things. My blood pressure is being regulated. My heart rate is no longer quite so sped up by my nervous system and has come back into balance. In the face of various challenges, my body is able to maintain a stable internal environment (by the way for my future students, that’s essentially the principle of homeostasis, one of the most important themes of physiology …).
I’ve told you who I am and why I’m here this morning but really, what is important is who you are and why you are here. What will your routine be? What strengths will you gain and what weight will you lose over the next four years? As I often say when I see students here early in the morning, I’ll say to you now: Have a good workout.
This weekend has held a lot of excitement for the University of Dayton campus as it accepts a record 2,262 first-year students. While many of these students are finding a home within the residence halls on campus, a select group will be traveling to campus from their permanent residences in Dayton or the surrounding area.
Taniayah O’Quinn-Sims and Ajay Madlinger are two of these students. Coming from Miamisburg High School and Archbishop Alter High School respectively, O’Quinn-Sims and Madlinger are already familiar with the Dayton area, but are excited to find a new community on UD’s campus.
O’Quinn-Sims is eager to break into the UD community by joining clubs and meeting new people. She said she already knows some people on campus and hopes that she can become more involved in the community through those friendships.
“UD has everything I’m looking for,” O’Quinn-Sims said. “It’s a pretty campus, and everyone is so nice.”
For Madlinger, the desire to attend UD came from his father.
“My dad graduated from here, so that was my inspiration,” Madlinger said.
These two students are part of what represents the 37 percent increase in students at UD that come from within a 50-mile radius from campus. If the goal is to keep Dayton thriving with young intellectuals, these students are part of what makes that achievable.