In his first 100 days as the University of Dayton’s 19th president, Eric Spina has launched an ambitious VisionUD strategic visioning process and posted more than 150 Instagram photos of himself in action — from visiting alumni communities in Chicago and Los Angeles to paddling down the Great Miami River on a Sunday afternoon with the president’s emissaries.
Spina took a moment this week to reflect on his opening days, his leadership style and his vision for the future.
Best moment: When Karen and I walked into a full chapel at the 12:30 p.m. Mass on my first official day, we really felt welcomed to the community. This was a visible manifestation of who we are as a university. Catholic, Marianist, welcoming. When Father Kip Stander, S.M., offered a blessing over us, it was emotional and powerful.
Biggest surprise: I’m impressed by the selflessness of the students, time and time again. They’re not here thinking about how to get rich; they are here at UD to gain an education to prepare them to do something positive in the world, in their communities, for their families, for humankind. It’s humbling. And inspiring.
Challenge of being the new guy on campus: I want to be everywhere, absorbing everything on campus, but I usually end up missing four or five places I’d like to be on any given day.
One word that comes to mind when describing the UD community: Connectedness. The subtext is love.
On his leadership style: I think of myself as someone who’s a listener, is collaborative and provides a rationale for decisions. One of my favorite books is Chris Lowney’s Heroic Leadership, which looks at how the Jesuits developed a culture of leadership. The book’s four principles — self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism — resonate with me. It’s not personal heroism. As a Catholic, Marianist university, we prepare students to make a positive difference in the world. That’s heroic.
On what UD will look like in 20 years: In some ways, the same. Our values, our mission, are constant. In other ways, dramatically different. Our approach to teaching, learning and research, our venues and our footprint will be completely revolutionized, yet our Catholic, Marianist philosophy of education will remain at our core.
On how he’s spending his 100th day: Karen and I will spend it on UD’s campus with a wonderful mentor and friend, Tom Blumer, the retired senior vice president at Corning who served on Syracuse’s engineering advisory board. We’ll go to the football game and walk around campus. When Karen was eight months pregnant with our first child, he gave me some direct, personal advice that I took to heart: “Make sure you’re there for every softball game, every dance recital.” And I was, except for one Halloween. He taught me you can do big jobs but still be there for your family.
In American history, there have been various books challenged by parents, libraries and schools, many of them classic children’s tales. Roesch Library is taking a stand against these censorship attempts with its new exhibit, Storytime Censored, a display of 15 rare editions of popular children’s, teens and young-adult books that have been challenged and banned in our modern era.
“The exhibit informs us about the attempts that have been made to censor stories, and allows us to see these stories in a different light,” said Katy Kelly, the Communications and Outreach Librarian. “For example, as someone comes across The Wizard of Oz in the exhibit and sees that it was challenged for depicting women in strong leadership roles, they might appreciate the book in a new way.”
The exhibition upholds the American Library Association’s argument that only parents have the right to restrict their own children’s library resources. In 1982, the ALA launched their Banned Books Week, which sheds public light on book challenges and bans. Storytime Censored also features selections from the Rose Rare Book Collection, created by Stuart and Mimi Rose of the Dayton area.
“We wanted to showcase selections from the wonderful book collection of Stuart and Mimi Rose,” Kelly said. “We thought the ALA’s Banned Books Week tradition would be a thought-provoking prompt to begin exploring books and their roles in our lives and society.”
The exhibition is open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Storytime Censored will close Nov. 13.
“Ten years ago I was confronted with a question that changed my life.”
Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig began his remarks to the members of the School of Law Leadership Honors Program on Sept. 21 without understatement.
Discussion at the first event in this year’s Honors Roundtable Series flowed forward from this fundamental question: how are you able to make change in the face of a corrupt system–not as an academic in an isolated field, but as a citizen?
It was a question that spurred an investigation that Lessig brands “a ten year project to understand our system, and ultimately to try to wrestle back our representative democracy.”
In its first year at the University of Dayton, the Leadership Honors Program is intended to provide resources and further leadership training for its students in order to embolden the next generation of successful, civic-minded law professionals.
Its first speaker, Professor Lessig grappled with the need for reform of money’s role in politics; he posited that “competition, usually good, can produce a bad outcome” when Congressional representatives are trapped “on the treadmill”–fixated on funding the next campaign in order to keep the job, rather than performing the job itself.
Attendee and LHP cohort member Brooke Poling, one of a number of students to contribute during the discussion, reflected on Lessig’s evidence, anecdotes, and musings.
“This has given me so much to think about. I feel challenged about what I thought and what I should do in our political system; the discussion was very beneficial.”
With the Leadership Honors Program’s goals in mind, “challenged” may be the perfect word:
Lessig’s work invokes larger inquiries in line with the School’s emphasis on cultivating civically responsible lawyers–as well as citizen leaders.
They walked 3,000 miles over eight months to fight for what they believed in.
Hispanic Heritage Month began Sept. 15 and UD students, faculty and staff gathered for the first film in a three-part series.
The documentary, “American DREAMers,” followed six dreamers – young and undocumented immigrants – and one legal citizen who marched, staged nation-wide sit-ins and brought the country’s attention to immigration and deportation policies.
“We’re walking across the country, but there are so many people walking across the borders,” a protester in the film said. “Someone in our family will be deported within the next year,” another added.
The group marched cross-country to Washington, D.C. calling for change, but today the fight continues for many Hispanics that desire long-term solutions.
The film series is sponsored by University Libraries, Welcome Dayton and the Dayton Human Relations Council. For the first screening, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley introduced the film to a packed crowd in the Roesch Library Collab.
Joshua Ward, civil rights specialist at the City of Dayton Human Relations Council, educated students about the work Dayton does “to influence and ensure a fair culture” before he introduced Mayor Whaley.
Welcome Dayton and Community-Police Relations are initiatives housed under the HRC’s roof that focus on welcoming immigrants and are dedicated to building trust and mutual understanding within the Dayton community.
Mayor Whaley continued the conversation and said, “we live the belief that we are a welcoming and inclusive city no matter what.”
After film, viewers engaged in a discussion to reflect on the powerful messages received.
Students left charged with a greater understanding to recognize the importance of the national and local initiatives working toward an inclusive community and the importance of celebrating Hispanic heritage.
The series and discussion continues on Oct. 13, in the Roesch Library Collab at 6:30 p.m.
Professor Lawrence Lessig is scared.
Fear seems to be a common emotion in today’s political climate, during such a turbulent election cycle. But Lessig’s fear stems from a far deeper schism in the system.
Lessig, a Harvard professor and a past presidential candidate, was the second speaker for the UD Speaker Series on Sept. 21, titled “The Importance of the First Presidential Debate”. His speech was both an exploration and explanation of the disparity between the actions of the current political system and the desires of the general population, or “most people.”
He calls it “the frustration that both the left and the right have with… the distance they feel between them and what their government stands for.”
Lessig points to the groundswell of support this cycle for “outsider” candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders among them, as evidence.
The heart of this issue can be encapsulated in a quote Lessig shared by Boss Tweed: “I don’t care who does the electing… as long as I do the nominating.” Lessig, appropriately, calls it “Tweedism.”
Tweedism revolves around money: campaigns, as they are currently run, require money to win. Those who fund the campaigns control the winners–those funders, therefore, are able to act as filters determining the options of everyone else when we arrive at the polls.
To make his point, Lessig pulled up graphs intended to display the relationship between preference of the common American and the responsiveness of Congress–a flat line. Two previous graphs, mapping the same relationship but for “relevant funders” (those who contribute at least $5,200) and for special interest groups, showed a close relation.
So, what can be done?
To Lessig, this presidential race offers a chance for leaders to stand up and combat the establishment, combat the existing corruption, in an explicit and effective way. He focuses explicitly on Hillary Clinton, who has voiced support for steps limiting the role of campaign funding.
The final question he left at his speech: working from an establishment from which she has benefited, can she step away?
“I am 100% certain that she must if this election is not to be the extraordinary tragedy that it seems to be playing out to be.”
Paul Fritz’s students had an up-close view of the nation’s election process during this week’s presidential debates.
The 1997 UD alumnus is an assistant professor of political science at Hofstra University, where the first presidential debate occurred Sept. 26.
The atmosphere on campus Monday was “electric,” Fritz said. Some of his students were in the debate audience.
Fritz said he feels that the current political situation makes it vital for all students to be mindful about this election, and these presidential debates are crucial because the two candidates are so vastly different in the way that they approach critical issues.
“These debates are important for the undecided voters,” said Fritz. “For those on the fence, it’s important that they get a sense of what grounds the candidates.”
The monumental part about this particular presidential election, according to Fritz, is that while the young person’s vote is always important, the Millennials have even more power.
“This is an election that can really be shaped by college students and those just out of college more so than ever before,” said Fritz. “In my experience, a lot of students are considering third parties. It’s an interesting dynamic that makes this election all that more interesting to watch.”
Fritz, who was a political science major at UD, said the political science department and professors at UD are the reason why he does what he does. “They are the ones that sparked my main interest in this,” said Fritz. “Anything I do professionally, I owe a great debt to them.”
Friendly faces greet visitors when they walk into the new Flyer Student Services office in St. Mary’s 108, now a one-stop shop for student needs.
Flyer Student Services, formerly known as the Office of Student Accounts and Flyers First, provides assistance with financial aid, registrar/registration, student accounts and veterans services. The new office is the culmination of University efforts during the past year to reorganize St. Mary’s Hall by moving student-focused units to an expanded space on the first floor.
On Friday, Sept. 16, the University held an open house at the new space, and Father Kip Stander, S.M., led employees through a scripture reading and prayer before visiting all offices inside to bless them with holy water.
It was a good week overall for Flyer Student Services, as U.S. News & World Report listed UD among its best colleges for veterans in its Best Colleges 2017 guidebook released Sept. 13.
There are 85 students using their military benefits to study at the University this fall. That’s an increase of about 45 percent from a year ago, an unprecedented influx according to Racqueal Gamble, interim coordinator of veterans services in Flyer Student Services.
“We usually have four to five new students a semester, but we have had 27 this semester,” said Gamble, who has worked in Flyer Student Services for 15 years. “We are starting to see more veteran students enrolling who have post 9/11 benefits and veterans who choose to transfer their benefits to dependents who want to attend UD.”
Firefighters respond to an average of 3,810 fires in college residence halls and houses each year, with approximately 122 college students losing their lives. Some are a result of an accident, perhaps leaving the popcorn in the microwave for too long. But others may happen out of carelessness. This was the case with the tragedy at Seton Hall University, January 19, 2000.
Many of the 650 students thought the fire alarms they heard at 4:30 a.m. in their dormitory on the South Orange, New Jersey, campus were just more in a series of false alarms. They were not. Three freshmen died and 58 other students were injured. Roommates Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons were two of the most severely burned.
UD hosted Llanos and Simons as they shared their story with students, faculty and staff to reinforce the importance of fire safety Monday, Sept. 19. The 2-hour event in Kennedy Union ballroom included a presentation of After the Fire: A True Story of Heroes and Cowards, a documentary the two survivors produced, and a discussion of fire alarms, escape planning and the effect of pranks.
Bonded for life, Llanos and Simons also discussed their account of overcoming the mental and emotional adversities they faced. They tell their story at events across the country anywhere from 200 to 225 times a year.
Here are some fire safety tips Llano and Simons shared:
-Count the number of doors in an unfamiliar place. Count the number of doors from where your room is to where the exits are. “That magic number may serve you well if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation,” said Simons.
-The door you came in to get inside a building or room isn’t necessarily the only door you are able to exit through.
-Test out fire alarms on a monthly basis.
“Fire has no prejudice, it can get anyone,” Llanos said. “It is part of our mission to visit college students from all over the USA to keep our message alive.”
“Celebration” doesn’t begin to capture the scene on the Central Mall Sept. 14, as this year’s Culture Fest came into full swing.
The event kicked off with the anticipation of an annual campus staple, a line of students winding from the Central Mall to the foot of the Humanities Plaza, slowly filing in and filling the trademark tent.
Under the big top, a colorful backdrop of flags, all shades and sizes, fluttered in the breeze. Eager rows of attendees snaked back and forth in front of three serving stations representing Virginia Kettering, Marycrest, and Kennedy Union dining halls.
Poetry readings, musical arrays, and cultural dance performances showcased diverse talents from diverse entertainers. Spoken word to slapstick, salsa to swing, the show ran smoothly under the control of Carlos Stewart, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Not only was the event a celebration of cultural collaboration, it wouldn’t have occurred without an impressive list of University collaborators. Everyone from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, to the Center for International Programs, to the Student Government Association, and beyond pitched in.
Center for International Programs coordinator Sangita Gosalia was grateful for this.
“There are so many campus partners that come together to pull-off Culture Fest,” she said. “We are especially fortunate to have such a great Dining Services team, who is intentional about the menu and puts in so much work before, during and after the event.”
Dining Services did shine on Wednesday; the food was delicious, and the intentionality of it apparent. Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine provided a powerful draw and, for some, exposure to new and exciting tastes.
Despite the looming forecast of heavy rain showers on Sept. 17, the spirit of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was not dampened. Hosted collaboratively at the University’s River Campus by the Artemis Domestic Violence Center and YWCA Dayton, the event was dedicated to raising awareness on the issue of domestic abuse.
“Domestic violence is a key issue that both YWCA and Artemis Center are trying to make an impact on,” said Audrey Starr, special events and communications manager at YWCA Dayton. One way that Artemis and YWCA offer support for domestic violence victims is through their shared 24/7 crisis hotline, designed to provide continual help for those suffering.
“Artemis suggested to raise funds for the hotline,” Starr said. “We really wanted to work with students, so we teamed up with the UD School of Law Human Rights Awareness and Advocacy Group, which had hosted the same event the year before, and the UD Women’s Center.”
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes included a 5k run and walk, and red high heels lined the course to symbolize the female victims of domestic abuse. Several UD students were also on hand to participate in the race.
Beth Herdmann, a member of the UD School of Law’s Human Rights Awareness and Advocacy Group, has big expectations for the fundraiser, saying, “We hope this event will continue to grow both in the UD community and in the city of Dayton, occurring annually and continuing to raise awareness.”