The celebration started and ended with a focus on students, just as it should.
This April, during a jubilant four days, the Univer-sity inaugurated its 19th president, Eric F. Spina.
After a joyous Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, it was time to tour student talents — from a cappella singing by the Audio Pilots to to community building with a Walnut Hills Neighborhood picnic. Spina and his wife, Karen, got into the fun, acting out scenes from a living scrapbook with members of the improv troupe On the Fly.
His participation was an extension of the admiration he’s shown for UD students since he joined campus July 1, 2016.
“You never cease to amaze me,” he said. “You are our inspiration and our promise to the world.”
Spina’s optimism for the future and the impact UD students, alumni, faculty and staff will make in the world guided the program for the celebration.
During panel conversations Monday, April 3, professors in math, education and engineering shared a table where they discussed how their disciplines contribute to shared community solutions. Such cross-collaborations will be an intentional part of the University’s vision moving forward.
The innovation theme continued through Tuesday, April 4, when a keynote address and panel discussion focused on opportunities to create distinctive futures.
“Not everyone can be an inventor, creator or discoverer,” said 44-year IBM veteran Nicholas Donofrio during his address. “But everyone can be an innovator.”
With an eye toward ingenuity, the installation ceremony incorporated elements of both tradition and whimsy. Faculty and representatives of other universities marched into UD Arena to formal brass music, and at the conclusion danced and clapped their way out to jubilant tuba music alongside members of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. In between, the audience of more than 1,100 heard voices of the community, including those who shared what makes this “Our UD.”
For Dominic Sanfilippo ’16, it is “realizing that our big, complicated world is made more joyful and more just by sharing stories, taking risks and finding our voices together.”
Two former UD presidents — Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., and Daniel Curran, both of whom remain active on campus — took the stage to embrace their newest counterpart before Spina shared his vision.
“I remember all the voices I have heard on campus, in alumni communities around the nation and in Dayton gatherings as we shaped our aspirational strategic vision to be ‘THE University for the Common Good,’” Spina later said. (Read more on the vision, Page 27).
The Celebration of the Arts performance was that evening, followed the next day by Stander Symposium presentations. The students — through grace, wit, sweat, inquiry and resolve — shared with the community the best of their education.
It was a celebration rooted in the optimism and vision of an ambitious president, in the transdisciplinary collaborations of faculty and staff, and in the impact students will make in the world as they strive for common good through a UD education.
“I’m still clapping,” Spina said after the performance. “And can’t wait for next spring’s encore.”
From a St. Joseph medal and the promise of $12,000, great things continue to grow. Building on faith and opportunity, the university founded on that promise is helping to create a school in Malawi, Africa. It will be a hub for experiential learning and research initiatives, supporting development in Malawi as well as the futures of the UD students who will serve there.
Amidst the winding, rugged dirt roads and atop the rolling green hillside, brick and mortar buildings have taken shape.
The sturdy man-made walls are in sharp contrast to the natural beauty, with the Great African Rift Valley and Lake Malawi both in view. It won’t be long before students and teachers walk among the classroom buildings and dormitories of the Wasambo High School campus. But it’s not the physical structures that will have the greatest impact; it’s what the buildings represent — opportunity.
“People in Malawi value education above almost everything else,” said Matt Maroon ’06, founder of Determined to Develop, a Karonga-based nongovernmental organization in Malawi. “I’ve seen mothers sacrifice food in order to pay school tuition for their children. I’ve seen families sell their last goat to send their promising son to the first term of high school, not knowing at all where they will get the money for the second term, let alone the following three years.”
Maroon has found the common theme in this land-locked African nation to be one that resonates more than 8,000 miles away on the campus of the University of Dayton, where students, faculty and alumni have worked with Maroon’s organization to make the school a reality for Malawian children.
“Faith — it’s people’s faith that tomorrow will be a brighter day with hard work, persistence and an education,” said Maroon, who first visited Malawi in 2006 during a year of service with the Society of Mary. “It’s the idea that one’s current condition need not assign them a set path in life, but that they have the choice if only given the opportunity to find the road toward prosperity. And that education is the surest way to lift one’s self to a state where one can comfortably, and humbly, take care of a family.”
It’s a faith reinforced by Flyer research, volunteerism and fundraising, from students and faculty in engineering, education, arts and sciences, and business. It is a faith that will also be passed on to future UD students, who will benefit from having the school as an experiential learning base. Wasambo High School, when it opens Sept. 1, 2017, will showcase the best of the University’s transdisciplinary, liberal arts education in the Marianist spirit of partner-based community building.
“UD is taking the exact opposite approach of an ivory tower, instead realizing that its talents and treasure can make a concrete and lasting impact on education in a global context — and that’s happening on the ground in Africa,” Maroon said. “This is the Marianist approach, to be around the table with the people whom we serve, partners in development and uplifting one another along the way. It’s intentional. It’s grounded in reality, and it’s faithful.”
A great need
The Society of Mary, UD’s founding order, is deeply rooted in Malawi, opening Nkhata Bay Secondary School in the early 1960s and, shortly thereafter, operating Chaminade Secondary School — which still educates students today — in Karonga. The Marianist sisters this year will open their own mission in Malawi and focus on teaching.
The population statistics of Malawi underscore the need for educational institutions: Close to 47 percent of the population is 14 years old or younger, and another 20 percent is between 15 and 24. The median age in Malawi — a country with an estimated 976,300 people living with AIDS or HIV — is just 16 ½ years old. According to Maroon, there are significant hurdles in the Malawian education system, including access to high school and quality education.
“Only about 18 percent of eighth-grade graduates, students in our area who have finished primary school, are able to continue on to high school because of capacity,” Maroon said. “There are simply not enough schools or room at the existing schools.”
Standard Malawian curriculum has not traditionally emphasized enrichment and experiential learning.
“We want to take the Malawian model — based off the British system — and infuse it with some of the best practices internationally,” Maroon said.
UD Department of Teacher Education Chair Connie Bowman is excited about her department’s involvement at Wasambo. Faculty and students will assist in professional development for teachers in Malawi, focusing on student-centered instruction and active engagement for learning, as well as curriculum development and recruitment.
“Many of our graduates are teaching in foreign countries,” Bowman said, “and we believe Malawi will be an excellent place for them to engage in teaching and infuse their training in best practices through the educational field.”
The first phase — which is currently under construction — is a boys’ high school, set up in an English boarding school style. The long-term plan includes a girls’ high school and a technical college.
The desired outcomes for Wasambo High School are threefold: provide a world-class education for the students; create a teacher training program that enables instructors to learn and implement best practices; and create a “living classroom” as part of the UD partnership where UD students and faculty can analyze challenges and work with Malawians to develop solutions.
The new school is located in Sangilo Village, Chilumba area in the Karonga District. This district is several hundred square miles with a population of about 60,000. Students will come from all around Malawi with an emphasis on offering positions and scholarships to local students. The impact of the school, however, extends well beyond the region.
“This is a benefit to the nation,” said Scotch Kondowe, Karonga District education manager. “In line with Malawi’s development strategies, strengthening secondary education is a top priority. To have a partnership with Determined to Develop and the University of Dayton is a welcome concept, and we are glad that outside stakeholders are taking interest in supporting government through the development of secondary education.”
While students will soon experience the immediate benefits of attending the new school, long-term benefits are expected for generations to come.
“Lack of education is a barrier to development,” said Senior Chief Wasambo (pictured left), the traditional authority and custodian of all land and culture in the region. “Having the school will change lives and opportunities, from poverty to prosperity, and it will transform the community for the better long term.”
The school, not coincidentally, is named in the chief’s honor, as it was he who allocated the 120 acres of land to Maroon in 2013 to establish the campus. The cost? Anyone familiar with the story of Father Leo Meyer and the purchase of the property on which the University of Dayton now stands will find the answer remarkable. Maroon paid about $12,000 to compensate a few local farmers for the land. In 1850, Father Meyer purchased 120 acres from John Stuart for the promise of $12,000 and a medal of St. Joseph as collateral. Maroon, likewise, presented Chief Wasambo with a St. Joseph medal.
Each entering class will consist of 80 boys from more than 50 elementary schools in the area. Some students at the all-boys boarding school will pay tuition, while others will receive scholarships. Looking forward, Wasambo will have 300-plus students onsite in four years.
“The community can see that there are not enough schools in our area,” said Alick Zika Mkandawire, a community liaison officer. “The schools we do have don’t have good learning materials and don’t have enough teachers. The new school will provide these, and the community is excited for good things to come.”
The Marianist way
Maroon’s connections with the University of Dayton have evolved and benefitted both the Malawians and UD students.
Students have worked on issues of human rights in Malawi with Determined to Develop since 2010. Since 2011, the School of Engineering’s ETHOS program has worked with Malawians on projects from renewable technology to potable water. The political science department initiated the Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development in 2013. The practicum, now housed in the Human Rights Center, pairs UD students with Malawian university students in-country to tackle development questions that give Determined to Develop insight into how it can best serve the community.
“It’s amazing when we have our UD students here, as they can dig into an issue and, with their Malawian counterparts, help us understand where we should focus our efforts,” Maroon said. “Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming.”
UD student research has been broad in scope, ranging from assessing community access to clean water to an assessment of gender-based violence against girls. From an examination of health systems to agricultural studies, the students work hand-in-hand with their Malawian counterparts.
“UD’s partnership with Determined to Develop and the people of Sangilo Village has grown organically over the years and has really been defined by the priorities and vision of our Malawian partners,” said Jason Pierce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s heartening to see the collaborative spirit that has emerged on campus and with our partners. Folks just get it and are eager to play a role.”
Collaboration has translated to action, and there’s no better example than Wasambo High School. UD practicum students have examined local challenges in access and quality of secondary school education. ETHOS students conducted land surveys and are helping with plans and construction. Teacher education faculty and students are working on curriculum and teacher training.
“In my mind, the Wasambo project vividly illustrates the capacity of UD as a comprehensive university, one that leverages students and faculty from engineering, education, business, and arts and sciences to find localized solutions to global challenges,” said Pierce, who as former chair of the political science department initiated the Malawi practicum.
More than an education
‘‘I’m happy because, now, there is an opportunity for my children to go to a good quality school,” Phiri said. “Teachers coming from outside Malawi will be able to help my children learn things like English and other skills quicker. If my children learn fast they can get good jobs, which will help our family lots in the future.”
Moses Mulungu, a local bricklayer and father, anticipates that his children will, one day, travel beyond Malawi thanks to Wasambo High School.
“They will only be able to do this by get-ting a good education and learning to read road signs and other important life skills,” Mulungu said.
While the parents are hopeful, the excitement of the students who may some day call Wasambo home builds with each passing day as the campus takes shape.
Since they broke ground in September 2016, much progress has been made on the physical facilities. The garage and storehouse are complete. The foundations for the head teacher’s house, boarding master’s house and volunteer teacher’s house are also complete. Maroon said building is expected to move quickly once the water system is in place. The water tower — which will hold four plastic 5,000-liter tanks for the gravity-fed water system — has been finished, as has the drilling for the three onsite wells.
Computer and multimedia labs will be among the facilities in the classroom blocks, and space has been reserved for a small outdoor amphitheater.
“My heart is pounding with excitement and nervousness,” said James Mayni, 14 (pictured left), who is looking forward to improving his English through the teaching of native English speakers. “I have always wanted to go to a boarding school, and this could be my dream come true. I will keep hoping that my next chapter of my life at Wasambo High School awaits.”
Lowani Chirwa, 14, is also hopeful that he will be in the initial class of students admitted to Wasambo. His goal is to become one of the most educated people in his village and to fine-tune his English, as Wasambo will be an English-speaking campus.
“I believe that I will be able to learn higher reasoning skills, since the teachers will be highly educated,” Chirwa said. “I am looking forward to becoming a good, fluent English speaker.”
Rick Pfleger, a 1977 UD graduate, has been on board since the beginning of Maroon’s development work in Malawi in 2008. He and his wife, Claire Tierney Pfleger ’78, met Maroon when he was a UD student living near their daughter, Lindsay Pfleger ’06.
“When Matt first decided he wanted to stay in Malawi, we wanted to help him financially,” Rick Pfleger said. “His goal was to start an orphanage for children who had lost their parents to AIDS. At the time, we thought if he got 10 to 15 orphans under roof, it would be a home run. He now has 45-plus orphans in dormitories, four nurseries and preschools, and serves more than 500,000 meals a year in the community.
“I never envisioned he would stay this long, much less have the incredible impact he has had in Chilumba. Matt has become a fixture in the community, even to the point where the village chiefs made him an honorary member of their group,” Pfleger said.
Maroon brings two or three young members of the community to Chicago annually to meet the Pflegers.
“From the very beginning, we have been amazed by the spirit and optimism of these children,” Pfleger said. “When they share their stories with us, it enthuses us even more to continue our annual support. They are incredibly sincere, hopeful and grateful.
“Determined to Develop is certainly one of the most encouraging and fulfilling projects we have ever been involved with. We could not be more proud of Matt and what he has accomplished in the Marianist spirit.”
The Pflegers’ contribution to UD’s experiential-learning mission in Malawi has helped make Wasambo a reality. The wider UD community has also contributed, including a $10,000 fundraising initiative in 2014 by the University of Dayton student chapter of Determined to Develop.
“The Pflegers’ faith in UD, Determined to Develop and the Sangilo Village is inspiring.” Pierce said. “I am profoundly grateful for their support of this project and for seeing early on the impact the partnership could have in the community and the life-altering experiential learning opportunities it provides our students.” Pierce added that fundraising continues for future experiential learning opportunities for UD students.
While Wasambo will be life changing for the young people who attend school there, the experience of working in Malawi has also been life changing for those who have shared their time and talents with the people of the region.
“One of the most meaningful things I have learned from my time in Malawi is that no matter who you are you can probably help someone, know someone that can help, or you have the resources to learn how,” said Rob Greene (pictured left in red T-shirt, with members of the planning and work crew, including Matt Maroon, far right), an ETHOS graduate student currently working on the Wasambo project. “Being in Malawi has also made me rethink relationships and truly value them. Of course making friends halfway around the world and then leaving is one difficult aspect, but you could sit down with someone and immediately know 100 ways that you are different, but all you need is one similarity, one point to connect. Surprisingly you’ll find that not only are you not that different, but you can probably help each other.”
Greene — who is working toward a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus in environmental engineering — has been working as a project manager onsite and with Maroon on future construction plans.
“At times, it seems like ETHOS has only complicated my plans, but now I understand that I don’t only have an opportunity but also a degree of responsibility to act to better benefit my community and greater world community,” Greene said.
Department of Political Science Chair Grant Neeley has seen firsthand the impact the work in Malawi has had on the practicum students.
“It’s a tremendous learning experience and, in some cases, it most definitely shapes their career plans,” Neeley said. “But, regardless of their career path, this experience equips them with a greater understanding of how to work in a community setting. They gain a respect for others and their opinions and an ability to work through challenges, and that’s incredibly valuable because no matter where they go, they will be in a community.”
“It’s a reflection of the commitment and passion of the community in Malawi, Matt, and UD,” he said. “It’s exciting to see our faculty and students engage in work that resonates so deeply with the Marianist mission.”
Pierce anticipates University of Dayton involvement with Wasambo and in Malawi well into the future.
That’s music to Maroon’s ears.
“The longer I am here in Africa, the more I realize that people have the same goals, no matter their culture or differences,” Maroon said. “We all want to push ourselves forward and we want to take care of our families. We all have the same motivations; to be happy, healthy, useful, fulfilled, valued and loved. This school will allow that impact to multiply the current work that we are doing. It will be a transformational force for families that will ripple from each person who passes through. We are transforming a society and are building another pathway to prosperity. How exciting is that?”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
In 1998, the College of Arts and Sciences talked of sowing the seeds for human rights professionals who could collaboratively transform conversations and communities around the world. Today, those alumni serve in seven countries and numerous organizations dedicated to bettering the human condition. Here’s a look at where some alumni of the 2014 Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development, featured in the Winter 2014-15 UD Magazine, are today thanks to a UD education that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Alyssa Bovell ’14
Associate director of Project Partnerships IPM (International Partners in Mission)
“The interrelated challenges that impede the social, economic and political empowerment of women inspired me to pursue a human rights-based career in development. Women’s economic agency as a force of global poverty reduction has become an issue of international importance that I’ve become passionate about. [The practicum] has led to my current position at an international nonprofit that is focused on supporting women with equal access to resources and services to transform and sustain their communities.”
Jed Gerlach ’15
International programs assistant, Plan International USA
“It was great to be part of [Determined to Develop], a grassroots organization that was doing such great work with the resources given to them — an organization that not only helped people, but empowered them. To see that, as a student, had a great impact on me: on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.”
Jason Hayes ’15
International program coordinator, Operation Smile
“You can study these things in a classroom and read every textbook out there but, at the end of the day, it’s just not the same. It doesn’t have an emotional effect until you get there and you see, firsthand, what the realities are. It was huge for me. I would highly recommend fieldwork. It affirmed for me the work I wanted to do.”
Andrew Lightner ’16
London School of Economics
“[The Malawi practicum] introduced me to wonderful people, fascinating research and exciting future opportunities. I have difficulty describing its impact, as I cannot recognize my worldview, experience at UD or current career trajectory without the practicum. I am currently studying international development and economics and aim to continue research in international and economic issues. The values and relationships Determined to Develop helped me form will continue to drive my career and non-career decisions.”
Wide eyes, open minds, contagious laughter. The whimsical sounds of children exploring interactive exhibits keep Jan Wrzesinski the happiest she can be at her job as the executive director of the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile, Alabama.
A communication major while at UD, Wrzesinski had a stint working in radio broadcasting early in her career, where she was known as Jan McKay. She now finds herself with more than 25 years of experience working in museums.
And, she says there’s never a boring day. As the executive director, Wrzesinski blends her skills to work on fundraising,
communications, planning and outreach to the community.
“The Exploreum is a very exciting place. Our mission is to inspire a love of math and science among all citizens, in particular school children, through summer camps, special demonstrations, and other hands-on learning opportunities,” she said.
She recalled the time when NASA gave a moon rock to the Explorerum for two weeks. Although there was a high level of security surrounding the extraterrestrial object, the museum guests enjoyed the opportunity to see firsthand a piece of outer space.
Ultimately, Wrzesinkski said she hopes the museum experience provides an additional learning environment for children to appreciate the world around them: “We help bridge the formal classroom learning environment with group and individual science activities. We make it fun.”
Wrzesinski enjoys the challenges of running the museum, which has a $2 million budget, to help maintain the three permanent galleries, several rotating galleries and the pre-kindergarten demonstration area.
Children can participate in chemistry experiments, learning how to cook healthy, examining the lungs of smokers, and taking part in other hands-on activities.
“Kids mean a lot to me in the work that I do,” she said. “To me, all kids are precious.”
—Karina Cabrera ’18 and Gita Balakrishnan
When Brother Blaise Mosengo, S.M., joined the Marianists, he, like all vowed religious, accepted the call to go wherever God needed him.
During the last five and a half years, that place has been the University of Dayton.
“I came to UD as a mission,” Mosengo said. “I live in a community of people who teach here and work here. That’s their mission. God called me to go to UD and to study. That’s my mission — to be a student.”
A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), Mosengo came to UD in fall 2011 when Marianist superiors wanted him to obtain a master’s degree to enhance his administrative skills. Mosengo, a high school principal in the neighboring
Republic of Congo and 2013 graduate of UD’s educational leadership program, is now working on his doctorate.
Mosengo is one of about five international Marianists pursuing advanced degrees at the University with the goal of returning to their home nations to strengthen established missions there. With Asia and Africa providing the bulk of the Catholic Church’s growth in the late 20th and early 21st century, the Marianists see those two continents as crucial to spreading the Gospel, and established Marianist schools there already educate thousands of students annually.
“How can we assist our growing presence in the developing world? We have an excellent university,” said Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, who lives in the Stonemill community with Mosengo. “We can bring them here for academic studies, especially from east and west Africa and India. It’s one thing we can contribute at the University of Dayton to the worldwide Marianist community: educating them so they can then enhance their educational missions at home.”
Fitz, vice president for mission and rector, said the Marianists commit to supporting advanced degree study at UD for four to five international members at a time, and an alumnus, who chooses not to be named, funds their living expenses. Brothers from Kenya, Congo, India and Togo, among other nations, are currently completing graduate work.
“Having these men here allows us to maintain a global perspective,” Fitz said. “We’re not just ‘filling holes.’”
Father Ignase Arulappen, S.M., is another member of the Stonemill community studying at UD with assistance from the Marianists. “Father Iggy,” as he’s nicknamed, was executive director of the University of Dayton Deepahalli Educational Center in Bangalore, India, before coming to UD in August 2016.
Arulappen taught theology in India and is completing a doctoral program in theology with a focus on Mariology through the International Marian Research Institute. When he’s done, he plans to return to Bangalore.
“All my life as a Marianist, I have been teaching and administering a formation program,” he said. “My interest in education was already there, and the Provincial Council in the United States and the Regional Council in India made a request to me to see if I wanted to take a break from my work and do these studies.”
During their time here, the international Marianists also get involved in the greater UD community. Arulappen presides at the Eucharist at Holy Angels Church adjacent to campus, and the communities host students for dinner and conversation. Mosengo has developed friendships with students from China and Saudi Arabia through the Center for International Programs, and they often reflect on the commonalities they share beyond their individual faith traditions.
“We come from different faiths, but we come together to talk about one God,” Mosengo said.
The international Marianist presence in Dayton extends beyond the men receiving graduate-level scholarships. Koreans study at the novitiate at Mount Saint John, as no novitiate exists in South Korea, and five Marianist sisters from Vietnam, Italy and India have studied on campus, learning English through the Intensive English Program.
The international Marianist network isn’t a one-way connection either. Other partnerships develop when American-born UD students spend time at international Marianist missions in places like Zambia, Kenya and Malawi. Fitz notes the example of Matt Maroon ’06, who spent a year at a mission in Malawi and remains there more than a decade later operating the nonprofit charity Determined to Develop.
As for the Marianists who do earn advanced degrees and return to Africa and Asia, they’re already making a difference. Brother Basant Kujur, S.M., earned a master’s degree in human services in 2010 and works as a scholasticate director in Bangalore as well as a faculty member at the Deepahalli Educational Center.
“The UD environment opened up a new horizon for me to see the new reality of Marianist pedagogies of education,” Kujur said. “I am very grateful to all my professors and classmates, Marianist brothers, sisters and
fathers, and the entire UD environment for giving me a golden opportunity to learn and to be formed as what I am. I am grateful to
God and to my Marianist family.”
Mosengo, the Congolese high school principal, noted that the United States is currently the only nation with Marianist universities, meaning Marianist higher education is unavailable to most of those they serve.
“In many countries in Africa, parents and students will complain that we provide education until a student graduates from high school, but there’s no follow-up,” Mosengo said. “The idea is that we can start having a Marianist presence at a higher educational level in the countries where we are.”
With his impending doctoral degree, Mosengo hopes to further that mission.
“I would love to teach in college, but I can also help in the administration,” he said. “I want to go back somewhere in Africa, but which country, I don’t know. I know what I would like to do, but I will wait and see where they ask me to go.”
It might have been the Chef Boyardee pizza kit he received from a grade school friend as a birthday present, or the cookbook his mom gave him with the peanut brittle recipe he couldn’t wait to try. Or, maybe, it was the “bologna-banger” sandwiches — an original recipe — he loved to whip up at lunchtime.
When Glenn Lyman’s love affair with the kitchen began isn’t clear, but it is unmistakable.
“I cooked in high school for my friends and our dates before dances,” said Lyman, Class of 1990. “In college, I’d leave campus and go to Dorothy Lane Market and just look around.”
The culinary arts, however, weren’t an immediate career path for the communication management graduate. Lyman spent more than a decade working in sales — his first commission check, in fact, went to buy a gas grill. His kitchen time was limited to nights and weekends but, at the urging of his wife Lynda Kely Lyman ’90, that all changed in 2003 when he finally shifted gears and became a personal chef.
“It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “I drove home the day I gave my notice
and felt free. It was incredible.”
Six months into his new endeavor, everything changed when he met with a young NBA rookie in his penthouse apartment — LeBron James.
“I cooked his first pregame meal of the preseason,” Lyman said.
Within days, the Cleveland native was the personal chef for the now four-time NBA Most Valuable Player — a position he held for five years.
The owner of GCooks, in Charlotte, North Carolina, has built an athlete client list that has included five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon and 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte.
While much has changed since he regularly grilled out on his porch in the UD student neighborhood, he said one thing has not — his passion for cooking.
“Looking back, this journey has been amazing, and I’m not done yet.”
I am a vowed Marianist religious with nearly 40 years of profession. When I talk with our young religious — women and men who feel excitement about this moment of possibility in the Church — too often the conversation shifts to the recent past. They comment on how disheartening it is to hear others talk not about the vibrancy of religious life but about the loss of the great numbers of religious we once had.
It’s important to acknowledge the sense of loss that many older Catholics feel when invoking the “diminishment narrative” about today’s religious life. But the reality is that we no longer need large numbers of religious to build hospitals or create schools — those Catholic institutions already exist and in many places are thriving. While we’ll continue to support the spirit of such institutions, we are listening for the spirit to understand how we should focus our energies into the future. Marianist co-founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade told us “new times call for new methods,” and it’s especially instructive in this challenging moment of U.S. history.
How do we leverage transformation of the society for God’s vision for the world? For God’s people — which is everybody, not just the Catholics, not just the poor?
While there is a genuine questioning from Catholics about what the future will hold, we can look to our foundations for insights into our ways forward. For our first 15 years, Marianists were a lay group, and only later a small number of individuals felt called to dedicate their life energy to fostering those communities. Chaminade called us “religious sodalists,” reinforcing that we are a continuation and extension of the lay groups.
The laity will be our partners and even our leaders in whatever our future holds. It’s a gift we’ve been given for the Church — that lay and religious are equal and have gifts that are complementary. We celebrate our Marian model for the Church, one which has its foundation at Cana when Mary recognized the needs and called them to Jesus’ attention to meet them. At the University of Dayton, having lay leadership allows the religious to focus our energies not on the day-to-day business of the University but on making sure we provide the support for the people who fill those crucial administrative roles: President Eric Spina, Provost Paul Benson and Director of Campus Ministry Crystal Sullivan. Although the religious have had more opportunity to steep in the charism, our faculty and staff who are Marianist Educational Associates own the charism also. They bring it to campus and the classroom in greater numbers and in ways that are unexpected and inspiring for our students. We have students who each semester study the Marianist charism and make a commitment to share it here at the University and beyond as they move on.
Recently, I was invited to give a talk in Rome to the International Union of Superiors General where I discussed Pope Francis’ challenge of moving “from the center to the margins.” People in religious life today are quite accustomed to having been at the center of things — of the Church, of the big institutions we built. But our call is also to move to the margins and to be with and people who aren’t at the center and perhaps don’t have access.
How do we share our resources with people who live on the margins? The congregations in Rome are doing all they can to respond to the immigrants in need on their shores. In the United States, how are we at Catholic universities going to stand for the protection of our own students and those whom society has put at its margins? We may not know what the future will hold, but we certainly have hints about where we need to put our energies.
We know that as Marianists we are always going to be providing community spaces because faith formation in community is our method. That’s what attracts people — students and staff, faculty and presidents — to Marianist institutions. They recognize communities in which they can thrive.
That is our gift in the Church.
We have to make sure that the people at the margins have access to that kind of community.
When the angel visited Mary, she said “yes” so that Christ could be born into our world in her very flesh. The newest generation of vowed religious are saying “yes.” They are called today to give flesh to God’s Spirit in a world both blessed and broken by globalization; they are called to be blessed to communicate and partner with people from all parts of the globe who are excluded and oppressed for their race, class, ethnicity, geography, religion and a host of other identities.
Whether lay or religious, we will re-shape our institutions and communities and our very selves.
We will take the Gospel, as Pope Francis has charged us, to the margins.
Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I., is director of novices, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Dayton and a board member at St. Mary’s University. She received a master’s in theology from UD in 1987.
As they entered the World War on April 6, 1917, the U.S. Army had something to prove. They succeeded with the help of great men, including Dayton-born Joseph T. Dickman, a former student at St. Mary’s Institute. He would become commanding general of the Army of Occupation under Gen. John J. Pershing.
The life story of Joseph Dickman lives on campus in a yellowed scrapbook in the archives on the second floor of Albert Emanuel Hall. Carefully turn back the pages and you’ll discover brittle newspaper clippings with headlines like “Dickman Leads Advancing Army.”
His sister kept the scrapbook; she signed the inside back cover, “Mrs. Chas. Frech, 16 1/2 Auglaize St., Wapakoneta, O.” As you unfold each story you reveal a new account of his life, from his many campaigns in Europe to his trip to Dayton in 1923 to receive from his former secondary school, now known as the University of Dayton, an honorary Doctor of Laws.
“It is a genuine pleasure … as this is the scene where the Brothers laid the foundation of my education more than half a century ago,” Dickman said in his address to the Class of 1923.
Dickman was born in Dayton Oct. 6, 1857. When his father went to fight in the Civil War, Dickman’s mother took the children to live in Minster, Ohio. There, he attended the village’s elementary school. In 1871, he returned to Dayton to attend St. Mary’s Institute. When his father was elected sheriff of Auglaize County, Ohio, the family moved to Wapakoneta, where Dickman graduated from high school before entering West Point.
In the army of the early 20th century, Dickman rode horseback to capture Mexican bandits, policed union strikes in Chicago, sailed to Cuba for occupation duty, fought insurgents in the Philippines and provided relief to China at the end of the Boxer Rebellion.
When war was declared in Europe on July 28, 1914, Dickman wrote that his cavalry unit was living a calm and peaceful existence. “Little did we dream that our cozy garrison of Fort Ethan Allen [Vermont] was soon to become one of the initial points in the hegira of a great American army to transatlantic fields of action,” he wrote in his memoir, The Great Crusade.
The United States had, as Dickman wrote, taken an “ultra-pacific” position on the war raging overseas. It was not until continued attacks by German submarines, and an intercepted correspondence showing Germany meant to ally with Mexico and threaten our southern border, that the U.S. intervened.
Dickman transferred to Camp Greene, North Carolina, where he assumed command of the 3rd Infantry Division and trained until they deployed to France in April 1919.
When the Americans arrived, they found the French influence on their activities stifling: Their units were distributed among the French, they took command instructions from the French, and they received little credit for victories they achieved. American officers began to question why the Americans could not lead independent operations, with Dickman particularly vocal about what he saw as the superior manners of his men. As Dickman wrote in his diary, “Colonel P. Brown C. of S. 2d says our secret service has written evidence that the reason English and French try to prevent us from having Corps and Army organization is that a victorious American Army would have too much influence in the peace negotiations. I asked Gen. [Hunter] Liggett whether the
time had come for us to speak out a little.”
The Americans began pushing their tactical suggestions, such as allowing the Germans to advance unmolested into the open before an attack. “[T]he principal object of the bit of bravado had only been to convince our Allies that the American rifleman was not under intimidation,” Dickman wrote in his memoir.
After a successful defense at Château-Thierry by the American Expeditionary Forces, Dickman noted a change in the French
attitude: “[I]t became apparent … that the days of tutelage, patronage and condescension had passed.”
Dickman wrote that he saw such respect intensify during battles, including the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient and at Meuse-Argonne. After the Armistice, Dickman was honored by an appointment as commanding general of the Third Army. Under Pershing, the Third Army became the Army of Occupation, with Dickman and his troops following the retreating Germans through France and back to the Rhine River.
As a forward to The Great Crusade, Pershing wrote of Dickman’s valor: “In July, 1918, the German advance against his front was halted by a regiment of his division in a most brilliant action. His Corps in the battle of Saint Mihiel and in the grilling struggle of Meuse-Argonne performed distinguished service. After the Armistice, under circumstances requiring tact and discretion, he commanded our Army of Occupation on the Rhine for several months with marked efficiency.”
“His services both in staff and line, whether in peace or war, have been marked by constant devotion to duty,” Pershing wrote.
For Dickman, the conclusion of his 45-year military career brought more travel, including an assignment to Texas. He attained the rank of major general, and he retired in 1921.
As an officer, Dickman held his men in high esteem. After the war, he wrote of their discipline and how it influenced the role America played in the World War. “Their conduct not only surprised the Europeans but exceeded the expectations of our best-informed officers,” he wrote. “From the moment of their enrollment they exhibited a degree of willingness, loyalty and devotion to duty that was beyond praise and was of inestimable value during the formative period of their careers.”
The admiration was returned. His men considered him a “soldier’s soldier” and endeared him with the nicknames “Uncle Joe” and “Daddy Dickman.” The evidence lies in the family scrapbook. Open it and unfold a tattered newspaper tucked lovingly inside. Upon his death, the newspaper of the 3rd (Marne) Division, The Watch on the Rhine, devoted its entire cover to the man the headline calls both a commander and a friend.
As it wrote, “His graciousness of spirit and nobility of character were symbolic of his life.”
To read an excerpt from Joseph T. Dickman’s memoir, please click here.
Among the battles in which Joseph T. Dickman commanded troops was the battle for the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient. The chunk of land in northeastern France had been seized by the Germans and blocked the Allies’ communications and transportation lines. In the war’s first independent U.S. operation and supported by the Allies, forces attacked the Germans in September 1918. Dickman commanded the IV Corps, sending three divisions in from the south. This included the 3rd Division, which he had commanded as it landed in France in April 1918. In Europe, Dickman found himself fighting not just the Germans but also the perceptions of the French and British militaries, which regarded the American troops as underprepared and the American tactics as foolhardy for their embrace of open warfare tactics. The success at St. Mihiel, followed closely by the battle of Meuse-Argonne, proved the mettle of the U.S. troops and the strategy of the Americans. It also made Dickman proud of his men.
The edited excerpt below is from his book The Great Crusade, published by
D. Appleton & Co. in 1927 just months before Dickman’s death following a heart attack. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. ___________________________________________________________________________________________
The immense fields of wire known to exist in front of the enemy’s lines gave me much concern. One method proposed of overcoming this obstacle was by means of portable sections of wire matting, which were to form a kind of bridge over the entanglement for the passage of attacking doughboys. A demonstration at Vaucouleurs on Sept. 8 was fairly successful.
The next day there was an exhibition of the operation of five French tanks at Autreville. These machines, in addition to dealing
effectively with machine-gun nests, were counted upon to go through fields of wire, unless the rains should make the soil of the [Plain of the] Woevre too soft and slippery. However, our principal reliance was placed on wire cutters, and arrangements were made to secure a large supply of the powerful two-handed kind to assist in clearing the way for the advance.
The only cavalry in the IV Corps was a squadron of the 2nd Cavalry, comfortably located in barracks and stables at Dommartin,
a mile east of Toul. A review of the squadron was held and an inspection of its equipment made, partly to show the troopers that, [as] their former colonel, [I] had not forgotten them among the large forces of the other arms now under [my] command.
One of the difficult things to teach new troops is the avoidance of exposure, not only on account of the unnecessary personal danger, but also, in many cases, to avoid betrayal of the plans of the High Command. At one time the division recently arrived in the Marbache sector was suffering daily casualties from artillery fire, about noon, although the sector was rather quiet at other times. One of the enemy’s aviators had discovered that the American soldiers formed long lines in the streets while waiting for their turns to be served with the midday meal at the company kitchen. This exposure furnished good opportunities for artillery concentrations which the enemy was not slow in utilizing. Eventually our local Commanding Officer realized that this artillery activity was not a mere coincidence, so he ordered that the men come up in groups of four, the rest remaining behind a wall or other cover until ready to be served.
The original plan of the American Commander-in-Chief, [Gen. John J. Pershing], contemplated a strategical operation of the highest importance, namely, a break in the enemy’s line and a deep advance at a point seriously menacing the line of communications so vital to the existence of his army. When the Meuse-Argonne operation was decided upon by the Allied High Command, the reduction of the St. Mihiel salient was considered as preliminary thereto and thus became a secondary and limited operation to flatten out the salient and to liberate the enclosed territory and several important lines of railroad.
The principal attack was to be made by nine American divisions; the secondary attack by two American and one French division; and the holding attack by a French corps of three divisions.
The Germans had established a succession of strongly fortified defensive lines, with many bands of wire. Their command, as organized, was divided into three groups, [with] six divisions in reserve.
The American concentration commenced on the 28th of August. As secrecy was highly important the movements were made by night, the marches being about 10 miles per day for foot troops and 15 miles for vehicles. In the daytime the troops were concealed in woods and buildings. In this way our forces opposite both sides of the salient were increased to about 600,000 men, but depositions on the outpost line were not changed until the last day, to prevent identifications. Although the Germans expected an attack, it came sooner and much stronger than they had anticipated.
The IV Corps was to attack on a front of about 6 miles, from Limey to Richecourt with the 89th, 42nd and 1st Divisions in line from east to west, each with a front of about 2 miles.
Promptly at 1 a.m. Sept. 12, the battle commenced when our artillery opened an intense fire of penetration that was intended to damage the German wire, destroy many of the enemy’s machine guns, and drive his troops to cover. On the southern face of the salient this artillery fire continued until 5 a.m., and the infantry of the corps front then moved out under a powerful barrage.
Some of the French generals had gone to the hills of Boucq to observe the great bombardment from the walls of the château. This was too far from Corps headquarters, where a busy time was in prospect; but a position on high ground about 200 yards in advance of the Corps dugout enabled me to witness, for about an hour, a display of fireworks never seen except in a great war. More than 2,000 fiery mouths belched forth their vehicles of destruction against the enemy who scarcely made a reply.
The attack came as a tactical surprise to the Germans who were thrown into the utmost confusion. Mustard gas fired on occupied woods and crossroads contributed to the disorder; large trains of transportation were caught on the roads and destroyed.
Rainy weather had left the ground soft and in poor condition for military operations. The 12th was cloudy, with squalls of rain; our air observation was deficient and rendered very mediocre assistance. The tanks got into trouble early in the game, on account of the mud, rough country and impassable trenches.
Much of the wire was found to be old and insecure. The enemy was demoralized by our artillery fire and the rapid advance of our troops, and made but weak resistance. Numbers came out of dugouts and gave themselves up. Occasional strong points and machine-gun nests made more resolute opposition, but as a rule the resistance was quickly overcome.
In the evening of Sept. 12 a report was received that the retreating German artillery was choking the roads south of Vigneulles and Hattonchâtel. The rumbling of retreating German transportation on that highway was audible in the night. This indicated a
good opportunity to make huge captures. Accordingly, the 2nd Brigade, with machine guns and cavalry, was ordered to advance in force to the outskirts of Vigneulles and Hattonville, so as to close all roads to the north and east of these towns.
y the evening of Sept. 13 the St. Mihiel operation practically was over. All the exits from the salient had been closed since early morning and the escape of the troops remaining therein cut off. Early in the day the last division had attained the Army Objective, and all divisions were consolidating their positions and operating towards
the Exploitation Line.
Sept. 16 marked the end of the battle of St. Mihiel, the front having become stabilized. The operation was a success in every respect. We captured nearly 16,000 prisoners, 182 guns, hundreds of machine guns, and an immense store of material, supplies and ammunition. [We] recovered 200 square miles of territory and freed the Paris-Avricourt railroad. The force and speed of our attack had overwhelmed the enemy so that he offered but slight resistance. Our casualties were so small, less than 7,000 during the period of advance, that these units were immediately available for another and greater operation in a new theater of war.
The greatest results of the victory were moral. It raised the morale of our troops and of our Allies; the Germans were correspondingly discouraged and began to realize that final defeat was inevitable. An efficient American army had been developed and its fighting power demonstrated to friend and foe. The victory gave our troops implicit confidence in themselves and a sense of superiority over the enemy. Wire entanglements ceased to be regarded as impassable obstacles, and training for open warfare required no further
To read some historical background about Joseph T. Dickman, please click here.
George Scott Baker is an average guy. He’s OK with it, though, and he wants other average folks to embrace their averageness too. In fact, he gives entire seminars on how to be average. Baker, the alter ego of Andy Boehnlein, says that being average gets a bad rap when it really shouldn’t.
“People think of average as not even trying,” said Boehnlein. “But it’s really about being OK with who you are rather than
being stressed out all the time trying to keep up with the person next to you.”
George’s debut was hardly average, however. He appeared on Chicago’s famed The Second City stage in what Boehnlein called, “kind of a terrible sketch.” Still, Boehnlein, who spent six months studying sketch writing, improv and acting during his sophomore year, never forgot about his pal George.
Years later, Boehnlein wondered what George would look like and what he would have to say. He revived the quirky fellow thanks, in part, to his general studies major that included comedy, leadership and philosophy.
“It built a steady foundation for us both,” said Boehnlein who today demotivates (as George, of course) university staff and
recreational sports departments all over the U.S. His message?
“It’s really rooted in living a purposeful life and being OK with being you,” Boehnlein said. “I then relate it to leadership and how it applies to a job.”
As for the goofy outfit and terrible wig, Boehnlein said it relaxes people and reminds them not to take themselves too seriously.
“People hear this kind of message a lot, but I like to say that I trick people into really understanding
Boehnlein, who also works for the University of Michigan intramural sports league, would eventually like to introduce George to the corporate world. For now, he’s happy with George being, well, average.
In this jubilee year, the siblings are celebrating.
The Marianist brothers and sisters each mark 200 years of service to their communities during a worldwide, 20-month celebration.
“Both religious institutions have been ‘siblings’ from the beginning, according to the mind of our founders,” wrote the superiors general of the Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary Immaculate.
Born out of the chaos of the French Revolution, the congregations’ roots began in diverse lay communities of faith open to all Christians. Founded by the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon and Marie Thérèse de Lamourous, the lay communities grew and sparked the desire of a small group eager to take religious vows.
“Our Marianist founders’ vision for rebuilding society and Church through a network of dynamic and engaged faith communities is as applicable today as it was 200 years ago,” said Sister Leanne Jablonski, F.M.I. ’85, director of the Marianist Environmental
Education Center at Mount St. John and Hanley Sustainability Institute scholar-in-residence for faith and environment.
“Marianist sisters today live Adèle’s spirit by collaborating with our other Marianist branches and with other organizations to
address justice concerns, including the needs of women, children, the environment and those in poverty. In Pope Francis’ spirit of hope, mercy and care, we are joyfully building a Church and world where no one is left out.”
The jubilee theme “To know, love and serve” highlights actions ever-present in Marianist text and traditions.
The celebration began May 15, 2016, just prior to the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, and encompasses the founding anniversary of the Society of Mary, Oct. 2, 1817.
The celebration continues through Jan. 22, 2018, the feast day of Chaminade.
The congregations commissioned a three-paneled icon, which is traveling the world visiting Marianist communities. It features artwork of the wedding feast at Cana created by Brother Salvatore Santacroce, S.M., of Italy. Flanking the art are original letters penned by Adèle and Chaminade.
“The icon is a way to unify every Marianist community,” said Father Bob Jones, S.M. ’98, chaplain at Chaminade Julienne High School, during the icon’s December visit to Dayton.
The Society of Mary founded what would become known as the University of Dayton in 1850. The Marianist sisters joined them on campus in 1962 when the University opened its first women’s residence hall. Both congregations remain integral to campus, religious and scholarly life.
“We are small but mighty,” said Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I. ’87, associate professor of sociology. “We have about 330 sisters and are the smallest of the three branches. When we choose a ministry, it’s often to complete the Marianist Family because we are best when we — women and men, lay and religious — are together,” she said.
This will again be the case in Malawi, where the sisters will, in a new ministry this year, complement the works of the Society of Mary and lay communities by teaching in a high school for girls. The sisters will also be starting a ministry in Vietnam, their 16th country of service and as the first religious branch to go there.
“I think [Adèle] encourages us to be risk takers and to, in faith, know that Mary and her son will be with us,” said Sister Estella Ibarra, F.M.I. ’68, former member of the general administration in Rome. “When you use that refrain over and over in prayer and everyday
activity, pretty soon you live it. It becomes more than a mantra; it becomes a reality.”
Today, the Marianist Family operates 18 high schools, three universities, four retreat centers and six parishes in the United States. Worldwide, they can be found on six continents and in 34 countries.
“Few things last 200 years these days in our rapidly changing world,” said UD President Eric F. Spina. “Yet the Marianist charism has endured and thrived during an era when it seems we’re always busy chasing the next big idea, when faith and culture often clash, when electronic communication replaces, all too
often, personal conversations.”
Two hundred years ago, Chaminade recognized power in the revolutionary call for “liberty, equality and fraternity,” said Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, vice president for mission and rector. But he also realized something was missing — Christian values. The violence of the Revolution betrayed the Christian values on which it rested.
“If we were all sons and daughters of God, the violence of the Revolution wouldn’t be a part of it,” Fitz said of Chaminade’s insight. “We talk a lot about community. It is rooted in this time, when through adversity we somehow came together to support each other but also to be witnesses to different values — to working together and collaborating across class lines.
“How do we dialogue; how do we work together for a common humanity; how do we keep faith in the mix? Chaminade showed us how in his day and age. We must do the same today.”
*Blue dots: Brothers and Priests — The Society of Mary 1,056
*Orange dots: Daughters of Mary Immaculate 331