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Dayton’s glory days are hopping again when it comes to libations thanks to a revival of the local brewing industry. It distills a piece of the city’s history, lends a full body to the economy, and adds a distinct flavor and aroma to Dayton’s cultural scene. Behind the barrels: UD alumni, innovators and entrepreneurs making it happen with their craft.
The number of breweries and distilleries now open in Day-ton mirrors national trends in the growth of the craft beer and spirits industry, and also bellies up with consumers’ growing taste for high-quality, sustainable and locally sourced food. (Yes, well before the first glass is finished, many argue craft beer and spirits are food.)
It’s about a love for all things local that make a town unique, a singular blinking blue dot on the map. (You know, things like the University of Dayton.) And Dayton’s new breweries and micro-distilleries are infusing new flavors into their pints of Dayton pride.
BIG STEINS TO FILL
During the mid-1800s, the city had more than the average number of breweries for a town its size, with 14 at the industry’s peak in the 1880s. Today, at least that many establishments have opened since 2011 alone, when a change in Ohio law made it economically feasible to open a small brewery or micro-distillery.
Shane Juhl ’04 opened the first brewery in the city of Dayton in 52 years June 28, 2013, when the inaugural glass was raised at Toxic Brew Co., where he is brewmaster and partner.
Before his Toxic adventure, Juhl — who completed his undergraduate work at Virginia Tech and his master’s in materials engineering at UD — was a research scientist working on fuel cell materials, nanotechnology, polymers and space-durable materials. But his love for Belgian beers pulled him away from those labs and into a new one: the home brewery.
“I’d spent about six years homebrewing and felt Dayton had a vacuum when it came to breweries,” Juhl said. “So I pulled the trigger to start one.”
Juhl and his partners bought a boarded-up building in downtown Dayton’s Oregon Historic District and renovated it inside and out. He designed the seven-barrel brewing system and other equipment, which was made in Ohio. Juhl and his staff even make Toxic’s tap handles.
“The best part of this has been people enjoying the beer,” Juhl said. “I’m excited to see the growing beer scene in Dayton. People are coming from other cities to see our breweries. Dayton has a rich history, and I enjoy being able to say we’re part of it.”
Toxic and other breweries are, indeed, resurrecting a legacy — one re-enacted at Carillon Brewing Co., a Dayton History facility at Carillon Historical Park near UD’s campus. The park is packed with things from Dayton that impacted the world, such as a replica of the workshop where the Wright brothers fashioned their flying machines. With a focus on life in the 1850s, beers are made as they were at that time, and staff in period costume serve up food and drink while guests observe the brewing equipment and, on certain days, the brewing process.
“Dayton is a great example of many American towns during the 1850s,” said Tanya Brock, Carillon Brewery manager and brewster. “This was a point in time when America was being heavily settled, especially by English, Irish and German immigrants. Barley was king and a staple of the daily diet. Beer was the result of all those things coming together.”
They came together so well in Dayton because all the necessary ingredients for beer exist or grow well in the region, which also has an abundance of water. Even then, Dayton was the “crossroads of America,” a gateway to the West, and lots of travelers needed a place to stop for
“Beer used to be a daily drink, not a social drink,” Brock said. “People didn’t realize boiling the water was what made beer safe to drink. They thought it was something in the fermentation process. So it was a safe, daily drink somewhat similar to how we drink water today, and a source of nutrition. Even kids drank what were called small ales, light beers with 2 percent or less alcohol content. As long as your community had a brewery, you knew it could provide you with something safe to drink that would not give you cholera.”
Beer changed from a daily to a social drink through the course of time, impacted by the temperance movement, an alcohol tax, cleaner water sources, and changes in agriculture and transportation. When Dayton Brewing Co. closed in 1962, it was the lone such business in the city.
Yet Carillon Brewing harkens back to those earlier times, using equipment and recipes that replicate an 1850s experience. Grain is hand milled, and barley is roasted over an open fire. Beer is fermented in oak barrels, and visitors can opt to drink the finished product as it was served in the 1850s: The cask ale is served at room temperature and is lightly carbonated.
The process to brew a barrel takes 12 to 15 hours, rather than the average six hours at a modern brewery. “The modern brewer doesn’t need to lug wood to make a fire using hot coals to fire the kettle in the morning,” Brock said.
Carillon Brewing — which opened in late August 2014 and served its first house-brewed beer in December — is the only fully licensed production brewery at a park and the only historical brewer in the United States. Brock hopes it will help it become a tourist destination for such visitors as UD alumni visiting campus.
“We hope to draw people to come see us, but also to see other Dayton breweries,” she said. “History really is repeating itself here, and this is a rare opportunity to really see that in action.”
And it’s an important history at that: “What would Dayton be today if all these breweries hadn’t opened and provided a healthy, safe drink?” she asked. “If you don’t have anything to drink, you can’t birth babies who grow up to invent the airplane.”
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Warped Wing Brewing Co. started with a handshake at Flanagan’s, located on Stewart Street a block from UD’s campus. Well, that or with the Wright brothers imitating the shape of birds’ wings for their flying machines, an innovation that made controlled flight possible.
Nick Bowman ’02, co-founder and head of sales and marketing at Warped Wing, moved back to Dayton after an 11-year career with Anheuser-Busch — where he worked in a variety of positions in Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver and the Bloomington, Indiana, area — to join the Warped Wing team.
“While I was in Bloomington, I had taken notice of the craft beer industry, and it was love at first sight,” Bowman said. “I wanted to move home to Dayton and start my own business. My idea was to start a craft beer distribution company. My dad, Bob Bowman ’74, had a 20-plus year career with Allied Wine in Dayton, where he met Joe Waizmann, beer division manager for Allied from 1990 to 1992. Fast forward to 2009, and my dad introduced me to Joe.”
It was a meeting, and that eventual handshake, that changed the trajectory of Bowman’s life.
“Joe listened to my idea and was respectful, but he said, ‘There are four distributors already in the Dayton market. What Dayton really needs is a brewery.’ This instantly piqued my curiosity,” Bowman said. “I started learning everything I could about the craft beer culture and industry. Eventually, we said, ‘Dayton needs a brewery? Let’s do it ourselves. Let’s open a brewpub.’”
He and Waizmann began assembling their team, starting with CPA Mike Stover, and working on a business plan for a full-scale production brewery with a tasting room and self-distribution. “Our business plan was about 90 percent done when John Haggerty, at the time brewmaster at New Holland Brewing Co., decided to come on board,” Bowman said. “That was a game changer.”
The team’s final business plan was completed in spring 2013, and they raised $1.2 million in private equity capital and $500,000 in bank financing in six weeks. In only five months, renovations were made to the brewery’s new home, the former Buckeye Iron & Brass Works Foundry in downtown Dayton, and — boom! — Warped Wing took flight Jan. 18, 2014.
Warped Wing’s ties to Dayton and Ohio history go beyond its namesake: Its flagship brew, Ermal’s Belgian Style Cream Ale, is a nod to Dayton inventor Ermal Fraze, creator of the pop-top can (and sold, appropriately, in pop-top cans.) The artwork for all labels, created by a team in Cincinnati, represents the city and Ohio. “We incorporate a story into every beer,” Bowman said.
The brewery also incorporated reclaimed materials into much of the historical building it occupies — a move typical of the sustainable practices found at many craft breweries. Large, family-style tables once in the library of downtown’s former Patterson Co-op High School dominate the tasting room. Old bourbon barrels are used as bases for other tables, and pews from a church on Brown Street line the space. Railings were salvaged from a former General Motors plant.
The Warped Wing founders love Dayton, and Dayton is loving Warped Wing back. Dayton Business Journal readers voted Warped Wing a “Top 10 brand” 10 months after it opened, and the tasting room often is packed, sometimes with lines out the door for the release of special brews.
“Dayton has been awesome in embracing us and craft beer,” Bowman said. “We put ourselves on the line for this business, and to see the city embrace us so quickly has been one of the greatest things of my career. You can really feel a vibe in the city. People are jazzed.”
FOLLOW THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
Dayton’s modern-day breweries and distilleries are building on another Dayton legacy: innovation.
Craft distillery Belle of Dayton is innovating when it comes to how micro-distilling is done. Co-owner Mike LaSelle ’04 and friend Mike Check ’04 are working to develop different maturing processes.
“This will be a huge innovation coming out of Dayton,” LaSelle said. “We’re looking at creating an advanced form of aging so you can emulate a 20-year-old whiskey in a short period of time with a real barrel-aged taste. This will allow us to experiment and not waste seven years.”
Indeed, the innovation that led to the opening of Belle of Dayton, in the Oregon District downtown, came from experimentation.
“I started making beer in the kitchen with my brother Murphy,” LaSelle said. “We were trying to make all these different kinds of beers, and one day we realized maybe we were making the wrong product. So we began to study distillation and spent three years taking classes in Kentucky and Chicago and studying the industry. We never knew where it would go. It was just a fun thing to do.
“We were talking one night and said, ‘If you won the lottery, what would you do?’ and we said we’d start a distillery. We like the mystique behind it. And we knew how to distill and had a business background,” said LaSelle, who also works at his family’s retail business and spent five years in Chicago after graduation working in commercial real estate.
Belle of Dayton is also a family business, with Mike, Murphy and brother Tim taking on different roles. The company artisan-distills small batches, 170 gallons at a time, using a small, copper-pot-still hybrid system that allows it to distill different products, including Belle Vodka; a 1775 colonial reserve rum made with Dayton-area molasses; Hell’s Vodka, a pepper-infused liquor; and a four-grain Ohio rye whiskey. The company’s name comes from an old whiskey bottle etched with “Belle of Dayton” unearthed downtown.
“Dayton has a rich history, and we’re bringing it back, one distillery and one brewery at a time,” LaSelle said. “There are only a few micro-distilleries in the United States, so we’re really on the cutting edge, which is cool because the Midwest doesn’t always see things first.”
The work is getting noticed: Belle of Dayton won a 2014 silver medal at the New York World Wine and Spirits competition and slowly is expanding its distribution to nearby markets.
“We’ve had overwhelming support,” LaSelle said. “This is the easiest sales job I’ve ever had. Making small batches of beer in your kitchen is one thing, but being able to make a spirit in a quantity you can share and take pride in — that’s really cool.”
Another example of innovation is distillery Buckeye Vodka, created by business owners impacted by the great recession. Several alumni are among them: Tom Rambasek ’75, Nancy Finke Rambasek ’76 and their daughter, K.C. Rambasek ’01, along with Nancy’s brother, Chris Finke ’82.
“Buckeye Vodka came at a time when the economy had tanked,” Nancy Rambasek said. “Two family-owned-and-operated small businesses, The Finke Co. and Crystal Water Co., saw sales fall drastically, and we knew we had to reinvent our businesses. It was a great risk in 2008 when we started throwing our ideas around, but we think it paid off when we launched our product in April 2011.”
That product combines the raw material of Crystal Water with the distribution power of the Finke Co. into Crystal Spirits, which produces Buckeye Vodka — packaged in red, white and blue bottles to honor the state of Ohio and United States — in a facility near downtown Dayton.
“The Crystal Water Co. was started by a priest, Father Hollenkamp, and his family in 1919,” Rambasek said. “Its key business initially was to supply distilled water to local beer manufacturers. With the onset of prohibition, Father Hollenkamp decided to diversify his business and went into the bottled water business.
“We have come full circle now, providing our steam-distilled water to Buckeye Vodka, which gives the vodka a smoother taste.”
CHEERS TO THAT, MY FRIEND
Neil Chabut ’11, owner and head brewer at Eudora Brewing Co. in Kettering, Ohio, knew he wanted his business to make a positive difference in the world.
“It was at UD where I got the idea to donate to a water charity,” he said. “I took an environmental social work class, and we learned about the global water crisis. I took that knowledge and worked it into my business plan. In brewing, you use a ton of water. It’s the main ingredient in beer, and you also use a lot of water when cleaning.”
Eudora donates a portion of its proceeds to the nonprofit organization “charity: water” — donating more than $3,600 to date, and the brewery opened in fall 2013.
Eudora also supports the community in its own backyard. It has a custom brewing setup where people can brew 5 to 10 gallons of beer with friends and family for weddings, birthdays and other special events (or for fun). They even can make their own bottle labels. Eudora customers have brewed more than 900 gallons of beer — the equivalent of more than 10,000 bottles.
“Craft beer and brewing are meant to be shared,” Chabut said. “We want people to learn about how to brew beer and its history. One pleasant surprise about having this business is we get so many regulars, it’s almost like a family. During our first anniversary celebration we had a band, and people in their 80s were dancing alongside those in their 20s. I thought, ‘Where else can you get so many different people together in one place interacting and having fun?’
“Dayton’s hip factor definitely shoots up with the breweries opening,” he added. “It also helps create a sense of community because we have each other. It’s not competitive; it’s collaborative. It’s fun to try all the different breweries. It brings people together.”
A number of Dayton’s breweries partner with each other and pay homage to local businesses and personalities. Toxic has offered brews named after other Oregon District businesses, such as fitness studio Practice Yoga and hair salon Derailed. Fifth Street Brewpub, in the historic neighborhood of St. Anne’s Hill about a 10-minute drive from UD’s campus, is Ohio’s first co-op brewpub. In January, it released the Saphire 1PA, named for longtime UD law professor Richard Saphire. According to the pub, the brew — like the professor — “makes a strong case and demands respect.”
Warped Wing collaborates with other Dayton businesses to create innovative brews. In November 2014, it worked with Esther Price Candies to produce a beer that sold out in three days. Collaborations with downtown businesses Press coffee shop/Wood Burl Coffee Roasters and the Century Bar, named a Top 50 bourbon bar in the United States, also led to some innovative beers.
“It was always part of our business plan to collaborate with other locally owned businesses,” Bowman said. “When you get two small businesses to work together to create a unique product, it’s very communal. The craft beer industry is very collaborative and promotes a community approach.
“We are reinvigorating Dayton pride,” he added. “We want to work with other businesses that are re-urbanizing downtown, the place where the first settlers to Dayton came from Cincinnati. We want to push local pride and get people excited about what Dayton offers.”
EAT YOUR DRINK
Chabut started brewing while an upperclass student at UD, making beer at his Kettering home with his brother and cousin. While living at ArtStreet, he and his roommates decided to focus on culinary arts for a required resident project — demonstrating how to brew a batch of beer. Indeed, craft beer and spirits increasingly are being folded into the local food movement.
“There are a lot of people who are used to the lighter beers and who come to Eudora not expecting to find something they like, but we almost always can find something they enjoy,” said Chabut, whose favorite Eudora brew, Bangarang IPA, placed in the Top 9 in the National Homebrew Competition. “One customer found a lighter beer he liked and now is starting to get into new, more robust beers. I think that’s because of the focus on quality over quantity.”
The growth in the craft beer industry also is attributed to consumers’ pickier palates and driven in part by consumer demand.
“Consumers today have shifted their values about food, and that includes beer,” Tanya Brock said. “They want food that is sourced locally. They demand to know who is making their food and what ingredients are in it. People want to know more, and they are knowledgeable about potentially harmful things going into processed food.”
Small breweries can be responsive to meet consumer demands, she added. And they can source locally: Some of the barley used at Carillon Brewing is grown on the historical farm at Carriage Hill MetroPark, and Brock uses local companies whenever possible.
“At a basic level, the same things that drove the growth in the industry in the 1850s are the same driving it now,” Brock said. “Then, it was to provide a safe, clean drink. Today, it’s to provide safe, clean food.
“And the industry is still bolstering community and providing jobs. It keeps dollars directly in this community.”
Some of the most notable figures in Dayton’s historical brewery scene were John and Michael Schiml, who opened Schiml Brewery in 1852 and first brought from Boston the yeast needed to brew a lager. How does Brock think they would react to today’s beer and spirit bustle?
“They’d be excited at seeing so many proprietors taking advantage of the market and making so many creative products,” she said. “I also think they’d be a little jealous — they’d want to join in.”
Kristen Wicker ’98 lives in downtown Dayton, where she enjoys walking to many of the city’s breweries and other attractions. She is the marketing manager for Five Rivers MetroParks.
A six-pack (plus one) of lessons learned
What Dayton’s most spirited entrepreneurs learned from UD — and what you can apply to your own venture.
Remember the Marianists.
“When I think back to UD, I think about the relationships, the community and the Marianist spirit,” Mike LaSelle ’04 of Belle of Dayton said. “What I learned about relationships and community is one of the most important things I took away.”
Call on your Flyer network.
“We have many friends and relatives who attended the University of Dayton, and they’ve been instrumental in supporting our venture and touting our brand,” said Nancy Rambasek ’76 of Buckeye Vodka.
Support and take pride in your community.
“With UD being a small private school, the students took a lot of pride in the Dayton area and Dayton community. I learned how critical it is to be active in the community,” Nick Bowman ’02 of Warped Wing said. “It’s that same Dayton pride and sense of community that helped shape the identity of Warped Wing.”
Put customers first. All customers.
“During your college life, you realize we’re all really the same,” said Neil Chabut ’11 of
Eudora Brewing, who as a first-year student lived on the international floor at Stuart Hall. “I’ve applied that to my customer service philosophy: Everybody who walks through the door will be appreciated.”
Don’t forget that classroom learning.
Shane Juhl ’04 of Toxic said he’s often asked how he went from being a materials engineer to “slinging grain.” “Half of brewing is chemistry, and half, with the equipment used, is engineering,” he said. “And being a researcher in general has helped with my understanding of the process of brewing beer.”
Accept that we can’t all win all the time.
“I’ve learned you can’t do everything,” LaSelle said. “You have to focus. Put people in charge of things and trust them to do the job.”
Follow your passion.
“I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunity to do this work,” Chabut said. “It combines my passion of brewing with my passion for people, giving back and doing good — and I have UD to thank for a lot of that.”
Breweries and distilleries in the Dayton area:
By making uncommon connections, we’re building a better way of learning.
As a sophomore, Nichole Henger ’14 was looking to add something different. She was majoring in environmental biology, the field in which she holds her bachelor’s degree. “I was working with blowflies,” she said. “But I was also interested in how people interacted with the environment.”
She learned of a relatively new minor called Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (SEE). “It sounded cool.”
“Cool” is an appropriate description of several of the University of Dayton’s curricular initiatives, the largest of which is the Common Academic Program (CAP), the University’s new undergraduate general education program.
“The spirit of CAP,” said Bob Brecha, coordinator of SEE and professor of physics, “is that it forces students — and faculty members — to wrestle with ideas from different perspectives.”
That can be as traditional as first-year students comparing Aquinas and Aristotle, as contemporary as looking at Bob Dylan’s lyrics through the lens of gender studies or as personal as a psych major taking an art course that makes him look at things differently — so his rap group can really make a difference.
Faculty members for years have been encouraging students to look at the world from different perspectives, but the scope of that approach throughout the new required curricula is extensive and the emphasis on it is clear and well thought-out. Nearly a decade ago, the Academic Senate — after numerous campus conversations — wrote and approved Habits of Inquiry and Reflection, a document analyzing the purposes of a Marianist education at UD and delineating specific outcomes. Since then the University of Dayton faculty has been working on the means of delivering those outcomes. The class of students entering in fall 2013 was the first to follow the CAP requirements.
“CAP makes more explicit what had been implicit — outcomes, connections between disciplines, pedagogy, ways of knowing,” said Juan Santamarina, chair of the history department and chair of the Common Academic Program Committee.
During the program’s development, administrators half-joked that they should change the name to “Uncommon” Academic Program for the way it integrates disciplines and Marianist-inspired learning outcomes in a way that is uniquely UD. The categories of outcomes for CAP include scholarship, faith traditions, diversity, community, practical wisdom, critical evaluation of our times and vocation. (See sidebar, right, for descriptions of each.) Some of the requirements sound familiar. The first-year Humanities Commons includes history, religious studies, philosophy and English. And then there are requirements in math, social science, arts and natural science. Less familiar may be requirements labeled “crossing boundaries” or “diversity and social justice.” Requirements for advanced study and a capstone indicate this is not a program to be seen as something to take and get out of the way. CAP is the way.
“Advanced courses build on the previous ones,” English professor R. Alan Kimbrough said of CAP. “It is a developmental model, consistent with the Marianist ideal of educating the whole person. It pays attention to diversity, social justice and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”
The outcome of “critical evaluation of our times” clearly has its roots in the admonition of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Society of Mary, to read the signs of the times. To help accomplish that, Kimbrough said, “CAP gets people to make connections among the things they are studying.”
Making connections runs throughout the SEE minor, most of whose courses fulfill CAP requirements, not only science, ethics and diversity but also advanced philosophy, advanced religious studies and advanced history. Students pursuing the SEE minor can even fulfill their CAP arts requirement by taking English 342, Literature and the Environment.
With CAP, students don’t wait until taking their advanced courses to make connections; they start making connections as soon as they begin classes in their first year. Helping them connect history, religion, philosophy and writing are learning-living communities in which students can interact in and out of the classroom. Some current learning-living communities are designed for specific majors such as teacher education, social science, and science and engineering (for women students in those two areas). Open to all majors are SEE, Building Communities for Social Justice, Business and Marianist Values, Writing and the Arts and Core: Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture.
Core is the grandparent of the other first-year communities; it dates back decades. For first-year students — and throughout its two-and-one-half year curriculum — Core stresses interdisciplinary connections as it analyzes human values in a pluralistic culture. Like all the learning-living communities, the first year of Core is what its director, history professor Bill Trollinger, terms “a CAP delivery system.” And all Core courses fulfill CAP requirements.
Labeled ASI 110-120, the first year of Core is highly integrated and innovative. Students who complete ASI 110 and ASI 120 receive credit for 100-level history, religious studies and philosophy. They also receive credit for English 200H (the 100-level course is waived) and advanced historical study — 15 hours, all told, toward their CAP requirements.
All first-year Core students gather each Tuesday and Thursday morning for a 75-minute lecture by one of the Core faculty members — all of whom are senior faculty and all of whom attend each lecture. The students in the afternoon split into seminar groups for an hour and 50 minutes.
Sophomore Lexi Miles, now helping in the program as a Core Fellow, said of her first year in Core, that the small seminar “allowed us to become very close as fellow academics but also as friends. The way students learn is fun and interesting. I remember one class in particular where we were learning about the Allegory of the Cave.”
When first-year students find it fun to break up into small groups to find ways to illustrate Plato, something interesting is happening.
In their sophomore year, Core students take three individual courses; in their junior year, an ethics capstone course.
Core was the model not only for many of the components of CAP but also for SEE, Brecha said. Core may not be the path for every student. But, CAP committee chair Santamarina said, “It is cool. It’s very cool.”
The approach of Core and subsequent curricular developments not only changes students but changes faculty members. Trollinger has experienced that change. “When I started teaching, I was rigorous,” he said. “I still am.”
But there is a difference. “Then I thought in terms of a bell curve,” he said, on fitting grades for each class into a standard distribution.
Now the emphasis is on student learning. If a student masters the material, Trollinger believes that earns an “A.” “Grade distribution hasn’t changed much,” he said, “but it’s a different way of teaching. If we would have educated citizens at the end of their college days who could and would learn on their own, I’d love that.”
While the requirements of history, religious studies, philosophy and English as well as those in math, social science, arts and natural science are traditional, those called “crossing boundaries” may sound new. But crossing boundaries, interdisciplinary studies, learning at the intersections — whatever it has been called — the concept has been at UD in the past, if not as explicit as it is now.
Crossing Boundaries–Inquiry requires students to take courses outside their division. These are courses, Santamarina explained, “that have been designed for the non-major with CAP outcomes in mind.” So students outside of the School of Business Administration might satisfy the requirement by taking Introduction to Entrepreneurship.
Crossing boundaries is also how Bob Dylan makes it into academia.
English professor John McCombe studied British literature in grad school. He teaches a survey course on it at UD. But he also teaches a class on Bob Dylan.
“I was crossing boundaries before I knew the term,” he said.
The English department for half a century has had a course in the catalog called English 380: Topics in Literature. And McCombe likes Bob Dylan. “I’ve read every book on him,” McCombe said. “Many of them are by academics — in literature, theology, communications, gender studies — so I thought a course on academic writing on his work would work.”
Then along came CAP with its emphasis on learning how to see something from the perspectives of several disciplines. “Born a Jew, Dylan converted to Christianity in the late 1970s, moving from being a counter-cultural icon to fundamentalism. And his early songs have numerous biblical references. So religious studies scholars were interested in him,” McCombe said. “Dylan’s connection to the civil rights movement of the 1960s interests social scientists. Songs with misogynist lyrics interest those in gender studies. In English, he’s not technically a poet, but his lyrics have meaning to people in the same way that poetry does.”
The approach works for other performers, too. “In 1964, the Ed Sullivan Show on which the Beatles appeared had 74 million viewers. The phenomenon interests scholars in communications, sociology, cultural history,”
McCombe said. “And people realizing that they could make big money selling music to young people sparked the interest of business scholars.”
Like the new class on Dylan, a SEE course in sustainability research also fulfills the Crossing Boundaries–Integrative requirement. Doing the research, working with a group, preparing a presentation — “It’s like a minor thesis. It gets you ready for graduate school,” said Henger, who is now in Syracuse, New York, in the Forestry and Natural Resource Management Program at the State
University of New York College of Environmental Science.
Electronic waste was the subject of Henger’s UD research group. “Everybody has
a phone,” she said. “What happens when you’re done with it?”
They found out. And it wasn’t pretty: Third World children sorting out electronic waste in toxic dumps. So, Henger said, “we tried to change behavior.” For Sustainability Week, they educated others on the hazards of electronic waste and publicized the electronic waste bins on campus.
Nearing the end of her first year of graduate school, Henger is thinking of what her master’s thesis might be. She also is thinking of the future beyond that. Her program is normally two years, but she’s looking at combining her science degree with a master’s in public administration. By connecting disciplines and looking at the world from different perspectives while at UD, she said, “I realized the role politics played in dealing with the environment. It was often more than research.”
A Dayton education gets one ready for more than grad school.
Thomas M. Columbus has been writing about UD and curriculum since before the students now enrolled in the Common Academic Program were born. In his youth, he was educated with a little Latin and less Greek and a lot of English (with substantial doses of history, philosophy and theology). If he were starting now as a UD student, he thinks he’d choose Core.
Values and skills necessary for learning, living, and working in communities of support and challenge.
Intellectually informed, appreciative and critical understanding of the cultures, histories, times and places of multiple others, as marked by class, race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and other manifestations of difference.
Ability to engage in intellectually informed, appreciative and critical inquiry regarding major faith traditions.
Advanced habits of academic inquiry and creativity through the production of a body of artistic, scholarly or community-based work intended for public presentation and defense.
Addressing real human problems and deep human needs.
Articulate reflectively the purposes of their life and proposed work through the language of vocation.
CRITICAL EVALUATION OF OUR TIMES
Habits of inquiry and reflection, informed by familiarity with Catholic Social Teaching.
By the numbers
Components to CAP (first-year humanities, second-year writing, oral communication, mathematics, social sciences, arts, natural science, crossing boundaries, capstone, advanced religious studies, advanced philosophy, advanced history, and diversity and social justice)
Learning outcomes for CAP (scholarship, faith traditions, diversity, community, practical wisdom, critical evaluation of
our times, vocation)
Subjects in the first-year humanities component (religious studies, philosophy, history, writing)
Courses in the crossing boundaries component (faith traditions, practical ethical action, inquiry and integrative)
Courses in the natural science component
Capstone, a course or experience in the student’s major
Read more about CAP requirements HERE.
Is this art?
James McLean ’16 took the course Drawing Through Process because he needed an art class, something required both under CAP and the general education system preceding it.
He didn’t expect what he got.
“I thought the class would be about learning how to plot out, outline and shade basic sketches,” he said. But in the first class, professor Jeffrey Jones disabused him of that idea. Jones took out a dictionary and read definitions of the word “draw.” There were more than a dozen. “Most had nothing to do with art,” McLean said. “Draw a bath. Draw a conclusion. Draw somebody in.”
Jones also took a big piece of paper, McLean recalled, put it on the floor, dragged a stool across it, leaving marks, then asked the class, “Is this art?”
The class was mostly art majors; McLean at first thought they had an advantage. Assignments for the class were called problems. “For the first, which was supposed to make us feel uncomfortable,” McLean said, “we were told to trace something in the CPC [now Fitz Hall]. I asked, ‘Should we take a piece of paper and trace over something in the building?’ Mr. Jeff just shrugged.” (Jones asked the class to call him “Jeff.” Since McLean was somewhat uneasy with that familiarity, he settled on “Mr. Jeff.”)
McLean walked the building’s hallways, looking for something. After a while, he looked up and saw pipes in the ceiling. “I realized,” he said, “I could ‘trace’ the water lines back to their source.” He put pen to paper and kept looking up as the pen made its marks. He did so for about a dozen trips.
“I wondered if I needed to add anything else to my rough idea,” he said.
As time for the presentation approached, the art students polished their projects. And their presentations were, McLean said, “of cool ideas. My turn came. I was intimidated, knowing the talent of the others. I took out my 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper and tacked it up. People squeezed forward to look at it. I explained I was uncomfortable by letting my core solution of the problem stand by itself instead of trying to embellish it to make it look like an art student made it.”
Mr. Jeff applauded the solution to the problem, a solution that lay in the process not the product, and pointed out, McLean said, “I had an advantage over the other students, since I was not trained to see the finished product.”
McLean used his advantage as the term progressed; the art students learned from his perspective; and he, from theirs, deeply impressed with their skill and techniques. “This was more of a thinking class,” he said, “than a typical art class. Anyone from any major could do well if they were willing to use their talents to think outside the box.”
“My talent is in music,” McLean said. “That’s how I can help people. Mr. Jeff showed us that everybody is trying to come in the front door, so we should try the back door.”
The back door for his group, Black Epoch (see blackepoch.com), McLean said, “is combining inspiring and positive messages over powerful and energetic instrumentals. It is a different breed of rap music.” The approach also involves working with people who come with a different perspective; Black Epoch has performed and recorded with the student band The Leap Years, whose sound, McLean said, is like Maroon 5 mixed with Mumford and Sons.
Academically, McLean, a psychology major, is currently team leader on a student research group conducting experiments about change blindness. A classic experiment in that field has people watch a video of people tossing an object back and forth. They are told to pay attention to the tosses. When asked afterward about what they saw, many do not remember that, running around in the video, was a man in a gorilla suit.
McLean will be among the UD graduates who will not miss noticing the guys in the gorilla suits.
Pete Ogonek ’16 is paddling toward Rio. Catch him if you can.
C’est en faisant n’importe quoi qu’on devient n’importe qui.
“It is by doing anything that we become anyone.”
Pete Ogonek has this famous French prankster’s words tattooed on his inner right bicep. He’s a civil engineering major, a rower with only four years’ experience; and he’s training alongside veterans of 15 years or more. And while, like Gaillard, Ogonek loves a good joke, this is no joke — Ogonek won’t stop training until he’s passing the top athletes in the world.
By rowing like an Olympian, he could become an Olympian.
Growing up, Ogonek had other aspirations. When he was young, he was half of his family’s two-man fix-it team with his dad in Cleveland. He was an athlete at Westlake High School and mowed grass to earn money — one of many jobs. He thrived on the challenges of track, cross-country, remodeling a bathroom and taming lawns. College came with a desire for something new, and with some coaxing from his Stuart Hall resident assistant and rower Nick Ritter ’15, Ogonek ran (or rowed) with the opportunity.
“There is something beautiful about a boat, be it two, four or eight rowers, moving in unison,” he said, “the quick splash at the catch, creak of the oars swinging through, and the resounding thud as all oars come through and release the boat,
letting it glide underneath your seat, moving gracefully up to the next stroke.”
He remembers himself as the gangly freshman, a former runner trying out the rowing machine for the first time in 2011. He and several other rookies received their first 20-minute crash course at UD’s Outdoor Engagement Center, awkwardly pushing and pulling on the foreign contraptions. After just two weeks, they were on the river.
“We rowed in unison — well, you could barely call it unison — but we were doing it,” he laughed. “I could tell how much the sport depended on everyone’s coordination. The biggest challenge was getting the team aspect of it. Cross-country and track were more individual efforts, but in rowing, you’re only as strong as your weakest member.”
Although Ogonek didn’t have the ideal body type and had not picked up an oar before 2011, he’s now a senior, with strong back and quad muscles, his body further defined by tattoos adorning his arms and torso. However, he said physicality only plays a small part. It’s more about dedication. All he needed was a way to apply it.
He picked up the technicalities quickly, using his legs to propel the boat and using his back and arms to continue the momentum. “You learn the first 90 percent of rowing in the first three months and the rest of your life learning the last 10 percent,” he said.
Ogonek’s 90 percent was monumental.
Freshman year, he broke UD’s novice record for the 2k distance with a time of 6:39.
Sophomore year, he placed in the top three lightweight records for the 2k with a time of 6:28 and the 6k with a time of 21:07.
At Dayton, Ogonek’s 90 percent beat the odds.
Dayton is no Ivy League rowing powerhouse — no top-of-the-line facilities and cutting-edge boats. Students aren’t offered scholarships and don’t always commit to the club team for four years. While some elite rowers spent their college practices in indoor rowing tanks that simulate rowing on the water, Ogonek used a rowing machine outside under a tent. However, UD head club coach Marty Carrabine said Ogonek earned his resilience during 9 p.m. practices rowing on the river in the dark.
“There was a lot to overcome at Dayton, so whatever you could throw at him now is going to look mild,” Carrabine said. “If you want him to row in the rain or in the pitch black, it will be a walk in the park. He didn’t have the best [equipment or facilities] he could’ve had, but true athletes will shine no matter where they come from.”
Dayton gave Ogonek the opportunity to shine. It gave him the challenge he was looking for. When he bought a single boat after his sophomore year and began training individually on the river, Carrabine knew it wouldn’t be long before Ogonek advanced.
“Pete was internally motivated and driven to get better — the sport was more of his obsession,” Carrabine said. “We wish he would’ve stayed, but there was no surprise.”
Junior year, he broke the lightweight record, 6:18 in the 2k and 20:30 in the 6k.
Ogonek continued to perfect his 10 percent during his individual training, increasing in speed and fitness in preparation for the next level.
In February 2014, he was amassing on his desk applications for elite summer rowing clubs. He gained acceptance to Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia and a few months of training in its program. The summer served as a trial period, where coaches judged his abilities and decided whether to extend an invitation to join their club.
Vesper said yes, and the opportunity to focus on rowing also provided him an opportunity to focus on engineering. Knowing he’d be training in Philadelphia for a year, he secured a one-year internship with Langan, a civil engineering firm.
The move to Philadelphia put him in good rowing company.
Established in 1865 along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Vesper Boat Club was named the 2014 USRowing Club of the Year among 1,200 eligible organizations across the country. Vesper produced Olympic and national team coach Allen Rosenberg; it’s the only U.S. club with three Olympics rowing regatta gold medals for the eight-oared shell (1900, 1904, 1964); and two of its members medaled in the 2014 World Championships.
Vesper is a three-story house with three steeply pitched roofs over three garage doors that open onto the river. The history and prestige of the building itself helped draw Ogonek in.
For example, the first sight through the front door is a banner from an early 1900s World’s Fair, where Vesper earned a championship with its eight-man boat.
The first floor houses “the glorified garage” where Ogonek pulls out his boat for the day. He admires accomplishments from years past in the second-floor trophy room next to the kitchen. He changes clothes and prepares for practice in the third-floor locker rooms. Vesper is a “welcome home” to all lovers of the sport, not just for the elite. It’s for children taking lessons, for community members getting some exercise, and for older rowers — the masters. This is Ogonek’s home for at least four hours per day.
Mornings are for long-distance exercises when Ogonek covers anywhere from 15 to 25 kilometers in a single session. Evenings are for lifting, cross training and focusing on technique, which could mean another 15 to 20 kilometers of rowing, totaling a potential distance of more than
25 miles a day. If the river isn’t iced over, Ogonek rows on the water year round — he actually prefers it that way. As an Ohio native, he’s rarely fazed by the cold.
At Vesper, Ogonek learns from coaches who have been where he wants to be. John Parker was a 1992 Olympian in the final eight-man boat competition in Barcelona, Spain. He advises each rower with a general plan that can be adjusted to increase strides and push aerobic and anaerobic capacities, as well as ensure proper recovery. Former Marist College coach Sean Clarke provides individual feedback and pointers while riding alongside Ogonek and the other rowers, advising on technique and how the boat should feel to them.
The coaches test rowers for physical fitness, ergonomics and physicality. Ogonek has already surpassed the standard, and Clarke credits Ogonek’s success thus far to his power, endurance and inquisitive nature.
“He is very talented physically, which is what most rowers need,” he said. “But sometimes it’s more technical, and we’re working on that — he’s not too proud to ask questions.”
Ogonek sees the coach-athlete relationship in approaching a problem as a gradual process. When he senses something unusual in his form or technique, he first has to identify the problem. He will go to Clarke for assistance, and they work through the problem together to find a solution. Ogonek will then implement the solution until he can display the proper form without thinking.
Said Clarke, “He’s always looking for the next edge, and he’s patient enough to find it.”
Perhaps Ogonek’s edge is connected to his day job. In the eight hours between practices, Ogonek works for his internship at Langan as part of a team focused on stormwater drainage, traffic flow around proposed construction sites and cleaning up old industrial sites.
“I bring the engineering aspect into rowing,” he said. “It affects my thought process in considering how to make each part of my training the most beneficial for my body and get the most out of it that I can.”
Each time he gets in the boat or on the rowing machine, he begins with a drill that segments each part of the stroke and progresses into the complete form. He starts pushing with his legs, arms extended, and continues into a fluid stroke. From there, he applies more and more pressure as he assesses the balance and feeling of the water, adjusting his form to achieve maximum efficiency.
When rowing indoors, Ogonek observes his power curve on a screen that displays the amount of force he’s applied over time. The goal: to get the biggest space under your curve, meaning a farther distance per stroke. Ogonek said this isn’t achieved by applying more pressure but by adjusting technique to move the farthest distance using the least amount of effort. When rowing outdoors, he can observe the whirlpools made by his oars in the water as he strokes. The larger the space between the whirlpools, the more distance he’s gaining per stroke.
JP Kirkegaard, Ogonek’s teammate and close friend from Vesper, said Ogonek mentally goes above and beyond his training and pushes others to be their best, too.
“Pete likes to study the sport a little bit — he’s not just given the training plan and taking it at face value. Not every athlete does that,” he said. And as a rower in the lightweight class and one of the newer rowers at Vesper, Kirkegaard said of Ogonek, “Pete has no problem going toe to toe with guys who have been here for a while and nipping at their heels.”
In the Olympics, rowers can compete in single, double, quadruple or eight-man boats. Ogonek has experience rowing in each boat, though he has spent most of his recent training in singles and doubles.
A single boat is delicate and solitary, while a double boat requires cooperation. Although he and his doubles partner may row differently, they essentially must become the same person in the boat.
“Something striking about the elite level is that nothing should stand out in good rowing,” Ogonek said. “You link every part of your body with very smooth, continuous motions. Most people are composed once they get to this level, but you can’t see how much they’re pushing their bodies to the very end.
“The toughest part is the mental and physical stress we all encounter each day. We all have long-term goals we’re getting to on a day-to-day basis. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming, and sometimes it’s just minute by minute that you’re able to push through.”
Minute by minute — that’s how Ogonek approaches his training and his day-to-day schedule to keep him on track. He’s focused on adapting to the training level and continuously improving his 10 percent to be properly prepared for this time next year. The hope is that in 12 months, Ogonek will be sitting on the horizon of Olympic trials for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“There’s been such a transition from where I was to now, but the transition to where I need to be is still huge,” he said. “There’s a learning curve to that kind of racing. You need mental toughness and more experience in racing. It’s an ongoing thing. I plan to take it as it comes.”
Olympic trials are nothing to take lightly. Ogonek hopes to earn a spot in the four-person boat through identification camps or a camp in Oklahoma City. He may have the chance to visit Oklahoma City’s facilities for a few weeks to train while the coaches observe his performance. From there, the coaches choose who will represent the country in the Olympics.
“[Reaching the Olympics] would definitely be a humbling experience, racing against the fastest people in the world,” he said.
Clarke will provide the proper direction, but he emphasized that Ogonek’s success depends on him alone. Even though a common challenge and a big risk for young rowers is putting their college and professional careers on hold, pursuing a sport without pay, traveling and paying out of their own pockets, Clarke said the experience is life changing, and he’s never found someone who’s regretted the move to the elite level.
“Pete is here on his own accord; he’s here to make the national team, and I’m here to help,” he said. “He knows I don’t worry about things like discipline, he doesn’t have to worry about making me angry or letting me down. … He only has himself to let down. We’re just very focused on getting him faster and reaching the goals he wants to achieve. As long as he keeps his focus, he’s going to be fine.”
This prospective Olympian has been four years in the making, and while Olympic trials are in sight, Ogonek will soon return to where it all began. After he completes his internship, he plans to move back to campus for his final two semesters and resume individual training. He will possibly train with Dayton’s team again, in the family atmosphere that gave birth to his ambitions, in the dark, on the river — rowing, learning and growing.
Good luck, Pete, your UD family is rooting for you.
Erin Callahan ’15 is a senior journalism major. She writes, “Though I normally stick to land sports, Pete’s story was incredibly inspiring. You can bet I’ll be looking for his boat in Rio next summer.”
Over and over time
The 24 hours of Pete Ogonek
4:50 Wake up, take heart rate and determine recovery score from the night’s sleep.
5 Pack for the day — afternoon practice clothes, business casual work clothes, and breakfast, lunch and snacks.
5:30 Have a cup of coffee, take supplements with fruit and water, leave for practice.
5:50 Arrive at boathouse, stretch, review practice drills.
6 Practice and post-practice stretching. Anywhere from 15 to 25 kilometers of rowing.
8:20 Shower, get dressed, bike to work.
8:30 Arrive at work, eat a real breakfast, start the workday.
5:15 Return to the boathouse for evening practice. Change, stretch and prepare.
5:30 Practice — either a lift and cross training or a long “steady-state recovery” row. Work on technique and get low-intensity distances in. Anywhere from 15 to 20 kilometers of rowing.
7:45 Arrive home. Shower, cook and eat dinner.
8 Log workouts for the day — how I was feeling, what I worked on, today’s speed.
8:10 Prep for the next day. Cook lunch, get work clothes ready, do dishes.
9 Free time. Read a book, do technique research, listen to music, stretch more if needed.
10ish Bedtime — I need at least 7 hours of sleep to function.
Rowing and your muscles
Arms are straight; head is neutral; shoulders are level and not hunched.
Upper body is leaning forward from the hips with the shoulders in front of the hips. Shins are vertical or as close to vertical as is comfortable. Shins should not move beyond perpendicular.
Heels may lift as needed.
Start the drive by pressing with the legs, then swing the back through the vertical position before finally adding the arm pull. Hands move in a straight line to and from the flywheel. Shoulders remain low and relaxed.
Upper body is leaning back slightly, using good support from the core muscles. Legs are extended and handle is held lightly below ribs. Shoulders should be low with wrists and grip relaxed. Wrists should be flat.
Arms extend until they straighten before leaning from the hips toward the flywheel. Once hands have cleared the knees, allow knees to bend and gradually slide the seat forward on the monorail. Return to the catch position with shoulders relaxed and shins vertical.
Pachoko, pachoko (little by little): Locals use the phrase to describe the pace of life along Lake Malawi, Africa — how what needs to be done, will be done. UD students are using this measured approach to human rights, collaborating with the people to find hope while testing the waters for a UD human rights research base.
“Your life is over.”
A tired grandmother with a crooked back told her orphaned granddaughter to give up — at age 14.
Little Alinafe Kachenje, who after school foraged in the forest to feed her hungry siblings, had received top honors in her class. But Grandmother could not afford the fees for secondary school. The girl, she said, must marry.
Kachenje refused. “I asked one of my teachers, ‘Where can I find hope?’”
Hope is hard to come by in her village of Sangilo, Malawi, in southern Africa, which is one reason University of Dayton students are going there to learn about human rights. Among the world’s least developed and most densely populated countries, Malawi has many children like Kachenje: orphaned by AIDS, malnourished, without access to clean water, and forced from school into work or marriage to survive.
In decades past, the way to “solve” the problem would have been for international organizations to swoop in and hand out money, dig wells and build roads — if a village was so lucky. Change could be temporary and was often based on the donor’s wishes, not the people’s desires.
UD is doing it differently. In the summer of 2014, five students continued the University’s work within a new framework for human rights: collaborate with the residents to define goals based on strengths and needs, then develop and implement plans using local and donor resources to improve the quality of life. It’s a way of applying the Marianist model of working in community to learning in human rights, politics, economics, education, engineering and more. Their results will not only make a difference in Sangilo; they will influence the way human rights work is done, with UD students and faculty at the forefront of finding hope.
* * *
Five UD students look out of their home-fired brick rooms and onto one of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lakes: Lake Malawi. Every day they pull back mosquito nets and rise with the sun, greeted by the pinks and oranges that warm to bright blue skies as they scatter throughout the Karonga district in northern Malawi to talk with the people about what matters to them most: the education and safety of their children; access to clean water; how to survive the drought.
This was their life last summer as members of the second cohort of UD’s Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development. During the eight-week collaborative summer research experience, students of many majors conceive independent research projects from half a world away, travel to talk with the people of Malawi and then return to report on their findings.
This is not ecotourism or sightseeing, though they do see beautiful sights. It is not study abroad, but it is research abroad, where students see not a problem but a people.
“It drives my head, and it drives my heart, too,” said Meredith Pacenta, a senior political science and human rights major who researched the moral development of Malawian schoolchildren. “It’s about being open to what God has in store for me to learn.
“The point of the research is to change the conversations.”
These traits — dedication and adaptability — are what professors like Rick Ghere look for when choosing from among the applicants for this selective practicum. The University covers all expenses except medical precautions, a signal of the practicum’s importance to the University’s educational strategies. In return, the University expects students to share their research with the local communities and with others through conference presentations.
Before students leave for Malawi, Ghere conducts a semester of workshops — including talks with students from past cohorts — to help them refine their topic and prepare for life in another culture. He also shares with them his experience of visiting Malawi in 2013.
“Collecting data from the people across the street is hard — ‘this is who I am, this is why I am here,’” the political science professor told them. “It’s even tougher when you’re U.S. citizens and you’re showing up at their houses asking questions.”
The seeds for the practicum started in 2010 with a few students and their individual drives to explore human rights in a nation known for its kind people and extreme poverty. Through those experiences, said Jason Pierce, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “we learned how a place like Malawi provides a learning opportunity for students from across the University.”
So in summer 2013, the political science department initiated the practicum — open to students from any major — with a research base at Maji Zuwa, a social entrepreneurship lodge in Sangilo Village.
They picked Malawi and Maji Zuwa in part because of an alumnus who pledged his heart to the nation. Matt Maroon ’06 volunteered with the Marianists in Malawi for what was supposed to be a year, a temporary detour between undergraduate studies and law school. He found both a need and an opportunity, and one year has become nine and counting. He founded the Maji Zuwa lodge and the nongovernmental organization Determined to Develop. He also is the practicum’s site coordinator, providing direction, contacts and translators for the students.
Said Pierce, “He’s just a terrific illustration of the Marianist charism in action and a terrific mentor for our human rights students.”
It’s a lot to expect a young adult to live in a developing country, conduct research and influence local conversations about topics critical to life. But UD is providing the opportunity in part because students are demanding it, Pierce said. As UD’s human rights studies program has grown, students want hands-on experience, what in academic lingo is called experiential learning and intercultural competency.
The students translate it in different ways: holding close an AIDS orphan; watching a woman collect water from a contaminated well; listening to a boy whose father beats him if he does not fish at night.
Their research is both quantitative — such as counting and mapping wells — and qualitative, relying on the time and stories of local people to paint a picture of the community’s challenges and assets.
And it has the potential to turn into a University of Dayton sub-Saharan human rights research base where successive years of students can build on others’ research to effect real change. After only two cohorts, students can already point to projects on which their research is being applied.
* * *
Unless you work in human rights, you may not know of Malawi. It lies below the equator on the eastern portion of the continent, a long, landlocked country with a mostly rural population. It has a short wet season and a long dry season that is becoming longer and drier, a burden for a country that derives 90 percent of its gross domestic product from farming.
The former British protectorate is not rich in natural resources and therefore, Maroon said, did not receive infrastructure development like other African nations under colonial rule. Travel outside the capital and larger cities is difficult; it takes seven hours to drive 230 miles from the capital, Lilongwe, to Maji Zuwa at a cost of $10 a gallon for fuel.
Its challenges are many, including a high HIV infection rate resulting in more than 700,000 AIDS orphans, according to UNICEF. Nearly half of the country’s population is under age 14.
But if you do know one thing about Malawi, it might be the friendliness of its people. It is known as the “warm heart of Africa.”
“They not only accept you but even call you their own,” Pacenta said. “If I was visiting their school, I was part of the school for the day. Or at Maji Zuwa, I was part of Maji Zuwa. Those little boys [orphans living at the lodge] were my little brothers for eight weeks.”
That warmth is just one of the reasons why Malawi makes a good research base for UD.
Another is the Society of Mary.
The Marianists have been in Malawi since 1960 when they accepted an invitation from the local bishop, first opening Nkhata Bay Secondary School and then operating Chaminade Secondary School in Karonga. The brothers also founded Mzuzu Technical School to teach trades to children. In the early 1970s, Brother George Dury, S.M. ’30, started a reforestation initiative and oversaw the planting of a half million trees over three decades. Fifteen years ago, the Marianists founded MIRACLE, a model of vocational learning for AIDS orphans and microfinance for AIDS widows. That was where Maroon did his service.
Brother Thomas Njari, S.M., director of MIRACLE, said the Marianists are educating for intellect, morality and spirituality. He can see the impact of the brothers beyond his school. “Everywhere in the country, you are going to find our students,” he said.
Ghere said there are other reasons to choose Malawi as a research base. Its political system works, with democratic rule and peaceful transition of power among elected officials from throughout the nation’s three regions. Ethnic and religious groups — predominantly Christian with a significant Muslim population — get along. The climate is good during Dayton’s summer (Malawi’s winter), with temperatures in the low 80s.
It’s a nation that relies on others, with 36 percent of government revenue coming from donor support. With so many NGOs in the country, there are already a lot of college students boarding planes for Malawi. That includes UD students, who since 2011 have worked in Malawi through ETHOS to provide appropriate technology solutions to supply drinking water, energy, irrigation systems and more.
And there’s Maroon. “Students benefit from the capital Matt has earned over the years,” Ghere said. Maroon was on faculty at the local University of Livingstonia for four years, and he arranges for Malawian students to work with UD students as translators. He even knows the U.S. ambassador, whom he hosted for Thanksgiving along with 100 of the children whose schooling his NGO supports.
His connections get students interviews with everyone from schoolteachers to government officials. This summer, he connected junior Andrew Lightner with Victor Mwalwimba, the local government agriculture extension worker, who also provided translation. “I got one more interview every day than I had expected,” said Lightner, a political science major and economics minor. On the way to each interview, Mwalwimba offered background on cotton farming, livestock or the topic of the day. This allowed Lightner to jump right into the conversation. “That was a huge advantage for me,” he said. “Any of my successes really stem from that.”
Maroon has cultivated his relationship with UD, too, where students operate a chapter of Determined to Develop, educating their classmates about the country and organizing fundraising events. Last year they raised $10,000 to build a new school near Sangilo Village on land the local leaders gave to Maroon.
* * *
During his interviews with local people, Lightner didn’t want to talk about the weather.
In the States, it can be a euphemism for polite talk on an inconsequential topic. But for the farmers in Malawi, weather was the most important thing.
“Six months of prep work, and you think you know things,” said Lightner of the research he conducted before leaving for Malawi. “But you learn really quickly that you know nothing. I knew nothing.”
He read that currency devaluation had been devastating for the economy. He wanted to ask farmers about it to understand the local impact of macroeconomic policies. “They are in a five-year drought, with every year getting worse,” he said. “When I talked about 2012, when the currency was close to worthless, they only talked about the drought of 2012.”
He listened and adapted, and he switched his research to what was important to them: how to survive the economic stresses caused by drought.
Lightner talked with Jean, a local farm leader, next to a tree outside her home as a large pig snored nearby. She showed her visitors the compost system she teaches to other farmers, using leaves and manure to keep moisture in the parched soil.
From other farmers he learned that goats often give birth to twins twice a year. Farmers say they keep goats as insurance against a bad winter harvest. In practice, they are more likely to go hungry in winter and sell their goats in August to pay for their children’s schooling. “They are incentivizing investment in the future, but they then are suffering the negative effects of malnutrition,” he said.
Lightner, whose international travel experience previously extended only to Toronto, said the economic lessons in Malawi were also lessons about living in the United States. “You realize how much we don’t have to worry about,” he said. “You might say, ‘I don’t like Wall Street, I don’t like banks,’ until you can’t get a loan for less than 200 percent interest. … Instead of chasing loans, “We get to go out and worry about doing our job right or having a good family life.”
His change in research direction happened thanks to Maroon offering insight and resources and his fellow cohort members being open every day to discussing what they learned and what they didn’t know.
Pacenta also changed directions, pairing her interest in faith formation with exploring the moral and spiritual development of children. She visited 11 schools and asked the children if they believed in God. But why did they believe in God? To the teachers and headmasters, she’d ask what made one church-sponsored school different from another. Often, it was only the text of the morning prayer.
“My mentality wasn’t honed in on finding a problem,” she said. “It was really what’s going on, what’s happening here, what role is Christianity playing in the schools and what role is it playing in their community. Is that supporting the development of children and what are the morals and values that they have?”
Daniela Porcelli ’14 also interviewed students at schools, building on previous research on gender identity and asking whether violence plays a role in a girl’s decision to drop out of school. She described an interview with a 15-year-old who was hanging laundry outside her home, a baby fastened to her back with a green and gold patterned cloth. The girl had been accepted into secondary school, but her stepmother’s physical and verbal abuse and refusal to pay for school fees forced her to marry at 13.
“Two years later, with a baby and an unemployed husband, she wished she had endured the abuse for a while longer,” said Porcelli, who graduated in May with degrees in English and human rights. “I discovered forms of verbal, physical and sexual violence add to the discontinuation of school, while poverty is the overarching reason.”
When people are poor, they lack basic resources. International organizations can step in to help. Jason Hayes, a senior human rights major, saw evidence of that literally written all over northern Malawi. He mapped drinking water locations and saw the names of donors scratched in the concrete around wells and water boreholes. Too often, he found them broken and contaminated. Sometimes, communities were not provided training on how to maintain the pump. In others, they could not raise the funds to cover repairs.
“In order to do what’s really needed, what’s really necessary for the community, you need that information,” he said. “You need to know what the community needs, wants, is feasible, so research is incredibly important. … It’s an experience that’s not afforded to very many undergraduate students.”
He found that villages with active borehole committees were in better shape to repair their systems. The best-functioning system was one where an NGO built the water supply, then compelled citizens to pay a small amount each month into a community repair fund. This system, though, also took from the citizens self-determination and local autonomy, also human rights, Hayes noted.
* * *
Now back in the States, the most recent cohort is writing up its results. Most students will create a report and present it at a campus conference.
But it won’t just be paper sitting on a shelf.
Each student will also share the results back with the people who spent so much time with them, the farmers, teachers and officials who shared themselves and their struggles with these foreign students. It’s one way to address a common complaint in human rights, that the people affected never see the results of the studies in which they participate. It’s also a way for the people to take the findings and develop their
That’s what Maroon thinks will happen with the schools visited by Pacenta. The local Catholic bishop, Martin Mtumbuka, is interested in how her research could help inform changes in curriculum to distinguish a Catholic education from that of other schools. Pacenta hopes her research contributes in the spirit of a popular local phrase, pachoko pachoko, which in Chitumbuka means “little by little.”
During his research on child labor and night fishing, senior human rights major Jed Gerlach uncovered best practices from surrounding villages that could be used by local leaders to address their child health, safety and educational concerns.
Maroon has plans, too. Education research by Porcelli will help Maroon as he develops a new national high school that also serves local needs identified through research done by previous UD students. And this fall he developed a goat-based microfinance program for female-headed households. It’s an application of Lightner’s findings: livestock can help the women weather economic stresses, and the women will share the wealth by passing kid goats to other women.
And then there’s water. One of the officials Hayes interviewed was Titus Mtegha, CEO of Malawi’s Northern Region Water Board. He is implementing a $150 million foreign aid grant that will give tens of thousands of villagers the opportunity to have reliable, clean water at their homes for the first time. Maroon asked Mtegha why he chose the construction area to include Sangilo Village. His answer: “[Hayes is] here, Maroon is here, we’ve got our friends here, so why not?”
Clearly, Maroon sees benefit in the partnership between UD and Determined to Develop. And so does UD. It has already selected the students who will travel there in summer2 015. Pierce said that the program’s success will grow the possibilities, with plans to strengthen ties with additional Malawian universities and with NGOs that could employ UD students as researchers or use their findings to build development programs.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for the University and how the partnership with someone like Matt can facilitate learning in a deep, deep way,” Pierce said.
Ghere also sees possibilities for growth. Practicum students could partner with UD’s ETHOS engineers, as one practicum student did in 2013. Students could also spend more than eight weeks in Malawi. Ghere said more time would allow students to visit the capital and better understand the center of power for both the national government and NGOs.
In the meantime, Maroon is continuing to spread his message about what appropriate, collaborative development can accomplish. This fall, he brought to campus three of the children his organization sponsors. They stood before UD students and explained the realities of their lives and the power of human rights development.
Now age 18, Alinafe Kachenje is barely 5 feet tall with a determination that doubled her stature at the podium. “Where can I find hope?” The answer: Through organizations like Maroon’s, which paid for her schooling.
But human rights development — chitukuko (pronounced chee-tooku-ko) in the local vernacular — is more than handing out school fees. It’s the energy that students like those from UD bring to her community. It’s good to know other people care, she said. It’s another reason for hope. And their research helps create projects on which she can contribute. Kachenje is learning about the goat microfinance program, working with women to spread the wealth while awaiting results from the national exam that will determine if she can attend college.
And this hope? It’s all UD’s fault, Maroon said. The seed of servant-leadership was planted deep, and it flowered in Malawi. Referring to Maji Zuwa, he said, “It permeates our campus as well.”
“We’re able to give our UD students a really practical, hands-on research experience that is meant to complement that classroom experience,” he said. “It’s exciting because we’re doing a better job at it each year. As it started out, it was this experiment to see whether this could work. We’re at a point now where yes, it does. It has. It will.
“We get to start thinking about the bigger questions of how this can impact not just our small area but the greater northern region of Malawi, Malawi as a country, and Africa and the developing world as a whole.”
Michelle Tedford is editor of the University of Dayton Magazine.
Stories have long been told at UD, some to preserve history and others to simply scare the freshmen. We asked readers for their favorite rumors and sent our reporters out to dig deep — literally, with one student writer walking underneath campus — to uncover the answers for you.
River beneath campus: TRUTH
Humble, rounded ponds dot a landscape of rolling grass fields. They freeze in the winter for children to skate on; they thaw in the summer for children to swim in — including those children who once attended St. Mary’s School for Boys.
In an earlier time, this landscape composed the University of Dayton campus; bubbling springs fed a quiet stream running through campus, known as the Rubicon River. Now paved, developed and sodded, the remnants of the Rubicon River are buried below ground.
In the early 1920s, a section of the Rubicon was redirected into an underground pipe to develop the land that is now Baujan Field, and mischievous kids like current faculty member Bob Wolff ’58 used the pipes to sneak into football games.
Today, a manhole that rises from the ground between Marianist Hall and RecPlex descends into a 42 feet by 108 feet water storage vault directly beneath RecPlex. This land once existed as a wetland area fed by the Rubicon, where rain could re-enter the groundwater supply.
After the area was dug out and filled with clay in 2004, the massive vault was put in place to prepare the land for the development of the RecPlex and redirect the Rubicon River to the Great Miami River.
While it is no longer visible on campus above ground, Brother Don Geiger, S.M. ’55, professor emeritus of biology and a native Daytonian, has studied the ecology of the area and says that the transition of the Rubicon underground was more than just an aesthetic change. Just because the river is gone doesn’t mean the need for a river is gone.
—Caroline Glynn ’15
Hooch in the graveyard: MAYBE
Somewhere in the Marianist graveyard beside Marycrest may be buried a treasure trove of Prohibition-era contraband, brandished in old glass bottles.
In the 1920s and early ’30s, the only way to get consumable alcohol was through bootleggers and underground breweries, all the while praying you didn’t get caught.
Away from UD, the bootleggers would knock at the back screen door in the dead of night to deliver their product. Meanwhile on campus, anyone who managed to get ahold of liquor hid it from the Marianist brothers however they could.
Legend has it, that’s where the cemetery came in, says Barbara Macklin Faga ’64. “My uncle (Frank Macklin ’32) often told us how he buried several bottles of ‘hooch’ in the Marianist grave area,” Faga says. “I believe it. … All bottles are probably gone, disintegrated by now, but I wouldn’t be surprised (if he did).”
Michael Wicks, a School of Engineering Ohio Research Scholar and radar expert, says Macklin’s bottles could be found with ground-penetrating radar.
“It’s certainly possible,” Wicks says. “It’s a function of the condition of the materials … and where they’re buried.”
It’s easier to identify objects in dry ground, for example, than in damp or wet areas, he says.
“Radar has been used in graveyards for years, but mostly for calibration purposes,” Wicks says. “If you use a frequency equivalent to that your cell phone produces (1 GHz), you could actually find the bottles.”
From a historical perspective, the story of the bottles represents just a snapshot of America’s 13-year dry spell. The economic fallout of the 18th Amendment was widespread, but a lot of damage came at the local level.
In Dayton, the ban led to the closure of five breweries. Pre-prohibition advertisements in UD’s Exponent magazine promoted the “Superba Beer,” but by November 1920 those ads were for root beer, which no one saw need to hide.
—Mickey Shuey ’14
Body farm in the CPC: TALE
A room on the second floor of Fitz Hall — previously known as College Park Center — looks like it should belong in your favorite criminal drama. Bodies encased in cheesecloth line two long rows of tables while the smell of pungent chemicals — and flesh — wafts through the air. But Kimberly Ritterhoff, a lecturer for the health and sport science department, said there is no CSI happening in the former CPC.
“Body farms are associated more with forensic programs and are used to understand how body tissues break down in different conditions,” she said. The most famous body farm, where decomposition happens outdoors, is at the University of
On the other hand, UD’s anatomy lab helps health and sport science undergraduates and graduate students in physical therapy and physician assistant programs experience human anatomy. They learn about anatomical relationships, or the structure location relative to other structures in the body, and how the body can change due to disease or surgery, she said.
It is a rare opportunity for undergraduate students to work in an anatomy lab, giving UD students an advantage when they take dissection courses in graduate school, Ritterhoff said.
The course also allows students to get over the initial fear of dissection.
“I understand it can be alarming,” she said. “I leave the door open so people can come and go as they please. A lot of people linger in the hall, but by the end of it, they’re touching [the cadavers].”
Jacob Lubbe, a senior pre-physical therapy major, described his first experience in the lab as “amazing.”
“It was so interesting, how you keep a body preserved for so long and how you are able to differentiate between the structures of the human body,” he remarked.
—Sarah Devine ’14
Oil under the chapel: TALE
An April Fool’s edition of Flyer News from 1971 suggested there was a large dome of oil discovered underneath the Immaculate Conception Chapel’s altar during that era’s chapel renovations. However, as renovation construction continues this year, don’t expect similar rumors.
Allen McGrew, associate professor of geology, revealed that we have a far better chance of finding water (or maybe holy water?) than oil under the chapel. “I’m afraid it truly would take a miracle, or at least some very fervent prayers, to hit oil under UD’s chapel,” McGrew said.
To McGrew’s knowledge, there has never been a productive oil well drilled in Montgomery County. The most likely “oil play,” or prospective oil field, beneath UD would be in a layer known as the Point Pleasant-Utica interval, which is being drilled for oil and gas farther east. However, in western Ohio, its organic content is probably too low, and it was probably never buried deep enough to heat up to the temperatures necessary to form oil, McGrew said.
With the current chapel renovation, the University will be thinking of energy but in a different way. The renovations will rely largely on local materials, suppliers and talent to design and fabricate its stained glass windows, as well as other features such as energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems, according to Kurt Hoffmann, UD’s environmental sustainability manager.
The goal is for the chapel to achieve LEED certification upon completion.
—Natalie Kimmel ’13
Tunnels under campus: TRUTH
Just like Batman has his cave, UD has its own underground passages. Ours do not hide the Batmobile, and they do not provide a shortcut to class safe from the rain and snow. They do give us a view of the seldom-seen underground that keeps
campus humming and hissing.
The UD tunnels, first dug in 1898, were constructed to connect heat and electric lines to the earliest buildings on campus: St. Joseph Hall, St. Mary’s Hall and Immaculate Conception Chapel. As the campus grew over the years, so did the
On a tour of the UD underground, Jerry Duncan, assistant director of plumbing and steam systems facilities, pointed at a dark, clearly manmade arch channel of brick and dirt. “There’s the old tunnel,” Duncan said. “While it may be old, the
tunnel is still a working part of campus.”
It’s no place for visitors. Pipes are extremely hot, and the space is claustrophobically small. Duncan said it takes their knowledgeable staff to do the job safely and accurately.
By contrast, the new cement tunnels are well lit and resemble the inside of a power plant. Pipes and boilers are labeled with their corresponding buildings.
Duncan works to make the UD campus a safe and warm place for both employees and students. He described what each and every pipe leads to, the cycle the water goes through, and the six 400-horsepower boilers that require 24-hour watch.
Once the temperature drops below 55 degrees, the tunnels — new and old — provide heat and hot water to our classrooms so we can take off our coats and get comfortable after a cold walk to class. Keeping UD a safe and warm place — now that’s heroic.
—Caroline McCormack ’16
Haunted halls: POSSIBLY
Nestled between St. Joseph Hall and Immaculate Conception Chapel stands Liberty Hall, a seemingly harmless building that appears simple amongst the architecture surrounding it but has more popularity than the rest of UD combined. And that’s because it’s haunted.
“I haven’t seen a ghost, but back before the renovation, I heard a ghost when I was down in the Monk’s Inn by myself,” said Nick Cardilino ’89, who works with Campus Ministry in the building. Monk’s Inn was a basement coffeehouse before renovations in the 1990s.
Cardilino isn’t the only member of the Liberty Hall staff who feels the presence of someone from beyond the grave.
“When I was in graduate school at UD, I saw a foot and a pants leg out of the corner of my eye on the second floor, but I was the only one in the building,” said Mary Niebler ’98, who now works in Liberty Hall.
Ghosts also have been reported to make noise on the fourth floor of St. Joseph Hall and to give the air a supernatural chill in the attic of St. Mary’s Hall. The ghost in Liberty Hall, though, may be the most probable if you follow popular ghost-making legends.
A recent ghost-hunting guidebook states that the ghostly leg likely belongs to an elderly man who died in Liberty Hall when the building held the infirmary.
First known as “The Home,” Liberty Hall was built in 1866 to house faculty and novices, though it was soon used for other purposes including an infirmary. No medical records — including possible deaths of men wearing pants — have survived. Ghostly rumors, though, never die.
—Megan Garrison ’14
First electric lights: TALE
Lights have long shown from campus, thanks to Brother Ulrich Rappel, S.M., who graduated in 1902. But St. Mary’s Institute, that beacon of education on the hill overlooking Dayton, was not the first in the area to receive electric lighting.
According to a history written by Brother Louis Rose, S.M. ’23, the second chair of the electrical engineering department, the electric lamp was introduced in Dayton in 1882.
The Dayton City Council soon authorized the erection of six towers “to hold arc lights.” Those lights preceded electricity on campus, but there were many synergies between the rise of electric power and the training of electrical engineers at UD. For example, Dayton’s current electricity provider, Dayton Power and Light, was founded in 1911, coinciding with the founding of the electrical engineering department.
In 1898, the University opened the Powerhouse, which supplied electricity to buildings including Immaculate Conception Chapel in 1899. The electricity was direct current, as opposed to the alternating current that we plug into today. When it became necessary to supplement campus with power from the utility company, Rappel devised a daily switching regime: homemade DC during the day and imported AC at night, leaving many a forgetful student with a smoking radio come morning.
Rappel had been mesmerized by electricity at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. He brought a kinetic energy to every electrical assignment, whether as professor or resident electrician. Rappel recalled that he conducted “one of the first, if not the first” floodlighting jobs in the country Dec. 8, 1904, when he mounted an acetylene automobile headlight on a tripod and illuminated the dedication of the Immaculate Conception Statue. And while UD wasn’t the first with electricity, the campus did brighten its neighbors; Rappel mounted Cahill Projector lamps on high poles over the football stadium, lighting half of the South Park neighborhood on game nights.
Original Rudy M.I.A.: TALE
The origin story of Rudy Flyer is more colorful than the mascot’s basketball jersey.
Matt Lampke ’94 shared a rumor from his school days that claims Rudy Flyer was named after a missing student of the same first name. As he heard it, the student was one of UD athletics’ biggest fans; he disappeared one day and was never
found. The rumor continues that years later, an unidentified body was discovered in an old Theta Phi Alpha house crawl space.
Tale, indeed. The sorority says that there is no connection, and public safety has no record of a student named Rudy who went missing.
But UD’s mascot does have a colorful — and shape-shifting — past. A 1925 edition of the Daytonian shows UD’s mascot as a mule sporting a blue and red saddle blanket. A 1956 issue of Flyer News goes on to mention a few more attempts at nailing down a mascot, including “Floyd” the model airplane and “Pedro” the donkey.
Then, a barnstorming pilot inspired by the Wright brothers was born Dec. 3, 1980, during a basketball home game against San Francisco.
His name was a product of the UD community through a “Name That Mascot” contest in 1981, according to a January 1981 issue of Flyer News. An entry form was printed in the student paper for people to fill out and send to UD Arena. Out
of 311 entries, “Rudy” was the winner, and he continues to cheer Flyers on to victory.
—CC Hutten ’15
Royal misspelling: LIKELY
Chaminade. Kennedy. Bombeck. Kettering. Many places on UD’s campus are easily recognized for whom they are named. One particular name, however, has confused students for years: Who is Stewart Street named after?
Another spelling, “Stuart,” is well known because of the first-year residence hall and recreation field by the same name. The namesake, John Stuart, sold his family farm to the Marianists in 1850.
As the story goes, Stuart handed over the land in exchange for nothing more than a promise. The Marianists vowed to pay the $12,000 balance over 12 years and gave Stuart a medal of St. Joseph as a sign of good faith. On Stuart’s land, the brothers grew the school that became UD.
According to the local history room at the Dayton Metro Library, Stewart Street was named for the neighborhood that it ran through: Stewart Hill. Is there a connection between Stewart Hill and the Stuart family, or is it a coincidence?
The librarians believe that both names could refer to the same person, John Stuart, thanks to the royals across the pond.
The popular spelling of that surname was “Stewart” in the 14th century for the house of Robert II, king of Scotland. By the 16th century and Mary Queen of Scots, the royal name changed to the French spelling of “Stuart.” With the variation of spelling, it is plausible that both names refer to one family, yet it is unknown if the Stewart Hill neighborhood or Stewart Street were ever known by the alternative spelling of “Stuart.”
John Stuart put the University on the path to where it is today; now Stewart Street serves as a path to navigate to its campus. No matter how you spell it, both names have their rightful place in UD history.
—Tom Corcoran ’13
What do you want to know? Send your myths and rumors to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll search high and low for the answers.
Rumor has it … that only one of the rumors below is true. Can you guess which? See below for the answers.
1. Jon Gruden ’86, Super Bowl-winning head coach and current Monday Night Football commentator, came to UD on a tennis scholarship.
2. When a 1964 alumnus discovered his old house was to be torn down, he bought the property, had it taken apart piece by piece, and then reassembled it on his farm in Missouri.
3. The name of the title character in the TV series Monk was inspired by the Monk’s Inn — the old coffeehouse in the Liberty Hall basement — as the show’s head writer was a 1969 UD graduate.
4. For 20 years after the school was founded in 1850, the brothers bottled and sold wine from the property’s vineyards. One bottle is known to exist and is held in a private collection in Winnetka, Illinois.
5. The swashbuckling actor Tyrone Power — who swung through the air with a sword in hand as both Zorro and pirate Henry Morgan — was also a Flyer. He later appeared on a Hollywood set with the Flyer football team.
6. Before the University was officially named the University of Dayton in 1920, trustees considered naming the school Patterson University, after then-president of nearby NCR John H. Patterson, for all he did for UD.
7. When St. Mary’s Hall was built in 1870, it was only three stories high. Fourth and fifth stories were added 12 years later to accommodate a growing enrollment spurred by immigration from Europe.
1. False. He played Flyer football as the backup quarterback.
2. False. But wouldn’t that be cool?
3. False, and the paint peeling from the coffehouse’s stone walls would have given the fictional Monk fits.
4. False, though St. Mary’s School for Boys was a working farm, with orchards, pastureland and vegetable fields.
5. True. Read more on one of our famous students.
6. False. Actually, Patterson would have been right to name NCR for the Marianists, as the brothers bought Patterson family land to help finance the nascent cash register business.
7. False. When St. Mary’s was built, its five stories made it the tallest building in Dayton. Locals thought it was ridiculous, leading them to call it “Zehler’s Folly” after then-president Brother Maximin Zehler, S.M.
Death is the ultimate penalty, but are its days numbered? The irrevocable sentence: Reflections of a governor after deciding on numerous requests for clemency.
When I ran for governor in 1998, I did not give a lot of thought to the heavy responsibility I would be assuming for deciding on requests for clemency in death penalty cases. I suspect I was similar to other candidates for governor in this respect.
The first case came to me for decision just two months into my first term. It would be the first Ohio execution in 36 years. Ohio’s death penalty statute had twice been declared unconstitutional and had been reinstated in 1981. It took many years for cases to make their way through the court system to a final determination.
Wilford Berry was described as a “volunteer”; he stated he was ready to die for his crime and had waived his appeal rights. There was no apparent question about his guilt and no basis for granting clemency. That didn’t make the matter any easier. The lights of TV vans outside the governor’s residence in Columbus were shining through the windows of the room where I sat before a telephone that was connected to the prison in Lucasville. I had to be immediately available in the event the “volunteer” changed his mind and decided to pursue his rights of appeal. In that case the execution would be stayed.
Wilford Berry’s execution went forward as scheduled. And as I sat with two aides in the dining room of the residence that evening, it suddenly struck me: The State of Ohio had terminated the life of a human being; the executive branch carried out the death sentence, and I was the chief executive. It was pursuant to law and due process; it was obviously not murder, but I felt somehow complicit in a dire and irrevocable act.
During my two terms as governor, I decided on requests for clemency in 26 cases. Clemency might involve a pardon or commutation of the death sentence to a lesser one. Any governor will tell you that making these decisions is one of the hardest and loneliest parts of the job. I spent many hours poring over case records to make sure no error in law or fact had occurred that would justify clemency. Death is an irrevocable sentence; there is no going back. I was never really comfortable with this responsibility.
At the same time, I was aware that the people of Ohio, through their elected legislators, had enacted the death penalty statute. The death sentence could be imposed only for certain heinous crimes by a jury of citizens who first considered guilt or innocence and then, if a guilty verdict was rendered, weighed aggravating and mitigating factors. Appeals in such cases were interminable, moving through layers of state and federal courts, assuring a high level of scrutiny over what had happened at the trial court level.
Although there is properly a focus on the rights of the accused in death penalty cases, the horrible fates of the victims and their families must also be borne in mind. As I read the cases presented to me, I learned about disabled and helpless victims murdered senselessly and perpetrators such as Jeffrey Lundgren who executed five innocent people, including three children, in cult murders in northern Ohio.
I felt that clemency should be an extraordinary remedy, to be granted only when there is a clear question about the guilt of the accused or the unfairness of procedures followed by the legal system. I commuted a death sentence to life imprisonment in only one case and granted several reprieves in another case. In the case of Jerome Campbell, DNA evidence came to light after the trial which I concluded might have influenced how the jury viewed the case, resulting in a different verdict.
Considering the cases that came to me and developments after I left office in 2007, I believe the days of the death penalty may be numbered, in Ohio and across the country. The U.S. Constitution bars “cruel and unusual punishment.” In one of the last executions during my term in office, since the convicted person had been a drug user, it was extremely difficult to find a vein in which to insert the lethal injection. The execution took an agonizing 40 minutes. Federal courts have declared moratoriums on the death penalty in Ohio due to complications such as this one.
Questions have been raised about whether the death penalty can be administered consistently and without discrimination across Ohio’s 88 counties. Moreover, death penalty cases drag on through one appellate level after another, putting years, even decades, between the date of the crime and the date of punishment; the death sentence is certainly not swift punishment. The death penalty is very costly to administer; lengthy trial and appellate procedures put a burden on county and state governments to pay for lawyers, judges and jails.
Ohio prosecutors have been seeking the death penalty less frequently since the life-without-parole option was created by the legislature in 1996 as an alternative sentencing option. In 2013, Ohio prosecutors filed only nine death penalty cases, the fewest since capital punishment was reinstated in 1981; and in the last decade, death penalty cases are down by more than 40 percent compared to the previous decade. It may be time to ask the question whether the death penalty in Ohio is a “dead man walking.”
Bob Taft, a distinguished research associate at the University of Dayton, was governor of Ohio, 1999-2007.
Learn more about 2015 Rites. Rights. Writes. events.
Read about a Last Suppers exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute.
Malawi is a nation of two-thirds land and one-third lake. Lake Malawi is 360 miles long, 47 miles wide and, at 2,316 feet, one of the deepest in the world. Fishing is embedded in the culture. When I talked to children in northern Malawi, they told me they often start and end their days fishing with their families. After school, they fish by themselves or with friends. They spend the rest of their time swimming.
Families fish to feed themselves. Fathers teach their boys. Women traditionally do not participate in fishing. As I walked five days up the shore talking to local people, I found that the village of Tilivumbo had no such cultural reservations. As in this photo, the girls fished along with the boys. The most common fishing from the shore is with gill nets. Families put them in the water in the morning, anchoring them with rocks. In the afternoon, they return and pull them in together.
While fishing is a family activity, there is a problem with child labor in the fishing industry. Around age 10, boys begin to join the men in dugout canoes, paddling hours through the dark night on the deep lake. Their knees are bloodied by the rough canoe edges. Their hands are torn in the fishing nets. They are beaten with oars. They can drown. Boys who fish every night are often orphans who must support themselves and their families, or they are required to fish by their fathers.
Night fishing is done with tili lamps, fueled by paraffin. Around dark, an experienced fisherman called a sanginara paddles his canoe out into the deep, his lamp attracting usipa, a sardine-sized fish that swims in schools. Two more canoes will join him, with men and boys dragging a large net to capture the fish and haul them into the boat. They will fish until 6 a.m., when they return to shore to sell their catch to fellow villagers and sometimes the wider market.
During my eight weeks in Malawi, I relied on Frackson Mhango as a translator and an expert; as a child, he fished Lake Malawi. Mhango is now studying human rights at the University of Livingstonia, funded by Matt Maroon ’06 and Determined to Develop. We conducted research at 15 schools, interviewing headmasters, teachers and children. The boys told us how they’d go straight from fishing to school, often with no sleep and no food. Child labor has a major impact on their education. They fall asleep in class, or they decide that fishing — and making money, kwacha — is more important than education. Most boys need to fish to afford school fees, uniforms and books. Schools recognize the problem. Boys who go fishing instead of going to school may receive a whipping with a thin stick or be given school chores like cleaning out a latrine.
In Nkhata Bay, the Ripple Africa organization is working with village leaders to discourage fishing practices that harm children, such as fishing that interferes with school or “fish for sex,” where girls trade their bodies for food. When rules are broken, it is the adults who are punished, not the children. Getting villages to adopt such laws is part of Ripple Africa’s plan to encourage sustainable fishing communities. The organization told me it plans to share its model with villages outside of Nkhata Bay for wider impact.
Fishermen tell stories of large catches pulled in less than a decade ago. Today, they are lucky to bring in a full catch, or even any of the most prized large fish, chambo. Overfishing has many causes, including the effectiveness of tili lamps (men used to fish with bonfires on their wooden canoes). While child labor is bad, what is worse is that they are all training for a job that won’t be around by the time they are my age. There won’t be any fish, and they won’t have an education. I talked with local leaders, and they say these boys will likely grow to have only crime and despair.
Poverty is the root cause of child labor in the fishing industry. Night fishing is an epidemic that few are addressing, so I hope my research will help ignite conversation. I will present my research on campus at the Roesch Social Science Symposium and the Stander Symposium. I hope my research will be a resource for Malawian communities and Matt Maroon to better understand child labor in tili lamp fishing and to address the issue as a community. International organizations and NGOs working in Malawi will be able to use my work to conduct more research or build a project that addresses the issue.
Photojournalism as a career is a dream I have had since my freshman year. I began taking photographs when I studied abroad in Morocco in the fall of 2013, and I still have so much to learn. This year, I am a student photographer for the office that produces the University of Dayton Magazine. I am selling prints of my Malawi photos at etsy.com/shop/jedgerlachphoto to support the NGO Determined to Develop, and I hope to use photojournalism to tell the stories of people in situations in which their basic human rights are being abused.
Read more about UD students’ research in Malawi.
The inmate is not identified by name, but by food: Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The exhibit The Last Supper: 550 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates depicts the last suppers of death row inmates as painted on plates.
“We all have food in common,” said the artist, Julie Green, a professor at Oregon State University. “Working on The Last Supper provides time to meditate on final meals and our system of capital punishment.”
The exhibit is part of an examination of the death penalty through the interdisciplinary curriculum “Rites. Rights. Writes.”
A last meal request humanizes death row in a way that can stimulate thoughtful discussion, said Judith Huacuja, chair of the Department of Art and Design.
“This is an ironic moment because it pairs humanity with the fact that society kills people,” she said.
The exhibit, on display at the Dayton Art Institute Feb. 21 – April 12, is a partnership between UD and the institute.
Art major Kenzie Barron ’15 said the accessibility of the meals and the simplicity of their presentation can start conversations that go beyond the death penalty. The exhibit, she said, “makes us evaluate the way we as society value life in general.”
Learn more about 2015 Rites. Rights. Writes. events.
Read a commentary on the death penalty by former Gov. Bob Taft.
Art is an expression of our individual and collective conscience. So are the laws that we make. What happens when the two collide?
The lights go up, only enough to illuminate the scene of two teenagers parked near a secluded lake at night. Two shadows emerge from the dark corners of the stage and attack. Rape, murder, then a quick scene cut to nuns singing hymns with children. No more than 10 minutes have passed, and the audience sits in shock.
But, that’s the point.
Among those in the audience this February will be first-year students from the University of Dayton. They will travel to the Schuster Performing Arts Center in downtown Dayton to witness scenes of the opera Dead Man Walking. But this shock factor is part of something bigger; it fits into a curriculum to encourage students — as scholars, citizens and humans — to combine faith and reason, to analyze issues like the death penalty, make decisions about where they stand, and reflect on how those decisions affect them both now and in the future.
The opera follows Louisiana nun Sister Helen Prejean on her journey as a spiritual adviser to the convicted man as he prepares for the death penalty. She first recorded her experience in 1993 when she wrote the nonfiction book Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty.
In 2000, composer Jake Heggie adapted it for the stage with librettist Terrence McNally. The opera was inspired by the tough questions Prejean’s story poses to society, Heggie said: “Are we for vengeance or forgiveness? For hate or compassion? In today’s age, is our best response to killing still to kill in return?”
When the time came for Richard Chenoweth, Graul Chair in Arts and Languages, to choose a performance for UD’s “Rites. Rights. Writes.” series, he wanted a piece that would have a profound impact on students. The opera has had more than 40 international productions and has reached a broad audience, but Chenoweth said it is of special significance for UD students.
“We’re trying to create a yearly arts immersion experience for all of our students that not only communicates the importance of the arts in their lives, but also shows them how the arts communicate important social issues in ways they haven’t thought of,” he said.
These efforts have been implemented through the Common Academic Program, a learning experience that is shared in common among all undergraduate students. CAP introduces and cultivates different modes of learning and important topics across academic disciplines. One of the ways first-year students begin their interdisciplinary study is through the arts immersion experience.
Caroline Merithew, associate professor of history who coordinates first-year students’ humanities experiences, said Dead Man Walking introduces students to community, experiential learning and issues of social justice.
“This opera is based on something that is so much a part of our [human] condition,” she said.
The opera demonstrates different perspectives on capital punishment. It discusses the political aspect — the denial of pardon and the announcement of the death sentence. It challenges the meaning of humanity — mourning parents confronting those who speak on the murderer’s behalf. It explores Catholic teaching — forgiveness of sins.
Meanwhile, the question remains for the audience to consider: What’s right and what’s wrong?
For students, the exercise of critical-thinking skills about a controversial subject fosters the potential for deeper exploration of the CAP.
Merithew will participate in interdisciplinary collaboration about the subject matter explored by Dead Man Walking, including faculty development colloquia and seminars.
“The four departments involved in humanities — history, philosophy, religious studies and English — have been described as the front lines for teaching hard topics,” she said. “We can’t pick up a piece of great literature or talk about the history of humanity without talking about rape, violence, killing and injustice. If students experience these themes more viscerally [through the opera], it will stimulate different parts of their intellect.”
Several members of the music department faculty will perform in the opera at the Schuster Center. Minnita Daniel-Cox, assistant professor of voice playing the role of Sister Rose, a close companion to Prejean, said connecting with the
characters is the easy part. The challenge is deciding what to do with one’s own self-discovery. As a musician, she said she stretches herself for every role she performs.
“The role of Sister Rose is no different in that I am challenged to see a perspective that is different from my own and, as a result, I grow,” Daniel-Cox said. “Our life experiences can change us. This opera will change everyone involved from the audience to the performers.”
The opera is personally intimate, Heggie said, taking us to places that only get intensified with music. Characters offer emotional authenticity, he said, rather than a soapbox approach pushing a political agenda.
“Our goal was to tell the story honestly and without any preaching — to go with Sister Helen on her journey to that difficult place and to let people make up their own minds,” he said.
Chenoweth agreed the personal approach is sometimes the most effective; he can speak from personal experience.
Earlier this year, he attended Dead Man Walking at the Central City opera house in Colorado. He said he felt the music vividly portrayed each side of the question, and he found himself thinking, “This is the only way you can tell the story. It’s expressive, and wrenching.”
Chenoweth acknowledged it can be hard to find the truth. However, he said that’s what makes this particular opera so moving.
“It doesn’t make any conclusions,” he said. “It simply presents what happened, and leaves it for the audience to decide how they feel. I always hope for a clear understanding of the facts, the law, the ethics and the morality. I think that’s what we’re trying to do at the University, teach the whole person, teach people to be contemplative about these important events.”
In the weeks leading up to the opera performance, the UD community will have the opportunity to interact and learn from Heggie during his residency. Heggie will attend a convocation with music students and faculty to discuss the inspiration behind the music in Dead Man Walking. The following days will include a musical performance by Heggie and UD faculty, further discussion about the opera, and question and answer sessions. A selection of music students will also perform for Heggie and receive feedback during a master class.
“The opera is rife with possibilities for dialogue,” Heggie said. “Audiences at universities have always been so awake and eager for these opportunities. I have information and experience I can offer based on my music and people I’ve worked with, but I also look forward to learning from students. I coach, work and teach, but many times I learn more than anyone else in the room.”
Rites. Rights. Writes. Events
Open to the public. Free unless otherwise noted.
7 p.m. Feb. 26: UD Speaker Series presents Sister Helen Prejean
Film screenings and discussions, ArtStreet
5 p.m. Feb. 20: Dead Man Walking
3 p.m. Feb. 27: Mandela
7 p.m. March 14: Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians
7 p.m. March 20: Carandiru
Discussions, Sears Recital Hall
1 p.m. Jan 28, Wednesday at One Convocation with Jake Heggie
10 a.m. Jan. 30, with composer Jake Heggie
7 p.m. Feb. 4, roundtable on capital punishment
2 p.m. Feb. 9, school-to-prison pipeline
8 p.m. Jan. 29, Sears Recital Hall concert: An Evening with Jake Heggie and Selected Soloists. Purchase tickets: 937-229-2545.
Feb. 21 – April 12, Dayton Art Institute exhibit: The Last Supper. Admission. Call 937-223-4278.
Feb. 25, 27, March 1, Schuster Center: Dayton Opera presents Dead Man Walking. Purchase tickets: 937-228-3630.
For details, visit go.udayton.edu/rrw.
Read a commentary on the death penalty by former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft.
“You’re from Maji Zuwa?” the bike taxi driver asked as he picked up speed. He was about 17 and, although thin, he was all muscle and hardly broke a sweat as he pushed forward.
“I’m sorry?” I asked, distracted. I was attempting to keep my balance while sitting sidesaddle on the back of his bike. We were gliding dangerously near the edge of the paved road between the occasional car and a 10-foot drop into trees. “Oh, yes, I’m staying with Matt.” An 18-wheeler whizzed past. I gripped onto the metal seat, momentarily forgetting my skirt’s regulation length.
My companion smiled. “Ah, Maroony! He pays my school fees.”
Unexpected encounters with people who knew UD alumnus Matt Maroon ’06 were common during my two-month stay in Malawi. Four current UD students and I lived with Matt at his lodge as a part of the political science department’s Research Practicum on Rights and Development. The research projects we conducted focused on prominent local issues, some of which Matt is currently working to address with his nonprofit Determined to Develop.
Malawians are accustomed to foreign visitors. As one of the poorest countries in the world, they receive an influx of volunteers who flit in and out of the country to teach, research or administer aid. Ultimately, these visitors leave and much of their work remains unfinished. Not Matt. His decision to live in Malawi is altering an entire community. Matt has put a strong emphasis on working with the people to develop, as a result gaining respect and acceptance. As I conducted my research, people would discover my association with Matt. Their responses were identical to that of the bike taxi driver: “Maroony! He is a Malawian.”
There is something genuine about Malawians. Whatever they do, however they act, they do so with all their heart. I have seen them express gratitude toward Matt in a single handshake. On a visit to the secondary school Khwawa, the deputy head teacher took Matt’s hand in both of his and thanked him for a recent donation to the school. He then turned to the practicum, emphasizing we were “most welcome.”
On a rare occasion, the people of Matt’s community have thanked him in more elaborate ways. Maji Zuwa hosts a ceremony each year honoring traditional dances. I watched this past June as women moved and sang; I would occasionally hear “Maroony” within their chants. Matt remains humble — gracious for the community’s acceptance, but eager to continue his work.
Matt is full of joy, and he brings joy and encouragement wherever he goes. A large aspect of Determined to Develop is sending men and women to school. A few of these boys live with Matt. They have big dreams and work extremely hard, but occasionally they can be found sitting and laughing with Matt, talking or playing board games. He is their big brother as much as their mentor.
UD’s partnership with Matt adds to his current and future projects. Our research brings new information and ideas to further Determined to Develop’s work. It gives students an opportunity to practice what we learn in our human rights courses. The experience offers a valuable perspective and a unique opportunity to facilitate change in a loving community.
Read more about UD students’ human rights research in Malawi.