Standing by the large, arched window in his office on the second floor of St. Mary Hall, Dan Curran directed a visitor to look at a car parked on University Circle. It was an old, green Buick. Curran said that, when he came to work on Sundays, the car was always there, the only one until he arrived.
To the University of Dayton president, however, the car’s presence was no mystery. It was simply a sign that working in an office in St. Joseph Hall was Curran’s predecessor as president, Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M. ’64.
“He’s here every weekend,” said Curran of Fitz, now the Father Ferree Professor of Social Justice in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. “He’s a one-of-a-kind person.”
Observers of Fitz’s presidency, which ran from 1979 to 2002, and of his work since then paint a very consistent picture of the hard-working man. He is humble, spiritual, patient and cautious. But at the same time, he is ambitious, practical, stubborn and not averse to taking a well-planned risk.
The person at UD who has known Ray Fitz the longest is his brother, Father James Fitz, S.M. ’68, who serves as UD’s vice president for mission and rector. Jim, as a child, saw Ray taking on the characteristics of their parents, Raymond and Mary Louise Fitz, in their Akron, Ohio, home.
“Dad,” Jim Fitz said, “was strong on integrity. If you gave your word, you followed through. If you were doing a job, you gave your all.”
Flowing from that integrity was a sense of faithfulness, of loyalty. “If you have a problem at work,” said Jim Fitz, talking as much about his brother as his father, “you talk to the people with whom you have a problem. You don’t criticize them openly. Ray is loyal to the church, the Society of Mary, the University of Dayton. He is a good leader because people know he will follow through.”
Mary Louise Fitz brought a different, but complementary, set of contributions to her children.
“Mom had the heart of the family,” Jim Fitz said. “She never knew a stranger. None of the rest of the family was as extroverted as she was, but we learned to look at things with compassion.”
He points to that attribute living on with Ray in his commitment to families and children, especially the disadvantaged. “Ray has a real passion,” his brother said. “He personally feels for the poor and the marginalized.”
Through his father, Ray Fitz encountered another group of people — the Marianists — who would be major influences on his character and on what has been a lifelong passion, his commitment to families and children, to the poor. His father, a 1939 UD graduate, had been a chemical engineering major, a student of Brother William Wohlleben, S.M. ’04, the first American Marianist to earn a doctorate in science, whose contributions to the University — such as founding the chemistry and chemical engineering departments — were recognized in the naming of Wohlleben Hall. Fitz’s first visit to campus was with his father; Wohlleben used to come to Akron for professional presentations.
“I got to know him as someone my dad admired,” Fitz said. “I got to know Marianists who could form people as professionals.”
Fitz also read a UD pamphlet called “Making Leaders,” written for the centennial celebration of three events within a year of each other (the Marianists’ arrival in America on July 3, 1849; the death of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade on Jan. 22, 1850; and the founding of what would become the University of Dayton on March 19, 1850).
The pamphlet’s message about the University’s and the Marianists’ commitment to forming faith-filled leaders attracted Fitz. “And,” he said, “I was impressed with dad’s ability to lead in the parish, at work, in the community.”
After joining the order, Fitz said, “at UD, of the 45 Marianists I was with, I was the only one who was studying engineering; the others were in education, philosophy and theology. But between the conversations I had with others and our superiors saying I had to take the philosophy and theology, I gained a good liberal education.”
He also gained — substantially through the influence of Father William Ferree, S.M. ’28, a Marianist leader in Rome and the province — a strong sense of social justice.
Fitz’s graduate dissertation was on how to communicate with and control satellites. “It was pretty theoretical, mathematical,” he said. It immersed him in a systems approach to dealing with problems.
He began to see connections between social justice and viewing things as systems. As a faculty member at UD teaching electrical engineering, he said, “I was able to apply systems thinking to environmental and urban problems. The biggest thing I learned early on was that, when an engineer looks at something, the engineer is on the outside looking at how the parts of something fit together. The parts don’t have a say in that. Human systems transform themselves through conversations, not because of a grand external architect. So leadership includes how to get the right conversations going, how to guide them, how to get them to touch each other.”
Fitz’s systems approach to social issues while a faculty member influenced his work with the Kettering Foundation, with Catholic Relief Services and with the Marianists in reshaping the methods of religious formation.
Working with Fitz on religious formation was Brother Bernard Ploeger, S.M. ’71, who was later to serve as Fitz’s chief financial officer before becoming president of Chaminade University in Hawaii. Prior to Vatican II, Ploeger said, “formation was on a military model. The novitiate and scholasticate were like boot camp and basic training. It wasn’t working anymore.” Fitz led an effort to develop community-centered formation. That emphasis on community permeates his work.
Another characteristic of Fitz noted by Ploeger and others is that, Ploeger said, “For Ray, ideas really matter. The sense of mystery is not exhausted. His life is moved by big ideas.”
Fitz’s emphasis on social systems and big ideas turned out to be very, very good for the University of Dayton. As Father Raymond A. Roesch, S.M. ’36, was concluding the second decade of his presidency, the University was looking for a new leader. Five Marianists were candidates. Four of the five candidates had “large résumés,” according to Gerry VonderBrink ’66, chief financial officer at the time. The fifth was Fitz.
“But,” VonderBrink, a member of the search committee, said, “those who knew him recommended him strongly.”
One recommendation came from a School of Education assistant professor, later to be provost, John Geiger. In the summer of 1971, Fitz and Geiger were teaching classes in adjacent classrooms. “We realized,” Geiger said, “we were both talking about values.” So they talked much to each other about morality and ethics in the professions.
When Geiger saw that Fitz was a candidate for president, his reaction was like many: “My God, he’s young.” Fitz, 37 when he began his presidency, may have carried the label “young president” even longer than Curran, who is at the end of his first decade at UD, carried that of “new president.” But Fitz was indeed the youngest president in the history of the University, and Curran did succeed men who stayed in the office for decades.
With only three presidents in more than half a century, the University has benefited from continuity of leadership. And with the varying attributes of each, the University benefited from skills that matched the challenges of the times. Roesch calmly guided UD through the turbulent 1960s and ’70s with their economic uncertainty and fluctuating enrollments. From 1979 to 2002, Fitz would guide the University through growth to strength and national recognition. Roesch, Geiger recalled, had a “commanding presence. He’d hear sides. Then he’d make decisions and move on.”
Fitz’s skills lie in the process. “It takes a special person to develop processes,” Curran said.
Fitz has a special ability — expressed in a phrase permanently attached to people’s vision of him — “to stay at the table.”
He was not to be the grand external architect. The parts would have their say.
Fitz came to the presidency with a concern for systems, social justice and leadership. “I saw,” he said, “if we were going to be a great Catholic university, we needed conversations about mission and vision. So we began planning.”
Bill Schuerman, who served as vice president for student development and dean of students under Fitz, said, “He had a vision of what the University could be. He introduced strategic planning, how to work toward a vision of the future.”
Those who have worked with Fitz praise him for being a good listener. When he facilitates a group, his brother Jim said, “he pulls ideas together, even ones at odds. He tries to find a way that the energies of people can be pulled together. If someone throws in an idea from left field, he’ll try to find some truth in it, pull it in, so it doesn’t derail the group.”
For the extended conversations that Fitz led, Pat Palermo, an associate provost during the Fitz years, used a metaphor stronger than staying at the table. He recalled one set of deliberations by the Educational Leadership Council, a body of close to 40 top administrators. The topic he has forgotten. But the process stays clear in his mind. The body usually worked by consensus, but on this topic, the matter came to a vote. It was approved with only three people in opposition.
“Instead of leaving it,” Palermo recalled, “Ray kept with it because of the negative vote. We were like a train. Everybody gets on except for three who stay on the platform. But when the train leaves, Ray stops it and backs it up. We all get off and continue the conversation.”
Impressions of continuing the conversation abound across campus. “If we did anything under Ray, we did a lot of talking,” said Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH ’73, director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. “He wanted to talk until everybody had ownership.”
Zukowski used yet another metaphor to get at the essence of Fitz’s method of continuing conversation, comparing it to working yeast into dough. Working the dough and integrating the yeast into it is not process for process sake. It is done so the dough will rise as a unit. It is done for a purpose.
Zukowski and others are impressed by Fitz’s tenacity, his persistence. Mary Neacy ’83, his long-time assistant during his presidency said he taught her a very important lesson: “At the beginning and end of a project, there is lots of anticipation and excitement. It’s the in-between that is difficult — and the most important.”
She said of Fitz: “He always finishes what he begins.”
His brother Jim noted that all the brothers in the family played football. “Ray was the smallest,” Jim Fitz said, “but the most tenacious.” And like two brothers who went to play in the Big Ten while he was preparing to be a Marianist, he was All-City in Akron.
In recognition of his tenacity, Zukowski and her colleagues once gave him a present — a toy train engine. His favorite childhood book, she said, was The Little Engine That Could.
Some might use the term “workaholic” to describe his tenacity, his embracing of long hours of work. Ploeger does not think that term apt but sees the habit as flowing from, Ploeger said, “zeal — to use the old religious term. He has zeal. He wants to do something.”
Ploeger compared Fitz to the biblical Paul, saying, “You’ve got something to do. You do it. That’s not neurotic; it’s purposeful.”
That sense of purpose may not have been something Fitz was born with but something he acquired early through strength of will and formation of habit. It may be hard for his colleagues to believe, but his brother Jim recalled that “in grade school, he sometimes would get in trouble. He wasn’t as motivated then. The principal told dad, ‘I know you want him to go to college, but if Ray doesn’t get more focused, he may not get out of high school.’”
He obviously got focused. And by the time he received his doctorate, brother Jim said, the principal had lost all memory of the incident.
Whatever the details of the past, “once he believes in something,” his brother said, “he gets focused and does well.”
His sense of focus and persistence and his ambition for the University led him to success in areas that might have been unexpected, given his introverted personality. When he became president, the University’s endowment, certainly in comparison to major national universities, was small. To build it, he committed to a major fundraising campaign. There was, Palermo said, “an enormous amount of skeptics, but he proved correct. He brought people on board, for example, local philanthropist Jesse Philips, who would make the campaign a success. That was a bold act. In many respects, Brother Ray is not a bold person, but he had the ambition and the imagination to see the University as others at the time did not.”
Philips would open doors — some might say kick them down — to prospective supporters that would have remained closed to a more conservative approach. Philips’ strength of personality extended to the planning and construction of the building that bears his name. “Jesse Philips insisted,” said Tom Burkhardt ’70, who succeeded Ploeger as UD’s chief financial officer, “that the humanities center have a certain look and feel, that it be a step up for the University. Ray bought into it; he was able to allow someone to do that. He set a tone for campus, for the look of facilities.”
Fitz early in his presidency had showed he could work with personalities different from his. Ploeger told the story of Tom Frericks ’53 hiring Jim Hoover ’67, an ex-football coach, to bolster UD’s enrollment, weakened by the end of the Vietnam War and the opening of Wright State University. “To Jim,” Ploeger said, “the idea was to go out and win. When someone might complain to Frericks about Hoover’s manner, Frericks had a way of saying ‘he shouldn’t treat you like that’ and doing nothing about it.
“Ray could accept different styles of management.”
East Coast transplants like Palermo and Schuerman were grateful for that. “After I was here six months,” Schuerman said, “he probably wondered what the hell he had done, this introverted guy hiring this flaming extrovert. He had patience. I don’t think we ever had cross words. But he could be a calming influence, putting gentle boundaries on my extraversion.”
“To many in the Marianist world,” said Charles Cottrell, president of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, “Brother Ray Fitz is referred to as a ‘Marianist National Treasure.’ His life of faith and dedication has been characterized by lifelong conversation and collaborative action addressing human development and community building.”
Part of Fitz’s success with various kinds of people may flow from the fact that when he listens to people, he really does hear what they are saying and cares about it. “Talking with him, you always sense he’s interested in you, in what’s going on in your life,” said Mary Harvan Gorgette ’91, who lives in Paris and noted that the last time Fitz visited her family he wanted to know about lay ministry in the Catholic Church in France. “Thanks in part to Brother Ray, I’m a member of an online Marianist community today, 20 years after graduating from UD and living six time zones away.”
Burkhardt, marveling at Fitz’s concern for and memory of people, recalled an incident well before he took the financial post at UD. “We came back here from California for Christmas one year. I was trying to interest my grade school kids in UD. We ran into Ray. I’d met him previously a few times when I worked on audits at UD. He remembered who I was. And, later, when the kids were UD students, he remembered meeting them.”
Burkhardt, like Schuerman, also recollected Fitz’s calming influence. When Burkhardt was returning to Dayton to work, “We — including my wife, my four kids and a cat,” he said, “were at O’Hare Airport. The cat is going nuts in a cage. Brother Ray comes up and says, ‘Don’t worry. There’s nothing you can do.’ He calmed me down.”
Fitz impresses people as being able to balance the mundane and the profound. Gorgette, who said, “He always seems to be chewing on some big question, thinking through some big issue,” also remembers him and his community having students over for Mass and Fitz flipping burgers on the grill.
Father Pat Tonry, S.M. ’55, a longtime member of the same community as Fitz, said, “He was a joy to live with — such a contributor to community life, in spite of all the work he had. The Monday community meeting was always a priority with him. He always took his turn with housework. And he was very prayerful. I always as a fellow brother felt proud of him.”
And, Tonry said, “He always did his own laundry. I told him, ‘You can send your shirts out.’”
Fitz’s sense of balance was observed by Ann Hudock ’90, who worked for him as a research assistant while she pursued a master’s degree. “I saw the way he kept a focus on the important issues and let the small ones go. He never lost sight of the institution he was building and the greater good he was serving.”
And she experienced firsthand his knack for empowering people. When she was an undergraduate, he asked her what she wanted to do after graduation. “I told him I wanted to go to Sierra Leone and I wanted him to send me.”
He did — to a point. He offered to pay for her transportation if she could find funding for a monthly stipend. She did and in the process also found people who provided a network of support. When she returned she worked as a research assistant in the president’s office. “In his quiet way he was giving me a chance to follow my dreams yet connecting them to so much else, making the efforts much more sustainable, community-oriented and successful.”
Likewise, Zukowski recalled him challenging her and the directors of other campus centers “to be entrepreneurs, to be authentic, to make a difference.” There were those who thought that there was no future in distance learning and that a religious sister with a big satellite antenna was a bit odd. But Fitz encouraged her and suggested at one point, “Look at this new phenomenon — the Internet.”
Catholic bishops — including Cincinnati archbishops Joseph Bernardin and Daniel Pilarczyk — admired him, Zukowski said. “They talked of his creative insight and vision for Catholic education.”
Pilarczyk, now archbishop emeritus, said of Fitz, “He is always balanced, always serious, always pleasant, always a joy to be with. You always learn something from him.”
For a man universally considered pleasant, calm and controlled, there is, however, the anomaly of the flying pens and pencils. Geiger recalled one incident — a discussion (what some may have thought an argument) on cutting costs. At a point at which a particularly thorny issue was being hashed out, Geiger said, “a pen bounced out of his hand across the table and landed in front of me. I asked, ‘Is this pen for me?’” The pen returned to its owner, and the discussion continued calmly to its resolution.
To Palermo, this flying writing utensil and peaceable resolution of the issue were not unique occurrences but are illustrative of Fitz’s character: “He was always able to leave it behind. He’s never one to let something fester.”
Fitz’s character, his ability to bring out the best in others, resulted in the University making steady, methodical progress to results that are so solid they might seem inevitable if one did not recall that the tumultuous times of the 1960s and ’70s portended an uncertain future. Under Fitz’s leadership, however, UD not only continued to balance its budgets but also to radically increase its endowment. The long process of buying hundreds of houses and other properties adjacent to the University made a commitment to and ensured the highly residential nature of the University. The Genesis Project, for which Fitz was a driving force, changed a crime-infested area between the University and Miami Valley Hospital into a highly desirable place to live — and made possible the extraordinary development of Brown Street. Fitz took personal interest in curricular developments that entwined professional training and liberal arts education to an unprecedented degree. The University moved from regional recognition to national prominence. And, in a time when the number of members of the Society of Mary declined, he ensured that the laity — a key part of the vision of the Marianist founder Chaminade — would embrace that vision and that the University of Dayton’s mission would continue as Catholic and Marianist.
And then he stepped aside as president — but not before he worked to ensure that the University would continue to thrive and to be true to its mission.
“He’s good at the soft sell,” Curran said, looking back at his first encounters with Fitz.
Curran had been approached by a search firm about the Dayton presidency. But with a good job, a new house and a young family, he passed at looking at the opportunity. As the search stalled, the firm again approached him. He remembers them saying, “You’re a good match for the University of Dayton.”
He replied, “You say that to everyone, don’t you?”
They said, “No.”
And Fitz helped prove them right. Before looking seriously at the position, Curran wanted to come to Dayton with his family and meet with the sitting president. “The week before Christmas,” he said, “I met with Ray. He was gracious and humble. He talked not of his achievement but of community, of the contributions of the community.”
That was the only meeting with Fitz that Curran had scheduled. “But he asked to meet my family,” Curran said. So there was a second meeting — with family. Curran’s wife, Claire Renzetti, and sons, Sean and Aidan, were impressed. And Fitz asked to meet with Curran again. They met the next day.
By Christmas, Daniel J. Curran had applied to become the 18th president of the University of Dayton.
During the decade of Curran’s presidency, Fitz, now 70, has continued to work hard and with purpose. As Ferree Professor of Social Justice, Fitz has been for 10 years a member of the center that bears his name and carries on his commitment to community building. Looking forward, that is not about to change. Although his 13-year-old Buick has recently been retired — replaced by a new Chevy — Fitz himself has no retirement plans. He continues to work quietly and effectively.
Current projects include co-chairing the University’s Mission and Identity Task Force and guiding the University’s hosting this June of the Eighth International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Management Education: “Renewing Mission and Identity in Catholic Business Education.”
Dan Sadlier ’69, former chair of the UD board of trustees, said it was amazing when Fitz was president “how discretely he went about things so effectively” and that he still does. Sadlier, a longtime area business leader, pointed to the depth of Fitz’s passion and to his understanding of what the Dayton community needs.
Fitz himself sees the principles that applied for him at UD having application in the broader community. “We have to observe,” he said, “the frustrations and barriers to full human life. We have to get into conversations so we see the same thing. Then we ask: If we could create something better than we have now, how would we describe it? What is the good we are trying to create? What options do we have to get there? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Along the way, we find surprises, but we come out more thoughtful, more intelligent.”
Deborah Feldman, Montgomery County, Ohio, administrator, has worked with Fitz extensively on human services issues particularly related to families and children, most recently the important role of education in determining the future of the community’s children.
She remembers clearly her first contact with Fitz. “Five children in the county had died in a short time,” she said. “All had been involved with the child welfare system. The system was not working as a system.” Fitz headed the task force formed to find a way to make the system work; many of its recommendations are still in place.
“I recognized,” Feldman said, “in that contact that he focuses on issues he cares about. He has an undeniable commitment to children and families. He never veers from seeing that the future of our community is our children.“He never lets us stray.”
The last time Tom Columbus wrote about Brother Ray, the story was on Fitz’s work on behalf of the homeless. Columbus ended up serving on Montgomery County’s Homeless Solutions Policy Board.1 Comment
On April 30, 2011, Jeremy Vinluan began to handwrite one letter every day for the next year. In a few short weeks, he’ll write his last one.
No one writes letters anymore. Ask the postal service, which is closing branches across the country. Even email has become too cumbersome. We text. We tweet.
Senior journalism major Jeremy Garcia Vinluan is not like the rest of us. He writes letters, the old-fashioned kind, the ones that begin by laying a sheet of paper across a desk in his Marianist Hall room or a table in some café. He has done this every single day for nearly a year now.
Each day, and sometimes more than once a day, he has held a lined sheet of notebook paper in place with one hand. With his other hand, his right hand, he has scratched a pen across the lines, transferring the ink from its tip to the surface of the fibrous pulp. It absorbs the ink, preserving the very precise patterns of his hand’s motion.
He does it, he says, to understand what it means to be a Marianist.
With a group of 11 other students, Jeremy participated in a ceremony in Immaculate Conception Chapel last year in which they committed to a year as lay Marianists. They pray and share their faith journey together. The letter-a-day project is part of his personal commitment to exploring the Marianist charism.
The Jeremy who emerges from these letters, read as a whole, is a young man of immense compassion and faith, one who alternately struggles with and embraces the realities of his life while yearning for human connection and meaning. They are, for him, inextricably linked.
As an uncertain high school student in Virginia Beach, Va., contemplating his future, Jeremy got advice from his mother: “Do what your grandmother always did,” she said. “Pray.” And he did. Several weeks later, he got a call out of the blue inviting him to consider UD, a Catholic, Marianist university. His grandmother, a devout Catholic, “loved Mary her whole life,” he says.
It was not coincidence, he believes, but rather “the law of faith. Providence made it happen.”
When he got to campus, he discovered Virginia W. Kettering Residence Hall. He cannot pass it without thinking of his late grandmother, whose name was Virginia, though he still calls her “Lola,” a Tagalog word for grandmother. When he learned that the commitment ceremony for lay Marianists would be April 30, his grandmother’s birthday, he saw another sign of Lola’s faith and guiding hand and took the leap.
By the time he writes his final letter April 30, 2012, he will have handwritten 367 letters, 2012 being a leap year. Many are anecdotal and mundane, the stuff of everyday life. He sends them to family, friends, classmates, Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers and complete strangers. As he wrote to a friend Oct. 30, “So many letters. And so many people.”
His first letter was to his mother, thanking her for attending his lay Marianist commitment ceremony.
“I wish Lola would be here to see my big day. The truth is that her presence is alive wherever I go in life,” he wrote April 30, 2011. “Today and this letter are dedicated to you and the loving memory of your [mother]. I am so proud to have you as my mother.”
A different person has received each of the letters that have followed, each a single sheet, front and back, which he photocopies before mailing. He has no master plan of recipients but decides each day to whom he will write. Those decisions are part of his commitment to connect with others. In that, he is inspired by Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon, co-founder with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade of the Daughters of Mary and a dedicated correspondent known to have penned more than 700 letters.
Adèle and Jeremy are part of a much longer epistolary tradition. St. Paul famously wrote letters to early Christians in Corinth, Galatia, Thessalonica and elsewhere and addressed ones directly to saints James, Peter, John and Jude. Twelfth-century love letters exchanged between Abelard and Heloise endure today, and the novel grew immensely in popularity in the 18th century when it took the epistolary form.
Jeremy admits he didn’t realize what he was getting himself in for. “When I made my personal commitment, I didn’t realize writing to 367 people would be an adventure for me,” he wrote June 9, to a Marianist sister on campus. “I also didn’t realize that I would be writing to 367 children of God.”
Some of the children of God to whom he writes are also children of the earth. To a young cousin who just visited, he wrote June 28, “You even called me FUNNY BUNNY over and over!” and signs it, “Your funny bunny partner, Jeremy.”
A week later, to another cousin, just 2 years old, he describes an event that would redefine his life.
“When I was at your age,” he tells her, “I was a healthy boy. Healthy by our society’s standards. Something happened to me around age 3. I started to lose my hearing in both ears.”
That hearing loss shaped the trajectory of his childhood as his family struggled to identify his ailment, seek treatments, all unsuccessful, and accept his condition’s inevitability. Today, Jeremy speaks with a vocal distinction that some first-time listeners mistake for a foreign accent, and he wears cochlear implants that translate audible signals into electrical impulses his brain can interpret. (On Jan. 12, he wrote to thank Graeme Clark, the developer of cochlear implants.)
The implants do not deliver sound but a proxy for it that allows him to converse. As he puts it in a Sept. 6 letter to a Beta brother, “The way I hear the world is beyond your wildest dreams.”
Jeremy’s letters reveal that he has contemplated hearing loss as both a burden and a gift.
“God does have a twisted sense of humor,” he wrote to a friend in August. To another, he wrote, “God speaks to me through the silence of the universe.”
To a Marianist brother, he wrote, “I should be grateful for being able to hear sound and speak with my voice. I also should be grateful to turn on/off my hearing. It is like being a superhero.”
As much as anything, his hearing loss is a source of connection to others. “Meeting you last Saturday made my night,” he wrote Sept. 14 to someone he’d just met at a party. “My plan for that night was just to say happy birthday to my friend, then leave. That plan backfired when you asked me if I know ASL [American Sign Language], and we ended up signing for hours.” In September, he met a community college student studying ASL, “the first girl,” he wrote Oct. 1 to an ASL interpreter, “to get my attention.” (In a letter to another former interpreter two days later, he backs off: “Just because we use ASL to communicate to each other doesn’t mean we’re romantically linked.”)
Jeremy’s hearing is but one part of his life. A much bigger part is his heart. Over hundreds of letters, it emerges as large, questioning, compassionate and playful.
“You may be wondering what I am doing here in Akron,” he wrote to LeBron James Oct. 22 after spotting him at a store. His friends, he explains to the NBA star, don’t understand why Jeremy left Virginia for college in Ohio. “I do not think such a choice is crazy. I’m sure you understand.”
He writes other strangers. In late July, he wrote the vice president of park operations at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., to tell him how great a time he had at the park. On Aug. 17, he wrote to thank a woman who cut his hair. On Dec. 9, he wrote UD’s vice president for financial affairs: “You have been signing my [pay]checks since I first started working for UD.”
His longest letter is to his father, for reasons he prefers to keep private. He withheld that one and nine others from the collection he offered for review for this article. The subjects contained in some of the letters he provided are deeply personal as he explores the complexities of his family, friendships and own life.
Pause to consider how very physical Jeremy’s entire letter-writing project is. We communicate digitally, our fingers gliding across keyboards. We tap lettered keys, but that is a fiction. A keyboard does not type a letter as a typewriter does. It sets in motion a complex series of digital ones and zeroes that our monitors display back to us as characters. When we hit send, those electrical signals hop from server to server to the recipient, whose display renders the ones and zeroes into images of letters and words. It’s as real as the actor flickering on your television screen.
Jeremy touches each sheet of paper with his hands. He puts each sheet in an envelope. He addresses, stamps and seals each envelope and hand delivers it or places it in a mailbox. The postal system merges his mailed envelope with millions of other pieces of correspondence and then distinguishes it by a state, a city, a street and a number. A human letter carrier brings it to another mailbox and slips it in. Another person’s hand pulls it out. The recipient tears open the very envelope Jeremy sealed, pulls out the very sheet of paper on which he wrote, and sees the marks of his very own hand. The process is nothing if not intimate.
His words can be, too. He writes often of his Lola.
“Something happened to me this morning,” he wrote to a campus friend Aug. 1. “I was rearranging my bedroom. I have a statue of Mary. It is about 2-to-3 feet tall. When I moved the statue, I felt several papers at the bottom of the statue. I thought it was odd because I emptied the statue a few months ago. … One of the small papers I found happens to belong to my Lola. The paper is not just a small paper but a small envelope with a list of petitions inside. … One of the petitions to our Blessed Mother is ‘Jeremy’s hearing and speech.’ … I’ll keep this for a long time. I knew that my Lola was praying for me.”
In these letters, more than anything, he is a young man asking the questions that confront a senior about to go through another transition.
“Only God knows my real purpose in life,” he wrote to a cousin Sept. 29. “And I’ll wait and wait.”
He does so with ever-hopeful optimism. “I always end up in positions and places I never thought that I would be in.”
His letter-writing project, and his yearlong commitment as a lay Marianist, will soon conclude. Many of his 2012 letters bear one of the 139 Forever stamps that his mother gave him at Christmas to help him mail his letters as quickly as possible. “I am using my mother’s gift to me,” he said.
His final letter, the letter of April 30, 2012, will be addressed to his beloved Lola. He plans to deliver it personally.
“I will burn it,” he said, “so it can reach up to heaven.”
Taylor Curilla ’05 was a prospective student touring UD when she first heard about the student neighborhood. Four years later she was living the porch life at 111 Evanston.
“The house wasn’t very big, but we made it feel like home by the way we decorated it,” Curilla says. “The location was perfect since we were so close to campus and in the middle of all of the surrounding streets like Lowes and Kiefaber.”
Like many houses on campus, 111 Evanston has a unique floor plan that kept life interesting.
“The ‘eating nook’ sort of looked like it was tacked on to the back of the house,” Chelsea Spangler ’05 says. “It was slanted. It was also the only way into the shared bathroom.”
Erin Schultek ’05 adds that the bathroom didn’t have any heating vents.
“I remember getting out of the shower and running to my room because it was so cold in the back of the house,” she says.
Despite the quirks of the house, the women embraced life on Evanston.
One of the house’s unofficial traditions was impromptu dance parties, Spangler says. “Usually they were held before we went out for the evening.
Dancing with my roommates in the tiny living room was always a great time.”
The year culminated in a party the night before graduation.
“It was so fun to have that last night together as roommates celebrating with all of our family and friends,” Curilla says. “That night we made one last trip to Tim’s, which was truly one of the best nights I had at UD.”
Years after moving off campus, some of the roommates still keep in touch. Cristen Meadows ’04 was the maid of honor at Curilla’s 2011 wedding.
“I was so blessed to live with a group of amazing, talented, smart women,” Spangler says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year at UD.”No Comments
A book by Ro Bily ’52
Bily began to write when she finally had free time — at age 65. While she does not feel like a writer — she admits that she is still perfecting her grammar — Bily says her hobby is more of an obsession than work. She has found the writing process that works best for her: jotting down ideas and editing them later. In her fourth book, Lunar Quest, Bily examines ventures such as traveling to the Moon, but she has faith in Earth’s potential. By keeping children educated, she believes the planet’s inherent problems can be fixed. “I’m 81 and I’m still interested in the future,” she says.No Comments
A book by William Matthews ’67
After working with hundreds of businesses, Matthews noticed they were all making the same mistakes, such as creating a weak management foundation, failing to hire the best people available and underestimating the amount of money necessary to sustain their organizations. These commonalities inspired him to write a guide to starting a successful business. Matthews thinks readers will be surprised to know how much support is available to them. “There are plenty of people out there willing to help if you ask them,” Matthews says. “There are a whole lot of folks that want people to do better.”No Comments
In the two years since we printed her story of being a victim of human trafficking, a lot has happened in the life of Theresa Flores ’07 and in national awareness of the problem of human trafficking. The topic is national news today, in part because of its sensationalism but also because it seems so unbelievable: boys and girls sold for sex, a practice that anti-trafficking advocates call modern-day slavery.
Flores continues her fight against it. In late 2010, she had the satisfaction of sitting alongside Ted Strickland as, in one of his last acts as Ohio’s governor, he signed into law the state’s first anti-trafficking law. She was a featured speaker at the two-day Dayton Human Trafficking Accords Conference earlier that fall, a forum that brought together Ohio’s attorney general, law enforcement officials, advocates, victims, researchers and students — some of whom spent the next months visiting the state house to advocate for the law that Strickland signed in front of Flores.
Faculty have developed classes focused on human trafficking, and students have filled them to capacity. Leading national advocates have come to campus to teach students about the scope of the problem. Students are talking about it and, more importantly, finding ways to take action against it.
Flores is now deeply involved in efforts to shine a spotlight on the problem at the country’s biggest sports party, the Super Bowl, and other high-profile events, such as conventions. (She recently gave a talk on TED about that.) In a parallel effort, advocates are protesting outside the offices of companies that profit from personal ads often used to traffic victims.
Phil Cenedella ’84 has been alongside Flores throughout these campaigns, and even made a recent appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 talking about the issue of personal ads. He’s at the tail end of this extended piece:
Magazine stories are snapshots of moments in time, but the stories they tell about our students, faculty and alumni are ongoing, part of the reason a university is such an amazing place to be at, to graduate from and to connect to all our lives.No Comments
Ed Hazboun ’11 feared for the safety of his friend.
“She was heating olive oil and it got too hot, so her first instinct was to put ice in it,” he said. “That’s when I realized how dangerous my friends were when it comes to cooking.”
Hazboun, whose family shared their Arab, Irish and Italian heritages through food, began by writing recipes on slips of paper, leaving cooking tips on kitchen counters and tacking nutritional suggestions to the fridge. The papers would get lost, and friends would go back to burning chicken in their George Foreman grills.
To protect them from themselves, he and Adam Vicarel ’11 created a cookbook, 5:10:30, recipes for five people, with 10 ingredients or less, made in 30 minutes or less.
“It’s the perfect cookbook for a college student,” said Vicarel, who now makes scaled-down versions of the recipes for himself and his one roommate. “It really just brings people together — everyone loves food, especially good food.”
During their senior year, they would meet in Hazboun’s kitchen at 460 Lowes where Hazboun would cook and Vicarel would photograph the food. Vicarel, a visual communication design major, designed the book for his senior portfolio, then worked with a local publisher to print copies for their dear, dangerous, culinarily dysfunctional friends. The cookbooks are also sold in the UD Bookstore.
Hazboun may be familiar to some as Flyer TV’s “Ghetto Gourmet,” filmed with co-host Moira Cummins ’11 and camera operator Emily Cooper ’11 in the spacious Lowes kitchen where he cooked for three years.
“People would see me walking down Lowes Street with my favorite knife, cutting board and a bag of groceries,” he said. “I would go to friends’ houses and cook for them — it brought different people to the table. I feel like Mom or Dad cooking dinner for all my kids, making sure they get fed.”
Just before graduation, Hazboun and Vicarel cleaned out the fridge and cooked up a final feast for 20 friends — chicken prepared five different ways, hillbilly caviar, pasta with red sauce, fajitas, shrimp pasta with clam sauce.
That’s what UD’s all about, Hazboun said — whether you gathered with five friends in the cafeteria or sat cross-legged in a crowded living room, food feeds community, and, at community, UD excels with zest.
Today, Hazboun lives in Chicago, staying temporarily with a friend’s family. In the basement is a box, and in that box are his pans, his cutting board and his beloved black-handled, 8-inch cutting knife.
“I’m looking for an apartment,” he said, “and when I find one, I will christen it with a potluck.”No Comments
In the 1970s, strange quacks could be heard from 1915 Trinity Ave. Don’t tell the landlord, but five women were raising ducks in the basement.
Ann Lenane ’78 recalls the roommates adopted two ducks from a rescue project and spent one summer raising them. They fashioned leashes and took the ducks on daily walks until they grew old enough to return to the wild.
“We were a group of geeky women,” says housemate Sue DeWillie Costa ’78. “Two medical technologists, a biology major, a civil engineer and a pre-med
The house had beautiful hardwood floors and attic access and reflected the science-heavy majors in its décor. Decorations included a poster of the Krebs cycle, depicting cellular energy production.
“The best part of living on Trinity was independence from the dorm, yet the family feel if you wanted it,” recalls Rosemary Pilat Flikkema ’78. “You could pretend you were grown up and on your own without being alone.”
Life on Trinity wasn’t all work and no play. The big backyard was ideal for sunbathing, and the women even grew a veggie garden. They also gathered on the porch that spans the entire front of the house to make ice cream.
Like many UD students, the women got to know their neighbors. Costa recalls a prank war that led to the women hiding raw chicken on the porch of the rugby house next door, in hopes that the rancid smell would annoy the boys. Lenane says living next to the athletes was noisy at times but fun and made the women feel safe.
The two years the women lived together brought a lot of change but was an experience they will never forget.
“My best memories with the roommates were sharing big moments like our 21st birthdays, Connie’s engagement, Ann’s med school acceptance and graduation,” says Flikkema. “We shared our hopes with each other and relied on each other for a grounding when things were tough. For two years, Trinity was home.”
Take a tour through 1915 Trinity with today’s residents.
And suggest we take a tour of your old house. Email us at email@example.com.
Then leave the guns behind, says a scholar of political violence whose study of nonviolent movements turned her understanding upside-down.
I stepped off the airplane in Copenhagen, Denmark, and into a meeting about the Syrian resistance. Three activists using pseudonyms for fear of government reprisals told of three thousand civilians killed and many thousands detained in their quest to overthrow their government.
As the audience in the Danish Parliament — several hundred Danish government officials, journalists, activists, human rights workers and academics — listened, I could see the questions on their faces: Have the Syrians exhausted nonviolent methods? Is it time for them to take up arms?
The chair of the panel then asked for my view. I went to the podium, apologized for my obvious jetlag, and through an Arabic interpreter assured the activists that by refusing to use violence, they were on the right track — that active but peaceful methods were the best way to produce results. And I could even estimate their chances of success.
“If the Syrian uprising maintains nonviolent discipline and the regime’s security forces continued to defect, the chance that they will defeat Bashar al-Assad’s government — completely removing it from power — approaches 60 percent,” I said. “But if they turn to violence, their odds drop by half to 30 percent.”
When I made these claims in September, I could see audience members perk up, wondering how Danes could help Syrians defeat their tyrant. I stressed that the international community could offer moral support, but the real force for change would continue to be internal, civilian-led, nonviolent mass action.
At least one Syrian in the crowd was not convinced. A middle-aged exile based in Paris, he rejected the notion that nonviolent resistance alone could topple the Assad regime. He called for the “Libyanization” of the conflict — providing arms to Syrian civilians and military defectors while using international forces to neutralize Assad’s military. I insisted that, historically, armed insurgencies backed by foreign militaries had a worse track record than nonviolent resistance campaigns.
The man dismissed my comments in a way that needed no translation: “Naïve.”
I always thought I would spend my life trying to understand the causes and consequences of political violence. I was 9 years old when the Berlin Wall came down, and I remember watching news coverage of the 1989 revolutions sweeping across Eastern Europe with my family after we ate dinner in our cozy colonial home in a Dayton suburb.
When I was 13 years old, my parents bought me Zlata’s Diary. Sometimes called “the Anne Frank of Sarajevo,” Zlata Filipovic was a Bosnian Serb who found fame at the age of 13 after a journalist published her personal accounts of the war in the Balkans. The wars that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia became a particular interest of mine, and the book had a profound impact on me. Zlata was my own age, yet I had never experienced the horror of a military siege, the violent deaths of my schoolmates or hunger, as Zlata had. Zlata’s Diary had a lot to do with my decision to commit my life to studying violent conflict. (Interestingly, decades later, I met and talked with Zlata about this at an event at Harvard University, where I was a fellow).
I spent much of my teenage years hunched over my desk, door closed, listening to the classical music of Dvorak or Vaughan Williams on a hand-me-down Discman as I devoured books on the wars of the 20th century — the First World War, the Russian Revolution, World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. Movies and television reinforced the idea that political violence was something people used to gain and wield power.
By the time I came to UD, I knew that I wanted a career in international relations with an emphasis on security. I would study political violence, understand it, explain it and predict it. I reasoned that prediction allowed for some degree of control — the ability to anticipate or even prevent human suffering.
After 9/11, my interest shifted to why non-state actors, like terrorist groups or insurgent movements, used violence. During my first few years of graduate school at the University of Colorado, I focused on terrorism in weak and failed states — a product of the times. In my field, the early 2000s were dominated by policy debates about whether weak and failed states were truly incubators of terrorism, and whether using military intervention to impose democracy on such states would solve the problem. CNN and news wires fed me real-time accounts of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and I gathered information about violent conflicts in the Middle East and Asia. I developed interests in corruption, violent insurgency and government repression, and I learned how to use advanced statistical techniques to forecast such situations.
I spent a lot of time getting into the minds of people on the “dark side” by speculating about which circumstances could lead me to use violence against others for political aims. This understanding would help me grasp the logics people used to justify violence. I became skilled in making sense of it all. I settled on a rationalization that violence was purely instrumental — that people used it for good reasons, usually because it was the only way to achieve their goals or express their grievances. I came to believe that in many situations, violence worked. I thought of it in purely strategic terms, and I remained agnostic about its morality.
Basically, there were three major assumptions underlying my worldview. First, violence was effective. Otherwise, why would anyone use it? Second, violence was always a last resort, chosen after other methods had failed. That means that wherever people were using violence, it was probably the only way for them to resist. Third, if there were other options, such as nonviolent protest, people would have been using those options all along. But because nonviolence was weak and generally ineffective, violence was necessary.
I developed a reputation as an influential scholar on terrorism and international security. I enjoyed being one of a few young women with such a specialty. In a field dominated by men, there was some novelty in being a female scholar who wasn’t shocked by even the most horrendous atrocities, like Al Qaeda’s strategy of killing Iraqi children and filling their corpses with mines that would detonate and kill others who found the bodies.
I became desensitized to violence, comfortable with it. The world I lived in was a scary place, but for the time being, I saw it as reality.
In June of 2006, “people power” came into my life and shifted this reality. I was finishing my doctoral thesis on why terrorist groups tend to emerge in democracies when a colleague sent me an announcement about a conference at Colorado College. “The other side of the coin … might be interesting,” he wrote in an email.
It would completely alter my views on violence.
The workshop was on the subject of civil resistance — a method of conflict in which unarmed civilians employ nonviolent actions like protests, strikes, boycotts, stay-aways and demonstrations to challenge entrenched power. Given my area of expertise, I was skeptical about incorporating the topic into the courses I was teaching. There was no room, I thought, to cover a feel-good topic in the midst of all of the really important material about violence.
But in preparation for the workshop, I did the required reading — books and articles by Gene Sharp, Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, Stephen Zunes, Kurt Schock, and other scholars and practitioners of nonviolent resistance. The works generally argued that people could use a wide variety of nonviolent methods to change their circumstances and their institutions, even under the direst of conditions. They cited examples — the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa, the anti-Milosevic campaign in Serbia and the Solidarity movement in Poland. I had several recurring thoughts: “This is naïve,” “Nonviolent resistance can’t work in very oppressive countries” and “Violence is what makes the world go around.”
Yet I was very curious.
During one of the workshop’s coffee breaks, I scribbled a research design onto a scrap of paper. I shared it with Maria Stephan, then the director of educational initiatives at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, who had helped organize the conference. I would not be convinced of the power of nonviolent conflict without hard empirical evidence, but I was willing to undertake the research. A few weeks later, ICNC agreed to support the study.
After spending a year collecting, refining, documenting, checking, double-checking and cleaning the data, I had created a database that comprised over 300 major nonviolent and violent mass movements for regime change, self-determination and secession since 1900. I accounted for factors like the brutality of the regime, the nature of the political system, support from allies, and the size and location of each country. I had also accounted for features of the campaigns themselves, including the number of participants, the ability to provoke defections from security forces, international support, and the campaign’s goals and duration. The list of nonviolent campaigns was diverse, ranging from Gandhi’s Indian Independence campaign from 1919-1947 to the Chinese pro-democracy campaign (which failed notoriously in Tiananmen Square in 1989) to the East Timorese independence movement (which succeeded in 2000).
I remained skeptical until I began to analyze the data. The results were breathtaking.
The nonviolent campaigns were more than twice as effective as the violent ones. Moreover, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns had increased over time, whereas violent insurgencies had become less effective during the last 20 years.
These results held up even when the nonviolent campaigns were facing brutal authoritarian regimes that responded with violent crackdowns. Nonviolent resistance was succeeding in some countries — the Philippines, Serbia, Poland, Thailand, Nepal, South Africa and Chile — where violent resistance had failed utterly. And perhaps most importantly, the countries that experienced nonviolent uprisings were much more likely to transition to democracies and much less likely to experience a relapse into civil war compared with countries facing violent insurgencies. Contrary to everything I had previously thought, mass civil resistance — not violence — was the force creating change in the world.
As I sat in a puffy chair in a coffee shop in Berkeley, Calif., I took a deep breath and thought, “This changes everything.” No more could I assure myself that violence was a necessary evil in the world. Instead, the research showed that violence was ineffective. Even against really nasty regimes, nonviolent resistance was a real alternative. And that meant there is no real excuse for using violent insurgency.
I called Maria, who was equally stunned by the results, and we resolved to write a book explaining why civil resistance has been so effective as a force for change in the world.
The copyedits of Why Civil Resistance Works had just gone to press when, in January 2011, people throughout the Arab world began to challenge authoritarian rulers by using civil resistance. There were breathtaking victories: Jan. 14, Ben Ali fell in Tunisia, followed by Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in February. The regimes collapsed in exactly the way our book discussed: nonviolent mass movements had broadened their participation enough to create relationships with security forces, and when the orders came down to suppress the movements, the security forces had refused to obey.
All of a sudden, my email inbox began to fill with questions from the press, from the government, from other academics. They wanted to know what was going on, how these regimes came apart in the face of nonviolent resistance and whether such resistance could succeed in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bahrain, Oman and elsewhere. I was glad that I had answers that were grounded in empirical fact rather than speculation.
Libya — where a couple of days of uncoordinated nonviolent protest quickly escalated to violent rebellion — was a particularly troubling case. In March, The New York Times asked me to write an op-ed on whether violence was the best way for Libya’s rebels to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi. Incorporating data on Libya’s own unique characteristics, I had estimated that the violent revolution had less than a 20 percent chance of removing or overthrowing Gadhafi, compared with about 50 percent if the revolution had remained nonviolent. (Ultimately, the rebels came close to defeat until the international community intervened to support them — at a high cost in human suffering.) Whether the coming years bring stability or civil war remains to be seen, but my statistical model predicts that Libya’s chance of becoming a democracy within the next five years is less than 10 percent.
After the Times published the piece, I was sitting in Wesleyan’s faculty lounge having lunch with a colleague, one of the world’s leading experts on Syria. I asked him whether he thought nonviolent resistance would catch on there. He shook his head and said, “There is no way this thing is going to spread to Syria. No way.”
Only days later, it did.
Today, I spend most of my time relating the remarkable record of nonviolent resistance to American and foreign government agencies, international organizations, scholars, activists, nongovernmental organization workers, journalists and others, explaining the strategic dynamics of nonviolence. The work puts me in contact with ordinary people who are trying to use their natural skills and talents to cast off circumstances they find intolerable. I have tried to give encouragement to those using civil resistance in places like Syria, India, Zimbabwe, Mexico, the Philippines, the Palestinian Territories and the United States — and I have tried to give pause to those contemplating using violence.
I recently returned from Asia, where several experts and I presented material on civil resistance in a four-day workshop with Chinese human rights workers. I presented my research on the historical record of nonviolent resistance and on the potential for civil resistance to change even the most stubborn political systems.
The participants sat silent during the workshop, unused to speaking freely. But during the last session, one of the quietest participants, a young woman, picked up a microphone. She said with great sincerity that she lived in daily fear. Her job was to help people who have been oppressed — often putting her in direct opposition to the Chinese government — and she was terrified by the disappearances of friends and colleagues who had done similar work. But then she said that after hearing about the success of nonviolent resistance elsewhere, her fear was subsiding.
She realized that she was not alone, and that there were millions of people around the world working for change in their societies. She said she could be a force for positive reform in her country and that the impossible now seemed possible.
I have been surprised by how much this research gives hope to others. No matter where in the world the audience is, whether Syria, China or elsewhere, people always initially dismiss the idea of civil resistance as naïve. I understand. I have come a long way myself in overcoming skepticism, and I do not live in oppressive conditions, as do many of the people with whom I now work. It is both humbling and satisfying to watch fear evaporate as people begin to realize their potential. I feel that I learn more from their courage and experience than they could ever learn from me.
This is why research is only part of the story today. I once thought that by mastering the study of violence, I could help avoid conflicts in our world, and that this would help reduce suffering. I am no longer so naïve. Today I know that conflict is inevitable, but it need not weaken or destroy societies. When people empower themselves, refuse to submit to oppression and engage in civil resistance, conflict can be a constructive force for change in our world.
Erica Chenoweth ’02, who majored in political science and German, is an assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University and director of Wesleyan’s Program on Terrorism and Insurgency Research, which she established in 2008. She is currently on sabbatical in California, where she is a visiting scholar at UC-Berkeley and a visiting assistant professor at Stanford University. While her research takes her around the world, she can always be found on the blog “Rational Insurgent” and on Twitter @EricaChenoweth.
Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan
Civil Resistance and Power Politics by Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash
Bringing Down a Dictator, a York/Zimmerman film
Unarmed Insurrections by Kurt Schock
From Dictatorship to Democracy by Gene Sharp3 Comments
We can’t see the future, but we know a good opportunity when we see it — and we seize it.
The 2008 version of the University’s master plan — the last one published — outlined a number of projects to guide the physical development of our campus. But the University’s most significant transformation during the past three years wasn’t then on the drawing board.
The opportunity to expand our boundaries and show our commitment to the city and region could not be ignored when NCR Corp. moved its world headquarters to Georgia in 2009. We purchased the property in December of that year, an acquisition that University President Daniel J. Curran called “a bold move for a private, Catholic university” — and one that was noticed nationally by, among others, The Chronicle of Higher Education and The New York Times.
As a result of the purchase, we’ve updated our master plan. The 2011 master plan serves as a bold, yet flexible, blueprint for the campus of the future and ties directly into our strategic plan. This master plan, which builds on the 2008 plan, guides our physical development as one of the nation’s pre-eminent Catholic universities.
The NCR purchase is the biggest change to the 2008 campus master plan. It gives us more room to house departments and classes and frees space on our core campus for other projects. It’s an exciting time as we embrace physical expansion and transformation while continuing to maintain the unique character of our University of Dayton campus.
We hope you’ll soon have a chance to see the changes firsthand, whether you’re returning for Reunion Weekend or just a random weekend — or showing a prospective student in your life what it means to be a Flyer. Be sure to tell that student that you had to walk up Stuart Hill. Both ways. In the snow. Some things never change.
What’s on our drawing board?
• 1700 South Patterson The $18 million acquisition of 115 acres of land from NCR Corp. was one of the most transformational moves since the purchase that established UD in 1850. It is believed to be the first time an institution of higher education has made such a purchase. It’s now part of campus. 1700 South Patterson has become home to the first phase of an interactive Alumni Center. The second phase, which is expected to add gathering and exhibition spaces and an auditorium, is in the planning and fundraising stages.
The University of Dayton Research Institute’s Technologically Advanced Cognition Laboratory, sensor systems division, and the director’s and other offices have arrived, and more UDRI offices and labs are coming. Graduate courses in educational leadership, counselor education and business administration are being taught here, as well as classes in the Intensive English Program. The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute also calls the building home.
• Old River Park The University has hired SWA Group, an internationally recognized landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm, to create a master plan for Old River Park. The plan will focus on preserving the 48-acre park’s historical character and natural beauty while connecting it to campus and guiding its development for academic, research and recreational use. It will remain closed in 2012 as officials develop a timeline and funding plan for making multimillion-dollar improvements over phases.
• GE Aviation Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) Groundbreaking took place in April 2011 on the EPISCENTER, a $51 million project encompassing eight acres on River Park Drive. When completed in early 2013, the area will feature a four-story facility with a 40,000-square-foot office building connected to an 80,000-square-foot, world-class electrical research center. It will be the first new LEED-certified building on campus.
• University Center for the Arts The University Center for the Arts, a major University fundraising initiative, will bring together the visual and performing arts recently scattered among seven buildings. In addition to classroom, studio and office space, the center could include a major music and theatrical performance venue, a black-box theater and recital hall, atrium and galleries, lecture hall and art library, and Flyer TV and digital media studio. The new center will promote collaboration across the arts and invite new partnerships with community arts organizations. Construction on the arts center, estimated to cost $35 million, will begin once fundraising is complete.
• College Park Center The College Park Center has been part of the University campus since 2005. Today, nearly all of the space in the 450,000-plus square-foot, six-story building is occupied. Residents include the visual arts department and doctoral program in physical therapy, the Dayton Early College Academy, Marianist archives, University advancement and a variety of engineering labs, including intelligent optics, biomechanics, electro-optics and LADAR.
• Caldwell Street Apartments In 2012, more than 400 students will move into a new apartment complex on campus. Ground-breaking for the $25 million Caldwell Street Apartments took place in May 2011. The apartments will have a townhouse-style façade and 427 beds for upperclassmen and international students when completed in time for the 2012-13 academic year. A courtyard will connect the five buildings in the complex.
• Chapel of the Immaculate Conception Fundraising is well under way for the $12 million renovation to the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. As of June 30, 2011, UD had raised almost $8 million in gifts, pledges and planned gifts. Once fundraising is complete, UD will break ground for the approximately 18-month construction process; a temporary worship space will be set up for Mass each weekend in the
Kennedy Union ballroom. For more information, go to www.udayton.edu/alumni/give/chapel_renovation.php.
• Stuart Field The 2011 Princeton Review ranked UD eighth nationally on its “Everybody Plays Intramural Sports” list. A $2.25 million renovation to Stuart Field might be a reason to rise even higher. After years of playing on a beloved but muddy mess, UD’s 3,700 intramural and sport club participants are enjoying upgraded playing surfaces with synthetic turf that accommodates sports from lacrosse to soccer, flag football, softball and more.
Over the next three years, the University will invest more than $100 million in its learning-living infrastructure, funded through a combination of University resources, private support, private-public partnerships, and federal and state grants.
The Caldwell housing project, for example, is just the newest step in a plan to provide an unparalleled residential experience to students. Marianist Hall opened in 2004, Marycrest Hall got a facelift from 2006 to 2008, Stuart Hall renovations are complete, and upgrades to the safety and appearance of houses in the student neighborhoods are ongoing. Students in Virginia W. Kettering Residence Hall this year are the first to enjoy a renovation of the hall’s dining facilities.
Future housing-related plans include a renovation of rooms and restroom facilities in Founders Hall and upgrades to the student neighborhoods, including the construction of five new houses, four on Lowes and one on Rogge. Currently, 5,907 beds are available for students. The new apartments and houses will increase that number to 6,334.
Other proposed projects during the next three years and beyond include:
• Converting more of the 1700 South Patterson Building into laboratories and offices for the University of Dayton Research Institute.
• Improving the outer appearance, addressing infrastructure needs and transforming Roesch Library into a modern learning center with more spaces for students to study and greater electronic learning tools.
• Renovating John F. Kennedy Memorial Student Union.
• Modernizing Alumni Hall.
• Finishing renovation of the Science Center, including high-tech labs, new windows, classroom renovations, technology upgrades and infrastructure improvements.
• Adding further open space enhancements, such as a pedestrian/bike greenway and multi-use recreation/basketball courts near RecPlex.
• Renovating Chaminade Hall or funding a new home for the School of Education and Allied Professions.
• Developing a restaurant at the Arena Sports Complex in partnership with a commercial enterprise.
“Some of the projects in our master plan are dependent upon fundraising. We also remain open to exploring other partnerships on Campus West (west of Main Street) that tie into our academic mission,” University President Daniel J. Curran said.
The ripple effect
Mathematician Edward Lorenz lent his talents to forecasting weather for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, but he is better remembered for the chaos theory he later developed, memorably coining the term “butterfly effect” for the outsized meteorological implications of seemingly small phenomena. A butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo, goes the cliché that now endures, could cause a tornado in California.
The purchase of enough property to double the size of campus is of far more significance than a butterfly flapping its wings, and the effects of this expansion are being felt by more than the programs relocating to the new land and facilities.
The UD Research Institute’s move to River Campus, for example, frees valuable Kettering Labs space for the School of Engineering’s use. The construction of the planned University Center for the Arts allows for the demolition of the Music/Theatre Building, which will open space for significant upgrades of Baujan Field. The relocation of visual arts programs to College Park Center allowed the demolition of Mechanical Engineering — which, in turn, created space for the Central Mall — and freed up Rike Center, which in January became a highly visible home for the growing Center for International Programs. The center’s move, in turn, opens up space in Alumni Hall.
And so on. The future remains a canvas full of possibilities.
Change is good
Imagine the Immaculate Conception Chapel without its distinctive blue cupola with the cross on top. Picture instead a
bell tower that stands as the highest point on campus.
If the 1920 land-use master plan had been followed to completion, that would be how we would know campus today. But the University preserved the cupola and cross.
Interesting details can be found in UD’s past master plans, all of which show how different the University could have looked had UD not adapted to new times and opportunities as it did.
A workable plan, includng the one UD has today, must be open to the possibility of change. The University remains focused on its long-range goals but recognizes that flexibility is necessary if circumstances change.
The master plan is a land-use plan, one in which UD looks to “pilot a path forward using our current resources,” says Beth Keyes, vice president for facilities management. “The best laid plans are made to be broken.”
For a more comprehensive look at the 2011 master plan, go to udayton.edu/masterplan.No Comments