No huddled masses here. Today’s immigrants and refugees are using their strength to help rebuild Dayton with help of the city’s Welcome Dayton initiative.
When Islam Shakhbandarov first stepped onto American soil, he clutched his chest and gasped for breath. The air in Atlanta that September night in 2005 was so hot and thick with moisture it had to be gulped into his lungs.
“I took one step off the plane and I almost lost my breath,” he says, his dark eyes falling out of focus as he recalls his introduction to a new life. “I thought, ‘How am I going to survive here?’”
But there was something else on the breeze that evening besides the heat and humidity. The smell of fear. After deplaning, Shakhbandarov entered the sprawling Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and found himself awash in a sea of humanity that ebbed and flowed and broke over him like waves on a beach. There were thousands of people, strangers, dressed in clothes he didn’t recognize, speaking a language he didn’t understand and casually ignoring one another and the din that enveloped them.
It was nothing like Uzbekistan, where he was born, or Russia, from where he and his family had fled.
“I got scared,” says Shakhbandarov, a soft-spoken 29-year-old with the good looks of a young Al Pacino. “I thought, ‘I’m going to get lost in all this.’”
But he didn’t, and seven years later he finds himself in Dayton, a city that has spread its arms to welcome not only him and the Ahiska Turkish-American community to which he belongs but also immigrants from all over the world.
Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City Initiative is a community program to let foreign-born people know that there is no place better to live, work and grow families than the Miami Valley area of southwest Ohio. More a set of broad guidelines than anything else, Welcome Dayton is the city’s commitment to help immigrants integrate into the community. To that end, it has hired a program manager and invested funds — perhaps as much as $200,000 over the next several years — to support local organizations in forming policies and practices to implement the plan.
Birthed and nurtured in no small measure with help from the University of Dayton, the strategy seems to be working. Though the immigrant population constitutes slightly less than 4 percent of Dayton’s total population, it’s growing and, more importantly, thriving.
You can look no further than Shakhbandarov and the Ahiska (pronounced hiss-ka) Turkish immigrants.
“It’s a community that has exploded,” says Theo Majka, a professor of sociology at UD and co-author of the Dayton Refugee Community Assessment study, which was researched and written to complement and assist the implementation of Welcome Dayton.
Majka has researched during the past 20 years the experiences of immigrants and refugees moving to the Dayton area. In the assessment study, the co-authors identified the issues that often create barriers to integration and made recommendations for how Welcome Dayton could overcome those obstacles and — like the Ahiska Turks — thrive.
When Shakhbandarov first migrated to Dayton after brief stops in Abilene, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, there were, he says, but seven or eight Ahiska Turkish families living here. Five years later, there are nearly 400.
“There are so many here now, I don’t know them all anymore,” he says with a thin smile.
Why are so many Ahiska Turks coming to Dayton, Ohio? And Ecuadorians? And Rwandans? And Congolese? And Iraqis?
For that matter, why is Dayton putting out the welcome mat when other states — notably Arizona, Alabama and Georgia — and cities are doing just the opposite?
The simple answer: economics.
Manufacturing left much of the Midwest, and with it, Dayton lost half its population since 1960. Houses that were once filled with prosperous families now stand like rows of broken teeth, empty and shuttered.
By welcoming immigrants, Dayton believes it has found a way to reverse those fortunes.
“Immigrants are extremely beneficial to the Dayton economy,” says Melissa Bertolo, program coordinator of Welcome Dayton. “They are two to three times more likely to start businesses than people born in the United States. Meanwhile, homes are being bought and revitalized in the Dayton area.”
The very presence of immigrants in Dayton, says Majka, is like a mini-economic stimulus.
“They shop, they spend, they open small businesses and create jobs,” he says.
Because the program is not yet 2 years old — the Welcome Dayton resolution was passed by the City Commission in October 2011 — there are not yet hard figures to assess the financial impact of immigrants and refugees in the community.
But there is anecdotal evidence that many neighborhoods have seen crime rates fall and property values rise.
“We bring many positive things to the community,” says Shakhbandarov, who, despite his youth, is founder and president of the Ahiska Turkish Community Center on East Fifth Street, where he works full time. “Right now, they might not see what we can do, but they see the potential of what we can do.”
It’s not all about the money. The city has a long and rich history of helping its own. Welcome Dayton is more or less an extension of that munificence.
“Why do it?” Majka asks. “It touches on our core values as a society to offer a helping hand to people in need.”
Tom Wahlrab, generally considered the father of Welcome Dayton, agrees.
“For others, it was the economic factor,” says Wahlrab, the now-retired director of the city’s human relations council. “For me, it was the human factor. If I see people suffering, how can I in my life live with that knowledge and not help?”
That suffering is real. Shakhbandarov was 6 years old when his family fled a bloody pogrom in Uzbekistan against Ahiska Turks and resettled in Russia.
“I saw many, many friends killed,” he says. “I was afraid all the time. But it was more scary to see the older people, the adults, being so afraid. You never think your father will be scared of anything. He is Superman and you don’t think he is ever scared or helpless.”
In Russia, things weren’t much better.
“We could not get jobs without paperwork, and they gave us no paperwork,” he says, holding an unlit cigarette and a lighter in his left hand that he absently taps against his thigh. “You had to pay the police, the government under the table just to work. If you didn’t, they would put you in jail for days, for months. There were segregated classes and no medical treatment. We were nothing.”
It’s those sort of stories that led City Commissioner Matt Joseph ’94 to help lead the Welcome Dayton movement.
“From a moral standpoint it was the right thing to do,” says Joseph.
For Joseph, the decision to back Welcome Dayton was “more on a personal level than a commissioner level.”
“I guess it’s whatever’s left of the Marianist philosophy after all these years,” he says about his UD education, which taught him to be committed to a common good. “Bottom line, immigrants were already here, and we needed to do something to make sure they weren’t marginalized.”
Indeed, Dayton has been resettling refugees through Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley for more than 70 years, says Dorothy Balser, manager of refugee resettlement and mission services. She estimates that about 140 refugees are settled in Dayton through the U.S. State Department each year.
“We do this and have been doing this regardless of the [Welcome Dayton] initiative,” she says.
Still, her department works in collaboration with Welcome Dayton to ensure achievement of mutual goals: self-sufficiency for immigrants and refugees as soon as possible after arrival, and community integration.
To that end, Welcome Dayton has brought together several entities — Dayton Public Schools, UD, the Dayton Metro Library, law enforcement and clergy, among others — to provide the necessary tools for integration.
“It’s about synergy,” says Wahlrab, who earned a master’s degree from UD in 1984. “It’s about connecting and talking and helping one another in ways that weren’t happening before.”
Working together to achieve a common goal is something with which Dayton is familiar. It’s the same sort of model that worked in saving lives during the 1913 flood and now ensures smooth transitions for those coming to Dayton from foreign lands.
“I think for me, I’ve always viewed the city as being open,” says Nan Whaley ’98, a city commissioner for eight years. “At the core, that’s how we grow, as an open community. … Anyone can come here and follow their dreams and make a difference.”
Whaley was raised in a little town south of Indianapolis. She says her first experience with Dayton was when she attended UD; her first experience with public office, being elected at age 29.
“[I]t says something about who we are as a community,” she says.
The message is clear. Nobody, not even those born in the U.S., can — or has to — do it alone.
“It’s easier to acclimate when others are there to help,” says Bertolo of the coordinated effort to provide assistance.
It will be easier still for the children of current immigrants.
“My grandfather was born in (Eastern European) Georgia,” says Shakhbandarov. “My father was born in Azerbaijan. I was born in Uzbekistan. My son was born in the United States.”
He knows that his 3-year-old son will never have to watch his friends butchered in a military pogrom or pay grubby-handed bureaucrats just to get a job.
This is what Welcome Dayton has to offer. Assistance. Opportunity. Freedom.
For Shakhbandarov, a life that seemed so strange and terrifying that night in Atlanta is now filled with promise.
“When I first came here and saw all the buildings and high rises and computers — I never had a computer before — and the food, lots of food, it was a very unique experience,” he says. “To open the refrigerator and it is full … many people don’t know what it is like to open the refrigerator and find it full of food and drinks.
“For the first three, six months I can’t sleep. I was always worried what will happen. How will I keep my identity? It causes a huge depression. But little by little, it gets better. Dayton is very welcoming, and now I have a vision of a life. And for my son, I have a better vision than I had for myself. What is happening here in Dayton could be a great example for others.”
He sighs, able to breathe easy.
Gene Williams is a former executive editor of the Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier-Post. In the course of reporting this story, he drank his first-ever cup of hot Turkish tea. Make that two.No Comments
Instead of building a wall, UD built partnerships. Now Brown Street thrives.
Brown Street, once on the edge of campus and now in its center, remains in some ways unchanged over the past several decades. You can still get a porterhouse steak at the Pine Club, grab a turkey sub at Milano’s or have your feet stick to the floor at Tim’s.
But part of Brown is now very different. Once upon a time, there were — in reality if not in name — two Brown Streets: one near the upscale suburb of Oakwood and home to Tim’s, Milano’s and the Pine Club; the other, north of Stewart Street.
The Fairgrounds Neighborhood (bounded by Brown and Main streets north of Stewart Street and south of Miami Valley Hospital) was definitely not upscale when Tom Burkhardt ’70, vice president for finance and administrative services, was an undergraduate.
“It was a place,” he said, “where people dumped trash and old tires.”
When Steve Schmidt ’71 in 1980 told his wife, Angie ’71, he was thinking of buying a business on Brown Street north of campus, she said, “Isn’t that where you go to get beat up?”
Schmidt and Burkhardt are both people with UD history. Schmidt’s father, Bernie ’42, has an endowed chair in engineering named after him in recognition of his years of teaching at UD. On Burkhardt’s office wall hangs an old photograph — of three of the five generations of Burkhardts to attend UD.
Schmidt and Burkhardt share not only Dayton tradition; they, in different ways, share with many others in having built a path to the future for the University of Dayton and its namesake city.
That path runs down a street called Brown.
Steve and Angie Schmidt in 1980 took the risk of doing business on Brown when they bought a 4-year-old store, Second Time Around. While Steve built a law practice, Angie, who died in 2012, managed the store. While its sales of used merchandise shifted from vinyl to CDs and from VHS to DVDs, and as tablets and other electronic devices added a range of possibilities, the Schmidts expanded their business.
But, with short notice, Second Time Around could have become homeless.
“We were on a month-to-month lease with our landlord for 17 years,” Schmidt said. To ensure that the business would have a building to house it, when a property across the street came up for sale, Schmidt bought it.
“I took,” he said, “a $25,000 advance on my MasterCard.”
When another building came up for sale, he took another advance. Then, Second Time Around’s building came up for sale.
“My landlord called,” he said. “I had 13 days to make an offer. People kept telling me I’d be stupid to do so.”
But he did. Now eight Brown Street businesses call him landlord.
“It took,” he said, “staying power, confidence and belief in Brown Street.”
According to local developer Jeff Samuelson, “Angie was an angel. And Steve literally was a pioneer.”
When the Schmidts purchased Second Time Around, there were people across the street who also believed in Brown Street and had staying power. Joe and Irene Kiss 50 years ago co-founded the restaurant now named Joe Kiss Hickory Bar-B-Q. Joe spent 33 years with the restaurant until his death. His daughter Margo has worked there since childhood; her husband, Gary Fisher, has been there 33 years. And it’s not just co-owners who have been there a long time; a half-dozen people who aren’t family members have worked there more than 30 years.
“Most who leave,” Gary Fisher said, only half-jokingly, “leave only when they die.”
One waitress didn’t stay quite that long, but probably a bit too long. She had become very forgetful but was still working one day a week.
“A millionaire from up north was eating here,” Fisher said. “After dinner, he said to Joe, ‘We know she’s older, but we ordered steak and got chicken. That we don’t mind; it was good. But we got charged for the steak.’
“Joe asked the waitress why she was still working. ‘I want to make enough to play bingo.’ So, he told her she didn’t have to work; he just gave her weekly bingo money.”
Kiss, like Steve Schmidt, also took steps to ensure the survival of his business. For years, the Hickory had no parking of its own. The lot next to it was clearly marked as belonging to the Westward Ho cafeteria adjacent to the lot on its other side.
“One day,” said Fisher, “Joe told me the Westward Ho was going up for sale, and he was going to buy it before somebody else did. I asked him how much he was willing to spend. ‘Whatever it takes.’ We need parking.”
They got that needed commodity.
But while a few businesses on Brown Street thrived, the area as a whole did not. The Fairgrounds Neighborhood had flourished into the mid-20th century. Residents then included NCR workers along with a few UD students and some nursing students from Miami Valley Hospital. A number of NCR workers lived in rooming houses during the week and on weekends returned home (Kentucky for many).
But in the early 1970s, the NCR factory jobs began to disappear from Dayton as later did the factories and eventually the company’s world headquarters.
The rooming houses, which had provided good housing for the workers, deteriorated. The number of owner-occupied houses decreased. Absentee landlords, vandalism, panhandling and drug sales increased. Institutions — such as churches, Miami Valley Hospital and UD — tried to aid the people in the neighborhood. For example, UD students built programs and a playground for students at Patterson-Kennedy, a Dayton public elementary school at Wyoming and Alberta streets. UD’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity revived a boarded-up house at 51 Frank St. Staff from UD’s Strategies for Responsible Development worked with the area’s business association, laying the groundwork for people working together to restore the neighborhood.
But the problems were too big for service groups, volunteers and grassroots efforts alone to eradicate.
The area was perceived as unsafe. And often it was. After UD students were assaulted in the area in the early 1990s, a parent called Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M. ’64, UD president from 1979 to 2002, and said, “We should build a fence.”
Dick Ferguson ’73, an assistant to Fitz at the time, remembered Fitz later saying in a meeting about the situation, “Rather, we should build relationships.”
And emphasis on those relationships led to a renaissance.
“Brother Ray Fitz deserves an enormous amount of credit,” said Thomas Breitenbach, then president and CEO of Miami Valley Hospital, “for erasing the barriers that had existed between the University and the surrounding community, and using the University’s economic and intellectual resources to improve the neighborhood.”
Ferguson, who has directed UD’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community since its founding in 2002, remembered that in the mid-1990s UD, Miami Valley Hospital and NCR were all doing master plans.
“Leaders from the city of Dayton,” he said, “were frustrated with a lack of Brown Street development and asked that we all get together.”
They did. Ferguson chaired the Rubicon Master Plan Committee. After the issues were identified, it became clear that No. 1 was the condition of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood.
Today Brother Bernard Ploeger, S.M. ’71, is president of Chaminade University in Honolulu; Tom Arquilla ’81, senior vice president of business development and strategy at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. During the 1990s, they were representing the business interests of the University of Dayton and Miami Valley Hospital, respectively. One day in Ploeger’s office, the two were looking at a map of Brown Street.
“We agreed,” Arquilla said, “that the future, if we did nothing, was untenable. There would be blight. We would have walls around UD and Miami Valley. So we had to invest in the neighborhood or let it deteriorate.”
Their institutions each invested millions of dollars.
Miami Valley, directly adjacent to the Fairgrounds Neighborhood, did some work on its own, including relocating a street when the hospital built a new emergency department. Then came the phase, in Arquilla’s words, of “ramping up partnerships.” Among the partners, in addition to UD and Miami Valley Hospital, were the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and CityWide Development, a nonprofit economic community development organizer.
Miami Valley’s Breitenbach asked Arquilla to do some research about similar situations. One hospital, Arquilla said, reacted to its environment “by building its campus as a barrier to the neighborhood.”
Another hospital was St. Vincent in downtown Toledo, which worked to redevelop the area near it by renovating some houses, numbering under a dozen.
“I asked them, if they had to do it over, what would they do differently. Their reply was, ‘We didn’t do enough.’”
Dayton’s institutions decided they had to do enough.
The Rubicon Master Plan was completed in 1998; in 1999, UD and Miami Valley Hospital formally committed to Genesis, a project for transforming the Fairgrounds Neighborhood. UD’s commitment to the first phase (which would run through 2004) was $2.2 million. Contributions from Miami Valley Hospital and other institutions, including banks and government, brought the total to more than $14 million. The goals of the project were simple though ambitious:
An early acquisition, 1056 Brown St., became the Rubicon House, a community gathering spot and meeting place for those working on Genesis. Those coming to meetings there could, Ferguson noted, look across Brown Street and see children being raised amid drugs and prostitution.
Arquilla said that sometimes they asked themselves, “Do we know what the hell we have done?” But like Julius Caesar after he led his army across the Italian Rubicon, they knew there was no turning back. So they pressed forward — with a little help from their friends.
Friends included city police. Within view of the Rubicon House was a drug house, said Burkhardt, who by this time had succeeded Ploeger as UD’s chief financial officer. Having such tenants was one landlord’s mistake. The city acted against the dealer, and the property became available.
“It was still a huge price,” said Burkhardt, who, like Arquilla, was averse to overspending institutional resources.
And those resources, though substantial, were limited. Among the problems were drug deals being made on street corners and people bringing trash into the neighborhood and dumping it. Something had to be done.
“We installed video cameras,” Burkhardt said. “Since they were expensive, all except one were fake. But they worked.” Drugs and trash felt less comfortable in the neighborhood; and residents themselves organized and worked with the city in keeping the neighborhood clean.
In revitalizing the neighborhood, Arquilla said, Genesis faced two major obstacles: zoning that allowed rooming houses and a significant amount of property being owned by very few people.
Although the path to overcoming both challenges wasn’t always smooth, zoning was changed and property acquired. Old houses in untenable condition were rebuilt or demolished; new ones arose. And new curbs and sidewalks and trees appeared.
As the area moved to owner-occupied housing, about two dozen people who were renting in the old rooming houses had to find other places to live. Arquilla managed that process, bringing to it a personal perspective. In 1971, when he was not yet a teenager, his family lived across the street from a hospital.
“The landlord,” he said, “sold the property to the hospital. He gave us 30 days to get out. We were turned down for a loan. My father was ill. While he was in a coma, we got a loan. Then he died.”
So when Arquilla was working on acquisition of property in the Fairgrounds Neighborhood, he said, “I didn’t do what happened to me. We found those people places to live. We got them a real estate agent. We provided a relocation package. After I raised what happened to me, there was never any debate over those issues.”
The commitment of Miami Valley Hospital has been critical to the success of the neighborhood, said CityWide President Steve Budd ’76, who continues to chair the Genesis board. (The board also includes two members from UD and two from Miami Valley.) Funding from the hospital has supported two additional Dayton police officers for the neighborhood (without affecting other areas of the city), a social worker and community organizers. The hospital also offered strong financial incentives for employees to buy houses in the neighborhood. Julie Liss-Katz, director of public affairs at Premier Health (parent of Miami Valley Hospital), manages those endeavors.
“Of the 32 houses built by Genesis,” she said, “16 were purchased by Miami Valley Hospital employees.”
Genesis had attempted, Budd said, “to cure a ‘cancer’ in the neighborhood, to create an environment so commercial and residential development would come in.”
Coming in — and in a big way — was developer Jeff Samuelson.
It started small, with a colleague’s question about an available property: “Do you know this place on Brown Street?”
“It’s a pit,” Samuelson said. “But it’s near UD.”
That began a complicated series of deals running parallel to the Genesis project. Samuelson’s JZ Construction, as the lead for other partners and investors, acquired a number of pieces of property on the west side of Brown Street, including a bowling alley-turned-bar-turned-bingo parlor — and then found tenants, including Panera, Chipotle, Penn Station and Dewey’s. Samuelson also constructed the new Milano’s building and did the renovations to several other Brown Street businesses.
On the east side of Brown Street, the University joined with the Miller-Valentine Group to develop University Place, which opened in 2008 and runs from Stewart Street northward. The facility contains graduate student apartments, restaurants and shops, including Flyer Spirit — a student-run retail store.
Within the Fairgrounds Neighborhood itself now is another change — housing being built, not by nonprofit partnerships, but by a commercial builder, Charles Simms Development.
The renaissance of Brown Street from UD to the hospital extends farther north on Brown (and its continuation, Warren Street). A former city of Dayton firehouse has become Jimmie’s Ladder 11, a reincarnation of Jimmie’s Cornerstone Bar and Grille. One of Dayton’s premier restaurants, Coco’s, has established itself even farther north. And Goodwill Easter Seals is moving its Dayton headquarters to a nearby site.
Among the most visible recent changes to Brown Street are UD’s Caldwell Street Apartments, having risen on the site at Brown and Caldwell streets where the auto dealer Frank Z once did business. Across Brown Street at that point, what once was an NCR building has transformed into UD’s College Park Center. And substantially changed is the street itself; the past year saw a complete replacement of a long section and the addition of decorative street lighting, underground utilities, new traffic signals, new sidewalks — and dedicated bike lanes.
At its south end, Brown Street now appears to be spilling over into Oakwood. The former site of the Routsong Funeral home, across Irving Avenue where Brown Street turns into Oakwood Avenue, is seeing stores built that have a resemblance to the new ones on Brown — perhaps because the developer is Jeff Samuelson, and success gets imitated.
Dayton has learned the lessons of Genesis and the rebirth of Brown Street. These — being applied to the renewal of other neighborhoods throughout the city — include:
But a street called Brown now runs proudly through the heart of the University of Dayton to the suburb of Oakwood, to the center of Dayton and to worlds beyond.
Thomas M. Columbus has been around Brown Street long enough to have had a drink at the Shed, but claims he was not here to welcome the Marianists when they immigrated to the U.S.No Comments
At Press Coffee Bar in Dayton’s Oregon District, the sound of screaming steamers bounced off the red tin ceiling and back down to where Eric Krissek ’10 sat sipping a cup of hot chocolate.
Kansas born and bred, he perched on a bar stool and spoke of how far he was from home and from his expectations 10, six, or even three years ago.
“It’s an illness,” he said of the hereditary obsession with Kansas State. “It’s even on my wallet.”
Yet when it came time to choose a college, he shunned the Wildcats and picked the Flyers. Three years after graduation, he’s still on team Dayton, living in a downtown townhouse, teaching in the Dayton Public Schools and patronizing the best places for hot cocoa.
It’s a phenomenon — students coming from out of state, graduating, staying, working and raising families — that’s not easily quantified but nonetheless provocative. With a world of possibilities before you, why choose Dayton?
Twenty percent of UD’s living alumni — 21,891 — made that choice and are living within 60 miles of UD. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 83,818 Montgomery County residents age 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, hinting at UD’s intellectual contribution to the region.
People have stories that help answer such questions, like Gloria Marano ’88 from Long Island, who strengthened her ties to this city during the accounting department banquet her senior year. As department chair Ron Burrows drew up the seating plan, he asked her, “So, which of these companies do you want to work for?” He sat her at a table with what would become her first employer, Gans Riddle.
“I didn’t really think about moving,” said Marano, who bonded with classmates who also chose Dayton after graduation. “We called it our family. We didn’t have family here, so we became family.”
Jim Tyler ’85 has a family story with a different twist. He decided after graduation to go home to Willow Grove, Pa.
A year and a half later, he came back to Dayton, for the love of Lisa Beery ’85. Brother Charlie ’88 had already followed Tyler to UD, and by the mid-’90s, his mom, dad, another brother, sister and brother-in-law had also moved; today, 10 cousins make up the next generation of Daytonians. (While they may become Flyers, UD is attracting an increasing number of undergraduates from outside of Dayton. In 2003, 14 percent of undergraduates were from Dayton; in 2012, 8.2 percent were locals.)
“I feel a very strong connection to Dayton, very close to UD,” said Tyler, editor of the Skywrighter, the newspaper for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “There’s the incredible amount of things you
can do here, be able to get to your job easily, be able to have the lifestyle that you want that you can afford.”
Derrick Keegan ’76, from Rochester, N.Y., chose Dayton because he craved the independent life he began at UD. Though his employer later transferred him to North Carolina, he accepted an offer to move back.
“It’s a conscious decision I’m happy I made,” said Keegan, vice president of marketing and sales for Globe Motors.
For Krissek, who had five job offers upon graduation, the reasons to stay were many. There’s his fiancee, Melanie Singer ’10, who also works in Dayton. There are his buddies, with whom he shares an apartment adjacent to downtown’s bike paths. And there’s his job, as a teacher at Ruskin PreK-8.
“At Ruskin, you get anyone who walks off the street. You get great kids, and you get kids who have been through the run of the mill, even juvenile detention center, so that’s a challenge.”
It’s a challenge he wanted to pursue, and Dayton offered it. His exposure to the city’s diverse populations — volunteering at DECA, attending the urban plunge retreat, student teaching at Ruskin — reinforced his desire to connect with place and people, to teach and make a difference.
Krissek is the first to admit that he might not always stay. He understands the draw of someplace new.
“It’s harder to do that the longer you stay,” said Krissek, who is finishing his third year teaching at Ruskin. “That’s why we keep saying, ‘One more year, one more year.’ If not, we’ll stay here forever.”
He’d be in good company.No Comments
This city once churned out cash registers, refrigerators and automotive radiators. Tomorrow’s economic revitalization will have decidedly fewer parts but many more players.
Looking out the sixth-floor windows of Roesch Library, it’s hard to focus on the challenges that have tested this country — manufacturing flight, two stock market crashes, the subprime mortgage meltdown and the Great Recession.
But gaze west — across the green swath of fields where NCR factories used to sprawl, down to the river where the GE Aviation EPISCENTER is rising — and see the future. The $51 million aerospace research complex is part of a multibillion-dollar makeover that aims to transform the Dayton region from a workaday manufacturer of consumer products into a high-tech powerhouse.
Dayton hopes to produce the kind of urban miracle that revived Pittsburgh and Akron, Ohio, after they lost their major manufacturing industries. Both cities linked local, high-tech universities with the business community to refocus the economy around advanced-technology industries. Dayton’s turnaround draws on the strengths of a very large pool of players, the University of Dayton’s world-class research labs among them. Each will contribute needed pieces of the puzzle for an urban renaissance. If the effort succeeds, it could serve as a model for the industrial, commercial, residential and social revival of other cities in the Rust Belt, where most UD alumni live.
“I think revival is starting already,” says University President Daniel J. Curran.
After the loss of 30,400 manufacturing jobs from the Dayton region since 1990, putting people to work is job one. The target industries include aerospace, sensor technology, medical devices, new materials, cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing — areas in which Dayton already has a nucleus of small and midsized companies.
The region is plunging ahead with tremendous speed, in part because the region’s leaders no longer must spend their energy in the past.
The final blow came June 2, 2009, when NCR Corp., the last Fortune 500 company based in Dayton, announced it would move its headquarters to Georgia. “I was in deep mourning for about two days,” recalls John Gower, then Dayton’s planning director, now adjunct faculty in urban studies at UD. “Then I woke up and said to myself, ‘The last shoe has dropped. We don’t have to worry about NCR, General Motors or Delphi leaving. We’ve been set free.’”
The old economic formula that powered Dayton was quite simple — large corporate headquarters and massive local factories that employed tens of thousands in the assembly-line production of cash registers, ATMs, shock absorbers, tires and refrigerators.
Dayton wants to replicate that formula with a twist. “The manufacturing that comes to Dayton in the future is going to be very different,” Curran says. “It’s going to be high-tech.”
Universities around the country have become catalysts for urban revivals because of their commitment to community, intellectual capital and physical position — that, unlike an NCR, the University of Dayton will never pick up and move to a new city offering incentives. UD also has world-class technical labs and cutting-edge engineering and business programs that contribute to its position. “If you look nationally, you see the growth of high-tech around research universities,” says Curran.
As a major employer and magnet for talent, UD has long been a critical part in Dayton’s economy. Now it is helping to fill the role once played by leaders of the city’s Fortune 500 companies, such as NCR founder John H. Patterson, who guided the region to recovery from the great 1913 flood.
“I think UD is a 21st-century version of a Fortune 500 company,” Gower says. “In fact, I would say they are even better than a Fortune 500 company because of the University’s Marianist view of social justice and the University’s incredibly long-term view of things.”
Of course, UD, its students and alumni have self-interest in these efforts. If the city thrives, UD will find it easier to attract research and business partners and talented students, faculty and staff. And those who hold its degree could see it grow in value and prestige.
In the new industrial Dayton, tech products will likely be produced by myriad small and midsized companies, which will make their products in small and midsized factories near their headquarters. In the long run, this may work to Dayton’s advantage. “I’d rather have 100 companies with 25 employees than one that employs 2,500,” says John Leland ’89, director of UD’s $100 million-a-year research arm, the University of Dayton Research Institute. “If you lose a couple of small ones, the impact is small. You lose the big one and you’ve taken a pretty big hit.”
To lure new technology firms and the manufacturing jobs they bring requires a revival of the innovative, risk-taking atmosphere that prevailed in the Midwest at the dawn of its industrial age.
“It was a pioneer spirit,” Leland says. “We had it 100 years ago. Somehow we lost it. But we can get it back.”
We didn’t need it, Leland suggests, when manufacturers like General Motors could guarantee employment for life. “Our culture went from one of risk taking to one of seeking security,” he says. “There’s a saying that those who seek safety and security will ultimately lose it.”
Fortunately, reservoirs of that pioneer spirit still exist in Dayton, especially among supplier companies and specialty machine shops that depended on automotive work. These companies had no choice but to adapt and find new lines of business when General Motors and Delphi shuttered their Dayton-area plants. One of them is Bastech, led by Ben Staub ’90, which has recreated itself into a 3-D print manufacturer primarily for the aerospace industry.
But Dayton needs to create a lot more small tech companies with growth potential. So, it is creating inner-city research parks to attract them. While the required blocks of in-town land would normally be hard to assemble, in this case there is land for the taking.
The first project was Tech Town, which began rising in 2008, just before the nation’s economic roof caved in. Three buildings are up on a near-downtown site where GM once made automotive radiators; nine more buildings are planned. While the recession has tempered early ambitions, more than 40 tenants are now in place, including UDRI’s sensors group, one of the early anchors.
When NCR left Dayton, UD stepped up. On land that once comprised the corporation’s world headquarters and 15,000 factory jobs, UD now houses the Research Institute’s headquarters; undergraduate, graduate and continuing education classes; the Center for Leadership; recreation fields; the doctor of physical therapy program; and administrative offices. Midmark, a fast-growth health care product and services company, this spring leased a sizeable block of space in UD’s 1700 South Patterson Building as its new headquarters. And the GE Aviation EPISCENTER will complete construction on former NCR land this summer.
After UD acquired NCR property in 2005 and 2009, Curran told a Dayton audience that the University’s objective was to attract a major corporation to build on part of the site. “People in the audience shook their heads,” Curran recalls. “They didn’t think it could happen. When we announced that GE was coming, they were so happy.”
Landing GE Aviation has boosted the city’s confidence in its revitalization efforts. In 2009, the region’s high-tech turnaround got another boost when the state of Ohio designated Dayton the state’s Aerospace Hub of Innovation and Opportunity, a company-attraction strategy designed to encourage aerospace-related companies to cluster in an urban corridor that runs from Tech Town to UD, and provided $250,000 in startup funds. While state funding has expired, the success of the initiative has led the University and its partners — the city of Dayton, CityWide Development Corp., the Dayton Development Coalition and Montgomery County — to develop a plan to keep the hub progressing because of its success in attracting business. Since the designation, eight companies have gravitated to Tech Town, and six more are in process, says the hub’s director, former Air Force officer Kerry Taylor.
Making the region pop
A turnaround strategy and a couple of technology parks are a start, but the region’s organizations have more detailed plans. Together, they strive to create a vibrant community core that contributes to the quality of life workers seek and employers need.
“A strong urban core is important to retain and attract companies and talent,” says Jeff Hoagland ’91, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, which seeks new and expanded business for the 14-county Dayton metropolitan area. “We need students who go to college here to stay in the region,” he adds. “A strong urban core helps to do that.”
Among organizations contributing to success is the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, which has committed to collaborating to create 20,000 local internship opportunities by 2020. UpDayton spurs economic growth within the region by engaging, connecting and empowering young professionals in the Miami Valley. Five Rivers MetroParks promotes programming and facilities that attract outdoor enthusiasts and families seeking exercise and adventure. And the list goes on.
The Dayton Development Coalition works by serving as a “one-stop shop” for companies that want to locate or expand in Dayton and the surrounding area. It maintains an inventory of available land, factories and office buildings, and it helps prospects gain state financing. It also serves as a distribution arm for venture capital funds from private investors and public agencies. Curran chairs the coalition’s board of trustees.
Its work has helped greater Dayton become the nation’s No. 1 midsized market for new and expanded business facilities in three of the last five years, according to data compiled by Site Selection magazine. For example, the coalition helped Process Equipment Co. consolidate its headquarters and four suburban factories into the former Dayton Press complex on Dayton’s near west side. Process Equipment, which makes factory automation equipment, machine tool components and other products, plans to boost its payroll from 160 to 410 workers over five years.
New and expanded businesses add up to a substantial reservoir of talent, which in turn helps to attract still more business and more talent to the region. “Success breeds success,” Hoagland says.
Within the city, one of the biggest attractions is the area known as “Greater Downtown.” It runs down Main Street from downtown to UD and includes a several-mile swath on either side.
It already contains the financial district, Tech Town, four of the city’s six large medical complexes, UD and Sinclair Community College, UD Arena, the Dayton Art Institute, the Schuster Center for Performing Arts, and Fifth Third Field, home of Dayton’s minor league baseball team. The Greater Downtown corridor is also the focal point for the city’s $3.4 billion building boom and a magnet for new ventures. In recent years, the corridor has attracted six new corporate headquarters along with the offices and labs of some 50 technology firms.
But some city leaders think Greater Downtown needs something more if it’s to serve as a magnet to get large numbers of entrepreneurs and inventors to settle in the Dayton region.
“People want to live in Boston or other big cities where there’s all this urban stuff,” says Dr. Michael Ervin, an entrepreneur and former UD trustee who co-chairs the Greater Downtown project. Fifty years ago, Boston created its own urban renaissance, turning a drab central city into a live-wire community. “What they did in Boston is very doable,” Ervin says. “And we’re going to do it here.”
So, the Greater Downtown project is pushing upscale downtown living, nightlife, bike trails, a new kayaking course and an emphasis on the environment — things that appeal to young, well-educated entrepreneurs and inventors. “The infrastructure has been laid over the last 10 years to really make this area pop,” Ervin says.
Once the Dayton region attracts a nucleus of inventors and entrepreneurs, city leaders believe factory jobs will follow. But to understand how Dayton will reclaim its manufacturing strength necessitates an understanding of the city’s manufacturing history — both its fall and its rise.
A century ago, Dayton excelled as an inventor’s town. It was a compact place where people with ideas were likely to rub shoulders with other people with ideas, many of whom worked in what’s now considered Greater Downtown.
At the southern end, Civil War veteran Patterson bought a tiny local company that made cash registers and launched the National Cash Register Co. A couple miles away, bicycle mechanics Wilbur and Orville Wright resolved the problems of powered flight — and set the city up for a long-term future in aviation. And downtown, inventor Charles Kettering founded the Dayton Engineering Laboratory Co. to make auto parts, including his revolutionary self-starter, which relieved car owners from having to turn a hand crank. Their ideas were in part powered by labor migrating northward and by the rise of a middle class that could purchase such products.
These days, the players are different, but the idea is the same — pack technological talent in the same small area and nourish ideas until they grow into economic engines.
UD’s Research Institute has emerged as a high-tech powerhouse with expertise in advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and aerospace technology, including being a major federal government contractor for aerospace R&D. Downtown, Sinclair Community College has emerged as a major job-training center, focusing on the jobs of the future. Inventors in need of talent, technology and business expertise can draw from UD and two other large universities in the region, Wright State and Miami University. The goal is for their inventions to be manufactured in Dayton.
The nation’s leaders are taking up the refrain of American independence through the reclaiming of manufacturing jobs, which in the Dayton region have dropped from 38 percent of the work force a half century ago to about 10 percent of the work force today.
“They all realize the importance of manufacturing,” says City Commissioner Dean Lovelace ’72, a former NCR production worker laid off when the corporation sent work to Mexico. “Manufacturing has been dormant, but it’s a sleeping giant.”
In Dayton, advanced manufacturing may hold the key to keeping jobs local. Advanced manufacturing enables American workers to produce more, faster, with less labor. UD researchers believe labor-saving manufacturing can trump cheap overseas labor.
One of the most promising such technologies is 3-D printing. Office printers lay a thin layer of ink on paper. By contrast, 3-D printers add layers of plastic, metal or other materials until a three-dimensional part is formed. UD’s Research Institute landed a $3 million state grant to refine 3-D printing for manufacturing. The work is under way at the former NCR headquarters.
The 3-D process could be a game changer, enabling product designs that couldn’t be done before. For instance, a component with 10 parts can be re-engineered so that a 3-D printer can create it in a single piece. The 10-part component requires lots of labor to make and assemble, giving an advantage to China. But if re-engineering reduces 10 parts to one, “that work will stay in the U.S.,” says Brian Rice ’90, who heads the Research Institute’s multiscale polymers and composite division, which landed the state grant.
These new products will have to be designed by engineers who understand 3-D printing and its potential. “UD is already incorporating 3-D technology into its engineering courses,” Rice says. “I would say we’re ahead of the curve.”
3-D printing may eventually be used to make any number of things, including aircraft engine components. Bastech produces 3-D prototypes for its aerospace customers. A sister company called Rapid Direction Inc. sells 3-D equipment to companies that want it. Bastech, headquartered in suburban Dayton, opened a downtown satellite office among a growing thicket of tech firms. It is discovering where these companies might use 3-D printers and showing them what the technology can do, says Bastech’s Staub. “That’s the beauty of Tech Town.”
The view of the Dayton region’s economy is starting to look again like Dayton in its heyday, when inventors and entrepreneurs traded expertise and built the city into a manufacturing powerhouse — a place with good jobs, stable neighborhoods and homegrown industrial corporations whose executives cared about the community. This new generation of home-grown corporations could soon retool local factories to turn out products again bearing the stamp, “Made In Dayton, Ohio, USA.”
Freelance reporter Doug McInnis and his wife, Liz Schaaf McInnis ’76, live in Casper, Wyo. A former Dayton Daily News reporter, Doug continues his 39-year love of Flyer sports.No Comments
(This article won a gold for best feature writing in the 2013 Pride of CASE V awards.)
Waiting for a transplant can put an organ recipient’s life on hold. But a tree frog that can survive freezing may hold the key to extending life by gaining time
The wipers couldn’t move any faster as they swept away the heavy snow. Julie Betz-Lugabihl ’05 peered through the windshield at the falling wall of white. Ahead of her was a large snowplow, doing its best to clear the way for the black Chevy Tahoe and its precious cargo. Behind her was a police escort, the siren lights reflecting wildly off the rearview mirror. They were the only two vehicles she had seen on Interstate 75 in hours.
Hours ago, in Dayton, someone had died. Hours later, in Toledo, Ohio, someone else would live. And the clock was ticking.
Six hours and 150 miles after leaving Dayton, Betz-Lugabihl and her colleague arrived at the University of Toledo Medical Center. The kidney in the cooler that had been secured in the backseat was still viable, and the transplant was successful. But not every organ transplant story has a happy ending.
“I’ve heard of surgeries that had to be canceled because of weather, because the organ wouldn’t be able to arrive in time,” said Betz-Lugabihl, a community relations representative with Life Connection of Ohio, a nonprofit that facilitates organ donation.
For the recipient, that means more waiting, more putting life on hold, more worrying if a match will be found in time, more staring at the phone waiting for it to ring.
“If we could extend the viability of an organ even just 24 hours, it would make a world of difference,” she said.
The key may be hiding in her backyard. The Cope’s gray tree frog — commonly found in wooded areas across the United States — survives harsh Midwestern winters by freezing. Research on the frog at the University of Dayton and Wright State University is uncovering its method of cryopreservation, a step toward developing a successful method of freezing and thawing donated organs. Understanding the tree frog could someday help transplant patients gain the time that could equal life.
In a Science Center lab in the heart of UD’s campus, professor Carissa Krane and her students are putting the tree frog’s cells under the microscope. Six years ago, they identified a protein that plays the critical role in preserving the frog’s cells and organs through freezing and thawing. The discovery was exciting, she said, because humans have the same protein, which, if activated, could hold the solution to long-term cryopreservation of organs.
As temperatures outside drop and the days get shorter, the 2-inch frog prepares for winter. It moves less. It eats less. It hunkers down under the falling leaves. And on the inside, it
begins a process that will keep it alive as nearly 60 percent of its body water turns to ice.
Just like water anywhere, the water inside an animal freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. And just like anywhere else, this freezing water expands and forms jagged ice crystals. These crystals can rip through a cell’s protective membrane and rupture its critical internal components. But even if the freezing didn’t kill the cell, the thawing would.
That’s because water seeks balance — an osmotic balance. Water will move across cell membranes to equalize concentrations of dissolved substances inside and outside of a cell. This can sometimes result in cell swelling or shrinking, which can compromise cell function. As ice crystals thaw outside of the cell, they flood the surrounding area, forcing the water to rush into the cell, filling it quickly and bursting it like a water balloon.
Yet despite the dangers of freezing and thawing, the little tree frog survives.
Its secret is glycerol. Formed in the liver, glycerol is a type of alcohol known as a polyol. It was once used as an antifreeze in automobiles until it was replaced by polyethylene glycol.
As the frog prepares to freeze, it begins moving glycerol in and out of its cells.
The presence of glycerol inside cells helps to reduce cellular water loss that usually occurs when ice forms outside of the cell. Proteins inside the cell prevent the water inside of the cells from freezing and destroying critical components.
Outside the cell, glycerol creates a buffer between ice crystals and blunts their jagged edges, reducing their harmful effects on the cell’s outer membrane. During the thaw, glycerol flows in and out of the cell to control the rising tide of water, slowing its rush back into the cell, preventing the balloon-like burst.
Scientists have known about the cryoprotectant properties of glycerol for years, but how it moved in and out of the frog’s cells was a mystery. That changed in 2007 when Sarah Zimmerman, a graduate student in Krane’s lab, published a paper identifying the presence of a unique protein inside the frog, which she dubbed HC-3. This, Krane and her colleagues believed, was the key.
For centuries, scientists assumed water moved between cells by simply leaking through the cell membrane. While this does occur, it happens slowly. In the 1990s, American scientist Peter Agre discovered a protein that enabled the swift, organized flow of water in and out of cells. He named his discovery — for which he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2003 — aquaporins, which literally means “water channels.”
Aquaporins exist in all animals, including humans, where they assist in the formation of urine, tears and sweat. Further research has shown that some aquaporins also facilitate the movement of small solutes, including glycerol.
Aquaporins that also facilitate glycerol movement across cell membranes are known as aquaglyceroporins. This is what Zimmerman found in the frog and named HC-3. Humans have a nearly identical aquaglyceroporin called AQP-3, and it’s found in the same tissues in humans as in the frog.
But it wasn’t enough just to prove the frog had this water-glycerol channel. Krane needed to show the channel was necessary for cryoprotection. The first step was to observe the frogs
David Goldstein, a biology professor at Wright State University, visits local swamps each spring and collects about 40 frogs to bring back to his lab. There, he simulates the changing seasons, adjusting temperature, hours of sunlight and the abundance of food. He’s looking for the triggers in the environment that start the frog’s freeze process, also known as cold acclimation.
That’s when Krane comes in. She collects blood samples from both cold-acclimated and warm-acclimated frogs. She wants to know what’s happening on the inside, at the cellular level. If there is a solution to organ preservation to be found in the tree frog, she said, the cellular level is the most likely place to find it.
“The natural process that prepares the frogs for freezing takes weeks to months and is dependent upon the seasonal changes that the animals experience in the fall,” she said. “We don’t know how the animal translates the environmental cues it receives to a metabolic response that prepares them for freezing.”
She said the goal is not to induce the frog’s lengthy freezing process in humans but to understand it and determine if it can be translated to mammalian cells. “Once we know what the physiological ‘signal’ is, we can potentially induce a similar response in tissues from animals that do not naturally tolerate freezing,” she said.
The first discovery Krane and her students made was that the red blood cells of cold-acclimated frogs had a greater amount of the HC-3 protein than the red blood cells of warm-acclimated ones, a good indication that HC-3 was involved.
Next, they disabled HC-3 in the blood cells and examined what happened when the cells were exposed to the fluid conditions that exist in freezing frogs. The cells swelled at a different rate and did not recover their shape as cells with HC-3 do. The results show that HC-3 did in fact affect the cell response, further evidence that aquaglyceroporins were not only involved but also necessary.
The next question was obvious: If the aquaglyceroporin that enables freeze tolerance in the frog is also present in humans, how is it activated? Elizabeth Wetzel ’13 thinks she’s found the answer: epinephrine.
Wetzel joined Krane’s lab two years ago as a junior biology major. The team had just made an important discovery. Not only was HC-3 more abundant in cold-acclimated red blood cells than warm-acclimated ones, but it was also in a different location. In warm-acclimated cells, HC-3 floated loosely in the cytoplasm. In cold-acclimated cells, it repositioned to the cell membrane, ready for duty. Something had to tell it when to move, Wetzel thought.
She made the search for that something the focus of her senior honors thesis. To set up the experiments, she placed red blood cells in a culture to keep them alive for 48 hours. She then added potential triggers to the cells and waited 60 minutes. Placing samples of these treated cells on slides, she used a fluorescent tag to identify where the HC-3 protein was located in the cell. Under the microscope, Wetzel was able to see where the HC-3 had moved and compare it to cells that had not received the potential triggers. Time and again, one trigger emerged as the most likely candidate.
“It’s not definitive yet, but it does appear that it is the epinephrine pathway,” Wetzel said. The next step is to introduce an inhibitor that blocks epinephrine during cold acclimation to see if HC-3 fails to move to the membrane. These experiments are slated for the summer, performed by another undergraduate student. If all goes well, Krane said she hopes to submit the findings for publication in the fall.
These are steps in a long process that would include moving freeze-tolerance testing from the frog’s cells to mammalian cells.
For her part, Wetzel was invited to present her research at the Ohio Physiological Conference, the National Collegiate Research Conference at Harvard and the prestigious Experimental Biology Conference in Boston.
“A lot of people see research as just being in the lab and pipetting, but I see how it really can have huge implications and make a difference in millions of people’s lives,” she said.
This difference wouldn’t just be for the physical health benefits of the transplant recipient. If organs could be preserved longer, the gift of time itself could be life-changing, Betz-Lugabihl said.
“People on the waiting list have to put their lives on hold,” she said. “They can’t go on a family vacation. They can’t ever be more than a few hours away from the hospital. And the wait becomes so long for some, I’ve known people whose health has deteriorated to the point of not being able to brush their teeth or comb their hair.”
In Ohio, only 11 hospitals in five cities are authorized transplant centers. Often, a person in need of a transplant must relocate to one of these cities to be close to the hospital when the call comes. The disruption to life affects work, school, finances, family relationships and more.
“Just being out of their comfort zone, away from friends and familiar surroundings adds to the anxiety,” Betz-Lugabihl said. “This is on top of the waiting, on top of the wondering, will a match be found in time?”
In addition to the worries about surgery and rejection, time adds another layer of anxiety. The uncertain time spent waiting for the call. The short window of time spent rushing the donated organ to the hospital and prepping the recipient for surgery.
Porter Lyons, a rising sophomore international studies major from Garrettsville, Ohio, knows this fear.
On Christmas Eve 2011, after days of fighting what he believed to be just a common cold, Lyons halted halfway down the stairs with a sudden shortness of breath. His heart began racing. His father checked his pulse and found it to be twice the normal rate.
As the paramedics rushed him to the local hospital, they discovered he had an irregular heartbeat. He was flown to nearby Cleveland Clinic where, just hours before his family had expected to be exchanging presents by their Christmas tree, Lyons was given the news. He had cardiomyopathy, and he likely only had a short time to live.
The doctors could connect his heart to a battery pack to regulate its rhythm and potentially reverse the damage. His best option, he was told, was a heart transplant.
“Saying ‘yes’ to the transplant was the easy part. It had to be done,” Lyons said. “The anxiety and fear mostly came from waiting. People are afraid of what they don’t know. The biggest fear is that if my loved one doesn’t get this organ in time, I might lose them forever.”
Lyons was immediately placed at the top of the waiting list. Just 18 hours later, he heard the good news: They had a heart.
But as quickly as the hope came, it left. The transplant surgeon determined the heart was not a good match. The waiting would continue.
Surrounded by his family and girlfriend at the time, Lyons passed the time mostly by sleeping. Occasionally he’d wake long enough to ask for an update, consume a quick snack and let the medication lull him back to sleep.
For his parents, the waiting was sadly familiar. In September of 1987, Porter’s father, Doug, found himself in the same hospital as his son, lying in a bed, unable to leave until doctors found him a new heart. In 1986, at the age of 22, Doug Lyons had been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an inflammation of his heart that caused it to beat irregularly. For 31 days he waited as a bedside pump moved his blood throughout his body. On Nov. 12, 1987, he received a new heart.
Almost 10 years later, on Valentine’s Day 1997, Doug Lyons was back in the Cleveland Clinic. This time he was receiving a kidney transplant, one donated by a family friend, after spending eight months on dialysis.
In both cases, the life-saving organ came in time. Would his son’s story have the same outcome?
Awaking from another nap, Porter Lyons discovered his girlfriend by his side. Just 36 hours had passed since his name was placed on the transplant waiting list, but he had lost all track of time.
“I just remember being thirsty,” he said. “So I asked for an orange juice.”
His girlfriend left the room to find a nurse and fulfill his request. But as the minutes ticked by, she did not return.
“My dad walked in a few minutes later and asked, ‘So you want some orange juice, buddy?’ By this time I was getting a little grumpy, so I replied, a bit irritated, ‘Yeah, I’m thirsty.’”
The orange juice never came. His family was stalling for time because they wanted to wait for confirmation, but in the hallway the nurse was telling them Porter couldn’t have any fluids. They had found another heart.
Not far away, a young father had died. Quickly and unexpectedly, a common sinus infection had spread to his brain. Still grieving, his family made the choice to donate his organs — his final gift, given the day after Christmas.
Only 36 hours. A day and a half after being told he would need a new heart, Porter Lyons was on the operating table.
“It was hard to accept at first,” he said. “It all happens so fast. In some ways, it seems like such a brutal process, taking these organs so shortly after someone dies, moving them around the country to put them in someone else.
“Obviously, I’m grateful for it; it’s a life-saving process. But if we could slow it down, to allow more time for loved ones to grieve, more time for doctors to make sure it’s a match, more time for the one receiving the organ to prepare, I think it would make people more comfortable. It would seem more … procedural. More … harmonious.”
Harmony. Peace of mind. Life no longer put on hold. Can it come from a small, gray tree frog that freezes to survive the winter?
“People may wonder, ‘Why give tax dollars to some scientist in a lab to play around with molecules and cells from an animal anyone can find in the woods?’” said Krane, who is sharing a three-year, $562,000 grant from the National Science Foundation with Goldstein at Wright State. “It’s a fair question, and I use it to remind myself and my students to be accountable and to carefully relate everything we do to how it can be used to improve lives.
“I’m not a Pollyanna,” she continued. “I don’t pretend to think our experiments are so important they’re going to result tomorrow in preservation of organs. We may not end up with the discovery that revolutionizes organ transplant. But we are making incremental advances, with the idea that something we come upon in a basic experiment may help someone else advance the science further.”
How long they can last between harvest and transplant:
For all organs but kidneys, as soon as they are recovered they are flushed with a preservation fluid, packaged in sterile containers and packed in ice in a cooler. Kidneys can be placed on a preservation machine that is similar to dialysis, which keeps fluids circulating.
About organ donor donation:
— Source: Julie Betz-Lugabihl, community representative, Life Connection of Ohio.No Comments
Brother Bernie Ploeger, S.M. ’71, president of Chaminade University in Honolulu, answers questions on the spiritual, the mathematical and the Hawaiian.
You, especially, and so many of the Marianists I’ve known have gentle, kind and lively senses of humor. Are they a reflection of the Marianist spirit? — John Geiger, Green Valley, Ariz.
Growing up in the middle of a family of four boys, our version of “talking trash” was only more gentle when viewed from today. This question brought back one of my earliest experiences of teaching. I had made a teasing remark about how dumb a student’s answer was. Then I realized I had shamed him and he could no longer pay attention to the math. Luckily, it was in an individual conversation and not in front of the whole class. Whatever I might have done with my brothers is a big failure in the classroom. An attentive teacher learns this quickly.
I suggest this is a source of this shared trait. Having said that, while I love Garrison Keillor, my candidate for the master of gentle humor, I really enjoy The Daily Show.
What is Marianist about your leadership style? — Mary Harvan Gorgette ’91, L’Hay-les-Roses, France
I’m cautious about believing if I know one’s parents or siblings, I know this person. Yet, when “everyone” says I look like my brothers — it’s true. So, that’s how I’ve come to think of shared characteristics of Marianists. Some talk of being a child of Mary. I try to be a disciple in the way Mary was. I find Mary at Cana and Mary in the upper room at Pentecost to be particularly important. I would like to believe that my leadership builds community — it is inclusive, consultative and empowering.
Do you think the Marianists are perceived any differently in Hawaii than in Dayton? —Suzette Pico, Centerville, Ohio
Although I believe there are many more things that are the same, I offer the following three as different. Because we came as missionaries (1883) and the director of the community and other brothers were personal friends of the king, leading them to oppose the overthrow of the monarch and annexation, there is an identification with the aspirations of Hawaiians that is noticeable. Related to this, from the beginning, many of the students at the schools we directed were from non-Christian families, which has led to a certain naturalness of diversity and interreligious dialogue. Finally, our small size and relative isolation (of course, this has attenuated considerably with jet travel) has meant we work more closely with other religious communities and the diocese than was my experience in Dayton.
How has the combining of the four former provinces into the Marianist Province of the U.S. had an impact on Marianist presence and mission? — Peter Vlahutin ’94, Saint Ann, Mo.
Although numerically we have continued to decline, the formation of the new province in a very helpful way “shook things up.” When you have to explain to someone else why you’ve always done something this way — the experience of each of the four provinces — your presuppositions are challenged. So, there has been a certain “creative destruction” that I believe has been freeing. For Chaminade the mobility of personnel had led to a significant renewal and expansion in Marianist presence.
For all our institutional commitments, the unification has given even greater focus to our role as sponsors and the formation of collaborators. While we have had to consolidate the number of our communities, at the same time new initiatives have been made, most recently in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Has your undergrad experience in math at UD impacted your life? — Jan Tonnis Trick ’71, Dayton
I believe what I learned that has been most central is what constitutes a theorem and its proof. Harry Mushenheim’s senior year advanced calculus courses were the time where I felt I came to understand mathematics as reasoning from axioms — always asking whether every condition of a theorem is needed, how to look for counter-examples, how to identify all the logical possibilities. He gave me an aesthetic appreciation of mathematics.
What’s your favorite way to relax? Working crossword puzzles? — Kurt Ostdiek ’91, Dayton
Kurt, I know I got you hooked on crossword puzzles, but I’ve abandoned them for KenKen. What can I say? I am a mathematician.No Comments
When MBA grad Philippe Dubost ’07 launched his search for a new career with a unique online résumé, he hoped it would
lead to new opportunities. What he didn’t expect were the resulting job offers: all 100 of them.
“After two years with the startup company I cofounded, I decided to look for a new venture — but the idea of applying for jobs was killing me,” said the Paris-based Web entrepreneur. “I wanted to make something different.”
A mirror image of an Amazon.com product page, Dubost crafted the résumé in just two days and included it as a link with other application materials. On a whim, he shared it with a popular French blog; within five days, the résumé had gone viral, thanks to a post on social media news site Mashable.com.
One person unsurprised by his approach is Janice Glynn, director of the University’s MBA program. An exchange student from France’s Toulouse Business School, Dubost after graduation worked with Procter & Gamble Canada through a Cincinnati contracting company, then moved to San Diego for a software development job. It’s rare for international students to be hired by U.S. companies, Glynn explained, due to visa restrictions.
“He made an impression as soon as he arrived on campus as a very talented and charismatic individual,” she said.
Jason Eckert, director of UD’s career services, agreed. “From a professional standpoint, Philippe did so many ‘right’ things during his search. He’s a communicator, and this profile makes it easy for employers to find him, learn more and then reach out,” he said. “It’s also a quick, fun read. Job seekers need to acknowledge that employers don’t spend much time reviewing documents, so using clear headings and short bullet points is perfect.”
1. Imitation is more than flattery — it can get results. “Everyone loves shopping at Amazon.com and is familiar with the site and its layout,” Eckert said, noting that building on that understanding showcased Dubost’s creative potential. “It drew a lot of positive attention to his skills and background.”
2. You’re gonna need more server space. A sudden influx of visitors, from about 500 a day to more than 200,000, tested the limits of Dubost’s server capacity. He also had to upgrade his online form-builder account after the number of “contact me” submissions exceeded the cap for free service.
3. Empty your calendar. Dubost found himself responding to more than 1,000 emails from fans, reporters and, most important, interested companies. “I’ve done my best to satisfy them all — it’s fun,” he said.
4. Expect the reunion requests. Social media helped propel Dubost’s profile from an interesting experiment to a lauded self-promotional campaign, and his former acquaintances took notice. Glynn noted that Dubost is adept at using online networking to stay in touch, periodically sending emails to the MBA program or posting updates on LinkedIn. “If he came back to campus to speak to current students, I wouldn’t have to suggest a topic; I know he’d want to talk about putting your passion into practice,” she said.
5. Polish your decision-making skills. Ultimately, Dubost’s pitch served its purpose, garnering him the job offer he’d been waiting for. He joined Birchbox, a discovery commerce platform with offices in the U.S. and Europe, at its Paris location this summer. “They’re a fantastic company with super smart people, an awesome culture, tremendous growth, and I couldn’t be happier about joining them.” Dubost is considering writing an e-book chronicling his short, but successful, hunt.No Comments
Jyoti Singhvi is a storyteller, but she doesn’t use paper and pen; she uses metal and jewels.
“There’s no better way to celebrate yourself for generations to come. … It’s bespoken for you and it is one-of-a-kind that tells your personal story,” Singhvi said about commissioning a custom piece from her jewelry brand, JYOTI New York.
Born in Delhi, India, and seeing her father start businesses, Singhvi was interested in entrepreneurship. Jewelry, too, was a part of her life; her ancestors established a jewelry business for India’s nobility 150 years ago. “It must be in my blood,” said Singhvi, who started designing jewelry as an adolescent.
Singhvi majored in computer science at UD two years after her family moved to Dayton, when she was 16. Before launching JYOTI New York in 2011, Singhvi worked in the e-commerce industry, earned her MBA from MIT and worked at Cartier. Singhvi also received her master’s in public administration from Harvard to help address the issues of poverty in developing countries, health care and women’s issues.
Jewelry is usually purchased to celebrate a special occasion. Singhvi desired to redesign her own ring, but most jewelry brands do not design jewelry to encompass people’s personal stories. “I design custom pieces about celebrating who you are and bringing your story to life,” Singhvi said. She sits down with each customer and learns about everything — passions, dreams, fears, important people, important occasions — and then narrates their story through jewelry. For one couple who enjoyed the adrenaline rush of bungee jumping and skydiving, Singhvi designed a ring with an innovative “Falling Rock” setting; the diamond appeared to be suspended in air. Singhvi is also launching ready-to-wear jewelry collections.
“When the final piece comes through, the client sees their story in it, and they’ve never seen anything like it before,” Singhvi said. “It is exhilarating to see their happiness and excitement.”No Comments
The current Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house was once a piecemeal residence for employees of NCR Corp., but for Mike Ponticelli ’06, life at 225 Kiefaber St. was full of interesting stories — including one about an iguana and its tail.
While Ponticelli didn’t become a resident of the once-pink-colored house until his junior year, his stories of “the shrimp” began as a sophomore.
“We went down to the basement at the start of the first semester to prepare it for the year,” says Ponticelli, a theater major. “We found this old coal shoot; next to it we found a really, really old pile of coal.”
Beneath that dark, dusty pile, he says, were several bottles. One was a vintage Coca-Cola bottle, but most of the others seemed to be from a traveling salesman.
“One was a snake oil canister … it was something you’d probably see at a 19th-century trade show,” he says.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom house was one of the nicest on the block, he says.
“There was just so much space,” he recalls. “The house itself was really clean.”
The five male housemates kept things in order and didn’t have many problems.
“One exception was when one of my housemates got a pet iguana,” he recalls. “He told us, ‘Don’t touch it … if it gets scared, its tail will fall off.’ One day, my housemate saw that his could-be best-in-show iguana’s tail was off.”
The housemate blamed him for a week, Ponticelli says.
“I never touched the reptile,” he adds. “Eventually he found out that another housemate’s stereo was what caused the tail to fall off.”
As much as the housemate wanted an award-winning pet iguana, the incident shattered those dreams.
“We all laugh about it now,” says Ponticelli, now a freight broker in Boston. “It’s just one of those things that I loved about that house.
“Whether you were saying hello or staying for a few hours, people were always welcome at the Phi Sigma Kappa house.”
And take a tour of this old house with today’s residents.1 Comment
A book by Don Quigley ’63
For nearly 40 years, each December Don Quigley ’63 has done the same thing: he’s donned a familiar red suit, added a temporary white beard and spent time listening to hundreds of children detail their Christmas wishes.
“My writers’ group was really interested in my motivation — why do I keep doing this, year after year, with nothing material in return? I credit my humble childhood Christmases and the values system taught by my parents: what’s important, and what isn’t. I wanted to use the role of a mythical character to bring out that focus.”
Published in 2012, Santa’s Magic chronicles Quigley’s four-decade stint as the jolly man. He based the book on his short story about a young girl whose father was paralyzed in a car accident the month before Christmas. Her one request of Santa? To have her father walk again.
“You never know the impact you can have on someone else’s life. I later learned that until that night when she sat on Santa’s lap, she hadn’t spoken a single word since her father’s accident. After I left, she finally spent time with her father,” said Quigley, who has kept in touch with the girl and her family. He sent her a copy of the book.
Quigley is an adjunct professor in the School of Business Administration.No Comments