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From gentle leading to creative destruction … Ask A Marianist

8:06 AM  Jun 1st, 2013
by Thomas M. Columbus

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.

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How to prepare for 100 job offers

7:51 AM  Jun 1st, 2013
by Audrey Starr

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.

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Precious memories

2:56 PM  Feb 21st, 2013
by Meredith Hirt ’13

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.”

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My Old House 2006: 225 Kiefaber

1:42 PM  Feb 13th, 2013
by Mickey Shuey '14

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.

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Santa’s Magic

1:32 PM  Feb 13th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

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.

Read more about Quigley and his student illustrator, Katie Kandrach ’10.

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Santa tales

1:31 PM  Feb 13th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

Forget the sleigh and reindeer — sometimes, Santa Claus needs to travel in an ’84 Chevy Caprice.

That was the original transportation of choice for Don Quigley ’63, a busy sales professional by day who, for the past 30 years, has transformed into the iconic Christmas character at night. What does it take to don the familiar costume?

“Someone who gets more joy from giving to others than from receiving,” Quigley said. “It also doesn’t hurt to love to dress in a warm, plush red velvet suit and instantly look like you’ve gained 50 pounds.”

In the beginning, Quigley snuck off to his basement, perfecting a hearty “ho ho ho” and belly laugh. “My wife worried I was having a midlife crisis,” he chuckled. He recounted this and other tales in his 2012 memoir, Santa’s Magic, which also features illustrations by Katie Kandrach ’10. The two joined forces after meeting as teacher and student while Quigley was a UD business professor, a later-in-life profession that Santa gets the credit for inspiring.

“My role as Santa gave me self-confidence and self-esteem that wouldn’t have been part of my personality otherwise,” Quigley explained. After two years of portraying the mythical man, he made a career move from a computer giant to an electronics manufacturer, returning to his alma mater in 1998 as an adjunct professor. “I started by listening to children as they told me their dreams, and now they are listening to me as I teach how to pursue them.”

After three decades of use, Quigley finally traded his original Santa uniform for an updated version, which he wore again this Christmas. “Santa, the legend, can never retire,” he pointed out.

Read more about Kandrach, whose current job keeps her in the holiday spirit; and, find out how long it took Quigley to compress nearly 40 years of memories into Santa’s Magic.

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The Grimm Legacy

4:25 PM  Feb 11th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

A book by Addie J. King ’01

King modeled the main character in her first novel after her experience as a first-year law student — then, she added a talking frog. “When I learned that the Brothers Grimm had studied law before they started their folklore and linguistic studies, I was hooked,” she said. The book combines real-life scenarios (like the new student who forgets to check for first-day assignments) with a creative reimagining of Grimm fairy tales. An attorney by day, King said creative writing helps hone her legal writing skills — in turn, her legal work makes great inspiration for future fiction.

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Onward to the Dawn: A History of Tiffin University

4:09 PM  Feb 11th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

A book by Michael Anthony Grandillo ’86

Although this dissertation-turned-historiography features Tiffin’s evolution, much of the book speaks to more universal themes. “The history of higher education in Ohio embodies the American experience: of immigration, the quest for economic freedom, the escape from religious persecution, and most importantly, to our spirit of celebrating the value of education,” explained Grandillo, who serves as vice president for development and public affairs at the school. Mentions of UD, the Marianists and the city of Dayton can be found throughout.

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3:59 PM  Feb 11th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

Run into a UD graduate in the Rochester chapter, and you’ll likely get an earful.

If you ask some of the 767 alumni in the Rochester, N.Y., chapter to talk about their alma mater, you’d better have a comfortable chair handy.

“We love to talk about UD — it’s kind of an obsession,” said chapter president Katie McGuire ’07. “Three of our alumni chapter presidents are Rochester natives. If I wear a Flyers T-shirt to the Rochester Public Market, I’m inevitably going to be stopped by someone who wants to tell me when they graduated and what house they lived in on Kiefaber.”

Proud and passionate, Rochesterians were born to be loyal Flyers, McGuire said. The chapter is known for strong event attendance, whether they have to slog through a snowstorm to make a game watch or tolerate an eight-hour bus ride back to campus for Reunion Weekend.

“We’re hearty,” McGuire explained. It doesn’t hurt that the bus trips, started years ago by longtime chapter president Frank Geraci ’73, have now reached legendary status. “We fill a bus with 50 people, everyone brings snacks and movies, and we sit together as a big cheering section at a basketball game. It’s a blast.”

They also understand how to maximize their city’s offerings. Last fall, the chapter was recognized by the Alumni Leadership Council with a Program of the Year award for its 9/11 commemoration event. The group toured the traveling exhibition “September 11, 2001: A Global Moment” and invited University political science professor Mark Ensalaco, director of human rights research, to lead a post-tour discussion.

Rochester alumni have also partnered with local agencies like the Notre Dame Learning Center, a Catholic-based tutoring program; participated in charity fundraisers like the Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association; and volunteered at major events like the LPGA Championship.

You can also find them getting back to their roots. They host an active Christmas off Campus event each year and organized a bowling night to connect with current UD students home on winter break. A meet-and-greet luncheon for area law grads is also in the works, McGuire said.

“There are several colleges and universities in the Rochester area, but our UD alumni chapter is larger and more active than some of theirs,” she noted. “Just ask us — we’ll be happy to tell you all about it.”

What’s your favorite Rochester festival?

“The Park Avenue Festival is one of my favorite summer festivals in Rochester; it’s always held the first full weekend of August. I have attended since I was a child and still love going.”
—Jackie Sudore-Flood ’95

“The Lilac Festival. It’s the first festival of the season, with 10 days of entertainment and yummy food.”
—Anne Marie Jankowski ’94

Fairport Canal Days!”
—Dom Zambelli ’16

Positively Pittsford, for the food and live music.”
—Trish Gramkee Kazacos ’92

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Cassie Meets Melvin: A Story About Love, Snack Food, and World Domination

3:38 PM  Feb 11th, 2013
by Audrey Starr

A book by Lori M. Balster ’94

UD research chemist — and avid writer — Balster puts a new spin on the typical high-school sweetheart story in her novel, which profiles a smart, blond 15-year-old girl and the 17-year-old green-haired punk who falls for her. “I’m so tired of the Hollywood narrative where the pretty blond cheerleader is won by the geeky guy with glasses that no one thought had a chance,” she said. “That narrative has no resonance with me. This country is about choice. We should have more narrative choices, too.”

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