The joke is, you don’t need bug spray — just bring Michelle.
And so they did. We were four adults — ages spanning four to six decades — standing in a field, but in the dark we could have been mistaken for being 4 to 6. Fireflies danced while every mosquito in the neighborhood laid in an intercept course for my right ankle.
We left our bug jars at home but brought along an iPad, whose glow displayed the coordinates we sought: west-northwest, just beyond the cottonwood tree on the rise, behind from which the International Space Station would emerge in minutes.
Four grown-ups, a few up past even our grown-up bedtimes, waiting for the 33 seconds when that orbiting hulk of metal would catch the rays of a sun spreading noon on the other side of the planet and make the ship visible to our bits of human existence, necks craned, staring at the vastness of space.
Makes our world feel small, and leaves us in awe.
It’s not a revelation that happens only when standing in the dark. In full daylight, when our senses are otherwise occupied with work and flat tires and family and cupcakes, we get a nudge that wakes us up, the unseen hand of an origami artist folding the corners of our wide world until we all meet.
Flyers know what I mean.
In this issue, Art Elias ’75 tells about running into Flyer fan Harry Delaney while on a walking tour in Florence, Italy, and Dr. Dan Curran strikes up a conversation with a two-time grad in a hotel lobby in Xi’an, China. Flyers have met in a countryside pub in Ireland, law workshop at Harvard and a beach in Thailand.
For this Flyer, it happened on a hike up to a waterfall.
In the Columbia River basin, just east of Portland, Ore., Multnomah Falls sends water crashing 620 feet into a pool below. The parking lot feels like Disney, with children pleading for ice cream while adults with short fuses smolder in the mist. My own extended family, there in August to celebrate my sister’s wedding, added to the mayhem, with my 85-year-old cousin forging up to the falls while my brother and his brood planned our next adventure before this one was even complete.
It was not the wildlife I had hoped to see, so I grabbed my husband’s hand and started up the verdant pathway to the overlook.
The last thing I thought about was what I was wearing; the second to last thing were the strangers passing by.
Then a voice stopped me.
“Hey, Dayton Flyers. I went to Dayton.”
It was Corey Woodson ’05, who had spotted my Flyers soccer jersey, a prize from a raffle two years ago.
We talked only for a moment, about his move west, about the wedding that brought me there, about him sending the magazine a class note. Then he continued on his way, and we on ours.
It’s not science — like how a mosquito finds its prey — that explains these encounters. In a world of 7 billion people, 106,950 alumni are but a blip. But still we find one another.
Maybe it’s pride that makes us voice our affiliation, or that Marianist spirit of welcome that compels us to reach out to others. Maybe it’s recognition of the vastness of space and the awe that a simple hello can inspire.
Want to make our great, wide world feel small? Just bring a Flyer.
Send your story of Flyer encounters to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll run some in the next issue.No Comments
Driving along Rahn Road in Kettering a few years ago, I noticed a Christmas tree decorated in Flyer colors.
“Look, Claire, that tree has only red and blue lights,” I said to my wife after we passed it.
“No, it doesn’t,” she said in surprise. As we drove down the same road later, she pointed out the multicolored lights on the tree. “The problem with you is that you only see red and blue,” she said with a laugh.
After more than 10 years as president, I’ve discovered my love for the University of Dayton only grows deeper with time.
Last fall, The Princeton Review ranked the University 10th in the nation under the category, “Their Students Love These Colleges.” That’s no surprise to those who live and study here. A sheet draped from a Woodland Avenue porch at the end of August said it all: “6 Girls, 5 Majors, 4 States, 3rd Year, 2 Porches, 1 Home.”
In a hotel lobby in Xi’an, China, a person behind me in the registration line noticed that my traveling companion was wearing a Dayton Flyers shirt. He wanted to talk about the two degrees he earned here. We reminisced for an hour about a campus 7,000 miles away, about his time as a student and the resulting bond that stretches around the world.
Our students are the heart of this university, the hope for our world. Their passion energizes me.
Students in the Rivers Institute, with generous support from local donors, imagined and created the RiverMobile. Converted from a semi-trailer, it’s a traveling exhibit that showcases the Great Miami River watershed for local schoolchildren.
Other students lobbied to bring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof to campus this spring for an annual social justice event called Consciousness Rising, aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking.
And what can you say about the Red Scare? On game day, they paint their faces red and blue, dress up as the Wright brothers, wave oversized signs and never sit down. They are the reason why the University of Dayton Arena is arguably the best place in America to experience college basketball.
This February, we are celebrating the monthlong “I Love UD” campaign. We want you to tell the world how special this place is. For those who haven’t been involved recently, we invite you to reconnect. Share one of your vintage Lawnview porch photos. Make a donation to a UD scholarship fund. Spearhead a food drive, tutor students or engage in a random act of kindness on your own or with others in your local alumni chapter.
In 1850, Father Leo Meyer, S.M., had the foresight and faith to borrow money and buy a farm. We are all stewards of that legacy. We are all builders of a university that we love.
Let’s show that love.No Comments
A beloved chemistry professor who taught almost every doctor, dentist and scientist in UD’s alumni ranks from the 1950s through the 1980s is making a difference today to hundreds more.
In 2001, a year after chemistry professor Carl I. Michaelis died, the University received a remarkable bequest of $1.7 million — part of the estate he’d built with a modest salary, a life lived simply and an investment portfolio that he added to but never subtracted from.
Ten years ago, 16 students received the first awards from Michaelis’ endowed fund. Since then, it’s yielded 251 scholarships totaling more than $622,000.
“He was a very frugal man,” said longtime colleague Al Fratini, professor emeritus of chemistry. “He knew he wanted to give something big to UD, and he lived in a way that would make him able to do that.” Michaelis was an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, Fratini said, and when he read of advances in chemistry that looked promising, he invested.
“Students liked him,” said chemistry professor Jerry Keil, who worked with Michaelis for almost 20 years. “He always had students in his office. He would help them with their schedules, but also with their professional goals, what they needed to do to achieve them.”
Michaelis also was a mentor for new faculty members and the faculty adviser to the student chapters of the American Chemical Society and the national premedical honor society Alpha Epsilon Delta.
“He was here all the time,” said Howard Knachel, chemistry professor emeritus. “He was gifted in being able to spot a student’s potential. His attitude toward students was always positive and supportive, but he was tough.”
Michaelis seldom splurged on himself, Keil said.
“On occasion, some of us would go to Frisch’s after Mass at Holy Angels,” Keil said. “Carl liked to get a pancake breakfast, and at that time, you could get a pancake breakfast at Frisch’s for $1.19. At Denny’s on Main Street, the same breakfast was $1.29, but he thought it was a little bit nicer there, so if he had a dime to spare, he would go to Denny’s instead.”
On limited occasion, he took financial advice from others.
“He didn’t have a house until the early 1970s,” Knachel said. “For the longest time, he just rented an upstairs room in a house where someone took boarders, and he was happy. But then Joe Walsh (another professor, now deceased) asked him, ‘Carl, what are you saving all that money for? Someday you’re going to die and never have enjoyed it.’”
But he seemed to enjoy it just fine, said Fratini, Keil and Knachel — carrying around the secret that, someday, all that money was going to do something big.No Comments
Watch out, Charlie Chaplin — the researchers in the School of Engineering’s Wellness and Safety Lab have put you, and your ubiquitous banana peel, on notice. With more than 2.3 million Americans heading to the emergency room each year for fall-related injuries, they are identifying ways to prevent falls, assess fall risk and mitigate related injuries.
“We’re humanists at heart — and that’s the beauty of engineering,” said assistant professor Kim Bigelow, the lab’s director. “The field is so broad, you can easily find a connection between the science and your passion. For me, it was finding ways to help people and improve their quality of life.”
You won’t find any slapstick shenanigans here: She and her team of student research assistants — including three National Science Foundation fellows — keep an even keel with the study of balance, a key factor in fall prevention.
1. Be active. “You don’t have to run a marathon. Make an extra lap around the grocery store, go outside and garden, take a ballroom dancing class. Just get moving,” Bigelow says. Tight-rope walking lessons optional.
2. Stay out of the medicine cabinet. Taking more than four medications — including vitamins and over-the-counter drugs — increases the chance of interactions and side effects, both of which can cause dizziness, explains graduate student Senia Smoot (who is researching how common physical therapies used to treat autistic children affect their balance). Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your medications; they can determine if interactions are likely or suggest alternatives.
3. Keep an eye out. Balance is heavily dependent on your sight and peripheral perception, so schedule regular exams and address abnormalities, like cataracts or blurred sight, as soon as possible.
4. Get new kicks. Thin-soled shoes without extra padding allow you the most sensation when touching the ground, which increases your balance. Using caution when transitioning between surfaces, such as carpet to tile, also matters, says graduate student Renee Beach, whose research focuses on novel compliant flooring, which is designed to absorb up to 50 percent of your energy in a fall. “I want to know if the material actually causes people to fall more often, or if it performs like a normal floor that then lessens injuries if a fall occurs.”
5. Reach out and touch something. Even placing a single fingertip (called a “light touch”) on a nearby surface, such as a table, wall or cane, can stabilize you. And watch out for peeled fruit — just in case.No Comments
Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Dayton’s great flood
Rain. Flood. Fire.
The destruction of Dayton — and of other towns along the Great Miami River — took only three days as the early spring rains of 1913 rolled off saturated lands and converged in a torrent that tore houses from foundations and stripped babies from the arms of fleeing families. A half-trillion gallons of water — an amount that takes four days to flow over Niagara Falls — killed more than 350 people and caused property damage in excess of $100 million (in 1913 dollars).
St. Mary’s College was safe on its hill south of downtown. But the institution — which in 1920 would take the name of its beloved city — had a unique vantage point on the tragedy: flood, followed by fires resulting from gas leaks, followed by frigid nights that froze those left wet, cold and exposed. The stories of the college’s students, alumni and faculty give us glimpses of the event as vast as the acreage it inundated. And it also tells of the heart of a people intent not just on rebuilding but on ensuring that no such tragedy ever struck again. “For the love of Dayton” was on the ribbons residents wore as they pledged funds to build a protective system of dams, levees and preserved flood plains. One hundred years later, their love continues to protect.
St. Mary’s College Exponent, April-May 1913
“THE CAUSE OF THE DAYTON FLOOD”
Easter Sunday [March 23] had come and gone with its gloomy sky and steady downpour of rain. But nothing was thought of until Monday morning, when the hearts of the Dayton people went out in sympathy to the people of Omaha, who had suffered the ravages of the tornado. But while they shuddered as they felt themselves secure in the Gem City, it rained Monday morning as though the floodgates of heaven had been opened. … The river rose, but it had done so in the past. Those living on the hills could see the muddy waters over broader areas than usual, but no one thought of a flood. … As the city retired to rest at 10 p.m., it was ignorant that the river gauge registered 15.3 feet, with the waters ever rising.
… Heavy rains throughout the watershed that the Miami River drains, poured down in torrents for a distance of 93 miles to the north, swelling the Great Miami, the Mad, and the usually placid Stillwater. It was not such a wonder, then, that the river rose till at 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, as it lapped the tops of the levees, it registered 24 feet. … [N]o one dreamed that at midnight the gauge would register a height of 29 feet, with the City Beautiful submerged in surging waters six feet above the levees.
Joseph Pflaum ’09
Exponent, April-May 1913
“MAROONED IN THE CITY”
We located ourselves in the fire escape and watched the waters as they became alarmingly dangerous. Asphalt was rooted up from the streets in huge blocks; men were wading waist deep desperately making their way to safety. Overturned wagons, outside store cases, and hundreds of things which we could not distinguish, were carried pell-mell in the rush of these angry waters like so many toothpicks. …
The water soon took an awful rise, and one after another of the large windows on the south side of Third street gave way. Every window which was broken by the terrific rushing of the water sounded like an explosion of some huge boiler, and the water swished and roared as it engulfed the stores.
Exponent, April-May 1913
“TALES OF THE FLOOD”
The experience of the Rottermann family of Sycamore street exemplifies through what marooned families passed during the days of the flood. Louis, Eugene and Walter attend the college at the present time, while their brothers, Old Boys of the college, are well known to the Alumni of St. Mary’s. At their home they noted the water coming down the street at 5:30 Tuesday morning. Besides taking care of eight members of their own family, the Rottermanns invited ten neighbors, residing in a cottage near them, to take refuge in their two-story home. With the problem of feeding eighteen people before them, supplies were taken up from the cellar and then to the second floor, for the waters reached the first floor at 7:30 a.m., and the second floor at 5 p.m. As the water continued to rise till it reached a height of four feet on the second floor, without an indication that it would stop at that height, the eighteen were moved into a triangular attic, never used before, measuring five feet at its highest point. … Nothing, save joists, served as a floor, until the boys of the family came down to the second story, waded through the water, and caught a floating fence which was passing by, the boards of which were passed up to the attic to serve as flooring. … Gas, which escaped from broken pipes, threatened to suffocate them all, but fortunately the boys of the family, who waded through all the rooms of the second story, prevented this catastrophe by opening wide all the
Fred Stroop ’18
Exponent, April-May 1913
“RESCUE WORK IN SOUTH PARK”
I loaded my boat into my truck and started for Dayton. I reached it at 3:30, and my boat was manned immediately by two men already on the scene. Pistol shots on all sides from people marooned in the flooded section near the Fairgrounds told the story more graphically than words that one boat could not rescue all those endangered by the flood and the fire that was raging.
On looking around, I met Brother [Francis] O’Reilly, who proposed manning one of the big, flat-bottomed boats that the National Cash Register Company was turning out every seven minutes. Together with Russell Young, we started out east on Apple street, turned over Brady street to Burns avenue. The current was treacherous as we crossed streets, slapping us against houses on the one hand, or turning our course down stream on the other. In the latter case, it was only the good fortune of being able to grasp tops of high porches, or gutters of small houses, that saved us from being swept by the current directly into the burning buildings but a few hundred feet below us. Our boat leaked so badly that one of our party had to bail water all the time to keep pace with the water coming into the improvised flat-bottomed craft. We made several trips this way, taking from three to six women and children a trip from houses bordering on the fire district.
Dayton Daily News Flood Extra
Sunday, March 30, 1913
“ST. MARY’S COLLEGE SYSTEM AT WORK”
Rumors to the effect that Brother [Francis] O’Reilly, [brother] of the president of the college, had been drowned Tuesday night at 10 p.m., after working with Fred [Stroop] and Fred Patterson, son of John H. Patterson, is unfounded. Brother O’Reilly and four others were upset in a large steel boat at that late hour with the light of the flames to guide the rescuing party. He and others were picked up from trees 100 feet from the flames at 10:30. Just previous to the capsizing, Brother O’Reilly and Russell [Young] had towed the son of President Patterson and Fred [Stroop] of Hills and Dales, with three Gette girls, who were set firmly by a current against the [Gette] home, to a place of safety, making the rescue by these two boats between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m.
Joseph Pflaum ’09
Exponent, April-May 1913
“MAROONED IN THE CITY”
Turning to the west, we can see a roaring fire being fanned higher and higher every minute, and we think where will that fire end? Will it reach us? Smaller fires can be noted around us everywhere. The river has no shore. Everywhere is water. Many horses are swimming south on Main street from above. The men on the old court house steps call to them, and the horses try desperately to reach the men. A few of them succeed, but most of them fail and are swept away from our sight. The man who owns many of them is standing near us, and names each one as it goes by. Those that are saved are taken into the court house.
Turning to the north, we see a body of water as far as the eye will reach in this sort of a mist and haze. A street car is forced hard up against the Soldiers’ Monument. Houses in Riverdale have water in their second stories, and some of them are submerged to the eaves of the roof. And looking a little more to the east, we see a massive area of water and housetops. Some houses are submerged just to the second story and some almost to the eaves. We ask ourselves, what became of those people who thought the water would not rise so high, whose homes they almost cover? We are afraid to imagine, for we know there are no boats and that the rush of the waters sweeping over the levees is destructive.
Brother Andy Weber ’19
ORAL HISTORY RECORDED 1958
From our dormitory windows we could see some of the havoc that was caused by the rising waters, particularly by the fires that occurred during the flood. The college side was used as a shelter for flood refugees since the boarders were home on their Easter recess, and that space was there for use by the flood victims. Brother Louis Gravano did a magnificent job in helping out the sisters at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. He at times would have some narrow escapes, but he did manage to get to the hospital to bring them
relief and whatnot during the time of the flood.
Dayton Evening Herald
Tuesday, April 8, 1913
“SISTERS AND PATIENTS SUBSIST THREE DAYS ON SOUR MILK AND COFFEE”
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, with its 400 patients and 300 refugees, was completely marooned the first three days of the flood. Motorcyclemen reported on Thursday that it was absolutely impossible to reach the hospital. Brother Rappel and Brother [Wohlleben], of St. Mary’s College, engaged the services of an expert motorboat man in the effort to find some way to reach the hospital. The expert declared, however, that it was impossible to cross the river in small motorboats, and late Thursday high-bodied wagons were secured to carry provisions, as motor trucks could not be used in the four feet of water that was met a great part of the way. Eight thousand pounds of provisions which arrived by motor trucks from Cincinnati, sent by St. Mary’s Hospital, Betts street, Cincinnati, were placed on these high-bodied wagons at St. Mary’s College, and double teams carried relief provisions by a circuitous way to Bomberger Park, down Third street, and thence to the hospital, the water frequently rising to the height of four feet in the path of the wagons.
“TALES OF THE FLOOD”
George Donovan [’17] of Hamilton relates a sad story of a family whose house floated away. A tree in its path stopped its progress, and the members of the family sought refuge in its branches. There they hung all night during a blizzard. Towards morning, the mother sank into the waters, followed by one of her daughters. The others desperately clung to the tree until the afternoon of the next day, when the father, unable to hold out longer, dropped out of the tree, carrying along his son, who tried to save him. One girl was still left, and she was rescued the next day, more dead than alive.
Dayton Evening Herald
Thursday, April 17, 1913
“STUDENTS, RETURNING TO CITY, SAY DAYTON WORST OF IT ALL”
St. Mary’s was fortunate in having its large student body of 450 away on Easter vacation. On the day of the catastrophe, Tuesday, March 25, the college was prepared to receive its students, who were to return two days later. … The college authorities immediately arranged with John H. Patterson to receive an unlimited number of flood sufferers, and by Wednesday night 400 refugees were given accommodations at the college, the number increasing to 600 within the next 24 hours. Before the close of the week, fully 800 refugees were registered.
Fortunately, St. Mary’s was well supplied with provisions laid in for the boarding students who were to arrive Thursday, and they proved to be invaluable to feed the large number of refugees housed [in] the early days of the flood when food supplies had not yet reached Dayton. The college was extremely fortunate in having its own spring water supply, infirmary, electric light and heating plant, and laundry, which enabled it to give sanitary and comfortable accommodations throughout the two weeks the college was dedicated to relief work. … The college kitchen was a busy place, for while the cooks were rushed to prepare meals for the 600 refugees, they found time to cook the provisions for the Miami Valley Hospital, brought on Cappel trucks during the few days that the hospital kitchen was crippled with lack of facilities for cooking. … In spite of many cases of illness incident to the flood, there were no fatalities at the college.
Reading rooms with literature of all kinds were opened on the second day of the flood, and were well patronized, as the flood sufferers quickly recovered from the nervous shocks occasioned by their sad experiences. In fact, a visitor at the college could scarcely believe, as little boys and girls romped through the halls, that the hundreds of men and women housed at the college had suffered in a flood. After the first few days, when members of families had been reunited, optimism seemed to be the feeling that was uppermost in the hearts of all. College discipline prevailed, for during the two weeks the college was a relief station, militia were conspicuous for their absence. All retired at 8 p.m., rose at 6 a.m., and regular college meals were served in the college dining rooms on scheduled time.
There was ever present an air of cheerfulness, and it was with feelings of regret that the refugees bade farewell when they left for their homes in the city. The college authorities and faculty had a strenuous two weeks’ siege of work to carry for their refugees, but all seemed happy that they were in position to care for so many destitute who were welcomed to the college halls.
Resident of 16 Lawnview Ave. after the flood
FROM “THROUGH FLOOD, THROUGH FIRE” BY CURT DALTON
One sees every conceivable thing on the streets and in freakish places. Dead horses are met at every turn. A chair hangs on a tree, a mattress is in the branches also; a wagon seat has got wedged above a doorway. There is a wrecked automobile overturned in a gutter. On the river bank, reclines a piano. Over the sign at the entrance of a prominent store is suspended a suit of underwear and outside another shop in an erect position is a milliner’s model, its tawdry drapery discolored and the painted face daubed with mud. Such a picture of complete ruin and destruction could barely be imagined.
A grocer whose store and all its content were ruined, was cleaning away the mud and debris when a friend passing by called out “Why John have you the courage to start again?” He replied “Yes, for I still have left my smile.”
Exponent, April-May 1913
“THE DAYTON FLOOD”
We have suffered, but we shall spend no time in further weeping or slumber. We have greater reason to be proud of Dayton citizenship than ever before. The flood has made stronger the bonds that have held us together in the past. The unbounded charity shown on all sides, by rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and non-Catholic, without any distinction of color or creed, bespeaks of even a better era of good feeling. Optimism in the business world is heard and seen everywhere, and those who suggested much and those who lost all, are manfully and courageously setting about beginning life over.
But let us learn our lesson. Let the organized relief work under the active head of John H. Patterson, whose name deserves to be made immortal in the hearts of the people of Dayton, urge us to discard partisan politics, and to install as soon as possible a form of government that will be guided by and looked after by the keenest minds and the most disinterested men of this municipality.
John H. Patterson led a fundraising effort in May 1913 to remember the “promises made in the attic” — that the city and its citizens should never again endure such a disaster. In 23 days, the Miami Valley Flood Prevention Association, representing five counties, raised $2 million; St. Mary’s College pledged $2,200 to the fund. The Miami Conservancy District continues to oversee a system of five dams, constructed beginning in 1918, that protects tens of thousands of people in 40 municipalities and more than 48,000 properties.
Thanks to University archives, the collections of Dayton History, Curt Dalton, Glenn Walters and the Dayton Metro Library.
Hope on the Hill: Marianists and the 1913 Dayton Flood
An exhibit of UD photos, stories and artifacts related to the 1913 flood is on display in Roesch Library through June 17 or online at digital.udayton.edu.
Flood, Rescue and Recovery
On March 23, Carillon Park opens a new exhibit in the Rubicon Fireless Steam Locomotive exhibit building. Six themed areas will explore pre-flood industrial Dayton, the 1913 national weather phenomenon, breached and broken levees, survival and rescue, recovery, and lasting protection.
A Flood of Memories — One Hundred Years After the Flood: Images from 1913 and Today
The commemorative book, by the Miami Conservancy District, depicts photos of the flood with images of the same areas today as captured by Dayton photographer Andy Snow. The cities of Piqua, Troy, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown and Hamilton are included.
Pages explain the innovative system of dry dams, hydraulic jumps and retarding basins that protect the Miami Valley, plus information on ongoing initiatives including floodplain preservation, groundwater protection and recreational assets.
The Dayton History Digital Archive contains more than 2,000 images from the flood, including those from the NCR Archive, Kern Collection and Dayton History archives.
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Flood In and Around Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Art Institute’s special exhibition includes three areas: “Storm,” paintings by April Gornik; “Watershed,” 100 years of river photography; and “A Riverbank,” photos exploring river-centered development. Open Feb. 23 through May 5.
The simple gesture of holding open a door has come to symbolize UD’s culture of uncommon courtesy.
Pennsylvanian, sociologist and Marianist sister Laura Leming, F.M.I. ’87, needed a good six months to puzzle through the strange phenomenon she experienced when she first arrived on UD’s campus in 1981.
As she went about her days minding her own business, perfect strangers on sidewalks and in hallways not only smiled at her as she passed, but they even said hello.
“I thought, ‘How do they know who I am?’” she said. “People in Philadelphia do not do that.”
This kindness and openness may be more striking to a newcomer, but anyone who has spent time on UD’s campus knows the experience. Flyers who pass through campus doorways do not let them slam behind. They pause, they glance, and if another person will soon pass through, they wait for what might seem like an unreasonable amount of time to perform the simple act of holding the door open for the next person.
There is a message in that act, an unspoken acknowledgment of a common community, even, and perhaps especially, for people we do not know personally. Holding a door puts the holder in the service of another, however briefly. It takes time. It subordinates. It serves. The act has become a shorthand way of describing UD as an uncommonly courteous place, something Flyers tell themselves and hear from others.
As Leming put it, “People continually tell us there’s something different here.”
* * *
But is there? Or is that just a feel-good myth convenient for recruiting students and tugging at alumni hearts? Perhaps students at Xavier, Georgetown or Notre Dame pat themselves on the back for the kindness permeating their campuses. Perhaps Flyers are mistaking as a UD phenomenon one more broadly felt at Catholic institutions or even most private institutions generally.
Professor David O’Brien doesn’t think so. During his four decades on faculty at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, he lectured at dozens of Catholic institutions across the country, including all 28 Jesuit schools. None of them, he thought, matched the warmth, hospitality and courtesy he experienced at his little tight-knit, Jesuit liberal arts school with just 2,400 students.
“Until I came to UD,” he said, when he became UD’s University Professor of Faith and Culture in 2009. “Here the Marianist charism of hospitality is everywhere, evident in UD students with their friendly greeting, excellent manners, and care for one another and for the University.”
UD’s size and scope — it’s several times larger than Holy Cross and much more institutionally diverse in the programs it offers — make this shared community and its culture of courtesy all the more remarkable, he said.
“This community spirit is not a matter of mere sentimentality: Community, like love, actually matters,” he said. “In the workplace and the public square, we learn, sometimes by their absence, that cooperation, mutual respect and commitment to common work are essential to success.”
But his sentiments are still anecdotal. It’s almost shocking, when you come to think of it, that no professor or enterprising graduate student has taken up the subject as a research project. The University conducts nearly $100 million in sponsored research a year. Its researchers have studied everything from Himalayan glaciers to sticky proteins and the Nuremberg trials, but none are known to have paused to examine the meaning of the door held open right in front of them.
“This everyday behavior has not been systematically studied before,” wrote researchers Joseph P. Santamaria and David A. Rosenbaum, who studied the practice of holding doors open at Penn State in 2011. They pointed a video camera at a campus door and recorded as 148 people passed through. They found that people were more likely to hold the door open for people who followed closely and that the number of people following behind made a difference.
They explained this using something called “the shared-effort hypothesis.” The idea here is that the first person passing through the door does a quick, unconscious mental calculation: Is the effort I’ll expend holding this door open less than the effort they’ll expend opening it again? The followers also participated in reducing the shared effort by hustling a bit faster when they saw the door being held. This conduct, they hypothesized, was “a means of reducing physical effort for the group.”
Being researchers, they recommended a follow-up study to see whether “door holders were found to engage in door holding selectively — holding doors only for people they find attractive, for example.”
That’s a rabbit hole these researchers declined to go down. If you Google “holding open doors,” what you’ll find is pages and pages of results focused on the gender implications of men holding doors open for women or, less commonly, women holding them open for men (typical result: “Open doors for women: How and when to do it” from the site artofmanliness.com). The deeper you dig, the more the results splinter into subgenres. When do you thank someone who holds a door open? What does it mean if your boyfriend holds a door open for another girl? What’s the etiquette in China?
The social uncertainty that these questions reveal is not surprising; in addition to everything else, the Internet is a place where we play out our anxieties. But anxieties have accompanied questions of courtesy since its emergence as a social code in Western Europe.
* * *
Though we think of courtesy as a form of social kindness, the rules that govern it are rooted in violence.
As strong, centralized leaders began to emerge in early medieval Europe, homage in the form of goods, services and oaths of loyalty was the price villages and lesser warriors paid to demonstrate allegiance and secure protection, writes Benet Davetian in his book Civility: A Cultural History. Such homage took the form of increasingly complex social rules that signaled cooperation or conflict at a time when Germanic invaders were still plundering villages with gruesome consequences. Courtesy was the new diplomacy.
The capacity to balance extreme violence on one hand with restraint and deference on the other became a trait of nobility, as seen in the portrait of the knight that Geoffrey Chaucer draws in his Canterbury Tales. Though “of mortal battles he’d fought 15” everywhere from Alexandria to Prussia, the knight still “bore himself as meekly as a maid … a truly perfect, gentle knight” now going on a religious pilgrimage.
Courtesy became an art to master as increasingly stronger monarchs tamed the knights; it also became a way for the nobility to distinguish themselves from coarse commoners. Courtly love and deference toward wives and daughters venerated the idealization of women and affirmed common values, sowing the seeds of today’s Googlers wondering whether holding a door for a woman is inherently sexist or, well, chivalrous. By the time Louis XIV was declaring his absolute power in France, courtly manners had developed into a cutthroat game of palace intrigue. Courtesy was anything but kind. It served not equality, but hierarchy.
Equality was an ideal that would sweep through France before long, not just toppling the monarchy but creating the chaos that led William Joseph Chaminade — who would go on to found the Society of Mary — to flee for his own safety to Zaragosa, Spain, for three years. In that flight, Sister Laura Leming sees possible roots of UD’s culture of courtesy, and particularly hospitality, as expressions of kindness and equality before God.
“The Benedictine tradition is very much about welcoming strangers as if they were Christ,” she said, describing Chaminade’s embrace of Benedictine principles as he built the Marianist order. “He had the experience of being in exile as he pondered how people in France could help one another and cultivate community.”
She sees the Biblical roots of this tradition in a story told in Luke’s Gospel in which Jesus visits the home of a Pharisee who, inhospitably, does not offer water to wash his feet. Jesus instead praises the “sinful woman” who wets his feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. Later, Jesus will wash his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.
The example of such loving, kind service to others “extends to the institution,” Leming says. She cites a familiar example: the experience of Joseph Saliba ’79, a young man who fled the Lebanese war and came to UD, speaking almost no English, to find a highly supportive faculty and community that went far beyond what was required to help him succeed. Today he has an engineering doctorate and is the University’s provost and a champion of its Marianist values.
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Students on campus today offer their own anecdotal evidence of UD’s uncommon courtesy. “Dayton is seriously the nicest campus ever,” Stephanie Lutz ’15 said. “I probably have a daily instance happen either where someone holds the door or lets you get in front of them in line or says ‘bless you’ when you sneeze.”
That extra kindness helps especially on bad days, said Katy Utter ’14, a marketing and entrepreneurship major.
“Just the other day I woke up in a bad mood, and when walking to class random people smiled at me, said hi, held the door. People here are more courteous.”
Professor Steve Wilhoit in the English department has puzzled over the culture at UD. “I’ve noticed the door opening thing, too,” he said, “and being really polite in crowded hallways and staircases in the Humanities building between classes.”
When he asked students about it, they came back with a familiar refrain: “community.” It’s the word everyone uses when discussing UD’s culture.
“There is an ethos on this campus that dictates how people treat other people — what kind of behavior is expected,” Wilhoit said. “By and large, students embrace the idea of community and family — these are the metaphors that influence how we treat one another.”
Wilhoit also points to the role of students as keepers of culture: “It may also be the case that we recruit students who are like this, or it could be that students who are like this recognize UD as a place that ‘feels’ the same way, so they enroll. It could be a Midwest thing.”
Ah, the Midwest thing. Leming agrees there might be something there, too. She is not only a Marianist sister but also chair of the department of sociology, anthropology and social work. She suggests that there might be “an interaction effect,” a layering of Midwest friendliness over Marianist hospitality that creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
“You also might get something like that in Hawaii with its culture of ‘aloha,’” she said. “I would be hesitant to say that it’s all the Marianist piece.”
Whatever its origins, the culture of uncommon courtesy so pervasive on campus is more consequential than the effort spared when a stranger holds a door open for you.
“Love is first of all a verb, not a noun,” O’Brien said, “so the habit of smiling at strangers, reaching out a hand to people in need and listening when others speak are all acts of love with important cultural and political consequences. Commitment to community is at the center and not the edge of UD, and maybe someday such commitment will re-create our world.”
It manifests itself in the experience of Sterling Yates, a first-year mechanical engineering major from Chicago who arrived at the tutoring center in Marianist Hall just as it was closing for the night. It didn’t matter. An upperclassman stayed late to help him. “A lot of people at Dayton go out of their way and sacrifice so that your experience will be just as great as theirs,” Yates explained.
And there is the experience of Jonny Yadlosky ’10, who, during his first year, went to let his professor know he’d miss class because his grandfather in Pittsburgh had just died. “Jonny, you need to go home,” his professor said. “Take my car.” Then the professor tossed him the keys.
This depth of genuine compassion extends far beyond mere courtesy. It is a foreseeable consequence of the habit of kindness toward others, even strangers, that UD’s culture of courtesy nourishes.
Though there are no rigorous studies of these doors held open across UD’s campus, it is hard to believe that such a culture of kindness would not radiate out as students become alumni and scatter across the country and the world, that through the familiar welcome of alumni, San Francisco might feel less foreign, New York less daunting. Perhaps it radiates out to anyone near a Flyer and a door. Literal or metaphorical, a Flyer will always hold it open.
Matthew Dewald is editor of the alumni magazine at the University of Richmond.
A stranger in McGinnis once offered a cup of laundry detergent to Meredith Hirt ’13, who contributed to the reporting in this article, to spare her the trouble of walking back all of the way to her house on the Darkside, where she’d left hers.2 Comments
Since 2000, thousands of students, faculty, staff and visitors have walked past or stopped to consider the Mirror of Hope, the mountain-like, many-figured sculpture in the lobby of Roesch Library.
It’s easy to pick out familiar scenes: Creation, the Nativity, the wedding feast at Cana, the Crucifixion, the Heavenly City. But the more you look, the more there is to see and the more the humanity of each small figure emerges.
There’s too much to take in all at once. But just in time for the annual crèche display, University Libraries has published , a new book tracing the history and symbolism of the sculpture as it grew from a simple Nativity scene into an account of the sweep of Christianity from the Creation to the City of God.
It’s also the story of an unusual collaboration between two men – Father Johann Roten, S.M., who wrote the book, and sculptor Kevin Hanna – working together over many months and long-distance telephone lines to bring to life the stories of the Old and New Testaments in layers of humanity, faith, art history, symbolism and the spiritual.
Roten, as the Marian Library’s director, commissioned Connecticut-based Hanna to create a sculpture distinctive to the University of Dayton, to commemorate the University’s 150th anniversary and celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity.
The five-year collaboration between Roten, the theologian, scholar and art historian, and Hanna, the deeply spiritual Protestant artist, resulted in an intricately detailed piece of 24 scenes, 12 feet long, 5 feet high, containing more than 240 figures – men, women, children, familiar biblical figures, celestial beings as well as animals – and even evokes the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
The sculpture traces a “journey of love,” Roten says, that starts with God and, then through Christ, comes back to God.
“We did the book to make sure that people don’t forget, that there is permanence, a memory of what it all means,” said Roten, now the library’s director of research and special projects and the book’s author. “It’s actually gained in popularity; we can see that no matter what the exhibit or event at the library, in the end, everyone ends up in front of it.”
Click on above photo for more Mirror of Hope images.No Comments
In the nightstand by her bed, Pat Jayson’s jewelry box gathers dust. Most of the accessories inside mean little to her.
A pair of rings, however, are treasured by the 1967 UD graduate. One is her UD alumni ring; the other, a token of her fondest memory as both a Flyer and a woman in sports.
With the 1972 Education Act, or Title IX, came a mandate that, in education, women be given opportunities equal to men. Until Title IX, schools rarely provided support to women, especially in athletics. Even after 1972, only a few schools actively sought to reward female student-athletes for success.
“When we won the 1980 women’s basketball championship, Brother [Ray] Fitz made sure we each got a ring,” Jayson says, adding that then-president Fitz was adamant that the team received rings to mark the accomplishment.
An athletic trainer for the 1980 AIAW championship team, Jayson was surprised by the president’s gift. Jayson was a faculty member throughout the ’70s and ’80s, also serving as athletic trainer and coach for several UD women’s sports teams.
Her time as a student-athlete, though, was far different from that of her own players.
“If we got money for meals, it was usually coming from the coach’s own pocket,” she says of her playing days. “We went to high schools without sports, so we were grateful to even get to play.”
Forty years after Title IX, UD provides female student-athletes with a total of 108 scholarships in nine NCAA Division I sports, as well as meal money and other luxuries once reserved for programs like men’s basketball and football.
“Title IX changed things for me for sure,” basketball player Cassie Sant ’14 says. “Without it, we couldn’t even play in the same building
as the men. It’s great to feel welcome.”
“They don’t pay lip-service here,” basketball coach Jim Jabir says, noting the team’s office in the state-of-the-art Cronin Athletic Center. “Our people really provide for us.”
For Jayson, Title IX changed everything, providing everlasting memories along the way.
“The ring is absolutely beautiful. But it’s nice knowing I was part of something important.”No Comments
For six women living at 301 Stonemill in the ’80s, early mornings were part of the schedule.
During Reunion Weekend 2012, housemates Angie French Dunn ’87 and Barbara Kingsley Miller ’87, both educators, returned to their junior- and senior-year home to recall some life lessons that came from living there.
The only bathroom in the house was essentially a deluxe closet that was always cold and cluttered. Starting at 6 a.m., each housemate — including four student-teachers — had a 15-minute slot for shower use. The order changed weekly, keeping the women from losing sleep over showering.
“After 7 a.m., anyone left got the cold shower,” says Miller. “But they also got to sleep in.”
Everyone pitched in washing dishes and sweeping.
“One of the girls was a clean freak, so we each had chores to do,” Dunn laughs as Miller chimes in, “The woodwork was always shiny from Liquid Gold.”
Miller remembers the house as one of the nicest in the neighborhood, though the area was home to few students then.
“The family [a house over] was a man, his dad and a very scary dog,” Miller says.
Other neighbors, like the male students across the street, were jokesters. Dunn says that after playing a practical joke on them, she and her housemates left for winter break feeling “victorious.”
Upon their return, the women found all their furniture tidily rearranged — up in the attic. The duplex’s exterior had a hole big enough, apparently, for a 20-something-year-old man to fit through.
“It’s one of those things that you just have to laugh at,” Dunn says.
The house was drafty, too. Rather than paying for heat in the winter, the women opted to put plastic on the windows.
“It was a fish bowl,” laughs Miller.
Both women agree that 301 Stonemill was always a place they loved coming home to.
And take a tour of this old house with today’s residents.No Comments
With pride and as a reflection of the excellence of a University of Dayton education, the National Alumni Association recognizes alumni and their accomplishments through an annual awards program. The 2012 recipients are:
Ricardo Bressani ’48 | Bachelor of Science Chemistry
As a researcher in nutrition and food sciences, Ricardo Bressani’s life has been devoted to improving health outcomes for children in his native Guatemala. In turn, his discoveries have nourished children around the world.
Born in Guatemala in 1926 to Italian parents, Bressani earned a scholarship in 1944 from a Catholic organization to study in the United States, a gift that brought him to UD.
“I am looking forward to visiting the University of Dayton, where I spent my first four years of study and which I enjoyed very much,” Bressani said from his home in Guatemala.
Bressani received a doctorate from Purdue, taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and published more than 500 professional articles. His early work explored the genetic nutritional differences in corn, and he developed a variation with a protein quality similar to that found in cow’s milk. He later worked with other vegetable-based proteins that decreased incidences of protein-energy malnutrition, examined how cooking methods affected nutrition and studied ways to get the best level of nutrition from bean and legume-based diets.
Bressani earned numerous honors for his work, including the Danone International Prize for Nutrition in 2003. He has seven children and 23 grandchildren.
Rick Pfleger ’77 and Claire Tierney Pfleger ’78 | Bachelor of Science Marketing and Bachelor of Science Elementary Education
When Rick and Claire Pfleger recognized the growing needs of the Catholic schools serving an inner-city population in Indianapolis, they were ready to offer their assistance.
Rick Pfleger, a retired vice president for North American sales at Juniper Networks, funded a project to place computers in 15 of those schools. Today, 30 Catholic schools in the area are computer equipped and wired, with students taking full advantage of the technology. In addition, Rick and Claire just sponsored a project at Cathedral High School, Rick’s alma mater, called “One to One”, where all students have access to their own tablet computers in order to complete course work, with the ultimate goal of eliminating text books.
“With his background in technology, these projects have been a perfect fit,” Claire Pfleger said. “It has been a very rewarding experience.”
The computer equipment and labs are just a portion of the family’s philanthropy. They also sponsor three students attending Cathedral High School and have contributed generously to major renovations at the school. In addition, Rick recently co-chaired a $110 million campaign for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to support the needy in central and southern Indiana.
When their daughter, Lindsey, attended the University of Dayton, the Pflegers began including UD in their philanthropic efforts as well. They funded the renovation of The Hangar in Kennedy Union and created the Richard J. and Claire T. Pfleger Endowed Scholarship Fund to help deserving students with financial need.
Rick summed up their efforts by stating, “I’m a big believer in breaking the cycle of poverty through education, and feel very fortunate that we are in position to give back.”
Kenneth Oaks ’87 | Bachelor of Science Finance
When Kenneth Oaks co-founded Total Quality Logistics in 1997, he aimed to shape his freight brokerage firm around the values of ethics and integrity.
That’s why he developed his Five Winning Principles: pledge integrity; exceed expectations; recognize the value of teamwork; be forthright about conflict; and maintain balance in life and business.
“We treat others the way we’d want to be treated,” Oaks said. “It’s one of the most basic, but important principles in life.”
His annual reports have proven that profit, ethics and a commitment to community could certainly co-exist. The firm, based outside Cincinnati, has logged more than $1 billion in total sales and experienced growth averaging 50 percent each year since its founding. Total Quality Logistics employs about 1,500 workers to move more than 500,000 truckload shipments each year for more than 7,000 customers. In addition to the Cincinnati headquarters, Total Quality Logistics has 12 offices throughout the nation.
Oaks and Total Quality Logistics have won numerous honors, including Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award; inclusion on the Greater Cincinnati Best Places to Work list; multiple mentions in the Inc. 5000; the Better Business Bureau Torch Award, and the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year award.
Michael Lofton ’05, ’07 | Bachelor of Arts Communications; Master of Public Administration
In the future, Michael Lofton hopes to award scholarships for students to attend UD and receive the transformative education he credits for his commitment to serving others.
What he can’t give in financial assistance now, he contributes in service. Lofton served two terms as St. Louis alumni chapter president and is currently vice chair of the Chapter Council for the National Alumni Association and a member of the board of directors.
“I’ll never be able to repay UD for what it’s given me in terms of a top-notch education, as well as providing me with relationships and experiences that I can never replace,” he said.
As a student, Lofton was vice president of the Student Government Association, co-chair of Red Scare, president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, chair of the United Way student campaign and co-founder of the campus chapter of the NAACP. He also served as an assistant coach for the boys’ basketball teams at Oakwood High School.
Lofton currently works as the director of university accounts and partnerships at Welcometocollege.com, a company founded by Justin Bayer ’01, and is an assistant boys basketball coach at Clayton High School in St. Louis. He also serves on the steering committee of the United Way’s GenNext program for young professionals.No Comments