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Responsibility, justice and glimmers of grace … Ask a Marianist

9:25 AM  Jun 15th, 2012
by Thomas M. Columbus

Readers had more questions for Father Marty Solma, S.M. ’71, provincial of the Marianist Province of the United States, than we had space in the Big Questions section of the Summer 2012 issue of  University of Dayton Magazine. Here are additional questions with answers from Father Solma:

How do you see your role in ensuring that Marianist college faculty convey respect for human life and the teaching authority of the Church in ethics and philosophy classes and in other situations, even where teachers and students may not be Catholic? —Marcia Schiele, Solon, Ohio, parent of four UD students

The question you ask is an especially important one for us these days. The University of Dayton, by virtue of its Catholic character and Marianist educational tradition, must endorse and publicly support the Catholic doctrinal and ethical teaching of the magisterium. The office of the vice president for mission and rector is more formally charged with overseeing compliance, along with the ultimate responsibility vested in the president and the board of trustees, of which I am a member. The board itself has two supervisory committees, one dealing with the mission and identity of the university and the other with the ethics involved with university research. We stay in close contact with the archbishop of Cincinnati to ensure his support and endorsement. When issues arise, we address them from our Catholic and Marianist commitment. This is of particular importance around the many life issues, including abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and respect for human life from conception until natural death.

When you are dark, when you are weary, when hope seems silly and greed and violence the coin of the realm, where do you go to be restored, resurrected, refreshed? What brings you back up to joy and defiant courage? —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine

I rarely feel dark and weary. Frustrated, sad, discouraged — yes, at times. But that is part and parcel of doing anything worthwhile. I like people and, as Anne Frank said in her diary, “Despite everything, I still believe that people are basically good.” That doesn’t discount weakness, stupidity or sinfulness; but a deep respect for each person is what sustains a lot of my day-to-day activity. On a deeper level, if we take the resurrection seriously, the redemption has already happened and the Spirit has been given. The theological task today is to become what we already are through the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s Karl Rahner, by the way. That’s the core of my life, something that doesn’t easily give way to “dark and weary.”

The greatest female Catholic writer in American history: Flannery O’Connor or Annie Dillard? —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine

I’m less familiar with the work of Annie Dillard although I’ve liked what I’ve read of her. I really like Flannery O’Connor: an honest, gutsy, determined believer and Christian.

What do you consider to be the most challenging and rewarding aspect of your present position? —Father Norbert Burns, S.M. ’45, Dayton

The Society of Mary in the United States is clearly getting older and more lean. At the same time, we have a number of very fine young men joining our mission and committing themselves by vow to the charism of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. But, we have to be smart and have to make choices that promote both our religious life and our mission for the future. We cannot do things the way we did them even 40 years ago. But, this is the time and place in which the Lord has called us to fidelity and to faithful service.

As a member of the board of trustees, what gives you the most hope in terms of UD’s Catholic and Marianist mission and identity? What are the challenges from your perspective? —Joan Wagner, Dayton

At one time, professed members of the Society of Mary were numerous on the campus of UD, serving in administrative post and teaching in classrooms. The Catholic and Marianist identity was embodied in these men. The situation today is much different. Professed Marianists are fewer and older. But, this is not something to be discouraged about. When Father Chaminade returned to France from his exile in Saragossa, Spain, after the initial years of the French Revolution, he found a Church and society that was devastated. He set about rebuilding the Christian faith and the Church by forming communities of lay people who progressively grew in their faith and commitment. These “sodalities” were the fertile ground out of which grew the Marianist Sisters in 1816 and the Society of Mary in 1817. Father Chaminade was hailed as the “Apostle of the Laity” when he was beatified in 2000 by Blessed John Paul II. We continue his tradition of partnering with lay members of the Marianist Family and with other lay collaborators. Together, we have been entrusted with the Marianist charism and this partnering will continue to keep alive the Marianist spirit at the University of Dayton. Of special note is the presence of the Marianist Educational Associates (MEA) who have taken on a focused and committed role in promoting and sustaining the Marianist spirit at UD. The same is true at the two other Marianist-sponsored universities. We see this as a harkening back to our original foundation and to the original initiative of Blessed Chaminade. We do this together as a Marianist Family. This is a change of perspective for us, but one consistent with our charism and tradition.

Our Marianist charism is said to be both a gift and a task. What are the life-giving gift and the responsibility of the charism for you? —Maureen O’Rourke ’05, Dayton

For Blessed Chaminade, the place of Mary in the history of redemption was of primary importance. She was the channel through which the Word of God entered human history. As presented by St. John in his Gospel, she is the woman who stands at the foot of the cross and becomes the Mother of all the disciples of Jesus, his brothers and sisters, sharing the same mother. Pondering Mary’s mission was central to the life and ministry of Chaminade. As sharers in this charism, we need to do the same: like the Beloved Disciples, to take Mary into our lives and, with her, to foster the Christ-life in others. Understanding this, living it, sharing it is what Marianists do, whether religious or lay.

Please give us an update on the school in Kenya. —Maureen McGrail ’67, East Lansing, Mich.

Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School in the Mukuru slums of Nairobi just celebrated its 20th anniversary at the end of February. Begun by the Sisters of Mercy in 1992 to offer some basic math and language skills to slum children, the school has been administered by the Society of Mary since 1997. This year, it has an enrollment of 2,000 students and placed  No. 5 in the district in the recent national exams. Not bad for a slum school! Through the kindness of donors in the UK and in Dayton, every child in the school now gets a hot breakfast of “uji” every morning, a porridge made from high-nutrient flour. Providing a good breakfast (and lunch) every day to 2,000 children in the middle of the slums is no small achievement. The Kenyan Marianists, under the leadership of Brother Chola Mulenga and Brother Joseph Maricky Okoth, continue providing a quality Marianist education to these children.

The following are the questions and answers — some in a longer form — that appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of University of Dayton Magazine.

A provincial seems like an admirable but often rather thankless task; so much of your work must not provide much instant gratification, and to even see results must often be the measurement of years. What are the subtle gentle rewards and kicks of being provincial? And I don’t mean the Jaguar and the superb wines. —Brian Doyle, Editor, Portland Magazine

Right, try a Ford Taurus and Crane Lake wine! Reinhold Niebuhr said that nothing of lasting value can be accomplished in a single lifetime, so we live with faith and hope. Of course, parents also know this in raising their children, and teachers in educating them. It’s the same with this responsibility: walking with people, leading, trying to make wise decisions for the future, relying on the help and insight of others. There are so many glimmers of grace in this job: Brothers who witness extraordinary generosity and self-sacrifice; experiences of forgiveness; goals reached and differences made; working with some incredibly good people on my Council and on the boards of the three Marianist-sponsored universities; walking with Brothers during their final journey to God. I have been deeply touched by the confidence that Brothers have placed in me and by their expressions of gratitude and support. Much better, to my mind, than a Jaguar or superb wines.

What message do you wish to give to the thousands of UD alumni? —Father Norbert Burns, S.M. ’45, Dayton

I had decided to attend UD even before I joined the Society of Mary in 1966. What a marvelous place! Under the really fine leadership of Brother Ray Fitz, now of Dr. Dan Curran, the school has grown to national prominence, increasing its offerings and strengthening its academic program. But, it’s the “feel” of the campus that is most enduring. Our founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, spoke about “family spirit” and that is very much in evidence on the campus and in the interactions of students, faculty, staff and administrators. This is much more than a “feel good” environment. It is rooted in our Catholic faith, in the Marianist charism and the Marianist characteristics of education, and in the person of Mary who stands at the very center of our Marianist life. She is the woman who formed Jesus, and she is the woman who continues to form us in His likeness. UD is a special place. I am also highly impressed that the very same sense is evidenced at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and at Chaminade University in Honolulu, both sister schools to UD and sponsored by the Society of Mary.

There has been a lot of talk in the political news about Social Justice lately. What is the definition of Social Justice to a Marianist and how does it fit into the Marianist mission? —Jerry Walsh ’87, Alexandria, Va.

Rooted in Catholic Social Teaching is the notion that justice is not just an individual concern but a social one as well. We are not simply focused on the good of the individual but on the common good: What makes for human flourishing and development for every human person? Our vision must include both fair wages and humane working conditions for the men and women who care for the grounds at UD but also the promotion of respect for and among students and faculty, part and parcel of the “Call to Community” initiative. As well, it means that we are committed to respect for the environment and challenging students to live in such a way that this becomes a lived value for them. It means providing opportunities for students to serve in Appalachia with University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program, as engineers in the ETHOS [Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-learning] program, as interns with the Fitz Center. It means keeping a wide perspective on the world, on issues of peace and justice and on the policies and laws that either promote or hinder a world that is more peaceful and just. These are the issues that must form a big part of the Common Academic Program, imbuing students with a deep sense of their Catholic tradition and their responsibility for the world with which God has entrusted us. Marianist education is holistic.

Do the Marianists, and does the University, have a responsibility to share with the Church, bishops, clergy, religious and lay people, their honest assessment of how to make Christ present to all people in this time and this place? Or is our responsibility simply to communicate to lay Catholics and the public what the pope and the bishops present as essential Catholic teaching? In short do we or do we not share responsibility for the current life and future prospects of the Church in the United States? — David O’Brien, O’Brien recently completed a three-year term as University Professor of Faith and Culture.

Grounded in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium and its “Universal Call to Holiness,” we are all called to a vibrant living of the Christian life and to a sharing in the building up of the Body of Christ. That is our pledge and our responsibility by baptism. But, as St. Paul says, each part of the body must contribute what it can. There are roles of teaching and leading, but there are also prophets, preachers, healers, those who care of the needy, and many other roles of service. In the best Marianist tradition, we build a sense of community where all are invited to share their gifts for the benefit of the whole. The university community has a special place in all of this. It is the arena where faith and culture meet, where science and theology together seek for truth, where the Catholic faith forms the bedrock for the education of the whole person and touches every part of the university culture. Magisterial teaching is important and has its place, obviously. But that teaching needs to be understood, explored and appropriated in a human and deeply religious manner. The university is a place where the deepest human questions can be met by the wisdom that comes from the Catholic tradition.

Will the Society of Mary continue sponsorship of high schools in the future and, if so, how will the order keep the Marianist charism alive with no or very few vowed Marianists staffing the schools? —Myron Achbach ’58, Dayton

The province is in the process of developing a sponsorship model for all of these schools. Rather than simply withdrawing from them or closing them, is there a way to maintain a Marianist spirit and ethos in the high schools and middle schools? We think so. A sponsorship relationship would entail certain benefits and obligations on the part of these institutions in the Marianist educational tradition. On our side, we need to determine what is required in order to put the name “Marianist” on a school: in spirit, in governance, in commitment. It will require the Marianist Province of the USA to devote considerable time and resources to the process of “formation,” sharing with lay partners the meaning and dynamism of the Marianist charism. We have recently initiated an Office of Formation for Mission that will serve these Province needs. This, along with whatever Office of Sponsorship we eventually establish, will hopefully ensure the continuance of the Marianist spirit in schools for a long time to come. Far from a diminishment, this new way of our doing ministry can extend the Marianist influence far beyond what we alone can do today.

For our autumn issue, ask CAROL RAMEY ’68, director of the North American Center for Marianist Studies, about what the Marianist founders offer today’s world, about Mary as inspiration and role model, about community, about what Marianists bring to the table today.

EMAIL YOUR QUESTION TO MAGAZINE@UDAYTON.EDU.

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Muhammad and me

12:18 PM  Jun 13th, 2012
by Michael Gaffney ’71

With only a camera lens between himself and the heavyweight champion of the world, UD graduate Michael Gaffney uncovered the intimate moments of Muhammad Ali’s life. Here is his story. For more images, see the UD Magazine spreads.

 

Elvis Presley was dead. I had always wanted to photograph The King, and I had missed my chance.

There was no way I was going to miss photographing The Champ.

Elvis died Aug. 16, 1977. Later that month, I leafed through the newspaper and stopped on a story of three Ohio guys who had jumped in a car and driven to Muhammad Ali’s mountaintop training camp near Deer Lake, Pa. If they could do it, I could, too.

Muhammad — The Champ — had already established himself as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time; he had captured worldwide attention; and, at 35, he was an aging boxer in a young man’s game. I was chief photographer at New Jersey’s The Daily Record on a two-week vacation. I threw my Nikons into the back of our royal blue Volkswagen — my wife named it “Herbie” — and drove the two-and-a-half hours west into the mountains.

The camp was completely open to visitors. I pulled up and met Gene Kilroy, Muhammad’s manager, who led me into a room. There, Muhammad lounged on a couch, robed and with bare feet, waiting to start his day’s training. I explained I was on assignment for Gamma-Liaison, an international photo agency. Muhammad welcomed me with a wave: “Shoot whatever you want.” I quickly understood why he was the world’s most photographed person. There was something rare about his openness, accessibility and honesty that I knew would make for great pictures.

Three days into the assignment, in the dark of morning, we drove down the mountain to the flats of Deer Lake. Muhammad and I ran two miles, him training, me photographing with flash blazing. Back in the Oldsmobile, I cozied in the backseat with Muhammad’s brother and his trainer when Muhammad made a dramatic pronouncement: “No man alive has run up my mountain.” We drove on, and he said it again. I realized I was the only one in the car with running shoes on.

He must be talking to me.

“Stop the car,” I said. It was still dark as I ran with Muhammad’s cornerman, Bundini Brown, driving behind and lighting my way. I was in great shape, I was a runner, I got halfway up, and I was sucking eggs. I thought, “This is ridiculous, I have to keep going, I have to keep going, I can’t let him down.” Fifteen minutes was an eternity. As we approached the top, Muhammad was first out of the car, yelling, “You’re the only man alive to run up my mountain.” It wasn’t until after I finished that I realized he had pulled this on many people; I was the only one to succeed. In me, he saw something that he liked — a drive and ability to push and get what I wanted.

I wanted photos of Muhammad and, in those two weeks, I got them.

When I told Muhammad I was leaving, he asked me to be his personal photographer for a year. In his best Marlon Brando Godfather voice, he said, “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”

I laughed and said I needed to talk to my wife. Halfway home, I pulled up to a pay phone in front of a motel in Easton, Pa., dropped in my coins and dialed Debby. “What does this mean?” she asked. I told her it meant a lot of traveling all over the world covering his fights. She said, “We need to talk.” When I walked in the house, Debby said, “If you don’t do this, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

I gave my two weeks at the paper.

Michael Gaffney ’71

In 1968, I was a sophomore at UD from a family of five kids just trying to make my way. I was slopping trays in the Marycrest cafeteria for a meal ticket, and me and Johnny Kennelly were unloading trucks for the Teamsters during the holiday season for extra cash.

Then I got a present. My brother, on R&R in Bangkok from the Vietnam War, bought me a Yashica 125 twin lens reflex camera. I had never owned a camera before. The closest I had ever got was running home from school on Fridays to be the first in our family to pull Life magazine from the mailbox and page through photos from all over the world while lying on my belly on the living room floor.

I bought a roll of 120 film and started shooting. In an alley in Dayton, there was a young Spanish girl, maybe 12 years old. She stood in front of a garage door with peeling paint and looked right into the camera. It was haunting. A friend showed me how to develop film and make a print. I took that paper and put it in the developer, and the image of this little girl came out. Even with just the black light of the darkroom, in that image I saw that this was what I wanted to do.

I took all the fine arts courses I could find, and I graduated with a degree in marketing and a minor in fine art, which no one I knew had ever heard of before. I went on to learn how to tell stories from Newsweek’s Thomas Orr and then into newspapers, where I always had three cameras hanging around my neck and got to shoot my favorite Yankee, Willie Randolph, and fall in love with Joe Namath and the Jets, all before I met Muhammad.

My year with him became defined by a fight trilogy — Muhammad winning by decision after 15 brutal rounds with Earnie Shavers in September 1977, losing his championship belt to Leon Spinks in February 1978, and besting Spinks in a rematch September 1978, winning the heavyweight title for a record third time, a feat never accomplished before or since. He was “The Greatest,” “The Champ,” champion of the world.

The mastery of Muhammad Ali can be summed in a single hit he took in the second round of the Shavers fight, my first heavyweight match. Shavers came in low and landed a right on Muhammad’s chin. In the photos, you can see the sweat knocking off Muhammad and the compression in his back from the force of the blow. Muhammad was essentially knocked out; I saw his knees buckle, and anyone who has fought knows that when the legs go, you’re down. But Ali bounced off the ropes. He started feigning wild bolo punches, yelling at Shavers, “You didn’t get me!” Muhammad was near unconsciousness, but he convinced Shavers, the judges and me that the punch didn’t count. And it bought him time to recover. Later, after 15 rounds and a decision in Muhammad’s favor, Shavers admitted his mistake. Shavers should have knocked him out then, but instead he believed Muhammad’s ruse and conserved his energy for the rounds to come.

From the beginning, I saw my work as a documentary. In that year, I captured more than 8,000 photographs and tape-recorded his voice. I even channeled George Plimpton and danced around the ring to prove that The Champ and I had both made the right career choices.

When Muhammad sparred, he would take a beating, going three rounds without throwing a punch until the last 30 seconds. He trained to function in an unconscious state. He theorized that he could make himself immune to the punishment by toughening up. He had great skin — he didn’t cut like most boxers — and his recuperative powers were amazing. It was his strength. Did it contribute to his Parkinson’s? I don’t know. But the fights were damaging his liver, and Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, his personal physician, quit because he felt Muhammad was destroying himself.

But the documentary was about more than the boxing. I took the responsibility to show what most people couldn’t see. My goal was to pull him away from the crowd, which was hard, because he was the most popular person in the world. In Miami Beach, Fla., I asked him to go running. “I don’t run on sand,” he said. I told him it would strengthen his legs, and he played along. He pulled on combat boots, and I took pictures of him running, alone, on the beach.

On that trip, I also took photos of Muhammad with his newborn daughter, Laila. Recently, in People magazine, I saw a story about how Laila hung that photo above the crib of her new baby girl. She told the magazine, “It’s like a light shining down on her from my dad.”

People love a story of redemption. That is the story of Muhammad Ali.

I first told that story four years ago in an exhibition to raise money for the Morristown Neighborhood House in New Jersey, where generations of boys like me learned as kids to box. Bert Randolph Sugar, the foremost authority on boxing, sent an ESPN crew to cover it. Then the exhibit traveled to London.

The exposure and the reaction showed me people were still interested in Muhammad, and I decided to write a book. His image and his words put him in the context of history. He once told me that, after he took conscientious objector status for Vietnam, most people came to his fights to see him lose: “They came and they booed.” When the war finally ended and the country realized what a mistake the war was, they came back to his side. You couldn’t help but be around someone so powerful and so courageous. I’m not glorifying him; he had his flaws. But he lived a principled life founded on religious beliefs of peace, tolerance and understanding.  There was a contrast between the violent world in which he earned a living and how respected he was for his acts of humanitarianism. He looked at his position of fame as a means to give a voice to the people who needed to be heard.

There were many special moments during my year with The Champ, which began with my run up the mountain and Muhammad lighting the way. What I learned was that Muhammad’s message, the light that he shared with the world, was a message of hope. I photographed it in the tears of a proud man who with thousands welcomed Muhammad to Detroit. I saw it in the beggars to whom he handed $100 bills outside his hotel room in Bogotá, Colombia.

Everywhere we went, it was always the same, always found in their eyes. Muhammad made them proud of who they were and dared them to dream and hope.

When Muhammad fought Sonny Liston in 1964 for Muhammad’s first heavyweight title, my brother and I listened to the fight out of Miami Beach on a transistor radio. I was 14 years old and made a $5 bet that that big, bad Sonny Liston would win. It was the first and last time I would bet against The Champ.

Gaffney now specializes in corporate photography out of his office in Morristown, N.J. His exhibition has been released as a book, The Champ: My Year With Muhammad Ali, which is available in print and ebook through Diversion Books at online retailers. Gaffney gave an advance copy to Ali’s wife, Lonnie, who presented it to The Champ on his 70th birthday, Jan. 17, 2012. Gaffney’s photos will be part of an Ali exhibit at Foreman’s in London during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

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Stand back Kenny Rogers: Black Hole Blues is here.

8:32 AM  Jun 1st, 2012
by Rachel Sebastian '13

In his second book, Black Hole Blues, Patrick Wensink ‘02 balances physics and country music.

The novel explores themes including fear of death and a search for identity, all while making readers laugh.

Main character J. Claude must fulfill his covenant to Nashville: write a love song for every woman’s name on Earth. He’s stuck on Zygmut. His guitar and forgotten club sandwich would tell you it’s not going so well for Claude. But he’d never admit that. He’s too busy taking down Kenny Rogers.

Join Claude on his unexpected adventure and, in the mean time, discover something about yourself.

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No. 367

3:51 PM  Apr 30th, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

At 239 Keifaber St., over the grill chained to the front porch rail, senior Jeremy Vinluan set fire to letter No. 367. At 11 a.m. this morning, on a single sheet of paper, front and back, he wrote a letter to a very special woman, his grandmother. He then folded the paper and sealed it in a white envelope. On that envelope, he wrote in a looping script “Lola.” At 4 p.m., he struck a match, and he burned his words.

It was his way of delivering them to Lola, who though dead is forever with him. “I told her I’m not ready to go home — not ready to die yet — and that I want to live my life the way she lived her life,” he said.

Lola prayed daily. Lola overcame the death of two children and raised nine more. She was strong and compassionate, turning to God for guidance and to her family for love.

Vinluan wrote a letter a day as part of his commitment as a lay Marianist in the spirit of Marianist founder Adele de Batz Trenquelleon. He made that vow April 30, 2011, which is also Lola’s birthday. Today, April 30, 2012, he agreed to another year of being a lay Marianist. I have communicated with more than 350 people outside my community, he said; I will take the next year to reflect and focus in on my community. And I will pray daily, as Lola did, he added, and keep writing.

 

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On the shores of Lake Victoria

8:49 AM  Apr 19th, 2012
by Matthew Dewald

In some ways, Manasa Irwin’s daily routine is similar to that of a lot of family practitioners: immunizations, well-baby checks, advice to eat better.

But she does her job in a fishing village on the shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya, where homes have tin or grass roofs and running water is a luxury.

She is the village’s doctor, there with her husband, Paul Irwin ’03, on a one-year assignment through a Denver-based nonprofit, treating conditions that medical school at Case Western didn’t focus on and becoming part of a community of fishermen, farmers and their families.

She loves the life and the work.

“At night, you see streams of lights across the lake,” she says. “Fishermen go out and use lights to attract fish. It’s really pretty.”

In the day, she sees patients, either at her clinic in Matosa or via a mobile clinic that makes the rounds of nearby villages. She and the clinic’s Kenyan staff — a physician assistant and several registered nurses — offer outpatient care and an HIV support center, among other services. Malnutrition is a common ailment; the prescription is often education, teaching moms about preparing foods more nutritious than the corn and sugar porridge commonly offered young children.

Staff education is equally important, improving patient care with a focus on medical protocols and evidence-based decision making. Paul’s role as a project specialist focuses on improving programs, including a new system for managing the clinic’s pharmacy.

The time-consuming distractions of life back home are absent — no cable TV, no coffee shop around the corner. Kisumu, a city of 350,000 with restaurants and grocery stores, is a treat but four hours away.

So they read and play a lot of Scrabble, kick around soccer balls with the village kids and watch cows graze outside their windows. And after sunset, the fishermen on Lake Victoria float under the stars, lighting up the night.

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St. Louis

4:30 PM  Apr 16th, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

Whether from West County or South City, having attended CBC or Ursuline, when St. Louis first-year students arrive at UD, the rivalries fall away.

“Even though we went to rival high schools, we have that common bond of going to the University of Dayton and being from St. Louis,” says Bernie Powderly ’06. “You could always find a ride home.”

Powderly, St. Louis alumni chapter president, taps into that same feeling when planning events. It’s a culture of community born in St. Louis, nurtured at UD and expanded exponentially when alumni return home — 1,100 strong and growing.

Famous for the Arch and toasted ravs, St. Louis is also home to the first Christmas off Campus. A committee chaired by Renai Basta Lowry ’75 and Brian Lowry ’79 helped start the event that blends the social with service and that has now spread to chapters throughout the nation. The family feel of Christmas off Campus is something Powderly is fostering as the chapter adapts programming to attract more diverse class years. It is capitalizing on free activities like the zoo, adding networking events when the Flyers play A-10 rival Saint Louis, and choosing a more family-friendly day for the annual Cardinals outing (vs. the Phillies Friday, May 25).

The chapter also has the good fortune of sharing its city with the Marianist Province of the U.S., giving alumni opportunities to continue their Marianist connection, says Michael Lofton ’05, former chapter president. For example, brothers join with alumni during game watches, and alumni explore what it means to be Marianist in the 21st century.

Spiritual events are one of five programming areas that all chapters aspire to fill — and St. Louis does it in spades … and diamonds. For the past three years, the chapter has achieved diamond status, the highest rating for chapter participation.

Powderly wants alumni to know that St. Louis is always a great place to come back to. Powderly, a finance and international business graduate who traveled for a year and a half before deciding to come home, is reaching out to St. Louis natives no matter their address. You’re always welcome home, he says, for a visit or to stay. And when you come, we’ll show you what it means to be a young professional in a great city.

How do you have fun all day but pay ONLY for parking?

St. Louis parks and even the zoo are free. The trails, beautiful scenery and a sunny sky make for a very inexpensive yet fun day. During Thanksgiving weekend, I took my son to the zoo and only paid for parking. It was fun! The penguin exhibit was his favorite.”  —Jessica Gonzalez ’96

“Go to the Cathedral Basilica, the seat of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and one of the most spectacular buildings that I have ever visited. Free tours are available daily.” —Larry Bommarito ’75

The 1,293 acre Forest Park is home to the breathtaking Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center and the Missouri History Museum. There are also two public golf courses. It does cost money but, since there are countless free parking spaces within the park grounds, one can use parking money to enjoy a nice round of golf.” —Myles McDonnell ’13

“Either visiting the Saint Louis Zoo or visiting the Arch grounds.”  —Renai Lowry ’75

Laumeier Sculpture Park, Anheuser-Busch brewery tour (free and you get two cups of beer at the end), and take a tour of the Hill (historic Italian part of town).” —Brian Effer ’99

“And you can’t beat the view from the top of the Arch (not free but cheap).” —Joe Pott ’00

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How to make a last impression

3:41 PM  Apr 16th, 2012
by Matthew Dewald

Art education graduate Roy “Bud” Davis ’65 usually gets one of two reactions to his work: stunned silence or curious delight.

As owner/operator of Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins (vintagecoffins.com) in Murray, Ky., he builds fine, one-of-a-kind coffins to order, 10 or so in a good year. Nearly all of his orders are “pre-need,” to use an industry term, so he is able to chat with clients about their preferences. His tips for the last piece of furniture you’ll ever use:

1. Beauty first “Your coffin really ought to be a work of art,” he says. He draws on nearly 50 years as an artist to make each coffin a handcrafted, original piece.

2. Make it personal One client, a retired truck driver, dresses year-round as Santa Claus. Davis delivered a coffin perfect for him, decorated with reindeer, snowflakes and a bag full of toys.

3. Creativity counts A PBS show commissioned a steamboat-style coffin for writer Roy Blount Jr. to narrate from while floating down the Mississippi River. Maxim magazine ordered one shaped like a giant beer bottle for a national contest.

4. So does simple elegance One of his most popular coffin styles is the classic, six-sided toe-pincher. Sometimes called a “Dracula coffin,” it’s available as a plain pine box, an elegantly varnished and upholstered model, or anything in between. Many clients consider it a welcome alternative to the “gaudy things that the funeral homes push,” he says.

5. And maybe even utility Customers have asked for removable shelves to use his coffins as temporary bookshelves and even a liquor cabinet, as well as blanket chests and coffee tables (one client calls hers “an end table”).

6. Accept it with cheer A sense of humor is “part of our business plan. It makes it easier for people to approach the topic.” But families might not always accept the more extreme designs, he cautions. “The person who bought it might want to be buried in it, but the wife and kids might say, ‘Let’s get a real one.’”

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How to make a quick impression

3:07 PM  Apr 16th, 2012
by Matthew Dewald

Recruitment materials might call it Roesch Library, but for students on campus, it’s become #clubroesch. In Twitter terms, the # “hashtag” sign marks the word as a keyword, both a searchable term and a bit of commentary.

Roesch Library’s own Twitter account, @roeschlibrary, has become a breakout star on campus for its light tone and responsiveness. It’s run by Katy Kelly, communications and outreach librarian, who offers her tips for managing a must-follow Twitter account:

1. Have a personality (even if you’re not a person) Twitter is a place for conversation, not streams of announcements. Even when you’re tweeting for an entity, like a library, a personal voice matters.

2. Lighten up Students are funny in their tweets about #clubroesch (see right), so why shouldn’t the library be, too? “I respond trying to be pop-culture savvy,” she says.

3. Show you’re listening “This is like our comment box, but everyone can see the comments. I like that,” Kelly says, adding that reading complaints is a good thing. Even if she can’t help, she responds to show someone’s listening.

4. Act on what you hear Roesch has revised policies based, in part, on chatter from tweets. Wi-Fi capacity has been expanded and even food policies loosened. Yes, you can now order in a pizza. “What better way to start a long night of studying?” Kelly says.

5. Track Kelly keeps a spreadsheet of Roesch-relevant tweets to spot trends in how students use the library. That helps the library serve them better which, after all, is the goal.

 

Some of Kelly’s favorite student tweets, positive and negative:

Does anyone have some mittens or a kitten I can borrow to combat the arctic temperatures of @roeschlibrary? #ClubRoesch #meow #FrigidPanda

TestFIN301+Test3ECO204 + QuizACC208 + PresentationMGT221 + TestDSC211 = A very tired 20 year old… #clubroesch

goal: 4 hours in #clubroesch then make it to @TimothysBar before cover. ready. set. go.

looks like yet another week of closing @roeschlibrary every night. #cantwait

I wonder if the girl in #clubroesch realizes her headphones are not preventing anyone from hearing her music. Sing it, Beyoncé. #petpeeve

i’m slowly dying here as well, obvsss… if only #clubroesch was 24 hours i would move in

anyone in @roeschlibrary have a pen or pencil I could borrow, please? #soprepared

i should start making new friends at what i like to call the “gem” of the university #clubroesch #secondfloor #doublemonitors #everynight

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Beyond Brown Street

12:51 PM  Apr 13th, 2012
by Matthew Dewald

How is an increased focus on internationalization affecting UD, and why do we do it? Amy Anderson ’09, director of the Center for International Programs, and University President Daniel J. Curran recently sat down to discuss internationalization at UD.

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Deep Rough

9:26 AM  Apr 12th, 2012
by Maggie Malach '11

A book by Chris Blewitt ’95

Blewitt wanted to write a novel about what he knows: golf. It wasn’t until the night of his 30th birthday that he dreamt the book’s inspiration. Drawing from his years of playing the sport, Blewitt tells the history behind the secretive Augusta National as he weaves a tale about a man who tries to fix the Masters Tournament. His goal is to tell a story that had never been told. University of Dayton alumni will recognize another source of Blewitt’s inspiration: the handful of references he makes to Dayton, including a street called Evanston. “My experience [at UD] was excellent,” he says.

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