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Lens crafters

2:15 PM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Jeanne Erdmann

New knowledge about the regenerative powers of newts is overturning 250 years of conventional scientific wisdom and may one day lead to unlocking a similar capacity in humans.

In 1994 Goro Eguchi headed out the door of his research laboratory in Okazaki, Japan, on a hunt that had become familiar to him over the course of his long career. Eyes trained downward, Eguchi, 61 years old at the time, searched ponds and puddles for the Japanese fire-bellied newt. The creatures aren’t easy to spot. Although their underbellies are dotted in bright orange from chin to tail, their backs are brownish-black, helping them blend with muddy water.

Few developmental biologists in the world are as familiar with these newts, also known as Cynops pyrrhogaster, as Eguchi. He’s devoted his career to studying a biological phenomenon known as regeneration, the ability of some animals to regrow a lost body part. Other animals can regenerate — including salamanders, frogs and worms — but newts are the champions. Remove part of a limb or tail and another one grows. Take away the lens on the eye? No problem. In one month, a new lens grows back.

The fire-bellied newt’s ability to restore certain tissue has fascinated scientists for more than 250 years. In 1768, Lazzaro Spallanzani studied regeneration in newts and frogs, cutting off limbs and watching new ones return. Sometimes, though, the limbs that regrew in Spallanzani’s experiments were missing some bones or didn’t otherwise grow back properly. So for a long time, researchers studying regeneration were convinced that as animals aged, their ability to regenerate limbs, lenses and even hearts diminished over time.

No one had ever designed an experiment to test that conclusion. Eguchi and his colleague Panagiotis Tsonis had their suspicions about how aging would affect regeneration because they’d both worked with the newt for decades. Tsonis, director of UD’s Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering at Dayton, had done doctoral work in Eguchi’s lab and has devoted his career to figuring out how lens regeneration in newts works.

To test such an idea, of course, they needed to take the long view. That’s why, 17 years ago, Eguchi began collecting adult newts. He needed newts that were nearly full-sized to make certain they would be old enough at the start of the experiment. The fire-bellied newt grows slowly, reaching about 4 inches long — about 90 percent of its mature length — after 14 years.

Japanese fire-bellied newts were the perfect research subjects for this type of experiment. Unlike American newts, which don’t live very long and don’t tolerate captivity well, Japanese newts can live more than 30 years in captivity and thrive in laboratory life.

Eguchi’s lab took responsibility for the animal maintenance and planning of surgery, and Tsonis collaborated with researchers at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center in La Jolla, Calif., to analyze the animals’ DNA, molecular profile and the structure of their lenses.

“American newts have such a short lifespan in captivity, so keeping them around in the lab for a continued experiment is tricky,” says Tsonis. “It’s the type of collaboration that could not happen otherwise.”

Starting such an experiment was a leap of faith. Seventeen years ago, the DNA techniques needed to analyze the data either hadn’t been developed or were too expensive to even consider. That’s why up until a decade or so ago, regeneration science had been mostly descriptive, says Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, a regeneration specialist at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo. Scientists had been chopping off limbs or heads and tails of worms or removing lenses and then watching them grow back, but they couldn’t do much more.

Whether one is watching newts regrow lenses or watching worms regrow heads and tails, regeneration makes for great videos. But those videos don’t tell researchers what is going on at the molecular level, nor can it identify the genes responsible. Over the past 10 years, though, DNA sequencing — the technique that allows scientists to “read” the genetic code — has become less expensive, and other molecular techniques that allow scientists to add or remove genes or switch genes off have helped the regeneration field in general.

The progress at the molecular level has been slow because animals that regenerate well (newts and a species of worm known as planaria) have not been amenable to study with traditional genetics, either because their sexual reproductive cycles are too long or because traditional genetics and molecular resources were not available. So newts and their regenerating brethren began to fall behind other research animals, such as mice or even zebra fish.

Researchers like Tsonis spent painstaking years getting these genetic and molecular techniques to work in the newts, his lab supported by continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1995. As other molecular techniques became available (such as ways to silence genes), the field of regeneration technology slowly became less descriptive and researchers started to piece together the networks of genes and molecules involved in rebuilding lost tissues.

As the 16-year experiment continued, Tsonis was able, through painstaking work, to use these techniques to analyze lens regeneration. Eventually, Tsonis could compare whether the same genes were switched on or off year after year as the newts grew older.

The technique to remove the lens (called a lentectomy) is simple. Just a tiny slit in the cornea followed by a light pinch with fine forceps, and the entire lens comes out in one piece. The cornea heals in 24 hours, and a lens has been differentiated within a month.

Over the first six years of the experiment, Eguchi’s team performed 12 lentectomies (two a year on the same eye of each newt). After carefully examining the lenses from those surgeries, the researchers determined that repetition was not a problem: The lens architecture (the size and shape of the tissue) and molecules in each lens were exactly the same. After that, Eguchi removed the lenses only once a year, and the team focused on the effects of aging. In 2011, after the experiment had been going for 16 years, Tsonis felt it was time to stop. “We had quite clear data,” he says.

In a study published this summer in Nature Communications, Eguchi and Tsonis concluded that newts’ ability to regenerate lenses was practically limitless: the 17th and 18th lenses (the last two lenses removed) were exactly the same as lenses removed when the experiment began 16 years earlier, they found. And even newts that were at least 30 years old — comparable to a 90-year-old human — showed no decline in their ability to regrow lenses every bit as good as those they started out with as young’uns. Each lens regrew with equal speed and vigor.

“This is a fundamental paper,” says Sánchez Alvarado. “It’s going to become a classic for two reasons, a practical reason and a scientific reason.” Such lengthy, basic science experiments are extremely unlikely to be funded in the United States, he says, because such research grants are given for five years and renewals for four years. Funding is also rare for a single experiment. “It’s very difficult to accomplish long-term experiments.”

But the experiment is notable not only for the researchers’ perseverance but also for its scientific significance, Sánchez Alvarado says. “Here is a real experiment with real data that essentially says, ‘Vertebrates can actually do this; they are aging chronologically, the animals are 30 years old, but biologically they’re young.’ To me that’s a remarkable paradigm shift because it provides incontrovertible evidence that chronological and biological age are not necessarily the same thing. It’s nice to go to your list of things we don’t know about regeneration and scratch that one off the list.”

Sánchez Alvarado says the list of what scientists don’t know about regeneration is still quite long. Now, with all of the information from genome sequencing on so many species, researchers know there’s a finite collection of genes, and those genes are coming together in some organized fashion to produce a finite collection of attributes that are shared throughout all animal species. For Sánchez Alvarado, the take-home message is that “we’re incredibly closely related to each other, so it should be feasible to understand why some animals can do certain things and others cannot; why some animals can regenerate so well now becomes part of the landscape for our interrogation.’’

Even though people don’t regenerate body parts like newts, the regenerative capacities we do possess begin to diminish with age. Hair recedes, wrinkles increase, muscle mass goes away. None of this happened in the newts’ lenses. None of the newts got cataracts. Since humans, mice and so many organisms share genes, regeneration scientists say that we may be able to figure out why some organisms regenerate limbs and heads and others don’t. Researchers suspect that we all have the capability, but in humans that capacity is genetically turned off for most tissues. People can regenerate liver and skin, and children can regenerate fingertips. Now that researchers know that aging newts can churn out fresh lenses, Tsonis says they may be able to figure out how to restore specific tissues lost to degeneration and aging.

Over the past 16 years, Tsonis has collaborated on not only the lens aging experiment. He’s also continued to make his own mark in lens regeneration. He finds the lens attractive because it provides a more clear-cut way for the research to proceed than limb regeneration because the process happens faster. Even more alluring was the way the lens regenerates. For limb regeneration, part of the limb is removed. In the lens, the entire organ is removed and then rebuilt from a different group of cells in the eye tissue. That phenomenon has allowed Tsonis a unique opportunity to study how one tissue stops in its tracks and then recreates an entirely different kind of tissue.

“That’s quite unique, even in the newt,” he says.

Studying regeneration in the lens offered another advantage over limb regeneration: the newt lens always regenerates from cells in the dorsal, or upper, part of the eye and never the ventral, or lower part, even though they’re the same type of cell.

Regeneration starts as a group of cells responsible for pigment in the iris begin a process that turns them into completely different cells and then back again. Scientific lingo for these twin processes are dedifferentiation (when cells slip back to a less specialized form) and transdifferentiation (when one cell type converts into another cell type). Tsonis wants to know everything about how these processes work to understand fundamental biological questions about how and why cells grow old and die, and why some turn cancerous.

David Stocum, a regeneration researcher at the Indiana University Center for Regenerative Biology and Medicine, compares the capacity of newts’ lenses to regenerate to a human’s ability to regrow the liver. Researchers can remove a fairly substantial fraction of the liver in lab experiments, and it will regenerate over and over — but he says the Tsonis team has regenerated the lens in the same animal many more times than anyone has repeatedly generated the liver.

As newts age, explains Stocum, their capacity to regenerate limbs declines. Either regeneration slows or the new limb grows with mistakes, such as an extra digit. In the long newt experiment the cells that built lens after lens made no mistakes, suggesting that the problems with limb regeneration might result from its more complex structure or external factors such as infection. “It tells us though that all of these old dogmas — and there have been lots of them — are not viable anymore. So the possibility exists that we will find out how to manipulate things at the site of an injury or disease to regenerate the tissue.”

Tsonis plans on going down some of those research avenues. He says finding answers in one area of regeneration will answer basic questions in other areas. For instance, Tsonis wants to see what’s going on with DNA repair and aging. He’s intrigued by cancer formation in the newts. While in Eguchi’s lab during his doctoral studies, Tsonis gave the newts all sorts of cancer-inducing chemicals, but the newts never got cancer. Now, he wants to return to those experiments so he can figure out why. “If that process is regulated, then I can trace it.”

He also wants to investigate the relationship between what newt cells do during regeneration and how stem cells work.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that nature invented common strategies and then modified them in different animals according to needs. I don’t think they’re completely different strategies.”

Investigating such strategies can spark ideas for research in mice and eventually people, says Tsonis. Although that’s a long way off, cellular pathways are similar and so are cell physiologies. He wants to discover whether newts and people have the same genes and cellular mechanisms.

One day, in the distant future, Tsonis hopes to use this research to find a way to treat eye disease, such as macular degeneration. “It’s not that easy, but that’s the ultimate goal of regeneration, to treat people.”

Jeanne Erdmann is a medical science writer in Wentzville, Mo. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Nature and Science News.

 

<CONTINUED CONVERSATIONS>

Center for Tissue Regeneration and Engineering at Dayton http://trend.udayton.edu/

Coverage of the research in Discover http://bit.ly/p8T6K9

Read the paper in Nature Communications http://bit.ly/p86LiI

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Beat X

2:10 PM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Michelle Tedford

We won the cup, and we never gave it up.

It was Nov. 4, 1972, and there was a lot on the line, including the silver Governor’s Cup, first awarded in 1929 by Ohio Gov. Myers Cooper to the winner of the UD-Xavier football rivalry and taken home by the victors every game since. It was also UD’s homecoming at Baujan Field, and the Flyers were looking to improve on their 20-27-3 series record against the Musketeers going back to 1907.

But Xavier had more at risk. Its football team was losing games, losing money and, possibly, losing the program.

Musketeer quarterback Tim Dydo set Xavier records, attempting 60 passes and completing 31 for 337 yards. But Flyer quarterback Ken Polke ’75 repeatedly turned to Denny Whitehead ’73, who picked up 139 yards and three touchdowns in what Flyer News called “his finest afternoon in a Dayton uniform.”

The game’s score is etched on a silver plate on the trophy’s wooden stand: 31 Dayton – Xavier 13.

It’s the last series statistic. In 1973, Xavier’s board of trustees ended the school’s football program, and Dayton kept the cup.

Fast forward to 2002. UD Arena is being renovated, and equipment manager Tony Caruso ’81 rescues the trophy that was once stored in the north air-handling room with scores of other memorabilia. Today, you’ll find it atop a worn wooden wall cabinet outside his office near the football locker room.

He’s surrounded by history he’s saved. There’s a 1949 pigskin signed by the team. On a high shelf is a brass basketball given by the Rotary Club to the 1952 basketball team. He has a brass football presented Jan. 18, 1955, at a dinner for legendary football coach Harry Baujan in honor of 33 years of service; he’d work at UD for 21 more until his death Dec. 30, 1976.

“I keep all of the old stuff — you can’t go forward until you see where you’ve been,” says Caruso, who played baseball from 1977-81, coached through the ’80s and has worked with the athletics programs ever since.

In the room with industrial-sized washers are more than 40 football helmets, some from college teams that no longer exist. You can hang your coat on a four-and-a-half-foot trophy that sits by his office door; it’s the TOMPROP, a steel airplane propeller affixed with a brass tomahawk that passed between the Miami University and Dayton football programs from 1935 to 1955.

These traveling trophies are among his favorites. And he’s in search of one more. He’s heard rumor of the Flying Cleat, golden with wings, passed between Marshall and Dayton. Caruso has made some calls, but no one knows where it is.

“It’s in the trash or someone’s house somewhere,” he says. Or maybe it’s a hidden treasure in plain sight, being guarded by another history buff like Caruso.

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Stuart Hall, UDSAP and saying the ‘Hail Mary’ … Ask a Marianist

1:46 PM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Brother Tom Pieper ’67

How busy can a brother be? Right now, Brother Tom Pieper, S.M. ’67, is filling in as resident campus minister at Marycrest while still ministering to the needs of Stuart Hall, where he has worked for 15 years. He coordinates the nine-week UD Summer Appalachia Program in Salyersville, Ky. And he’s taking suggestions for the UDSAP 50th anniversary reunion, less than three years away. Email him ideas at Tom.Pieper@notes.udayton.edu.

What is your favorite part of ministering to first-year students in Stuart Hall? —Daniel Zidek ’13, UD student

When students first come here, they have left everything. I believe the Marianist spirit and charism really offers them a place of welcome. For the first month that’s my main goal — get to know as many names as possible. I try to be proactive, inviting students to deepen and share their faith by being leaders on retreats, leaders of faith-sharing communities, leaders of community-building activities in my residence hall. I love this ministry. It uses lots of my natural gifts and gives me an opportunity to help them grow in their faith and in the person they want to become. And, since I live in the student neighborhood, I can continue to be present to these students as they move on in their four years at UD.

How has the renovation of the Chapel of St. Joseph the Worker enhanced the campus ministry in Stuart Hall? And are you also still playing sand volleyball? —Nick Pohlman ’00 Geneva, Ill.

Our chapel moved from the back of Meyer Hall to the front where the dryers and washers were located. The chapel used to be a rectangle with burnt orange carpeting. Now, when you walk in, it’s a beautiful sacred space to have liturgy and pray — stained glass, sacred furnishings and wooden liturgical pieces made by Brother Gary Marcinowski. And because of its location, many more students have come to celebrate. It’s a great sign of our Marianist and Catholic presence. As for volleyball, I watch, maybe take a few swipes at the ball.

Why did you initially begin moderating UDSAP? What has kept you coming back every summer? —Nichole Davis ’06, Indianapolis

Kentucky is my home state. Going back and being present to my state is valuable to me. When I first went down to fill in for Sister Nancy Bramlage, I just fell in love with the place and what they’re doing. It’s a unique service experience in that the 14 students are involved with the lives of the people — through a day camp, teen center, nursing home visits and family visits — and that has changed me a lot. We really do learn that Appalachia is not just a place where poor people live. We know the faces and the names. Knowing the people, we can be advocates for them. And we live simply — we have a great outhouse.

I feel like the poor have such terrible needs in our current economy, and many political leaders seem to be the worst enemies of their most desperate constituents. What can be done? —Marilyn Stauffer Kaple ’69, Summerville, S.C.

Do research and listen to the volunteer organizations in your community that can instruct you on how to help financially and how to be involved because we are all just part of this great community. At UD, we challenge students to have experiences of being with and living with the poor. Later in life, students who have had these experiences change the way they live, vote and look at the needs of others.

When was “Holy Mary, Mother of God …” added to the “Hail Mary”? —Robert Corgan, Madeira, Ohio

The first parts are scripture from the Gospel of St. Luke — Gabriel at the Annunciation and Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation. They were said by monks before the 10th and 11th centuries. In 1196, the bishop of Paris ordered all the clergy to teach these Marian verses to all the people. Why not add an intercession for all of us? No one knows who wrote it but, by the 1500s, this intercession was already the tradition.

Is there a difference between Marianists who are brothers and those who are priests? —Bill Lorenz ’84, Nairobi, Kenya

We all call one another “brother,” and that’s an important thing because the Marianists have an equality between brothers and priests. Some brothers have a desire to perform the sacred liturgies and preach the word of God. We as a whole group of brothers work to discern where the spirit is moving in their lives and how to carry out Mary’s mission of bringing Christ into the world. We all have gifts and we discern how to use those gifts for the community.

For our next issue ask Father Jim Fitz ’68, vice president for mission and rector and former assistant provincial of the Marianist Province of the U.S. His office is coordinating UD’s celebration of Chaminade Year, running through January 2012. Email your question to magazine@udayton.edu.

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A Year of Hitchcock

9:39 AM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

A book by Jim McDevitt ’96
Call it a bucket-list item, maybe two. McDevitt not only wrote a book, but he spent a year watching every Alfred Hitchcock film, one per week, to do it. The result is A Year of Hitchcock: 52 Weeks with the Master of Suspense, released in hardcover two years ago and coming out in paperback in October. From The Lodger (1927) to Family Plot (1976), the book traces Hitchcock’s career film by film with synopses, trivia and a “Where’s Hitchcock?” box for spotting the director’s clever cameos. “Hitchcock’s films are endlessly fascinating, even after many repeat viewings,” McDevitt says.

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Parenting Your Adult Child

9:37 AM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Michelle Tedford

A book by Susan Veihdeffer Vogt ’69
A mother of four, Vogt gives parents hope, guidance and support as she addresses the personal and spiritual formation of adult children. She writes from a Catholic perspective but provides lessons for families of any faith. “The kids don’t always follow the path we hoped or wanted for them … but that’s part of our faith journey — learning how to let go and trust God.” A professional Catholic family minister for more than 30 years with husband Jim ’68, she is also a vowed lay Marianist and points to Mary’s formation of Jesus — and by Jesus — as instructive for parents: Our children form us.

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Fastened to a Dying Animal

9:28 AM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Michelle Tedford

A book by Gary Leising ’95
Leising forages for free coffee in the offices at Utica College N.Y., where he teaches creative writing and contemporary literature. In its absence, he grudgingly visits the overpriced campus coffee cart where he is repeatedly stuck behind a customer with a complicated order. He turned his impatience into “Your Punishment in Hell,” one poem in his new book of poetry. “I try to engage readers with a lot of humor and, I hope, a sense of assertion and self-deprecation,” he says. His poems deal with questions of mortality through symbolism of the human animal. But don’t take him too seriously. Every bit of venom he directs at a character illustrates he’s as flawed as us all, just more creative in showing it.

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Putting Makeup on Dead People

9:22 AM  Aug 30th, 2011
by Michelle Tedford

A book by Jen Violi ’96
Hurricane Katrina scattered members of the University of New Orleans creative writing MFA program, blowing Violi north to Dayton. That’s when the seed of the story that had been germinating since her father’s death in 1988 took root. “I always knew I was going to write about loss, honoring my dad and exploring my own healing through fiction,” she says. What began as a short story cycle evolved into an absorbing young adult novel in which high-schooler Donna deals with the grief of her father’s death by finding her own path in life. Violi sets the story in Dayton and hopes readers will forgive Donna, who turns down UD for mortuary school.

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How to break the ice with a fellow Flyer

10:03 AM  Aug 26th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

Michael Pedley ’98 will be meeting more alumni than ever in his life in the coming months and years. Recently named assistant vice president for alumni outreach, he leads a staff charged with engaging all of UD’s 103,000 alumni and inspiring them to stay connected to and support their alma mater.

All of which raises an interesting question — just how do you spark the conversation with a fellow Flyer? Pedley and his staff, among them Anita Brothers, Tracie Johnson ’08 and Teresa Perretta ’09, offer their tips:

1. Look for the best porch in the neighborhood The love of porches that students develop at UD follows them when house-hunting and beyond, Brothers said. “UD alums have fantastic porches. I’ve had so many show them off to me.”

2. Talk about Dayton travel deals The perfect spot to get away with your Flyer friends now flung across the country? For a lot of alumni, it’s Dayton, Perretta said. “I love hearing from alumni that they vacation in Dayton.”

3. If you see Flyer attire, don’t be afraid to shout “Go Flyers!” Anywhere. An obvious one, but easy, too. In the airport, out shopping, at the beach — if they’re wearing their support, show yours. “There’s never shame in yelling ‘Dayton!’ anywhere,” Johnson said. Look at it from their viewpoint — you’ll make their day.

4. Name-drop your street, your service, your intramural glory Even across generations, the chances of shared experiences are very high at UD, Brothers said. Virtually everyone lived on the same few streets, visited the same chapel and calls “Learn. Lead. Serve.” the UD motto (even though it isn’t officially — that’s “Pro Deo et Patria”). We’re a community, in part, because we all know a lot of the same things and share UD’s Marianist spirit.

5. Step back and let the story flow “At UD, we value listening as much as talking, the mark of the friendliness and openness everyone feels across campus. We also want to know how UD has carried us forward and remained part of us,” Pedley said. When one UD alum meets another, there’s really no ice to break.

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His biggest sale

10:01 AM  Aug 26th, 2011
by Shannon Shelton Miller

Fiore Talarico ’74 knows how to make the sale.

During his multifaceted career, Talarico, a retired Houston businessman, has bought and sold close to 40 companies in industries ranging from pharmaceutical research to pizza. He’s worked as a venture capitalist, a fundraiser for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and an adviser for a national security think tank.

Regardless of the industry, Talarico says that the selling process begins long before one lands a position with a company or makes a deal.

“If you want to get a job, how do you do that? You have to know how to sell yourself,” he says.

Now he’s helping other Flyers become just as adept at the art of selling. Talarico is giving the University a $1 million gift over a five-year period to support the Center for Professional Selling, launched in May 2010. As the call for sales training across disciplines continues to rise from employers and students alike, the School of Business Administration wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to meet that growing demand. The center is one of about
50 at colleges and universities nationwide.

And because of Talarico’s contribution — a gift described as “transformational” by Matthew Shank, former dean of the school who became president of Marymount University in Virginia this summer — the center will take a large step toward accomplishing significant goals that will help students become more competitive in the job market and workplace.

“Selling is important for people from all walks of life,” Talarico said. “This will help more than just future business leaders — all kids can benefit from selling. We want kids at the University of Dayton to be a step ahead.”

Talarico’s gift will help fund equipment needs for the center, provide support for students participating each year in the National Collegiate Sales Competition and be used to help promote the center.

Shank said the center is securing corporate partnerships designed to provide internship and full-time job placement opportunities for students. So far, it has secured two — Total Quality Logistics Inc. and Reynolds and Reynolds have signed on as partners — but the center hopes to have between eight and 10 partners in the near future.

The gift is three years in the making. Shank first mentioned the idea of the center to Talarico when the two were enjoying pizza, pool and a Dayton Flyers basketball game three years ago.

Talarico was sold.

“He expressed an interest in sales and stressed its importance for all students,” Shank said. “He’s an advocate for having students understand the role of sales in their career goals.”

Talarico should know. He’s come a long way from that day in late 1970 when he boarded a bus in Allendale, N.J., with two suitcases in hand. “All that I had,” he said.

He undertook a two-day journey to Dayton, and the bus dropped him off downtown. He asked some friendly locals for help, and they directed him to campus, telling him to look for the Big Boy statue near the entrance.

Big Boy is long gone, but Talarico’s fond memories of his time at the University remain. Today, Talarico actively works to recruit students in the Houston area to the University and invites them to alumni gatherings he hosts at his home and at sporting events. His ongoing enthusiasm even convinced his nephew, Andrew McClain, to transfer to the University. And now his son, Jared, has made the move.

Selling the University to students might be Talarico’s most fulfilling endeavor.

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Notes on regeneration

10:00 AM  Aug 26th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

I confess that when I think about regeneration, the subject of one of this issue’s features, my thoughts are not about science so much as science fiction and mythology. I think of poor Prometheus chained to that rock, his liver growing back each night so that an eagle could return to devour it each day. It was his eternal punishment from Zeus for giving fire to us mortals. Some days I think I know how he must’ve felt.

But such thoughts mark one difference between me, an editor, and a scientist like UD’s Panagiotis Tsonis. In the capacity of a newt to regenerate the lens of its eye, he sees the possibility of one day unlocking similar mechanisms in our own mammalian bodies. A fountain of youth may dwell within us all — but here I am thinking in metaphors again.

You can see regeneration as a more purposeful metaphor in this issue’s story on the River Stewards, who are helping put the region back in touch with the five rivers that the city’s founders first settled around. As a community, we turned our collective back on them a century ago, answering a devastating flood with high levees. Today, regional leaders look hopefully at a renewed embrace. Recreation and tourism, economic development, environmental stewardship — they could all flow together in the plans being laid today with the help of our students and their boundless visions of what the future can be.

The rebirth of the river is but one sign of a broader renewal throughout the region, driven in part by a regeneration of the University itself. This fall marks the beginning of the 10th year of Daniel J. Curran’s presidency at UD. As another feature story notes, the University has experienced a remarkable decade by any measure — the academic strength and geographic diversity of incoming classes, physical growth, infrastructure improvements, endowment health, internationalization and more.

It results from careful planning and calculated risk taking, of course, but those are tactics any well-run organization might claim. More than those, the momentum springs from our Marianist vision, our commitment to, in the words of Father Chaminade who founded the Marianists, read the signs of the times and act. The University community has acted boldly and with ingenuity under Dr. Curran’s leadership, positioning the institution for decades to come.

I see the changes daily outside my office windows, which overlook the 50 acres UD purchased from NCR in 2005. Tennis courts have sprung up and soccer practice fields are dramatically improved. Further in the distance, ground has been broken for the new GE Aviation R&D center.

And across Brown Street, life has returned to campus classrooms and the student neighborhoods after a long, hot summer. With the new generation of students, there is also a regeneration of our Marianist commitment to educate for adaptation and change in community.

And maybe that, too, is a little how Prometheus must’ve felt when he handed over the secret of fire.

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