If first-year music education major Emily Gatlin had missed her very first University class — an 8 a.m. course, no less — her professor might have understood. She and members of Eleventh Hour, an a cappella group at Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont High School, had just spent 2 ½ weeks in Los Angeles competing in the NBC reality show The Sing Off.
The group lasted two episodes, and Gatlin was back in time for that first class with tips for anyone who wants to sing in front of a crowd — even if it’s just the 10 people at your local karaoke bar:
1. Find that happy place You might be trying to entertain a crowd, but you can’t worry too much about it. “I don’t think about all of the people out in the audience,” Gatlin said. “I’m just somewhere else when I’m singing.”
2. Fake it ’til you make it It’s okay to be nervous, Gatlin said, but if you project an air of confidence, no one will notice your jitters. “You learn to just smile, especially when you know you’re on camera.”
3. More on that smiling thing Gatlin said that when her friends watched the show, they spotted her easily because of the big grin on her face. “Some people would be making faces, and I would be like, ‘Whee! I’m on national television!’”
4. Be prepared “Don’t go to your audition not knowing what to expect,” she said. “In our case, it was to have three songs prepared. We drilled those three songs so we knew them like the backs of our hands.”
5. Hook ’em Highlight your unique qualities. The other groups on the show consisted of professionals or college students, so Eleventh Hour used its youth to its advantage. One judge called the group the “real life version of Glee,” in reference to the Fox program about a high school choir.
Missed The Sing Off and want to hear more? Eleventh Hour records a CD each year that’s available on iTunes. The latest is called Electrify. Videos of the group’s performances can be found at http://www.nbc.com/sing-off/.No Comments
Through a gift, one entrepreneur is making sure others have the same opportunities to innovate that he had.
“There are so many things that are part of business success, whether you’re running a business or focusing on being an engineer,” said O. Jack Anderson ’54. “I didn’t come to UD to be a marketing man or an accountant. I came here to be an engineer. But I found I needed to know about these issues for business success.”
Anderson, a business graduate, founded CAD/CAM Inc. in Dayton. For many years, the company offered an apprenticeship program in which students attended school while working at CAD/CAM nearly every workday. The program helped give students an understanding of business and entrepreneurship, Anderson said.
Now, he and his wife, Opal Anderson ’81, are enhancing a program named by a national foundation as “best-in-class in project-based engineering innovation education.” The Andersons’ gift of more than $600,000 will endow the O. Jack and Opal Anderson Faculty Fellowship in Engineering Innovation. The new fellow will lead the growing partnership between the School of Engineering and the School of Business Administration to prepare students to better design products for society. The position also will work to provide additional entrepreneurial and product design learning experiences Universitywide.
The Andersons have long believed in supporting education at the University of Dayton. In 2003, they provided $60,000 in seed money to launch innovation and design projects through the Design and Manufacturing Clinic, the predecessor to today’s Innovation Center. They have also supported service learning and community building through the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.
Jack Anderson’s own time at UD exposed him to the business world, as he attended classes by day and worked as an apprentice toolmaker at night. He also earned an MBA from UD in 1965. Anderson represented small businesses on President Gerald Ford’s education committee to provide input on what students needed to be successful in industry after graduation.
“I’d like to see students have a broader, more entrepreneurial view of engineering or whatever business they go into,” he said.
The engineering innovation program addresses that. The endowed professor will enhance existing programs by coordinating with faculty from numerous disciplines to build on current successes — all intended to give students a better understanding of business and entrepreneurship. The Andersons hope this, in turn, will provide students with the kind of experiences they’ve had.
“Jack credits UD for allowing him to start a business and advance in the business world,” Opal Anderson said. “His UD education really opened up opportunities.”1 Comment
One night last October, economics graduate Matt Lambiase ’88 awakened with UD on his mind. He sent an e-mail and asked, “Do you still have the Summer Appalachia Program?”
Yes, indeed, said Nick Cardilino, director of campus ministry’s Center for Social Concern. For the past 46 summers, campus ministry has sent up to 14 UD students to Salyersville, Ky., to run a youth day camp, staff a teen center, visit the elderly and grow in faith as they serve others in the Marianist tradition.
Students raise funds all year for their room and board while preparing academically, socially and spiritually for the nine-week experience, said Brother Tom Pieper, S.M., a campus minister who oversees the program.
Lambiase, president of Chimera Investment Corp. in New York City, sent a check the next day — enough to endow a scholarship fund and cover a portion of the program’s utilities, food and materials for the summer of 2011.
While work prevented Lambiase from joining the program as a student, he recognized its importance. “This is my way to participate now,” he said.No Comments
Today’s Arena playing floor is not your grandfather’s hardwood. And that’s one reason why, on Dec. 6, 1969, when the Arena saw its first Flyers’ game, the court was not wood.
It was Tartan, a name derived not from a plaid of red and blue but more likely associated with Scotch tape, a product of 3M, the maker of the floor.
“When the UD players came to the Arena for their first practice, they beamed — not just at the Arena itself, but at the floor,” says Don Donoher ’54, who spent his playing career on the Fieldhouse floor before coaching the Flyers to a record 437 victories.
The Fieldhouse (now the Frericks Center) may have been a legendary venue, but its floor was, Donoher remembers, “shin splints waiting to happen.”
The Tartan floor, made of a rubbery plastic compound, was, however, resilient. It also gave the ball a truer bounce than many wood floors.
The quality of Tartan was not the only reason it was the Arena’s original floor, remembers Donoher. Danger of flooding made a permanent wooden floor impractical; lack of storage made a moveable floor an impossibility. That changed after the Flyers made a run in the 1984 NCAA tournament, finishing in the Elite Eight and benefitting financially. Athletic director Tom Frericks was able to excavate space for the dual purpose of a media room and storage for a wood floor, installed for the 1985-86 season.
Today the Arena’s floor has the traditional look of wood but, unlike old-time floors, also gives truer bounces and fewer shin splints.No Comments
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception powerfully symbolizes who we are — a great Catholic university. It is the spiritual heart of our campus and an icon of our faith.
As we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, I invite alumni and friends to honor all the brothers, priests and sisters who selflessly devoted their lives to building this University.
Let’s make a bold statement to celebrate their legacy. Together, let’s raise $12 million in private support to renovate and expand the most beautiful and sacred building on campus. It’s the perfect way to celebrate our heritage, renew our commitment to our Catholic, Marianist identity — and to thank the Marianists.
Historically, the chapel has always been a work in progress. Over the years, it’s been repaired, redecorated, retouched. Incredibly, we’ve never spent more than $100,000 at any one time on its upkeep since it was built for $40,000 in 1869.
Now we need to reinvest in this sacred building — in this place that holds such special meaning for the campus community and our alumni.
Jeff Gonya ’95 got down on one knee in front of the chapel doors and proposed to Leslie Rosell ’94 on a Good Friday. Like many alumni, they got married in the chapel. After hearing me talk about the chapel renovation and expansion project at the annual alumni awards dinner, they hand-delivered a $10,000 check — a testament to their faith in the chapel’s powerful legacy.
I remember feeling right at home when I heard the soaring refrain of “We Are Called” during a Mass on the first day of my presidency in 2002. Since then, I’ve shared sorrowful mo-ments with students when a classmate dies and celebrations when another group takes part in a commitment ceremony, promising to live out our Marianist ideals of community, inclusivity and faith. Between meetings, I sometimes enter the chapel’s always-open doors for a moment of calm reflection. It’s a sanctuary.
We cherish this building. Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., my predecessor, calls the chapel “a touchstone” and a reminder of “the deep connection this University has to the sacred.” We need to preserve and strengthen that.
It’s time to make a substantial investment, one that will serve the worship needs of future generations. The chapel needs to be expanded and renovated to allow for a wider range of liturgy and special rituals, in accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We will be sensitive to the original architecture, retaining the chapel’s familiar massive wooden front doors, towering dome, brick exterior and many original pieces of religious art.
Much of the current interior furnishings are makeshift. For instance, the chapel lacks a permanent and prominent baptismal font. Claire and I recently made a leadership gift to the University, of which a portion will fund a baptismal font in a new, highly visible gathering space in the entryway. We want to be part of the renovation of this landmark campus building, and we hope you will join us.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception will be a tribute to what a community of faith can build with courage, vision, support and prayer.
This is our time.No Comments
A holy place and a sacred symbol, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception is the center of the University of Dayton campus and the heart of its community. People at UD seek, as Catholics have worldwide for two millennia, the unseen in the seen, the intangible in the tangible — in the sacraments, in art and in their places of worship, whether magnificent cathedrals or tiny churches. To some observers, this makes no sense. But to those who believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that he is truly human and truly divine, this makes ultimate sense.
Feelings about the chapel and its physical appearance have been passionate since before its construction in 1868. Brother Maximin Zehler, S.M., wanted a larger and grander edifice than superiors in Rome thought fiscally prudent. The resulting compromise gave the building’s façade the plain look about which there is now widespread positive consensus. On the other hand, when the building was built, a contemporary called the stained-glass windows then installed “ghastly.” And for nearly a century and a half, personal tastes have continued to fuel aesthetic conversations about the chapel’s appearance.
The heat of those discussions, however, is simply a sign of how central the building is to us — as a community and as individuals. What follow are recollections of just how central.
For the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception has witnessed the joy of those being initiated into the church, those being confirmed in their faith. It has witnessed couples swearing lifelong bonds and seen congregations gathered for souls who have left earth behind. It has held us gathered for the Eucharist. It has held a single person offering prayers of solitary petition or of simple adoration. It is our heart. — Thomas M. Columbus
The chapel was my refuge, a holy place where I could pray and meditate. Because I lived in St. Joseph’s Hall, the chapel was on my way virtually all the time. I could stop and spend a moment, a few minutes or more to gain strength and per-spective from a few prayers or a rosary. —Bill Brennan ’60
When it came time for the sign of peace during Sunday evening Mass, the friendly atmosphere of UD came shining through. It wasn’t just wishing peace to those on either side of you and then turning back toward the altar; I remember stepping over backpacks to reach friends across the room. Even Father Burns left the altar to shake hands and chat. He didn’t keep an eye on his watch. —Jennifer Carey Bello ’84
On June 27, 1981, I donned my wedding dress and cut through the courtyard to get to the front of the chapel where our procession would begin. I had cut through the chapel courtyard so many times during my four years at UD, not giving it much thought. This day, as I stopped to feel the sunlight and hear the birds sing, I distinctly remember thinking how this cut-through was so different from all the rest. Bill and I had met only two years before in St. Joseph’s, which stood only a bridal bouquet toss from where I now stood. —Linda Sargent Burton ’81
The chapel urged me to a life of commitment and service as I chose to enter into the sacred space of the Rite of Christian Initiation. I will never forget the loving eyes of the priest as I received the Eucharist for the very first time. I was so overwhelmed with the love of Christ that tears overflowed as the loving hugs of the priests enveloped me. For four hours, I could not eat, sleep or even talk. —Vicki Lynn Bentley ’91
It must have been spring or early fall because we had class outside. I lounged on the sun-warmed grass and nibbled idly on a stem of a wheat-like weed. Then I gasped in horror when I realized that I had not been to Mass, and how could I go to Communion since I’d broken my fast? I wrestled with the dilemma, as we scrupulous 18-year-olds did back then, but ended up playing it safe, skipping Mass that day. So much life has happened to me in the half century since that young girl lay on the sun-soaked edge of the playing field at UD, chewing idly on a stem of grass. —Bonnie Shuman Faimon ’65
One of our weekly rituals was to tread over to the chapel for the late Sunday night Mass. One particular evening, one of our Marycrest floormates (I won’t name names) was slow to join us as we prepared to leave. To hurry her along, I threatened the one sure way to get everyone moving — fire alarm. I motioned over the red box and somehow, by accident, the alarm triggered. (And that’s how I remember it to this day!) We flew down the stairs and scurried to the chapel. As we arrived, I noticed blue powder on my fingertips, surely some sort of tracing mechanism. I spent every minute of that service praying to God that my “accident” would not result in serious consequences. Those 60 minutes went by slowly, but the whole time I was flanked by my closest friends. In the end, I was never implicated for triggering the fire alarm, and in the end those friends remain my most cherished. —Kristie Iorio Breen ’92
Jane and I met in March 1959 while we both worked on The Project (now UDRI). Love blossomed. Jane graduated in 1960 in the NCR Auditorium. After graduation, we walked up the hill to the chapel. There, I slipped an
engagement ring on her finger, and we prayed through tears of joy. —Bill Brockman ’61
I was headed to campus early for breakfast prior to classes and decided to stop in to make a visit. I briefly sat alone in the darkened chapel until a Marianist priest entered from the sacristy and began Mass. As we were the only two present, he invited me to come up to the altar with him; I served Mass as well. After, Father asked me what I was doing there so early. We laughed and talked, and he thanked me for sharing the sacrifice of the Mass with him. Over the course of the next five weeks, I attended the early Mass with Father numerous times. To this day, when I see the picture of the chapel spire, I drift back to the early morning Masses. The memory of celebrating Mass with that Marianist priest, my passing friend, has fortified me many times over the years. —Vincent Barrett ’73
Shortly after graduating, I married my UD sweetheart, Tom Stringer, in the chapel. Since the day I walked out of that lovely chapel in a wedding dress, every day of my life has been better than the day before. —Angie Ewald Stringer ’01
We first became friends in the basement of Liberty Hall during Lighthouse meetings, but many of the activities ended up spilling over into the chapel. We used it as a space to reflect, talk or gather. Five years later I couldn’t think of a more fitting place. In the courtyard of St. Joe’s, with Liberty Hall and the chapel as the backdrop, I got down on one knee to propose. —Brent Hartings ’06
No longer present, a ship’s lantern was for years placed at the foot of the Blessed Virgin’s statue to remind us of the men and women serving in the Armed Forces. It was a calming sight and a reminder to say a prayer for those who lost their lives in the war. —Tom Connair ’50
I remember being there in the chapel and feeling so … well, so good. So alright. So peaceful. So happy. And the feeling that everything was going to be OK. I remember feeling that if I can just put everything in the Lord’s hands, it will be OK. That there is nothing I can’t do, nothing is impossible when you know you are in the hands of the Lord. —Laura Schweitzer Haefeli ’90
I was only in venial city, so I thought I’d chance confessing to a priest whose proclivities were unknown to me. Among my venialities was the perusal of several “impure magazines.” My confessor was concerned whether I continued to possess the magazines, but I assured him that I held them but briefly and only to peruse. He then inquired about the place of my sinful ogling, and I admitted that it was in a friend’s room in Founders. Father said I had to remove the magazines from my friend’s room and destroy them, a condition of absolution. Panicked, I replied that such behavior amounted to thievery, not only a sin but a crime. He rejoined that such truth was overridden by the violation of the dorm rules, which forbade the magazines. Logic failed me, and I could only reply, “Father, I just don’t feel comfortable doing that,” whereupon the little door was shut quickly without another word. I sought succor across the chapel from a confessor known to have a modicum of common sense and to be light on the penance. Recounting the episode almost verbatim, I couldn’t help but notice my successor confessor slowly hang his head, shaking it negatively in apparent disbelief. His unconditional absolution was greatly appreciated, and his penance of prayer was quickly accomplished. —Tom Bodie ’62
We were very much children of the ’60s and ’70s. My dress was a simple peasant style, daisies were in my hair and I carried a bouquet of them as well. Dave and I walked up together to the front of the chapel, our entrance accompanied by two guitars and a small group of friends singing. I love the beautiful chapel windows, the vines on the side of the building and its perfect size for a small wedding like ours. I was happy and proud to invite our family and friends to this lovely spot. —Sue Bohardt Hester ’71
When my family dropped me off at UD, I had never been away from home for more than a day or two. After we dropped off my one suitcase, a pillow and a quilt at Marycrest, the whole clan decided to take a campus tour. We ended at the chapel and. after saying a prayer, it was time to say good-bye. We stood in the back of the chapel in a circle-type group hug, all eight of us extremely emotional and most of us sobbing. We finally broke away, and I waved as the entire family drove off, leaving me on my own and still crying. Despite this scene, I almost instantly learned to love UD. —Kathleen Golobic Oakar ’87
It sprinkled the morning of our wedding, but by the time we arrived at the chapel, God had blessed us with a sunny afternoon. Even though the chapel seating was turned sideways, Father Kohmescher had arranged that I could walk through the large front doors for my grand entrance. With my father at my side, I walked through those doors, around the back of the seating and up the aisle to my soon-to-be husband. Surrounded by our family, friends and UD supporters, Jim and I became husband and wife. Our first official picture as a married couple was in front of the chapel’s large front doors. —Jenny Wharton Davis ’89
October 9, 1976. That day my former UD Latin professor, Father Joseph H. Zeinz, S.M., performed a post-Vatican II Latin wedding Mass in the chapel for myself and my lovely bride, Deborah Bent. —Dale De Brosse ’67
The chapel’s main entry doorway with its Gothic arch design and beautiful paneled doors and transom were made of Cuban mahogany in the mill at Peter Kuntz Lumber Co. here in Dayton in the late ’60s. Over the years I have observed the entry to see how it has weathered. Facing west and with no protection, the doors look almost as good as the day they were installed. This, I believe, is due in no small part to the care that maintenance people at UD have provided. It always gives me great pride that our family firm was privileged to provide it. —Peter H. Kuntz ’50
In 2001 my Granny passed away. One of her wishes was that I make my confirmation, so I signed up for a class and, with the help of my wonderful roommate (also my confirmation sponsor), made my confirmation at the chapel with all my family there and my Granny watching down on me. —Jamie Pniewski ’03
At my husband’s 20th reunion, he surprised me with the idea of renewing our vows. I thought how wonderfully intimate and special it would be. Little did I know that there were so many people with the same idea. And even though the church was packed, it still seemed like it was just he and I. —Kathy Sullivan DiSanto ’87
One day after Mass, I was approached by a brother who said to me, “I lead discernment meetings for anyone considering a Marianist vocation.” I was unaware that I was considering a Marianist vocation, but as often is the case with Marianist brothers, he saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. I saw the brothers around campus teaching classes, presiding at Mass and being there for students in need. Marianist brothers gave everything they had, be it a meal, a quiet room to study or simply time to listen to the stresses of a college student. Could this be my vocation? After graduation, I decided to begin formation with the Marianists. My first year took place in San Antonio. I spent a year considering the Marianist vocation before deciding that married life was my vocation. When I think of what brought me to the place I am today, I remember fondly the importance the chapel had in my discernment. It is truly sacred ground. —Luke Hoenigman ’03
We fondly remember the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass celebrated by Father Heft. Rick was an altar server, and my family often came to join me. Less than a year after graduation, Rick knelt down inside the chapel, not to pray this time but to propose on Valentine’s Day 1991. On our wedding day in the chapel, we received a special papal blessing from Pope John Paul II. We’ve since had the good fortune of celebrating the baptisms of our five children there. —Tina D’Epiro Ruffolo ’90
Stopping in for a short prayer or just to relax was a welcome respite. For me, the chapel was of even greater importance. It became my first church home as a Catholic convert. As I began to read more and to attend Mass at the chapel, I became convinced that the Catholic Church was the one in which I would find the fullness of faith. —Sandra Henry ’69
I have many happy spiritual memories serving many Masses in the chapel for various Marianist priests during my five years at UD. The chapel has provided to me many graces through the sacraments received and personal visits to the Blessed Sacrament over the years since my graduation. —Bill Uhl ’56
Just before graduating, I became a graduate assistant reporting to Jerry Vonder Brink, vice president of finance. Jerry assigned me an office in St. Mary Hall with the chapel directly over my shoulder out the window and immediately threw me into the deep end of the financial pool, placing me, a green 21-year-old, in charge of UD’s investments, payroll, internal auditing and insurance. I looked out the window often and visited the chapel almost daily for courage, inspiration and guidance. The chapel was the first of God’s homes to look over my shoulder. St. Bartholomew’s was the second, followed by St. Patrick’s Cathederal in New York City for 24 years. When my three sons used to ask me how to have a fullfilling career, I told them, “Create something of value and the money will come, and always find a job with a chapel over your shoulder, out your window.” —George Kooluris ’66
I am not Catholic but was welcomed into the chapel with open arms. My friends went to Mass almost every week as a family. We truly enjoyed the uplifting thoughts from the priest and the togetherness of worship. When I visit UD with my kids, we do not miss a visit to the chapel. —Melissa Kingery Smalley ’94
The most vivid memories of my 42 years of chapel experiences are Marianist funerals — both the visitation and the Mass of Christian Burial. I have been to many. The Society of Mary follows a consistent ritual in honoring its deceased brothers. Before Mass, all are invited to come forward to pay respects to their brother lying in a pine box. Other brothers serve as hosts and ushers. Just before the start of Mass, the box is closed and sealed publicly — something simple but profound when the box is made of wood. A member of the provincial council or another brother close to the deceased man reads his obituary. This includes details of the man’s life, and I have been humbled to hear about both strengths and weakness, achievements and failures, and even stories of overcoming addictions. Before 1962, when the cemetery on campus filled, young Marianists and novices carried their brother in the wooden box across campus to his grave. I am told that campus would come to a stop, and students would quietly observe that procession. On a college campus, we experience little of birth and death. I wish today’s students could witness such a burial and pay their own respects to these great and humble men. —Dick Ferguson ’73
I remember a Sunday when during Communion there were two students on guitar who played “Be Not Afraid.” It was beautiful beyond words, and there was not a dry eye in the chapel. I believe I saw Father Burns shed a tear. Made you feel good to be alive, good to be Christian, good to be a Flyer. —John Murphy ’82
On Sept. 11, 2001, our campus, like the rest of the country, was in shock and despair. Watching the World Trade Center collapse to the ground, seeing the Pentagon crashed into and learning the news of a plane that went down in a field in Pennsylvania was a day that will never be forgotten. I will also never forget the chapel during Mass that evening, the warmth we felt as the student body held hands and sang “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Students flooded into the chapel — standing room only, students up in the choir loft, sitting on the stairs, people trickling out into the courtyard. The chapel was the only place that I felt warmth and peace on that terrible day. —Molly Heimert Hinker ’04
The day I married my wife in the chapel. Seeing the chapel doors open and her silhouetted in sunlight is a memory that will stay with me forever. —Jason Johnson ’06
The teeny tiny confessional booth served as a dressing room to change our Isla Mary into her christening gown. When we began the baptism, everyone was asked to make the sign of the cross on her forehead. It was particularly moving to watch my grandmother and imagine the love and wisdom passing through her hand to our daughter. It was a day full of happiness — for having a new Christian in the family, for bringing together our extended family and for once again being in the heart of the UD community. (Two days later, Isla was also initiated into the Flyer Faithful when she attended her first game at UD Arena, a victory over George Mason.) —Kristin Blenk Duncan ’99
My fiancé Brian and I were taking a gamble having our wedding in March in Ohio, but March 4 was already our anniversary and one of two dates the chapel was available in 2000. We figured that’s when God wanted us to say our vows. I loved our wedding because the inside is so plain — it didn’t distract our guests or us from the real beauty of the day, two people joining together. —Jessica Furnari Mitchell ’98
I moved to San Francisco after graduation, but when becoming engaged to John, getting married in the chapel with Father Kohmescher as the celebrant was the only option for me. It was my home church. So many family and friends flew across country to be there with us. When our daughter was born in 2001, we wanted her baptized in the chapel. Father Kohmescher was again there to share in the sacrament as we started another child on her faith journey. —Karen Smith Rushka ’87
On March 17, 1965, Tom Merkle met me after my night class and asked me to stop in the chapel to say a prayer. To my surprise, he handed me a St. Patrick’s Day card with an engagement ring tucked inside. —Penny Bright Merkle ’65
When I started UD in 1958, chapel was compulsory. We were assigned a day to attend the 11 a.m. Mass and required to fill out a chapel attendance card. To beat the system, all one had to do was accumulate the cards in their various colors, find out which color was being used that day and ask someone going to chapel to turn in a card for you. That meant you could proceed to Brother Paul’s for an additional hour of socializing with a completely clear conscience. I need no assurance I wasn’t the only one trying to beat the system. Brother Paul’s revenues could attest to that. I should also emphasize the comfort I found in the chapel when I was wrestling with my decision to join the Society of Mary in 1961, in addition to my more scoundrel days of 1958-59. In later years I have shared some of my most meaningful liturgical experiences in the chapel. —Robert Higdon ’62
I was walking by the back entrance when somebody recognized a guy coming out of the chapel. The friend said to the kid coming out: “What are you doing in there?” The departing chapel-goer said: “What do you think? I’m praying for a high number.” That night was the Selective Service draft lottery for induction into the army. The chapel was a place I could go to find some quiet and peace. A place where I went to clear my head because there was so much, too much, going on in the world that was hard to figure out. A place to just sit and think. I guess the chapel’s been doing its job now for well over a hundred years. —Joe Sutherland ’71
The chapel was my quiet place to go and think about what I wanted to do with my life. When I had questions about school or life situations, I would take Father Charles Lees out to dinner, and we’d talk about everything. When I got engaged to my girlfriend, now my wife of 41 years, Father Lees blessed our upcoming marriage in the chapel. Later, he baptized both our children there. —Vince Melograna ’69
My best memory from all of UD was our wedding on Aug. 12, 2000, at the Immaculate Conception Chapel (it had just gotten air conditioning!) and having a toast in the gazebo afterward with our friends and family. Still smile
every time I drive by the chapel. —Holly Baxter ’93
It was a time when attendance slips were passed out for signatures proving attendance, but I never got one because I was in the choir loft singing my heart out. We met twice a week to practice the Gregorian chants. Credo 3 became my favorite with its collection of dotted punctums, virgas and porrectus. Reading the Gregorian music became second nature, and hitting the right notes became easy. As a student praying for things like an F grade becoming a very low D or a homecoming queen accepting my invitation to the prom, how little did I ever suspect that I would ever be praying for my son 46 years later at his marriage in the chapel. God was there, but I missed the chant. —John Sargent ’66
It was Friday, Nov. 22, 1963. I was sitting in the Flyers Hangar — that snack bar that was in the recent addition on the east side of the old Fieldhouse on the main campus. The Hangar had become a gathering place on campus between classes for commuters like me. I was killing time before I had to leave and go to Julienne High School to pick up my sister and drive both of us home. The radio on the public address system was on a local music station that interrupted the programming to announce, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern, that President Kennedy and Gov. Connally of Texas had been shot. The general hubbub of the customers immediately dropped down to a deathly silence. We were all in shock and listened intently to the news broadcasts. Then the announcement was made that President Kennedy had died. Without anyone saying anything, all of us in the Hangar simply gathered all our personal stuff and walked up the short hill to the Immaculate Conception Chapel. The chapel quickly filled — standing room only — long before one of the Marianist priests showed up in cassock and surplice and led us all in the traditional Roman Catholic prayers for the dead. And then, after that, very slowly, all of us present walked away, locked in our own thoughts. —Deacon Norb Wethington ’65
In college I was fascinated with taking pictures of the chapel. It’s so photogenic. The 1994 Daytonian yearbook cover was embossed using a picture I’d snapped. I was honored. —Nancy Stephen ’96
I admit particular satisfaction in visiting the chapel when no one else is there, whether I’m with my wife or alone, to sit silently to remember past times and old friends, Sunday Masses with Father Burns and Father Cy, and, of course, our wedding. The chapel was full, Father Burns brought his A-game, and it was very much a celebration. Today a pen-and-ink sketch of the chapel hangs in our living room. I can’t walk past it without remembering something about our wedding, how hard it rained that afternoon, how radiant my soon-to-be wife looked walking down the aisle, how one of our groomsmen wrecked his car driving to the reception. I also remember several family members and a dear UD friend who, sadly, are no longer with us. The chapel was where we gathered and why we gathered. —John Matlak ’75
Rafael and I were married Dec. 18, 1971, during a raging snowstorm. Our wedding was the last of the day, and the staff at the chapel seemed to have forgotten about it. I was greeted by the priest in a sweatsuit (the rectory was locked), the organist (the organ was locked) and my 100+ guests sitting in near darkness. My brother, dressed in a tux, started breaking locks. A cheer went up when the lights came on, and our wedding proceeded only a little bit late. Almost 40 years later, the marriage is still going on. We never heard a word about damages. —Caroline Hausfeld Sierra ’71
Sundays after dinner, I’d go to the library to study, and at about 9:55, I’d pack up, meet up with friends and head over to “last-chance Mass” at 10. There was something magical about it being so late at night, and we were all just together in that University of Dayton kind of way. —Kathy Ray ’89
One evening two days before Christmas, our community choir was rehearsing in the organ loft of the Immaculate Conception Chapel. Brother Joe Mervar [’32] was at the console. I stood on a box at his right directing, and the singers ranged around in the limited space. Father George Barrett [’32] stood in the middle below the large pipes with [Brother] Bill [Wehrle ’18] to his right and then Brother Russell Joly [’31]. We had sung in German the first verse of “Stille Nacht” and were starting the second when I noticed Bill had stopped singing and seemed to be drooping. I let the song go on and moved over to Bill. With Russ on his other side, we helped him as he slid to the floor. George ran to the sacristy for the holy oils but when he came back Bill was in a better world, that of the hundreds of Marianists who had already left to join her whom they had so faithfully served. —From Marianists I Have Known by the late Gerard J. E. Sullivan ’31, forwarded with permission by Don Wigal ’55
I never went to the chapel. I remember once arranging to meet a woman there. When she arrived, we decided not to go in the chapel but to go on a date. —Sent anonymously
My dad, Edward G. Sander Jr., graduated from St. Mary’s Prep in 1918 and UD in 1922 in a class of 25. The Christmas Eve Mass had been a tradition for him, and it became one for our family. It was the highlight of the Christmas season and the most vivid memory of the Christmases of my youth. The chapel was always filled to capacity, even when we had some large snows. My love of Christmas carols came from hearing the brothers’ choir. It always seemed like hundreds of voices filling the chapel. I also remember the intimacy and old-world feel, the pageantry, incense and the solemnity of the remembrance of the birth of Christ. —William Sander ’56
I remember stopping in the chapel several times a week just to sit, pray and enjoy the quiet for a few minutes. It was my place to get focused on what was really important during some hectic times. —Tom Stickley ’75
My husband and I were married in the chapel. We both went to UD, we met at a graduation party, we were engaged soon after and a year later we married. We couldn’t picture any other place to take our vows because UD is what brought us together. —Rose Vecchione Eckerle ’91No Comments
The University’s master plan calls for a transformation of our beloved chapel guided by our faith community’s spiritual needs. Without losing the chapel’s historical integrity, the plan will allow for a wider range of liturgy and rituals.
An elegant simplicity guides the design. The $12 million renovation and expansion will provide:
• Gracious space for the rituals of Sunday Mass and the entire Church year — the special rituals of Holy Week and the Triduum; the particular needs of baptisms, weddings, funerals and religious vows of Marianists; adequate room for the Gospel and Communion processions
• An enhanced relationship of the congregation to the sanctuary space with seating that surrounds the altar in a gentle embrace and special seating for the choir as part of the congregation
• A purposeful progression into the worship space mirroring the Marianist path to Jesus Christ — through the Mother to the Son
• A gathering space that promotes fellowship and community without diminishing the reverent peacefulness of the sanctuary
• A baptismal font
• Intimate spaces for private reflection and prayer
• A reconciliation room
• Increased seating capacity
• Barrier-free accessibility to the entire chapel
This project affirms that our Catholic, Marianist heritage is intimately connected with our mission. For information about giving opportunities, go to http://alumni.udayton.edu/chapelgiving or contact Todd Imwalle ’84 at email@example.com or 937-229-5460.
This story is a sidebar to our feature “The chapel was where we gathered, why we gathered” in the Spring 2011 issue of University of Dayton Magazine.No Comments
On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 taxied down the runway of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City en route to Rome with a scheduled stopover in Paris. Twelve minutes after its late-evening takeoff, the flight exploded in midair and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, N.Y. All 230 aboard were killed.
Three years later, UD Research Institute distinguished research chemist Bob Kauffman was asked to join a team being assembled by Stanford Research Institute to investigate the causes of the Boeing 747’s explosion.
“I said yes, even though (the explosion) was believed at the time to have been caused by a high-energy spark in the fuel tank,” not an area of his expertise, he explains, but he was able to contribute.
Kauffman’s research on frayed wires for that project did more than help shed light on the mystery of a plane that fell from the sky. The questions he asked led to new insights, more questions and eventually to the development of something called the Status or Motion Activated Radiofrequency Tag, or SMART, sensor, created by Kauffman with assistance from UDRI research physicist Doug Wolf. The pair developed it to alert maintenance workers to wiring clamp failures within the fuselage of an aircraft.
“About two years ago, I started investigating the idea of [how] SMART clamps and wireless communication [can be used together],” says Kauffman, who has solved problems for UDRI for 31 years. But applications beyond aircraft wiring safety quickly emerged. Among them, the SMART sensor could:
• Detect dangerous levels of impact
• Shield e-passport information from identification thieves
• Detect some forms of product tampering
• Reveal cracks on or within composite areas of aircraft, bridges and wind turbine blades
• Detect dangerous tread wear on tires
• Reveal corrosion dangers in structures, vehicles, equipment and such
• Detect bacteria in food and fuels
Using radiofrequency identification tags, says Kauffman, was a logical starting point for his work on the aircraft wiring clamp project. RFID tags are commonly used to track packaging or used in clothing stores’ anti-theft devices. However, standard RFID tags require modification for use on aircraft, where they would monitor the condition of miles of electrical wiring secured by thousands of clamps.
“We started looking for a way to quickly and easily find out if a clamp had broken or did not fully close,” says Kauffman.
The challenge was to develop a sensor to function within a clamp. Danger can arise when a clamp wears or breaks, which can lead to pinched or loose wires rubbing against each other or the aircraft fuselage — both potentially compromising wire insulation. Damaged wires that spark near aviation fuel, fuel fumes or hydraulics can bring tragic results.
In addition to the modified RFID tag, “a very sophisticated reader and software would be needed to read and determine the status of thousands of sensors,” he says, “so I started investigating different reversible ways of causing RFID tags to become unreadable.”
To be useful in the aircraft wiring clamp application, the sensors needed to be rendered unreadable if a clamp was intact. Typically, RFID handheld readers beam radio waves to a microchip embedded in a tag. The waves, in turn, power the microchip within the tag to send a response to the reader. Kauffman’s concept was that only a compromised clamp would send a signal to a reader carried by maintenance personnel inspecting an aircraft. Without a bypass modification, thousands of intact clamps would respond simultaneously, making any damaged clamps virtually impossible to identify.
“RFID tags are designed to always respond, which means they keep talking until they fail,” he explains. “The SMART sensor, about the size of a large Band-Aid, works oppositely. We call it ‘status-activated’ because it will talk only if there is a change in the status of the sensor.”
And that’s where a UDRI research physicist contributed needed expertise.
“Since I tend to be intuitive with my research, I talked with Doug Wolf because he has electrical knowledge and looks at things more based on laws of physics,” says Kauffman. “I asked about bypassing the sensor’s integrated circuit, and Doug made me some electrical bypasses with push-button switches to place inside the clamps. In other words, the sensor could be read only if the sensor bypass was breached.”
From there, identifying other applications for the sensor became a matter of economics.
“Since new aerospace technologies take a long time to be commercialized and are low volume, I started thinking about different consumer applications to get the volume up — and, consequently, the price down,” he explains. “So I came up with different bypasses that worked based on impact, corrosion, temperature, cracks, etc.”
And with that, the door swung open to a variety of SMART sensor possibilities.
“With only minor variations to the design or material of the microchip bypass, SMART sensors could be used to detect and report hidden impact, damage, cracks, temperature changes, corrosion or tampering in any number of products and devices,” he says.
With its ability to gauge impact, the SMART sensor could prove useful within a football helmet. The sensor would identify players who had taken a particularly hard hit to the head, alerting coaches and medical personnel to the possibility of a concussion. On the youth football level, sensors could provide coaches with information about players who were unsafely leading with their heads when tackling or blocking.
“Football helmets used in peewee and professional leagues could quickly be scanned after every practice or any time a player takes a hard hit,” says Kauffman, who played high school football and whose father was a football coach. “The sensors could be designed to measure different levels of impact, depending on the size of the players, and they would talk to the reader only if a helmet sustained enough force to be dangerous.”
A SMART sensor mounted on paper with a plastic coating costs less than 50 cents to produce. At that price, they could affordably be placed in new and existing football helmets.
“I can purchase different RFID tags for less than 35 cents,” he says. “The bypass modification would not add any manufacturing costs to tag production, other than original setup costs. Different sensors that can be added to the bypass range from less than a penny to 15 cents. These costs are retail, so I believe we can produce SMART sensors for a similar price if we can get volumes high enough to keep the cost per modified tag down. … An entire [football] team on a tight budget can be equipped.”
With the growing concern over the long-term effects of concussions among football players, it could be a wise investment.
“Today’s helmets are so durable that kids are diving into tackles headfirst instead of using their shoulders. It’s one of the reasons for the rise in concussions among young and professional players. Teaching players to tackle properly could reduce the number of injuries on the field,” says Kauffman.
The device is only the latest entry in Kauffman’s inventions portfolio. During the past 15 years, he has patented and commercialized, domestically and internationally, technologies that have brought more than $1 million to UDRI.
Kauffman, a principal investigator and group leader in UDRI’s fluids analysis laboratory since 1988, has contributed to numerous publications and reports and been a featured speaker at events from Ostfildern, Germany, to Des Plaines, Ill. He is associate editor of the Journal of Lubrication Engineering and a member of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. With that background, how did he get involved with aircraft wiring safety issues?
“Basically, I learned early on to never turn down a research inquiry, even though it wasn’t in my area of expertise,” he explains. “If I can’t do the research, I usually am able to find someone at UDRI who can.”
The request to join the research team investigating the TWA 800 explosion was one such request. In 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration funded an aging-aircraft wiring research project at UDRI, and Kauffman was asked to attend a kick-off meeting.
“Again, I agreed, even though I had no electrical wiring experience,” he says.
The FAA didn’t specify a particular wiring problem, so Kauffman and other UDRI researchers sat down with FAA engineers and brainstormed possibilities.
“I ended up leading a group of diverse UDRI researchers ranging from polymer chemists to physicists to electrical engineers,” says Kauffman. “The SMART sensor clamp was one of the original ideas from the brainstorming session.”
SMART sensors for aircraft are being designed for use during wiring replacement or in new designs, rather than merely being added to an aging aircraft’s wiring system. With the technology in place, maintenance workers using handheld readers can readily pinpoint wiring clamp breaches, even in parts of an aircraft that are difficult to reach.
Also in 2008, under the same FAA aging-aircraft program that paved the way for the SMART sensor, Kauffman developed self-healing wire for use in aviation. In 2009, R&D Magazine selected it as one of the top 100 “most technologically significant new products of the year.” Self-healing wire is Kauffman’s most recent work to receive a patent.
Other notable patents to his credit include the handheld instruments RULER and PERFECT, which are being marketed worldwide to measure antioxidant and oxidation products in a wide range of fluids and food items.
Meanwhile, additional work under way at UDRI may bring more aviation safety breakthroughs. These include monitoring stresses on aircraft wings as different pressures are applied, testing effects of bird strikes on engines, and developing ways to detect subsurface cracks in engine turbine blades and composite paneling. Researchers are also developing techniques to detect weak tire walls prior to aircraft tire blowout and perfecting crushable concrete designed to collapse to stop a plane that overruns a runway.
“The amount of research done by UDRI capable of improving flight safety is quite extensive,” Kaufmann says.
Since its start in 1956, UDRI has become one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit research and development organizations. It performed more than 90 percent of the $95.3 million in research sponsorships awarded to the University in fiscal year 2010. Its major areas of research include materials, energy and environment, aero-propulsion, structures, mechanical systems, sensors and human factors.
Kauffman views UDRI’s work as positive for the entire campus.
“One of UDRI’s main benefits to the University and community is in helping to attract high-caliber students by providing a paying job doing research that the student finds interesting and useful in deciding their career path,” Kauffman says.
With more than three decades of research experience, Kauffman has more projects in mind.
“In the near term, I want to fully develop and license SMART sensors for different identified consumer and industrial applications, where they make the most sense and will do the most good,” he says. “I’m also working to commercialize previous inventions involving self-healing wire and intelligent oil-change systems.”
And further down the road?
“Long term, I hope to perform research to improve the reliability of wind and gas turbines as the need for electrical output increases due to electric cars,” Kauffman says. “Also, I have recently written proposals to develop sensors for fuel cells, to generate kerosene-type fuels from carbon dioxide and to develop machines to generate drinking water from humidity in the air.”
And, as his research portfolio demonstrates, Kauffman is likely to take on some unexpected challenges that come his way, either in or out of his areas of expertise.
UDRI at a glance
• Begun in 1949 with a single research program comprised of a small team of professors and graduate students with offices in St. Mary Hall analyzing structural loads data from aircraft.
• Formalized as a research institute in 1956.
• Cumulative sponsored research work passed $1.5 billion in 2010.
• Full-time staff of 406, plus 176 undergraduate and 116 graduate student researchers.
• 180,000 square feet of laboratory and office space on campus and a growing presence in the 1700 South Patterson Building, NCR’s former world headquarters and the new home for the Research Institute.
UD research volume based on the most recent National Science Foundation rankings:
Among national colleges and universities
1 Federally sponsored materials research
2 Sponsored materials research and development
Among Ohio colleges and universities
1 Sponsored materials research and development
1 Federally sponsored engineering research and development
Among Catholic colleges and universities
1 Sponsored engineering research and development
3 All sponsored research and development
1 Sponsored STEM researchNo Comments
Too much month at the end of the paycheck — it’s a phrase used to describe a real problem in American households. True earnings have decreased. Expenses for staples have increased. And we are in essence an optimistic creature, holding out hope that tomorrow will be better than today, that we will indeed be able to buy now and pay later, that we will avoid illness and accident.
Such optimism has fueled a multibillion-dollar industry that promises to help us weather the financial uncertainty. The problem is these payday lenders, pawnbrokers, check cashers, rent-to-own stores and rapid refund merchants fill a short-term need caused by the same optimism. The reality is that people who are desperate and need $400 today are unlikely to have another $460 in two weeks.
The payday industry began booming in the 1990s as states like Ohio began removing or raising usury caps on short-term loans, mitigating the increased risk of lending to people with bad or no credit with a business plan that promised great profits. In 1996, when Ohio’s laws were loosened, the state had 62 payday lenders. That rose to 511 by 1999 and 1,650 by 2008, when Ohio had more payday lending storefronts than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King combined. In 2008, an estimated 14 million of the nation’s 110 million households visited at least one of the 24,000 payday lenders. Families borrowed $40 billion and paid the industry $7 billion in fees.
The industry average is $15 of interest for every $100 borrowed. To get a loan, you show proof of income and postdate a check for the loan plus interest. Loans are generally due in two weeks and, depending on state law, can be renewed, compounding the interest.
Stan Hirtle, senior attorney at Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, handles cases for low-income clients caught up in a variety of lending troubles. One client had a double whammy — he took out payday loans to prop up an overdue mortgage and ended up with judgments on both accounts. “It’s the debt trap,” Hirtle says. “The amount explodes, and nobody’s wealth goes up.”
This article is a sidebar to our Spring 2011 feature “Too much month, not enough paycheck.”No Comments
People were mad.
They filed into the basement meeting room at the United Way, roiling with stories of woe, of rotten luck and bad planning, of subprime swindlers who had taken advantage of them.
Dean Lovelace ’72, Dayton city commissioner, had called this public meeting to hear their stories of predatory lending. It was one of many sessions he’d host to gather testimony to help bring down the sharks, from mortgage companies to payday lenders.
And then a woman stood up.
If you get rid of these payday loans, how am I going to pay my bills, she asked. Banks won’t loan to me. Credit unions are no better. I don’t have family to borrow from. What if my child gets sick? My car breaks? I have no other options. Take this away and I’ll have nowhere to turn.
“She’s right,” says Lovelace, recalling that day more than 10 years ago when he realized he couldn’t just pass an ordinance to stop predatory lending. He believed in the power of stories to change realities, but this was a story he hadn’t expected.
“The power in listening is you either feel the joy or feel the pain, and if you feel the pain, you try to help.”
So he helped, gathering together a community of resources and talents in one solution with a very Marianist origin on the University of Dayton campus.
What started in that basement meeting room in 1999 has become an alternative to high-interest subprime payday lending called StretchPay. Now available to members of 50 credit unions in eight states, in 2010 StretchPay saved consumers more than $3 million in interest and fees and helped many get on the road to good credit and financial health. It may be just a speck in the nation’s larger financial picture, but in an economy still listing under the weight of personal debt, that speck has sparked hope.
In the late 1990s, African-American widows living within a mile of the Wesley Center in West Dayton were losing their homes to foreclosure after repairmen sold the women new roofs or windows connected to outrageous refinanced mortgages. The practice would soon spread throughout the city and the nation. Before the country realized such subprime lending would take down our economy, Lovelace recognized that the problem was larger than one neighborhood, more pervasive than home loans. He pointed to what he calls the subprime “cousins” — payday lending, check cashing, tax refund anticipation loans — as part of a poverty industry that preys on a vulnerable population to whom he felt a responsibility.
“Helping people is in my DNA,” he says, peering from behind dark-rimmed glasses. “I didn’t have an idea [of how to fix this]. I just knew I needed to stop this practice.”
Fair lending is a social justice issue, so Lovelace turned to an organization known for bringing together partners and resources to tackle community issues with sustainable solutions — the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. A UD business graduate, Lovelace was a staff member at the Center’s predecessor organization. He had linked UD to the community since 1983 and was directing the center’s Dayton Civic Scholars program. Payday lending seemed best solved through collaboration, and another center team member, Brother Victor Forlani, S.M., took the lead.
Forlani — also a proponent of the power of storytelling — gathered representatives from a potential ally, credit unions, in a Kennedy Union conference room in fall 2000. Over scrambled eggs and fruit, they told stories, not just of the woman at the United Way meeting, but of Lovelace’s niece, whom payday lenders harassed for late payments, of members who were one car repair or sick child away from financial ruin, and of their own recognition that high-interest lenders were making a killing because credit unions, among others, refused to serve the market.
“It was important for credit unions to hear the stories because they are heartbreaking, and these are not heartless people,” Forlani says. “We hear statistics, but they don’t show the plight.”
As a business professor, Forlani knows the power of a teaching moment. As a Marianist, he feels a call to help all of us live a better life. “Especially those of us who are in trouble and need help getting on their feet and standing on their own,” he says. He also recognizes the energy students can bring to a problem that seems insurmountable. So, guided by his religious conviction that the poor of the earth truly are the rich of the earth, he set loose his senior management strategy class.
Students who had never heard of the practice — getting an advance on a future paycheck — went to stores and negotiated loans. Their impression: very polite and accommodating, a likely reason for the industry’s success. On average, lenders charge $15 per $100 loaned, a fee often less than bouncing a check, and they require repayment by the next payday. Customers who can’t repay in two weeks, though, find themselves in trouble — they can re-up, taking out additional loans with the same or another lender, or default with consequences that include the lender contacting personal references to report bad behavior. Studies in many states found the average borrower takes out 12 loans a year. Facing an APR of 391 percent, people find
that once they get behind they just can’t catch up — a great model for a profitable business.
The students wanted to create a different model.
They investigated the most lucrative payday locations in Dayton and decided to challenge them head on. Working with credit union representatives, the students suggested creating a stand-alone business run by credit unions to offer payday lending at a less usurious rate in the neighborhoods where people most needed the alternative. The students wanted to go into business to put payday lenders out of business.
It was highly appealing, but the overhead involved with a stand-alone storefront was more than the credit unions could take on. The students’ basic principles were sound, so the credit unions had what they needed to create a workable pilot using a different structure.
The students got a good grade but, more than that, they learned how to solve problems in the style of Marianist founder William Joseph Chaminade, who first organized lay people in 1801 to restore religion in a society corrupted by revolution. Chaminade established associations that coordinated assets and resources to help citizens lead decent lives.
“It’s not giving them bread every day,” Forlani says. “The Marianist approach and Chaminade’s approach when he created his groups is, if you can create something ongoing that can create support, it’s a much better way to help people than just to fulfill their daily needs.”
Doug Fecher sits in a wood-paneled executive office with a wide-window view of Wright State University just outside of Dayton. The CEO of Wright-Patt Credit Union, in khakis with a smart phone clipped to his belt, oversees $2 billion in assets from 200,000 members banking at 23 branches.
Yet he’s quick to remind you of the shoebox that started it all.
In the 1930s, the Great Depression closed banks and left the poorest citizens without options or recourse. The Federal Credit Union Act of 1935 established not-for-profit cooperative financial institutions to serve underserved populations, especially those of modest means.
For Wright-Patt, it started with a guy with a shoebox. Members handed him their money, which he squirreled away. If you needed a loan, he pulled out the box, no collateral necessary; members were all family and neighbors, and they knew where you lived.
“We were payday lenders in the ’30s when we got our start, and we got away from that,” Fecher says.
As he sees it, credit unions are uniquely positioned to help tackle payday lending. First, since they are not tied to profit and stockholders, they can take a longer view of financial services offerings and rate of return. Secondly, since credit unions often have a fixed geographic location or customer base, it’s in their interest to offer services that support their communities.
“We cast our lot in this community,” Fecher says. “So goes Dayton, so goes Wright-Patt.”
He and Bill Burke, CEO at Day Air Credit Union, joined in that first breakfast hosted by the Fitz Center. They dedicated staff to working through the semester with the students. And after the final presentation was done, they agreed to keep working toward a solution.
“If our goal is to save the world and save everybody we come across, we’re destined for failure,” Burke says. “But if we can help some of these people we come across, we have to succeed.”
They reined in their goals and decided to serve the payday lending needs of their members, with a pie-in-the-sky goal of offering the service throughout Ohio. They didn’t need to make money, just offer a comparable service at a competitive price in a sustainable way.
During the pilot lending program in 2001-02, members paid an 18 percent APR to borrow either $250 or $500. The credit union made about $3 on each 30-day loan, enough to cover overhead but not enough to buffer against defaults. An annual fee helped mitigate that risk. Day Air and Wright-Patt offered this payday lender alternative to anyone in good standing who had maintained a credit union membership for 120 days; membership often equals a $5 savings account deposit.
Members like Dorothy Johnson were grateful. A severe auto accident left her grandson, Lamar, in a medically induced coma, and doctors said that if he survived he’d be permanently disabled. His best chance was to be transferred to a rehab facility in Texas. Lamar’s mother needed to relocate with him, and she needed money for a U-Haul and gas. Johnson wanted to help with the cost.
“I was on Social Security and disability and behind on all my bills,” says Johnson, a former housekeeper at the Veterans Administration hospital who cleaned the surgical wings and received permission to watch surgeries afterhours from behind the observation glass. A member of Day Air, she applied for a traditional loan but was rejected because of bad credit. “They said they could let me have the $250, and I said it would help some.”
Through the years, Johnson has continued to use StretchPay about six times a year to help juggle the expenses of home, car and utilities. “Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get groceries,” she says. And without it, she wouldn’t have been able to help Lamar, who has made a full recovery and is working full time at Fort Hood, Texas, good news Johnson shared with her Day Air loan officer.
The credit unions discovered that members from all salary groups — those who, like Johnson, are on fixed incomes through those who bring in six figures — use the service, a finding in line with the growth and spread of payday lenders beyond impoverished neighborhoods and into suburban shopping centers.
The solution was working, and it was time to make it available to more credit union members.
To mitigate risk, they created Credit Union Outreach Solutions Inc., an organization to promote and offer the out-of-the-box StretchPay salary advance loan product. Ten credit unions signed on to CUOSI in June 2006. By the end of 2010, 50 credit unions offered StretchPay at 135 branches covering millions of members in Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Maryland, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama and Washington, D.C. In 2010, credit unions made 68,910 advances equaling $24.6 million while collecting less than $750,000 in interest and fees. What started in that Kennedy Union conference room saved people last year more than $3 million over what they would have spent at a traditional payday lender.
“StretchPay originated in Dayton, incubated in Dayton,” said Paul Mercer, president of the Ohio Credit Union League. “Two strong credit unions in the heart of Dayton took the risks early on and refined the product.”
Its impact is felt across the nation. In Washington, D.C., the district council was debating outlawing payday lenders at a time when Joan Moran noticed an increase in the number of checks her credit union members were writing to payday lenders. The CEO of the Department of Labor Federal Credit Union in Washington, D.C., knew she needed a solution.
“It seemed like a daunting task for a small credit union,” she says, until she found StretchPay. In 2007, DOLFCU signed on. “For us, it was a godsend.”
It was also a godsend for DOLFCU members like Viola Kelly-Spann, who had made an early promise to her granddaughter to support her education. Since Lakia was 3, Kelly-Spann spent half her monthly pay on private school tuition. The arrangement worked well until Kelly-Spann, with a master’s in counseling and decades of government and industry employment, was laid off in 2008. Her granddaughter was just entering a master’s program — the last two years of her promised education — and Kelly-Spann was determined to fulfill her commitment. She used StretchPay as a credit card alternative, receiving advances to pay school and personal expenses. “It helped me tremendously because I had made a commitment to her, and I was able to help see her through.”
DOLFCU’s 6,800 members borrow $1 million in StretchPay loans annually, saving members more than $100,000 in fees and interest. While DOLFCU is fifth from the top in StretchPay volume nationally, it is third from the bottom in delinquency.
Don’t be fooled, Moran says. It’s a lot of work for her staff, much more than other services on which the rate of return is higher. A loan officer sits down annually with StretchPay borrowers and reviews credit reports, explaining scores and instructing how proper use of StretchPay can improve credit and move members into prime loan territory.
Many credit unions see this education as part of the role of their institutions. Financial literacy leads to better choices and habits, which can help raise those of modest means to those of greater means, diversifying the base of the credit union and allowing it to serve even more member needs. Credit reviews and mandatory savings accounts are part of that education.
While critics would say the program’s success is but a drop in the payday lending bucket — a $7 billion market annually — Burke says that savings for members are not insubstantial. Since 2006, members have taken out 305,731 StretchPay loans and saved $21.79 million in fees.
“That’s not just little bits of money saved. That’s orders of magnitude saved by borrowers as opposed to being siphoned by payday lenders out of members’ pockets,” he says.
As chair of CUOSI, Burke makes Stretch-Pay pitches to credit union leagues in many states. Some sign on. Others have formed their own salary advance programs — some modeled after the Dayton pilot, some not — to meet the needs of their members.
And each member has different needs. When Burke realized that the traditional StretchPay loan — for $250 or $500 — was insufficient for some borrowers, he launched in February 2011 a pilot program offering $1,000 loans with no collateral and regardless of credit score, repayable in six months. He hopes its success will lead to extending this loan across the StretchPay network.
He’s motivated by Day Air’s goal to help people, which he sees dovetailing nicely with the mission of the University of Dayton. It’s one reason he was excited early on about the collaboration.
“We can save the typical member five basis points, but with StretchPay customers, it’s more than that,” he says. “We’re giving them a place to go when they had no options. We’re making a substantial difference in their lives.
“It’s one member at a time.”
“Subprime City” — that’s what Gary Rivlin called Dayton in his 2010 book Broke, USA, which investigates the nation’s financial mess and the people who got very rich — or very poor — during the last three decades. In Dayton and the surrounding Montgomery County, you have a king who grew his tax refund anticipation loan empire on the 14th floor of One Dayton Centre. You have the lords, who expanded their 14 payday storefronts in 1996 to 83 by 2006. And you have the masses, who continue to lose more than 5,000 homes annually to foreclosure.
But Rivlin didn’t highlight Dayton in his book because it epitomized the subprime mess.
“The reason I chose Dayton is because Dayton fought back,” he says.
It’s a city that for generations has taken on social challenges.
Even though Dean Lovelace turned to the University of Dayton Fitz Center for an alternative to payday lending, he was not about to give up the larger fight either. In February of 2001, he held the first city commission meeting to curtail predatory lending. By July, he had passed a city ordinance that defined predatory loans and outlawed them within the city limits. No longer could mortgage companies charge a prepayment penalty. No longer could loans be made that charged fees more than 20 percent greater than similar loans.
Though not as strict as Lovelace had originally intended, the ordinance got the attention of lenders, who sued the city. Not one to back down from a fight, Lovelace then turned his attention to the state, enlisting Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio to take up the mantle of the financially oppressed. Initially, Faith was not impressed.
“Dayton’s tactic makes it difficult to get at the whole problem because it’s too easy to drive to the suburbs and get a loan,” Faith says. “But it did help to raise awareness and push the state.”
With their local ordinances, cities like Dayton sent the state a clear message: If you won’t protect our people, we will. So in 2002 the state responded by creating a 16-person Predatory Lending Study Committee that traveled Ohio gathering stories. During the committee’s three-hour fact-finding meeting in Dayton, Lovelace told the state to “put teeth” in its actions.
Lending reform supporters throughout the nation rallied. They hoped that, in Ohio, they could make an impact where so many other states had failed in the wake of powerful lobbying by the associations for payday lenders. The 2008 Ohio Short-term Loan Act passed, capping loans at 28 percent interest — returning the cap the state legislature had abolished in 1996 — and extending terms to 31 days, limiting borrowers to four loans a year.
The payday industry fought back, spending $2 million on a repeal campaign. The public responded by voting two-to-one to keep the payday lending limits in place.
Today, no payday lenders in Ohio have been licensed under the new statute.
But hundreds are still in operation.
Payday lenders found two more favorable statutes to operate under — the Ohio Mortgage Loan Act and the Ohio Small Loan Act, both of which allow interest rates greater than 400 percent. Payday services based in other states — such as Missouri, with its allowable 1,950 percent APR — can offer loans to Ohioans over the Internet.
“Our goal was to make sure they are charging reasonable rates and fees, that they are held back from issuing loan after loan, and that they give people longer to pay back,” Faith says. And while that didn’t work, he does point to one victory: The number of payday lenders in Ohio dropped from 1,650 in 2007 to fewer than 900 today. And with StretchPay, there are less costly options available to those in need.
Doug Fecher of Wright-Patt Credit Union, despite his mission-based tendencies, is a self-described free-market capitalist who wholly opposed the state legislation philosophically. You can’t legislate out corruption and greed, he says, evident in the persistence of payday storefronts. But their tenacity reveals a market, which he’ll continue to fill with StretchPay. Wright-Patt Credit Union has loaned $50 million through StretchPay since 2004, last year alone saving members more than $750,000. “I’d like to think that we’re making life less expensive for the people who can least afford an expensive world,” he says.
And that’s Lovelace’s calling, too. His latest effort is focused on a subprime cousin, tax refund anticipation loans, which can eat $900 of a $2,150 refund. To attack that, he’s waging a public information campaign through the city and soliciting support from trained volunteers — including 45 UD students — to help low-income families prepare and file their taxes. He’s heard the stories of woe, of people in trouble who are looking for solutions. But he’s sure there’s a solution that can be found through collaboration, the Marianist way.
How StretchPay works
StretchPay loans are a payday alternative for short-term cash needs offered by credit unions through CUOSI, an association that mitigates the risk of default and standardizes the terms of the loans. A 2008 Newsweek article named such programs “ethical subprime,” acknowledging the economic reality that individuals with poor or no credit are indeed a higher risk and require a higher, subprime interest rate to cover defaults.
To receive a loan, a borrower must have proof of employment, be a credit union member for 120 days and not be in bankruptcy or in default to another credit union. Borrowers must pay an annual membership fee — $35 for $250 loans or $70 for $500 loans. The fee is deposited with CUOSI and covers 90 percent of credit union losses.
The loans must be repaid in 30 days with interest — $3.83 or $7.64, depending on the loan amount. Members must pay off one loan before taking out another, but the number of loans per year is not restricted. Borrowers often have credit problems that would prevent them from qualifying for a traditional loan with a better interest rate. Credit unions pull credit reports, not as a condition of credit, but for educational purposes. At the first loan of the year, a loan officer explains the report to the borrower, offering suggestions on how to improve credit. One way is through StretchPay; unlike payday lenders, credit unions report repayment, which allows a borrower to repair a poor credit score.
The borrower is also required to maintain a savings account — $25 of the first $250 loan or $50 of the first $500 loan is frozen in a savings account and earns dividends. The hope is that members will start a savings habit, creating their own cushion to help them weather economic hardships.
Ultimately, credit unions would like members to break the cycle, and some do. But others continue to borrow loans monthly, à la payday lenders but at lower rates. “We’re not saving the world,” says Doug Fecher, Wright-Patt Credit Union CEO, “but we’re getting them out of a tough spot.”No Comments