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Too much month, not enough paycheck

1:26 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Michelle Tedford

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.”

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The bittersweet joy of a happy ending

1:12 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

I had, as usual, great seats at UD Arena. Center court, about eight rows behind the scorers’ table. It was Senior Day for the UD women’s basketball team.

The first basket came about 45 seconds into the game. Senior Ebony Gainey, who had missed a shot just after the opening tip, drove from the left and put up a layup that touched the glass and dropped through the net. At the 18:02 mark, coach Jim Jabir pulled her, and Gainey’s career stat line was final. Points, 2. Shooting percentage, .500. Minutes played, 2.

If you go to a lot of any team’s games, you come to know the faces on the bench and even feel a sort of first-name familiarity. Ebony had always seemed more coach than player to me, but just a couple of days before this game, I’d learned her story from ESPN. A two-time all-Ohio selection from Dayton’s Meadowdale High School, Ebony was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy weeks before the first game of her freshman year as a Flyer. It is a disease that attacks the heart muscle and that killed Loyola Marymount star Hank Gathers in 1990.

Ebony’s older sister Kenyattie had died in her sleep of a heart-related ailment just months before Ebony’s diagnosis. On her doctor’s advice, Ebony’s college career was over literally before it ever started. For four years, she remained part of the team, but not a player on the court.

That was why I’d only ever seen her in street clothes on the bench, and also why the 1,300 of us there gave her a standing ovation at team introductions, a loud cheer when she took her first shot, another standing O when she made her next one, and a third when coach Jabir pulled her out of the game and into his arms.

The rest of the game wasn’t what I’d call a pleasure to watch, an uncharacteristically halting contest without flow for much of the second half. When Fordham’s coach called a late timeout, I leaned to the person next to me and joked, “Does she think she has a play to call for when you’re down by 16 with 44 seconds to go?” That kind of game.

But we won handily, and the player I know best, senior co-captain Kristin Daugherty, had a solid performance. Twelve points, seven rebounds in 25 minutes. I was there particularly to watch her last home game. I do my best to get to Senior Day games. I managed to catch three in the fall (volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer), and I’ve got a few circled on my calendar this spring. In the rhythms of university life, only graduation day has such bittersweet joy.

I knew it would be an emotional game for Kristin, but she held it together well until almost the very end. Fouled with a couple of minutes left, on the line knowing she was about to come out, the tears came. Two quick baskets. A few quicker steps to the bench. Hugs down the line from coaches and teammates. A standing O from us. We gave another a few moments later when the team’s third senior, Aundrea “Puna” Lindsey, came out.

Later, waiting in line near courtside with my sons for post-game autographs, I found myself next to the mother of Kristin’s biggest fan, 7-year-old Lauren Hinders. She sits in the front row wearing Kristin’s No. 40 every game, and Kristin always gives her a pregame high-five. Or maybe Lauren’s giving it to Kristin.

As Lauren played in the seats with her little brother, I asked her mom how she thought Lauren would handle Kristin’s departure from the team. It turned out that Lauren had given it some thought. She counted on seeing Kristin in the stands next year watching her sister Kari Daugherty, a sophomore guard. Lauren had talked of maybe rooting for star Justine Raterman, but she’ll be a senior next year. Might be a little too soon to go through that again.

Autographs signed, our two boys and my wife and I climbed the concrete steps to the concourse, where I noticed a man carrying a framed No. 13 jersey near the west Arena doors. Ebony’s father. As I knelt to tie my younger son’s shoe, I caught Mr. Gainey’s eye and told him what I’d told Kristin in the autograph line, congratulations. He smiled at me, a perfect stranger, and said thanks, then carried his daughter’s memento out to his car in the parking lot.

In another two months, I thought, he’ll be back, this time joined by other parents doing almost exactly the same thing, proud fathers and mothers carrying under their arms the diplomas of their daughters and sons.

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Missions, martyrs and American culture … Ask a Marianist

1:03 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Brother Erik Otiende, S.M. ’10

Brother Erik Otiende, S.M. ’10 recently returned to Nairobi, Kenya, after more than two years at UD in the educational leadership master’s program. He previously taught secondary school in Zambia. In Nairobi, he is working in the formation house, where brothers who have made their first vows live while attending college. It is the same house where Otiende spent his early years as a Marianist.

What do you think is the most important ministry the Marianists in Nairobi do, and can you tell us a little about the makeup of the Marianist family in Nairobi? —Sister Laura Leming, F.M.I., UD Professor

All the ministries in Nairobi and the Region of Eastern Africa are very important because all of our ministries are options for the poor. We have schools that provide good education to the poor, the Maria House for single mothers, a kindergarten for their vulnerable kids and technical schools that empower youth who cannot afford to go to universities. All these ministries allow the poor to gain their voices and positions in the society; thus all these ministries are important. In Nairobi we have both religious Marianists and the lay Marianists; so far, we haven’t been blessed by the presence of Marianist sisters, so somehow the family is not complete, so to speak.

How can we, as UD students, be involved in supporting your mission? —Daniela R. Abreo, UD fifth-year senior

Some UD students have been generous with their time and have come to do voluntary work here with our projects and in our schools. I also know some who save money and send it for sponsorship of kids here. I think that is how you and other UD students can be involved.

Is there any memory of Brother Roman Wishinski’s service and murder in Africa? Why isn’t he considered a martyr? —C. W. Grennan ’57, Orange, Calif.

The Region of Eastern Africa still remembers and appreciates the seed that was sown by Brother Roman Wishinski and other Marianists who first came to Africa, but the issue of martyrdom and sainthood is considered in the church only when the cause of death is a matter of faith and not just a civil war in the country. Brother Roman was killed in Nigeria’s Biafra War. This war and the perpetrators of this war did not target him because of what he believed in.

What change have you noticed in yourself since the first time you served people in need? —Rafael Carbonell, UD first-year student

In serving people in need, we share our talents and resources with them. Thus, we uplift them. For me, serving in any way gives me joy and peace of heart, especially when the people I am serving are in great need. Once I did voluntary work in the hospital, and since then I have appreciated my health more than ever before.

What disappoints you most about the American culture? —Steve Shiparski ’88, Findlay, Ohio

I wouldn’t say that something disappoints me. Each culture is valuable to the people practicing it. However, a few things here and there were shocking to see and hear. I was shocked by the idea of suing. People have become so money-minded so as you cannot help each other for fear of being sued. There is also too much wastage in the U.S. because some people don’t care much about how they use what they have.

What countries have missions staffed by Marianists from the American province? Do other provinces also have missionaries? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.

The Marianists of the United States had lots of missions: District of India, Region of Eastern Africa, Region of Korea, Mexico, Ireland, Japan and the Philippines. Notice I generalized “United States” because, when the brothers began the missions, there were five U.S. provinces: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pacific, New York and Meribah. Now there are only two, the United States and Meribah. The U.S. province still has missions in the Philippines, India, Mexico and Ireland. The regions of Korea and Eastern Africa have both become independent. Other provinces have missions. For example, the province of France has missions in Ivory Coast and both Congos. Currently, we have Marianists working in countries that are not their homeland; I guess they can be called missionaries in that sense. As Marianists, we are all missionaries according to our founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, but that will be a topic for another time.

Did your experience in Dayton give you any new ways of looking at things? —Father Dave Fleming, S.M., UD professor

I think if we are open to growth and God’s graces around us, any experience in life gives us new ways of looking at things. UD being an international university allowed me not only to mingle with people from all walks of life but also to share my culture with them and to experience theirs. My stay in Dayton connected me to a bigger world and not just the United States of America.

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My Old House 1998: 339 Kiefaber

10:02 AM  Mar 5th, 2011
by Seetha Sankaranarayan '12

As eight students learned during their stay at 339 Kiefaber, sometimes the greatest lessons in problem solving and resilience happen outside the classroom.

Five men, three women and a pet cat lived in this landlord-owned house from the summer of 1998 until they graduated in 2000.

“We had bats in the attic the first summer we lived there,” Lisa Lee said. “We also had mice. That’s why Christine [Williams Mulholland] got the cat.”

Fortunately, the spacious, two-story brick house, centrally located near the corner of Kiefaber and Lawnview, provided many areas to escape the critters.

“Honestly, it is a maze,” Jeffrey Pierson said.

All eight students had their own bedrooms — women upstairs and men downstairs — and shared several kitchens and bathrooms throughout the house. One of the men had a cubbyhole of a bedroom off the front living room, while Christopher Johnson occupied the back bedroom and bathroom with floors that slanted ominously toward the basement. On the lower level, a wall separated the front and back of the house.

“We were so sick of having to go up the back stairs and down the front or out the back door and in the front to get back and forth,” said Brian Lepa, now a shop operations manager for GE Transportation. One night, the roommates began hacking away at a wall until they had created a hole large enough to walk through, which they hid from the landlord with tapestries.

Matt Berges, who currently works as a general contractor in northeast Ohio, eventually confessed to the landlord, who agreed to let him build a doorway connecting the lower level. The upstairs kitchen was repainted, and from that point onward the rear kitchen, one of the smallest rooms in the house, became the preferred area for hanging out.

“We put a couch and TV in the kitchen, and that made it a great space,” Pierson said. The kitchen chairs in turn made their way onto the wrap-around stone porch that the roommates unanimously agree is the best in the neighborhood. “Best place to be,” Lee said. “Best times of my life.”


Visit the house with today’s students here.

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Tennis, sharp dressers and a tale of two families … Ask a Marianist

3:34 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51

Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51 knows what he teaches. Brother Al earned first place in the Texas State Fair Classic tennis tournament, where the lack of competitors in his 80-year-old age bracket required him to win against opponents in their early 70s; last year, he coached Nolan Catholic High School to a boys doubles state title.

Tennis is a very cerebral sport. What life lessons learned in tennis carry over to daily life? —Eric Mahone, UD tennis coach

Yes, a lot of it is in the mind. I have the mindset that I’m going to play my best, and if my best is better than my opponent’s, I’ll win. If I don’t win, it’s not because I didn’t play my best; it’s because my opponent played better. I ask my players after a match, “Did you lose, or did you get beat?” If they played their best, they didn’t lose, no matter what the outcome. My attitude is that I can and will win when I play my best. And that’s what life is all about.

How do you continue to be so good at golf after 63 years of being a Marianist? —Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45, Dayton

God, and my mom and dad, gave me good genes. I take care of my body, and then it’s practice, practice, practice. Actually, my game is more tennis. Golf takes too much time and it’s too

How do you relate your athletic coaching to your life as a Marianist? —Brother Phil Aaron, S.M. ’54, Dayton

Student athletes have a gift, a talent and a corresponding responsibility to do their best. I say, “Play your best, and if you do, I’m satisfied and I’m proud of you.” I want to teach a Christian message. I ask them to accept the gifts God gives them and to use them well. St. Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live joyfully in the knowledge of His love for us.” I try to live that. I hope that whatever I do — teach accounting, counsel, coach — reflects my dedication, my living my Marianist vocation.

The Marianists were founded by Father Chaminade in Bordeaux, France, in 1817. The Marist order, also the “Society of Mary,” operates Marist High School in Atlanta and other schools throughout the world. They too were founded in France about the same time. How did this happen? It is extremely confusing. —Charles Werling ’58, Suwanee, Ga.

My favorite is when someone asks, “Are you a Marist brother?” The answer: “No, I’m a Marianist — we’re longer than they are.” Father Champagnat, a Marist father, founded the Brothers of Mary in France in 1817. The Marists are also known as the Society of Mary. The religious vows — poverty, chastity and obedience — are essentially the same. Maybe it’s like having two Jones families — name’s the same, but oh so different. We Marianists have our own history, charism, culture, spirit. We are known for community, for family spirit, our special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We take our vow of stability, which is a marian dedication to the mission and person of Mary. We live together, brothers and priests, in equality.

Why don’t Marianist brothers wear habits anymore? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.

Actually, we never did wear a “habit.” Chaminade ordered that the Marianist dress should differ little from that of seculars. At the time, they wore a chestnut brown Prince Albert coat, then a black Prince Albert coat. That lasted until 1947, when we switched to a short coat, double-breasted black suit, white shirt, black tie. My profession group, 1948, was the first to wear the short coat. People would see a group of us and wonder if we were going to an undertakers’ convention. Very few of us wear the black suit any more. We dress like the professionals of today. One of my claims to fame is that I do dress coordinated. Some of my colleagues call me “GQ.”

What is the key to the kingdom of God? —Francisco Alvarez ’88, San Juan, Puerto Rico

You get into the kingdom of God when you know Him, love Him and serve Him. Sound like the Baltimore Catechism? If you want the kingdom of God, follow the Commandments. And following the Commandments is broader than just “don’t kill” or “don’t miss Mass.” Love God, and show that love by the life you live. Do that and you have the key to the kingdom of God, the key to heaven. I don’t know where heaven is, but I believe in it, and I want to get there.

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The matching of wine and food (a common-sense approach)

3:32 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Bill Whiting ’90, Banfi director of wine education

Wine is the lifeblood of food. Water submerges the taste of food while chemical concoctions shield it. There is no mystique to the art of matching wine and food and no collection of ironclad rules.

There is not one right wine for any particular food. A well-made wine, no matter where it comes from, will enhance the appropriate food no matter what its ethnic origin.

What the person who enjoys food (be it a sandwich, chicken wing or roast beef) seeks is palate enjoyment — a fusion of two different taste experiences that create a third that is greater than each individual taste.

Wine is a natural, complex, yet easy-to-appreciate beverage. The primary consideration for a proper marriage is that the character of the wine and the food should not overwhelm or suffocate each other. Wine and food are not meant to quarrel.

General rules to harmonize wine with food date to the days of ancient Greece and Rome. While rigid, specific rules about appropriate wines and foods were written in the 1500s and followed for centuries, today’s consumer drinks and eats what pleases the palate.

Consider compatibility and incompatibility in wine and food just as one does before taking the vows of matrimony.

Red wine with red meats makes gastronomic sense. The tannin in the wine marries with the proteins in the red meat, causing digestion to begin almost immediately. Drunk with certain seafood, however, a tannic red will play havoc with a fillet of Dover sole, and the wine might even acquire a metallic taste, although fresh salmon, swordfish or tuna, being rich in natural oils, marry well with light-bodied reds.

White wine with white meat and seafood is also a good general recommendation. Certain white wines might be overwhelmed by beef or lamb but will rise to gastronomic heights when married with sole, shrimp, lobster or grilled breast of chicken.

Salads do not impart any characteristics to wine, but if dressed with vinegar, they inhibit the palate’s assessment, robbing wine of its liveliness, making it taste flabby and dull. Lemon juice is preferred, as citric acid blends well with wine’s makeup.

Cheese and wine are ideal combinations — just take care not to serve rich, piquant cheeses with light-bodied wines and vice versa.

Spicy foods can be a problem, but when served with a spicy or very fruity wine, the two meet their mates (Lambrusco from Italy, Riesling from Chile).

Chocolate may also upset the taste of wine. Some claim that an old Cabernet will do the trick. An excellent, delightful combination with chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is Rosa Regale — the wine has fruitiness, crispness and the right natural acidity to balance rich chocolate desserts and keep the palate fresh and clean.

Remember: Wine in moderation.

This article is a sidebar to our Winter 2010-11 feature “Wine & Family.”

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Imagining new beginnings

3:24 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Daniel J. Curran, President

Some call Blessed William Joseph Chaminade a “pragmatic visionary.”

Others, like Brother John Samaha, S.M., view the founder of the Society of Mary as a humble priest whose “peaceful life turned into the stuff from which the plots of adventure movies are developed.”

For me, he’s a fellow sociologist.

As the University of Dayton celebrates the 250th anniversary of Chaminade’s birth throughout 2011, I’m inspired by how his life story continues to fuel the University’s upward momentum.

When Father Chaminade escaped the bloody French Revolution and went into exile in Spain, he imagined a new beginning for the embattled Catholic Church in France.  This was a time of radical social, economic and political upheaval in his homeland. The monarchy had collapsed. During the Reign of Terror, priests and other church leaders were harassed, imprisoned or killed. Society was in chaos.

Yet Chaminade saw a path forward — a way that would re-energize the church and create a new religious movement empowered by the laity. When he returned to Bordeaux, he brought together an eclectic group of merchants, priests, teachers, chimney sweeps, former soldiers and others from all walks of life who drew their inspiration from Mary, the mother of 
Jesus. A community of believers, they treated each other as equals and shared a deep sense of mission.

Father Chaminade viewed the world with a sociological eye. He saw that in the midst of social change, which can be radical and disruptive, institutions can remain vibrant and grow. New times, he believed, called for new methods.

That philosophy guides us every day as we live out the Marianist mission on campus. As a community, we read the signs of the times and act boldly and imaginatively.

That’s why we purchased NCR’s former world headquarters and are transforming it into a riverfront center for research, graduate studies, continuing education and alumni outreach.

It’s highly unusual for a corporate giant such as General Electric to build a $51 million research facility on a college campus (Pg. 5), but we see that move as the future for leading research universities. When the University made its first large land purchase from NCR in 2005, we worked with regional leaders to secure the federal and state funds necessary to make that land, largely a brownfield, vibrant again. We envisioned attracting strong companies that could spur 
additional research, serve as real-world classrooms and spark economic development for the region. Today, that vision 
is coming to fruition.

As we look outward, the University of Dayton will welcome a more diverse and academically prepared student body from all socioeconomic walks of life and from all over the world. Our academic reputation as a top-tier Catholic research university will gain greater recognition. More alumni and friends will invest in our shared future.

We will make a deeper mark on the world while remaining true to Chaminade’s ageless philosophy.

We educate for adaptation and change. We develop technology that benefits mankind. In a fragmented world, we encourage dialogue between faith and culture. We foster community, and we remain deeply committed to the common good.

An 18th-century priest still imparts lessons for a modern-day university. That’s worth celebrating.

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Conventional wisdom not always wise

3:17 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Thomas M. Columbus

Red wine should be served at room temperature. That advice, according to Banfi’s website, predates central heating. “Light-bodied red wines,” Banfi advises, “are optimally served at 55-65°F. Full-bodied red wines show best between 62 and 68°F.”

A bottle of wine having a screw top and not a cork is a sign of an inferior wine. Although corks may conjure up romantic days of yesteryear, advances in technology are leading many wine people to see screw tops as highly effective in keeping wine from deteriorating.

If Champagne is in France, where is Cabernet? Some wines — such as Cabernet and Chardonnay — use varietal designations for their names; that is, they are named after grapes. Others — like Bordeaux and Chianti — are named after the place where they are produced. Countries such as France and Italy prescribe what kinds of grapes can go into wines having place names. If a wine drinker needs a topic of conversation, talking of how the grape, the weather and the land (even which side of a hill the vine is on) affect the nature of a wine can provide hours of entertaining, sometimes contentious, conviviality.

This article is a sidebar to our Winter 2010-11 feature “Wine & Family.”

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An author’s note on Brunello and its friends

10:25 AM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Thomas M. Columbus

I was delighted when I was assigned to do a story on Banfi and its UD connections. I like wine. And my wife and I had taken a wine course taught by Tom Davis, who is more often employed teaching statistics here. With a semester’s worth of study and the memory of numerous tastings from wine Davis had collected over the years, I had gained “a little learning,” which, the poet Pope tells us, “is a dangerous thing.”

But it’s fun, too.

And besides I was familiar with some of Banfi’s wines, such as the Col di Sasso and the Centine served by our favorite local Italian restaurant. I did not know of the huge number of wines that Banfi imported from other producers, such as the Chilean giant Concha y Toro. And I did not know of the wines that Davis, when I told him of my assignment, mentioned in tones of ecstasy — the great Brunellos of Castello Banfi. The first that he had tasted — a Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino — was 30 years old when he drank it in 2001.

“It was an eye opener,” he said.

From a man who has amassed thousands of bottles of wine and a lifetime of knowledge, this was impressive.

The Marianis, according to Davis’ course textbook (Wine for Dummies), “are leaders in research into the grapes and terroirs of Montalcino.” (Coming from the French word for land, terroir refers to the characteristics of a wine coming from elements such as soil, sun, altitude and weather.) Brunello di Montalcino traditionally must age for years and aerate for hours — and is hugely enjoyable.

For those wanting to drink a wine before it’s decades old, Wine for Dummies recommends Rosso di Montalcino as “a great value, offering you a glimpse of Brunello’s majesty without breaking the bank.”

This article is a sidebar to our Winter 2010-11 feature “Wine & Family.”

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World’s greatest treasure in paper and ink

10:03 AM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Cameron Fullam

In the love of a friend, treasure greater than riches and pride appeared to poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

And so the writer put pen to paper — the flyleaf of an original edition of Oak and Ivy, his first book of poems — and said so.

And now we are richer for it.

In February, Cincinnati resident Patrick Orsary called Dunbar scholar and professor emeritus Herbert Woodward Martin to say he had an 1893 first edition of Oak and Ivy and would sell it for $50.

Martin could hardly believe his good fortune — he’d been searching for an original Oak and Ivy for decades. He also found inscribed on the inside cover of the book a personal Dunbar poem, written and signed by the poet himself. The unpublished poem was addressed “To My Friend, Joseph S. Cotter, December 18th, 1894.”

“To have a poem written by Dunbar, in his own hand, to another African-American poet who was his contemporary is truly exciting,” Martin said. “I’m touching something that Dunbar touched. I’m connecting with that history.”

Martin’s research on Cotter, a poet living in Kentucky, revealed that he was a friend of Dunbar. Cotter founded the Paul Laurence Dunbar School in Louisville, Ky., in 1893 and became the school’s first principal. Dunbar visited Cotter the next year and possibly gave him the book as a gift, Martin said.

How the book came into the possession of Orsary’s family three generations before him is unknown.

“I’m just real excited that it ended up in the right place,” said Orsary, who contacted Martin through the University’s Dunbar website, http://dunbarsite.org. “You never know what you’re going to find hiding on a bookshelf or in a basement.”

The African American Review, the Modern Language Association’s journal of black literature and culture, recently published the Cotter poem. The book and the poem remain with Martin.

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