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Stand back Kenny Rogers: Black Hole Blues is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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No. 367

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

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

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

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

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


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On the shores of Lake Victoria

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

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

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

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

She loves the life and the work.

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

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

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

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

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


St. Louis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to make a last impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How to make a quick impression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Beyond Brown Street

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

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

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Deep Rough

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

A book by Chris Blewitt ’95

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

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The long view

3:25 PM  Apr 11th, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

At 14,000 feet, where the air is thin and the view epic, my neurons began firing and fitting together millions of years of earth history.

The Rocky Mountains at my feet were infants compared to the Appalachians of my textbooks, yet in their horns and valleys I could see eons of ice, wind and rain that weathered their eastern brethren down to nubs and were eventually, inevitably, doing the same here.

I got to 14,000 feet by climbing three flights up Wohlleben Hall and fast-talking my way into a geology majors-only summer field course at a high-altitude laboratory in Colorado. In the department’s basement geology lab, I had learned to name the rocks I collected in my youth and emptied by the pocketful into cardboard boxes lining the garage. But I wanted to experience their homeland, learn about the percolating juices of ancient volcanoes that forced liquid minerals through fissured granite to cool into the giant pink crystals my childhood self saved by my bedside.

I say fast-talking, but it was really slow, deliberate, calculated thinking that got me to Colorado. Not my own, but that of the department chair, Charles Ritter. I pleaded my case, and — after saying no, since I was not a geology major — he relented and made me promise: you will become a minor.

Dr. Ritter took a chance on me, and I won. That field course stoked my fire to learn about everything around me and reinforced the importance of hands-on, experiential learning, no matter the subject. That spirit continues through the Charles Ritter Undergraduate Geology Research Fund, something my husband — a geology major who legitimately went on the field course — and I support through gifts to UD.

When we were student and professor, I was part of Dr. Ritter’s learning community. Today, we are also neighbors. I sit in his living room on the brown leather sofa with his beagle, Snoopy, at my feet. Dr. Ritter sneaks another cookie off the plate his wife has set before us on the glass-topped coffee table that displays his geologic specimens. We talk of family, of pets, of the basketball season. He tells me stories of the rocks under the cookies or of Flyer geologists decades my senior, people I will never meet but who are inexorably bound to me through this great teacher.

I am a geology minor. My field course was in 1992, but when I look at each mountain and valley, hillside and river, I give thanks for my high-altitude experience. My education eventually, inevitably, changed my perception and widened my community forever.
—Michelle Tedford ’94
Managing Editor

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Hard rock cachet

3:10 PM  Apr 11th, 2012
by Michelle Tedford

This treasure may not be so much hidden as buried, mineralized, scoured, dug-up and sat-upon.

Geology professor Michael Sandy wanders into a mild winter’s fading sunlight and bends down to point at a rock in the retaining wall in Kennedy Union Plaza. On warmer days, students sit here, searching for friends or a few quiet moments before class. The rock is Springfield dolomite, and protruding out of the rock are fossilized brachiopods, bottom-dwelling creatures that thrived in ancient Paleozoic seas.

“You’re walking past the Silurian period, 420 million years ago — I like that idea,” he says, pointing out a 3-inch clam-like fossil sticking out of one chunk, a handful of half-dollar-sized ones scattered on others. “You’ve got this stuff all around us — it’s part of earth history, of our planet.”

In Dayton, that history includes an ancient, tropical sea and glaciers several hundreds of feet thick. The former created perfect conditions for the brachiopods — waving in water like clams atop stalks anchored in the sand. They died, fell to the sea floor, and were buried and infilled with sediment, their soft interiors and hard shells dissolved away leaving a fossil casting of their former selves. Fast forward 418 million years. While glaciers bulldozed up deposits that would become Woodland Cemetery just north of campus, they also revealed outcrops of Springfield dolomite and its cousin, Dayton limestone, which in the 19th century would be recognized as one of Ohio’s finest building stones.

“I’ve always enjoyed landscapes,” says Sandy who, as a child, hiked the rolling North Downs outside London. “I’ve always wondered why the land is the shape it is and, surprise surprise, geology usually has the answers.

“There is always geology to see, wherever you live. People think of the Grand Canyon; a significant record of earth history is on the doorstep.”

He means that, literally. Look at the rock used for building and you’ll find hints of an area’s geologic history.

In April, Sandy will be leading scientists from the Geological Society of America around downtown Dayton to reveal the geology behind the city’s building stones. The fieldtrip’s highlight is the Greek-Revival Old Courthouse, where Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy addressed citizens from the building’s Dayton limestone steps.

Sandy will also take scientists on a fieldtrip of Dayton’s geology, from the fossil beds of Caesar Creek to the glacial margin that carved the gorge near Clifton. His students take a similar trip each semester.

Sandy, who specializes in the relatively younger brachiopods of the Mesozoic era, appreciates the practical nature of geology. His fossils may answer questions about the chemical composition of ancient seas; the stone walls in KU Plaza can stoke a desire for more knowledge.

“If you start looking at other buildings, you start to see other fossils and geologic indicators just waiting for the eyes of the observant, inquiring student,” he says.

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