A book by John O’Brien Jr. ’88
The luck of the Irish has surrounded John O’Brien his whole life, with his father establishing the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival in 1982 and O’Brien starting the Ohio Irish American News in 2006. Now O’Brien, a first-generation Irish-American, is deputy director of the festival and has positioned his interest in Irish culture into a fourth book, The Lyrics of Irish Freedom. It celebrates the music of freedom — especially timely with 2016 as the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Ireland’s revolution. “We can only know ourselves in the seminal songs and stories of our past,” O’Brien said. Capturing the stories behind the songs sung in Irish pubs and festivals, the book features the background of 80 songs.
All of O’Brien’s books can be found at songsandstories.net.No Comments
A podcast by Rob Walch ’88
What started as a hobby has turned into a hall of fame induction for Rob Walch. Walch is vice president for podcaster relations for Libsyn and is host and producer of several podcasts, including the award-winning “podCast411,” an informative interview session for podcasters, which he started in 2004. In July, Walch was named to the Podcaster Hall of Fame in Chicago. Utilizing the skills he learned in speech class at UD, Walch has spoken about podcasting at more than 100 events. “The professor said the first day of class that it would be the most important class we would take at UD. I didn’t believe him then, but he could not have been more right,” Walch said. Listen to all of Walch’s podcasts at podcast411.libsyn.com/about.No Comments
A book by Richard Flammer ’85
The story of publishing Reality Check is filled with challenges and triumphs, as is the story of B.J. MacPherson, a popular professional hockey player in the ’90s whose career was cut short by a cheap shot in a championship game that would leave him paralyzed. Richard Flammer experimented with marketing plans — including selling the book at the games of the San Diego Gulls, then co-coached by MacPherson. But the franchise folded and the book was put on hold until the Anaheim Ducks reinvigorated the local market for hockey storytelling. While self-publishing wasn’t the original plan, Flammer released the book in October 2015 and hopes to write a screenplay about MacPherson. The true story can be found on Amazon at bit.ly/UDM_realitycheck.No Comments
Father Lawrence Mann, S.M. ’36 (ENG) lives in Cupertino, Calif., at the 1) Marianist community. He turned 2) 100 Aug. 1. He is the younger brother of the late 3) Brother Leonard Mann ’36. Father Mann is the 4) second-oldest living Marianist brother.
1) The Marianist Health Care Community in Cupertino is home to 28 Marianists, including two of Mann’s former students, and is the second largest Marianist community in the Western Hemisphere. Fourteen of the members have ties to the UD community. Mann has called it home for almost 20 years.
2) Mann began his career as a priest teaching high school in Cincinnati. His ministries took him to Marianist schools and parishes in Long Island, N.Y., Alameda, Calif., and Honolulu, where he was an adjunct professor at Chaminade University. He retired from teaching after his last stop at Chaminade Prep in West Hills, Calif. In his 100th year, he’ll also celebrate a Society of Mary milestone: its bicentennial in October 2017.
3) The Mann brothers professed first vows together in 1933. In 1954, Brother Leonard Mann ’36 began teaching in the UD physics department, and he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1959 to 1985.
4) Mann is the second-oldest living Marianist. Brother John Totten, who lives in the Marianist residence at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, is 102. Brother John Samaha, S.M. ’52, wrote to say the Cupertino community celebrated Mann with a special Mass and party that included several of Mann’s nephews from Ohio and Virginia. “I am grateful for the years of living as a Marianist with wonderful men in the community, living in our marvelous world, beautiful in its smallest and its most vast expanses,” Mann said.
Please note: Father Lawrence Mann, S.M., passed away on 9-1-16, after the publication of the autumn 2016 issue. May perpetual light shine upon him.No Comments
When the Honorable Patricia Henry ’69 lays down her gavel and retires in October, she’ll have a lot to be proud of. While having served both as a lawyer and as a judge in various courts throughout her career, she’ll end her time in the profession working in a court that has changed the lives of thousands of people involved in domestic violence.
From 2005, when she was appointed an acting Supreme Court Judge in Kings Country, New York, until her retirement in 2016, Henry has worked in the Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) Court. While working as counsel for the deputy chief administrative judge for court operations for the state of New York, Henry helped her boss develop the IDV courts.
“You don’t always get a chance to see things through from vision to program,” says Henry, who studied psychology at UD.
The IDV court was designed to respond to common problems — that people with domestic violence issues may have cases in three, four or even more different courts such as criminal, family, housing and others. Often, people wouldn’t seek assistance because it took too much time. With IDV, though, all their cases are transferred to one judge, who has jurisdiction over all. Specially trained prosecutors knowledgeable about domestic violence cases and a cadre of lawyers working as defense attorneys try their cases in front of Judge Henry.
In the 10 years it’s been in existence, the IDV court in Kings County has seen more than 8,000 families with more than 32,000 cases.
“The cases proceed with fewer adjournments and requirements for the parties to appear, allowing litigants to avoid missing work or school. The prosecutor’s office reports that more victims cooperate with [them], resulting in fewer cases being dismissed,” Henry says.
While she says there is still much work to be done in understanding domestic violence and providing interventions to reduce its impact, Henry says, “I am proud to have been part of this change.”
With recent accolades from Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty and the Huffington Post, UD grad Kristen Becker ’03 is living the design life she never imagined.
The visual communication design alumna is owner and designer of Five Dot Design, a boutique design studio in Newport, Kentucky, which specializes in custom wedding invitations, event décor and design installations. “Dot” is the name of Becker’s aunt, who had breast cancer at the time when Becker was toying with the idea of starting her own company, and five is Becker’s lucky number.
Becker is a one-person show.
“In terms of the design and creative portion, it’s just me,” Becker said. “If you’re reaching out to work with me, you will work with me.”
After graduation, she worked in the corporate world and thought she’d remain there.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Becker said.
For business she has traveled as far as Dubrovnik, Croatia, for a seaside wedding. Her chic programs for the bride and groom, friends of hers, were featured in Martha Stewart Weddings. She covered the stylized programs in an iridescent ivory fabric; inside she included a message to the bride’s parents, who were celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary.
Becker said she stands out in her industry because of her passion for bringing new visual aspects to events. This is what “design installations” are all about: going onsite, setting up and putting it together. She compares it to preparing an art exhibit.
She said her husband’s line of work, architecture, keeps her in tune creatively to new physical elements.
“I love paper. But I also love to find different materials to use,” Becker said. “If you can find a way to differentiate and bring in personality, something that helps couples feel like they created something unique, then that’s a creative win for me.”
During times of transition, I think it’s important to step back and reflect.
We teach our students to change and adapt to meet the needs of the times, but let’s face it, change is rarely easy for anyone.
I have been so impressed by how the University of Dayton has handled the presidential transition — from honoring the legacy of outgoing president Dan Curran to welcoming me and my family with open arms and open minds.
I’m particularly grateful to President Curran, who worked selflessly to make the transition seamless. Before I became president, he supported my working with him and others to fill four important administrative roles with outstanding leaders who will put their mark on our curriculum, diversity, student profile, and fundraising and alumni engagement efforts well into the future.
With a smile and with grace, Dan made room for a new president. Together, we appeared at alumni community gatherings and followed the NCAA-bound Flyers to St. Louis. We jumped on a plane headed to Washington, D.C., to promote regional economic development at the annual Dayton Development Coalition’s Community Leader Fly-In.
We drove to Cincinnati to meet Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and talk about faith and identity, the soul of any Catholic university.
I’ve discovered that continuity and change are not mutually exclusive at the University of Dayton. We embrace both.
Nothing illustrates that better than this photo showing three presidents — Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., Dan and me — in a lighthearted moment. Its composition speaks volumes: Three presidents, three eras, one university.
As I pause to reflect on this smooth presidential transition, I know I’ve landed at a university that’s a model for higher education. This is a strong campus community that supports one another and looks to the future with confidence and faith. I believe, working together in the Catholic, Marianist spirit, we can reach higher than what we have imagined possible.
As we start a new chapter in the University of Dayton’s history, I am committed to listening to a diversity of voices, and I will strive to communicate in an open, transparent fashion. For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of campus life, subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Twitter or take a look at my daily Instagram photos @DaytonPrezSpina.
I’m inspired by the power of this community — and blessed to be a part of it. For that, I’m filled with gratitude.No Comments
Citizens are reclaiming their neighborhood, and UD is nourishing the partnership.
The Twin Towers neighborhood in East Dayton was once a thriving residential community with a prominent business district.
That all changed in 1962 with the construction of U.S. Route 35 through Dayton, which forced thousands of Twin Towers families to relocate and many of its businesses and industries to close.
“It was a very traumatic time in the neighborhood,” said Leslie Sheward, president of the Twin Towers Neighborhood Association, who has lived in the community for all of her 60 years. “They tore down over 5,000 homes and displaced over 20,000 residents — that was just in this neighborhood alone.”
Sheward, a plain-spoken woman with a shock of gray hair, recalled her childhood home being among those taken by the highway project.
A partnership among the University of Dayton, East End Community Services and Mission of Mary Cooperative is working to transform the former Lincoln Elementary School site at 401 Nassau St. into an urban farm and greenspace.
Long-term plans call for the mostly vacant 5-acre site, dubbed Lincoln Hill Gardens, to feature greenhouses, community garden plots, natural playscapes, a wetland restoration area, a community education kitchen and performance pavilion.
“What it means to the community is a chance to, for once, be given back to, instead of taken from,” Sheward said.
Lincoln Hill Gardens is the first high-profile project for the University’s Hanley Sustainability Institute. Established in 2014 with a $12.5 million gift from the George and Amanda Hanley Foundation, the institute aims to extend the University’s sustainability efforts across campus and into the Dayton community. Its goals include creating an urban agriculture demonstration project in the community that can be sustained and reproduced elsewhere in Dayton and beyond.
“It’s an opportunity for UD to learn and benefit from the important conversations we are having with crucial community partners,” Pair said.
Downtown Dayton and its surrounding areas is considered a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because there is limited access to healthy and affordable food within a half-mile radius — particularly for low-income residents.
Located less than 2 miles from the University’s campus, Twin Towers is a community where 63 percent of the children live below the poverty level, more than double the statewide average.
The neighborhood’s population boomed during World War II, when thousands of people flocked from Appalachia to work in its war-time factories.
But the U.S. 35 construction continued for nearly 10 years, until 1971. During that time, Twin Towers began its decline from a prosperous, self-contained community to a deteriorating neighborhood blighted by crime and boarded-up homes.
In recent years, Twin Towers has worked with area partners to address those issues by tearing down vacant homes, building more affordable housing, increasing police patrols and opening an outreach addiction center.
The Hanley Institute hopes to increase food accessibility in that area through Lincoln Hill Gardens, said Tess Keener ’15, who served as project coordinator through May.
“It is building on partnerships that we already have in making the University a leader in the regional food conversations, which are really prevalent with former Congressman Tony Hall’s new initiatives to reduce hunger in Dayton,” she said.
Keener began working on the Lincoln Hill Gardens project in summer 2015 as the Hanley Institute’s first undergraduate fellow. She continued to coordinate the project after graduating in December, and then left in May to take a full-time position at Homefull, a Dayton nonprofit that works to end homelessness.
The Hanley Institute funded a site development plan by MKSK, a Columbus, Ohio-based landscape architecture and urban design firm whose projects also include RiverScape MetroPark in Dayton.
The institute also paid for construction of three greenhouse-like hoop houses at Lincoln Hill Gardens and is covering maintenance and utilities fees for the site.
“We would like other communities to see what has been done on the Lincoln Hill Gardens site — the site of a former Dayton Public Schools elementary school — and say: ‘Gosh. We have some vacant land in our area; we’d like to do something similar in our neighborhood,’” Pair said.
The Lincoln Hill project officially launched in January with a site assessment, information gathering and goal setting by MKSK and the project partners. In February, the first public meeting was held to solicit campus and community input.
But the garden’s roots go much deeper, stretching back several years.
In fall 2013, the University became partners with Growing Power, an urban agriculture training and growing site in Milwaukee. Will Allen, Growing Power’s founder and chief executive, visited Dayton to speak on campus.
George Hanley ’77 and Amanda Hanley were interested in using Growing Power as a model for Dayton, said Ryan McEwan, associate professor of biology.
In January 2014, McEwan and other faculty and community members traveled to Milwaukee to learn how to implement an urban agriculture project with community support. Additional faculty and community members attended Growing Power workshops in subsequent months.
“The purpose of it was to think about how the University of Dayton could engage in urban agriculture in the region in a general sense,” McEwan said. “I think that was really the first step in the whole thing.”
Meanwhile, East End Community Services was eyeing the former Lincoln School site. Dayton Public Schools closed the school in 2006 and demolished the structure in January 2012, scraping the surrounding turf down to the glacial till.
It also overlooks St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a Romanesque-style church built in 1906. Twin Towers takes its name from the church’s two matching spires.
Sheward said area residents gather at the top of the hill to watch the city of Dayton’s Fourth of July fireworks display and to shoot off their own firecrackers and rockets. People also use the site for sledding and four-wheeling, as evidenced by the visible ruts from truck and all-terrain vehicle tires.
To the north, the former school site slopes down to a densely wooded area. The ground to the west drops sharply down a 25-foot grade to an existing, man-made rain garden for storm water runoff.
East End Community Services was concerned about development at the site, said Kate Ervin, the nonprofit organization’s director of community development and a 2006 graduate of the University’s Master of Public Administration program.
“A lot of neighbors were afraid when the school was torn down a few years ago that something would be developed that wouldn’t be a community asset,” Ervin said. “East End really wanted to ensure that we got the land and it would serve neighborhood purposes.”
In 2015, East End purchased the site from the city of Dayton for $35,000 with funding from an Ohio Housing Finance Agency grant.
Conversations about using the site for urban agriculture started well before East End acquired the property, said Stephen Mackell ’13, urban farm manager for Mission of Mary Cooperative.
“We spoke with them several years ago about the 5-acre site — what could happen up there and how we could make urban farming a little enterprise to eventually employ people in the neighborhood,” he said.
Founded in the spirit of Mary in 2010 by Michael Schulz ’07 and a group of lay Marianists, Mission of Mary is a faith-based nonprofit organization focused on food and economic social justice issues, especially healthy food access and affordability. University faculty, staff and students often work alongside Mission of Mary staff on service learning projects in the community.
Mission of Mary operates three urban agriculture plots in the Twin Towers neighborhood, totaling about 2.5 acres of land. Lincoln Hill Garden will be the fourth and largest, as well as the first to have large-production hoop houses.
Pair said Marianist urban gardening dates back nearly a century.
“Urban gardening is not a new idea for the Marianists,” he explained. “Mission of Mary is the latest rediscovery and exploration of that central concept of community building.”
A native of Findlay, Ohio, Mackell started volunteering for Mission of Mary as an undergraduate and joined the staff full time after completing his bachelor’s degree in economics and philosophy.
As with Mission of Mary, the University has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with East End Community Services. After the launch of the Hanley Institute, East End and Mission of Mary looked to the University as an essential partner in the project. They asked if UD wanted to be involved in a formal way.
In early 2014, Mackell made five University-sponsored trips to Growing Power in Milwaukee to see if Allen’s urban agriculture techniques could be applied to the Lincoln Hill project. He accompanied McEwan on the first trip.
“I’d say that’s when things got serious about the partnership among the three organizations: Mission of Mary, East End Community Services and UD,” he said.
The partners’ goals for the project were outlined in MKSK’s public presentations. They include providing an educational and research space for learning about sustainable land and food practices; creating a community green space for outdoor recreation and experiencing nature; and creating an urban farm that produces healthy food and provides job training and income for the community.
Aligning those goals with the wants and needs of both residents and faculty hasn’t always been an easy process. In early April, workshop discussions about MKSK’s conceptual plans at both East End’s community center and a campus ArtStreet gallery turned contentious.
At ArtStreet, McEwan expressed fears that Lincoln Hill Gardens would become an overly landscaped park with well-manicured lawns, as opposed to a more natural setting where he could engage his environmental biology students in research projects involving native plans and ecological restoration.
“Where do UD students fit in?” he asked.
Concerns also were raised about striking a balance between public spaces and semi-private zones such as Mission of Mary’s garden plots.
Another meeting that evening for Twin Towers residents was even more heated.
The nearly three dozen community members who gathered were a mix of ages and races and included both longtime residents and recent arrivals to the neighborhood.
“An urban farm doesn’t make sense to me; an urban park does,” said Liz Hopkins ’12, a Brooklyn, New York, gallery director who was working with artists at the nearby Davis-Linden Building in East Dayton.
Sheward stood and countered that Twin Towers is in a food desert. Devoting 1 acre for food production would still leave another 4 for development.
“It is crucial to the future of the community,” Sheward said.
Glenda Lamb-Wilson, a Demphle Avenue resident, said she was looking forward to having a garden plot at the Lincoln Hill site. Her property sits at a 45-degree angle and is covered by shade, making it difficult to grow vegetables in her own yard.
Other residents voiced concerns about the possibility of light pollution, and public art displays becoming hazards on the sledding hill.
MKSK principal Darren Meyer and designer Brett Kordenbrock took notes on the feedback at these meetings for consideration in preparing the final site plan.
“Fundamentally, when you come full-circle, what an amazing educational opportunity for students, staff, faculty and graduate students to see the nature of these conversations as they unfold with our community partners,” Pair said.
Lincoln Hill Gardens will allow students to work on projects that meet both learning goals and community needs, said Kelly Bohrer ’96 and ’01, director of community-engaged learning in the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.
For example, students in Bohrer’s sustainability research classes designed possible site elements, including aquaponics and composting facilities, that were presented to MKSK. In addition, students in associate professor Suki Kwon’s art and design course worked with Niels Braam, MKSK’s environmental graphic designer, to develop branding and signage proposals for Lincoln Hill Gardens.
“Our hope is that the implementation of each piece of the design that the landscape architect ultimately gives us has community members fully involved and students fully involved,” Bohrer said.
Mackell stood atop a tall ladder directing construction of the metal tubing frame that will support the plastic covering of the first greenhouse-like structure.
Nearby, dozens of students pounded metal stakes for the second hoop house into the rock-hard turf with sledgehammers.
A large pile of dark compost was poised to enrich the garden beds.
Less expensive than a traditional glass greenhouse, a hoop house warms plants and soil by retaining incoming solar radiation from the sun through plastic sheeting. “We can grow year-round in it just by passive solar heating; not actively heating it,” Mackell said.
One hoop house is a fixed structure for growing seedlings, plant propagation and year-round production. It also includes space for student research projects.
The other two are on wheels, so they can be rolled to cover adjacent garden plots. This allows for both indoor and outdoor production, depending on the crops and time of year.
“It essentially allows us to grow twice as much food on the same amount of square footage because we are able to stretch the growing season on the front and back ends of the season by moving the greenhouse back and forth,” Mackell said.
He expects to have the hoop houses covered by fall, so they can grow produce throughout the winter.
One of the student volunteers was Léa Dolimier ’16, a Maryland native who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology and a minor in sustainability. She was a Mission of Mary intern during the spring semester. She said her goal is to work on a nonprofit farm in a city.
“The University of Dayton really stresses being part of your community and the service aspect and working together,” Dolimier said. “I think a lot of people embrace that idea and want to come out and help.”
Sheward, who received the Fitz Center’s 2015 Mattie Davis and Joe Kanak Community Builders Award, watched the hoop house installation and talked about her hopes for Lincoln Hill Gardens. She is eager for the performance pavilion, which would bring people out of their homes for movies and storytelling.
“When we were an Appalachian community, the storytelling is what continued the richness of the community,” she said.
Local lore includes St. Mary’s Church, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. During World War II, the church was a high point in Dayton and the lights in its towers were used to help U.S. military aircraft land at what is now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“The nuns and the priests used to go up there and they would change the colors of the lights,” Sheward said. “My grandmother and my mother lived here through the war, so they knew that the lights in the towers had different meanings.”
Sheward said her dream is to perform the play Stone Soup at the pavilion. The folk tale, in which a hungry traveler manipulates villagers into sharing their food by contributing ingredients to a pot of soup, shows how people can make something significant through many small contributions.
“Stone Soup is a very good story to use for community telling,” she said.
The final site plan was revealed to residents July 3, as neighbors gathered at Lincoln Hill for a cookout before watching the city’s fireworks display.
Artist renderings and schematic designs were arrayed on a large kiosk made from wooden pallets. Community members gathered around the drawings and commented favorably about the plans.
“This is a long way from when I went to school here,” said Anthony Stanford, of Dayton, whose mother still lives nearby on Beaumont Avenue.
He has watched the site’s transformation from a vacant lot, and he hopes progress continues.
MKSK’s plan calls for the project to be implemented in five phases, contingent on fundraising and additional community partnerships.
Already, the first phase — construction of an urban agriculture education facility — is nearly complete. Though not yet covered, the hoop houses are home to crops of tomatoes, peppers, beets, summer squash and eggplant.
The second phase will add community garden plots. The partners hope over time the nature playscape, a sculpture hill with walking paths, a wetland exploration area, the education kitchen and a performance pavilion will follow.
Ervin called the plan a road map that offers the partners professional guidance on how to move the project forward and realize their vision. Mackell agreed.
“It is all very exciting,” said Mackell, who brought his wife and infant daughter to the fireworks event. “The way the project will be implemented in stages allows community members, students and faculty to be involved in different stages and to see it develop over time.”
Sheward stood by the display with fellow residents, discussing how the project might improve their quality of life.
She is excited by the possibilities but sounded a note of caution — perhaps born from the hardship of Twin Towers itself — about bringing Lincoln Hill Gardens to fruition.
“I know it will be a reality, but like every good plan it takes money and time,” Sheward said. “I just want everybody to realize that no dream is achieved overnight.”No Comments
A shorter version of this story first published in the autumn 2016 University of Dayton Magazine
His first day as the 19th president of the University of Dayton was full of that familiar UD word — “community.” On July 1, Eric F. Spina toured Kettering Labs, where students showed their research to restore the environment or repair our bodies with nanotechnology. He and his wife, Karen, attended Mass and lunch with the Marianists. He shook hands with international students and community partners. He met with faculty leaders. And he took selfies with all excited to meet the #UDNewPrez.
Spina, who served Syracuse University for 28 years, including nearly nine as vice chancellor and provost, emphasized his commitment to Catholic, Marianist traditions, engagement with the greater community, support for students and faculty, and research excellence.
He’ll be carrying those themes with him as he talks with campus, community and alumni groups during the next six months on his listening tour. What he hears will help shape the University’s strategic vision for the next 20 years.
We sat down with Spina to hear what he had to say about his first day, his family and his plans for the presidency.
Two days before you started, you joined Dan Curran and Brother Ray Fitz for a photo shoot. What do three presidents talk about when they get together?
Dan I’ve worked with closely, and he has been so gracious, warm and supportive. Brother Ray is an icon here, and to have him part of that day for me was very special. The conversation was light, and primarily we talked about their support for me and their love for the institution.
It’s fun, and so much of what we do is heavy and serious. It’s where our students and increasingly our alumni are, so I want to find ways to be accessible. I like Instagram, which I frame as “a day in the life.” I’m going to try to make it diverse enough so followers understand what a president is trying to do to make the university better.
What emoji describes your first day?
The one with the huge smile. And the one I’d put next to it is the one with the hearts in your eyes.
On your first day, the students working at RecPlex changed the music to help welcome you. What music do you like?
On my phone I have a mix with everything imaginable, from modern to some Italian tunes, but my favorites right now are Dave Matthews, Rolling Stones and Amos Lee. It needs to be heavy with a good rhythm, especially when you’re getting tired at the end of the elliptical. The Rolling Stones work especially well.
What’s the story behind the blue tie with red airplanes you wore on your first day?
It was a gift from my friend Andrew Hermalyn, executive vice president of 2U, a company that supports online education. If you look at it carefully, it goes from birds with an occasional plane to planes with an occasional bird. It’s a great tie.
A photograph from your first day in the office shows a nameplate on the desk, a coffee mug on the shelf and hardly anything else. Since then, what have you brought in to decorate, and what is its significance?
Pictures of my family, because that’s my home. I did bring in one thing from Syracuse. In 2002 I received the Chancellor’s Citation for contributions to academic programs. It came with an original piece of art, a drawing of a candle that represents this light in the world that we needed after 9-11. I was fine with leaving Syracuse University, but the relationships I had in my life at Syracuse are with me in that picture.
Why is it important that we remember UD started as a primary boarding school for 14 boys in 1850?
You said 1850 — it’s a long time ago. We’re an institution with an incredible history that we have every reason to be proud of. Those 14 boys, the graduating class we had last May of 2,108 and all those in between — there’s a web of connectivity and impact not only in Dayton, not only in Ohio, but in the country and the world. I’ve read enough and learned enough about how Blessed William Chaminade was wise enough to know that this world is always changing. As a Marianist founder, he didn’t look back but forward. That transformation from boys’ school to college, from college to research university, and from commuter to residential, those are big changes, every one of which has been absolutely right for the institution, for the region, for the country, for society. We have modeled in the past what we need to continue to do. We like who we are and we want to be better, but our call from our history is to be the disrupter. Where really do we need to be in 20 to 35 years?
We like to bike together, so we’re looking forward to hitting the trails. We like to hike. We love art, museums, history. We went to the Dayton Art Institute but also spent a few hours with Willis Bing Davis and his wife, Audrey, in their art studio in West Dayton. They are obviously talented artists but also humanitarians, givers and leaders with a humility and dignity they bring to art education and supporting youth. Art is a passion for Karen and me, and communities are important, so that was really a great two hours.
You’re trained as an aerospace engineer. What interests you?
Karen and I visited the Museum of the U.S. Air Force, and I know all the planes. My favorite is the XB-70 Valkyrie — Mach 3, heavy bomber, huge inlets, cool plane, great name. My father was born in 1925, his mother in 1896. My grandmother died not too long ago, and I think about how her life went from having never heard about the Wright brothers to aircraft that can fly halfway around the world. Change over time is really amazing, as is what we’ve done as a species in terms of harnessing technology.
What will help your children, Kaitlyn and Emery, both students at Skidmore College, feel at home in Dayton?
Karen has done it — she has created some warm, inviting, welcoming places in their new rooms with some old and some new. People here are so welcoming and supportive, so meeting them and creating those connections will be exactly what they need. And my daughter needs to find a restaurant with really good steak.
Are your children interested in becoming engineers like their parents?
No. Neither one will be a practicing artist, but they are both incredibly talented — our daughter has a minor in studio art and our son could as well. They are both more humanists and artists than they are engineers.
Name one way being trained as an aerospace engineer colors the way you see the world.
My mom was an artist, and I do rely on my gut, but whenever possible I like to see data.
Name one way being a Catholic colors the way you see the world.
The values I have around social justice come from my mom, who was a huge devotee of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton; I have The Seven Storey Mountain on my bookshelf at home. What can Catholicism do in terms of rolling up its sleeves and making a difference in the world? In small ways and large ways this has colored my view. At Syracuse, my focus on diversifying the student body and hiring deans of color and female deans was central to my frame of Catholicism.
It’s still a new coat that I’m wearing. I’m very cognizant of the fact that there are a lot of us working together, but ultimately I’m responsible for all these students. It colors my decisions of what we do, the directions we take and money that we spend. So I feel a paternal or at least avuncular responsibility for our students.
Name one way that being the son of teachers colors the way you see the world.
A lot of what we do is teaching, and there are always opportunities to teach people, to be patient and understanding of people’s context and help them in one way or another. We’re all teachers and we need to think more about how we all engage others in a teaching way.
If you could sign up for one UD class this semester, what would it be?
Presidency 101. But if it has to be a real class, I would choose art history.
What do you want to accomplish in your first 100 days as president, both professionally and personally?
Professionally, the only thing I want to accomplish is listening. I come here with an agenda to make the place better and an agenda around diversity of all kinds. But beyond that I don’t know what we should do as a university, so I want to listen. Personally, it’s connecting with people. You could say it’s the same as listening, but I’m a person who draws energy from relationships. Both Karen and I want to get to know people and people get to know us, what our values are, what we think about the University, what we want for the University.
Do you miss Dinosaur Bar-B-Que?
Have you found a substitute here?
No. I went to a Cincinnati Reds game and someone said, “This barbeque stand is the best.” And it was a ballpark and it was late in the game, but it was not Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
Do you have a favorite restaurant so far?
We’ve been stuck on Wheat Penny, which is really cool. We like Roost. Park was good. We like eclectic. There was a place back in Syracuse we went to often enough that I didn’t have to order two courses because they knew what I wanted. We’re looking for that here.
Coming from America’s Snowiest City, will you miss the snow or will you bring it with you?
I hope I’m not bringing it with me. I won’t tell you that when I was in Pittsburgh for four years, in New Jersey for five years, or in Washington, D.C., for a year, they all set records for snow. Once upon a time, I actually went to the record books and counted how much snow I had lived through. It was an astonishing amount. So I hope I’m not bringing the snow with me.