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Riding the ‘coaching carousel’

2:59 PM  Jun 10th, 2011
by Shannon Shelton Miller

The window of time for hiring a men’s basketball coach is much smaller than what one could expect for any other University position.

While searches for new deans and faculty members can take months, one week is about all the time an athletics director might get to hire a basketball coach.

Any longer than that means that few — if any — of a school’s desired candidates will be available and valuable recruiting time is lost.

With that in mind, Athletics Director Tim Wabler began the search for Brian Gregory’s successor Monday, March 28, and hired a coach six days later. Throughout the process, University President Daniel J. Curran was updated continually.

The University developed the framework for this process in the mid-1990s working with the human resources division. The process has been used to hire the last three men’s basketball coaches and one women’s basketball coach.

“Because all these jobs open up at the same time and we have a high-profile job and we’re talking with high-profile coaches, there are a number of jobs being discussed and filled simultaneously,” Wabler said. “Time is of the essence.”


March 28 — Brian Gregory leaves Dayton to become head coach at Georgia Tech.

March 29 — Wabler and assistant athletics director Dave Harper leave for Houston, the site of the 2011 Final Four. They have a list of five to seven candidates, and interviews take place there.

March 30 — Wabler interviews Archie Miller at a Houston hotel. “Archie just jumped off the page,” Wabler said.

April 1 — Wabler and Miller have a follow-up conversation. Curran, who is on a University-related trip to China, talks with Miller by phone.

April 2 — The UD search team flies to Cincinnati and meets with Miller for a final time and offers him the job.

April 3 —The University introduces Miller as the Flyers new men’s basketball coach.

This article is a sidebar to our Summer 2011 feature story, “Strong Suit.”

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Strong suit

2:55 PM  Jun 10th, 2011
by Shannon Shelton Miller

Archie Miller has high expectations for himself, his players and Flyer basketball. Which is good, because the Flyer Faithful do, too.

Archie Miller’s flight was scheduled for 7:15 a.m.

At that hour, passengers tend to range from caffeine-fueled, suit-clad executives on a short hop to a regional business meeting to bleary-eyed leisure travelers not quite ready to face the morning. Then there was Miller, just a few days into his new job as the men’s basketball coach at the University of Dayton, on a recruiting trip.

So much had changed in Miller’s life during those few weeks that the flights he took then all seem to run together, so much that when he told this story a month later, he didn’t remember exactly where he was going.

But he remembered the woman who was alert enough to notice his UD windbreaker and ask him whether he was the new Flyers coach. Miller replied that yes, indeed he was.

She started clapping.

“Wow,” Miller said he thought to himself. “Is it like this all the time?”

For a few more months, at least, it will be. Miller’s effectiveness on the sidelines will ultimately determine how long these halcyon days continue through his tenure at Dayton, but his reception in his first few months here continually reminds him of the magnitude of the role he accepted in early April.

“It’s been overwhelming in terms of the support,” Miller said. “It’s obviously something you hear about — the University of Dayton, its basketball program, its community and great fan base, but I don’t think I even understood the amount of attention that our program gets or a coach in the community gets. I’m learning on the fly what a big deal this place is.

“The people know who you are and know what you’re supposed to be doing. All eyes are on us.”

Since the University hired Miller April 3 to replace Brian Gregory, who departed to take the head coaching position at Georgia Tech a week earlier, he has inherited the hopes and dreams of a fan base continually envisioning bigger and better outcomes for the program than what it’s experienced in recent years.

Right from the start, Miller has said all of the right things, peppering his introductory press conference with talk of competing for conference championships and winning a fair share of them. His words also provided a measure of satisfaction for a group frustrated by frequent National Invitation Tournament bids and twice-per-decade NCAA Tournament appearances — maybe this guy would be the coach who’d make the Flyers a regular presence on CBS in March.

Although Flyer fans have, by nature, been more expressive about their desires for the program, their expectations don’t differ much from those of the University administration.

“He’s got a plan,” said Athletics Director Tim Wabler. “He really understands the challenge here at Dayton and what it would take to come from where we are right now — a team that isn’t in the postseason every year — to moving it forward so we can be in the NCAA more often than not. He wanted to confront that challenge head on. That just jumped out at me. He believes it can be done.”

It’s Miller’s first job as a head coach, and at age 32, he is one of the youngest coaches in Division I men’s basketball. As a newcomer to the head coaching fraternity, he knows he’ll hear comparisons to leaders more than twice his age and will become accustomed to seeing his name accompanied by adjectives like “doe-eyed,” “youthful” and “baby-faced” as the 2011-12 season draws closer.

His previous employer insists, though, that “inexperienced” should not be one of the terms used to describe Archie Miller: “His experience can’t be quantified in how many years he’s coached and how old he is. He’s worked for so many great coaches and in so many good places. He has a unique perspective on the game and understands how to win.”

That endorsement came unprompted from one Sean Miller, the current Arizona Wildcats coach, the former Flyers foil as the head coach at Xavier and, yes, Archie’s older brother. Archie was an assistant coach with the Wildcats during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons and was part of the staff that coached the Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

A look at Archie’s coaching résumé backs Sean’s recommendation. Archie’s coached in three “power” conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 — worked for four widely respected coaches and developed valuable recruiting connections at each institution.

But Archie Miller’s story begins long before Arizona or his previous stint at Ohio State with another former Xavier coach, Thad Matta. It pre-dates his lengthy tutelage as an assistant with his own college coach, Herb Sendek, and his days as a college basketball player.

It starts at a high school outside Pittsburgh, where one man made the Miller name synonymous with success.

‘Always sort of an ornery little guy’

There are families of doctors, families of attorneys and families of educators.

At the Miller home in Beaver Falls, Pa., basketball was the family business.

When John Miller retired in 2005 at age 62 after 35 years coaching boys basketball at Blackhawk High School, his résumé included a 657-280 career win-loss record, state championships in 1992, 1995, 1996 and 1999, and eight Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League titles in its classification. For 21 consecutive seasons, Blackhawk was a fixture in the state playoffs, and the program went 104-29 in postseason play.

John Miller and his wife, Barb, had four children, Sean, Dana, Ryan and Lisa. Of the 40-plus players Miller sent to college basketball programs through his work at Blackhawk or other coaching experiences, Sean, Ryan and Lisa have made him the most proud. Dana, the second-oldest of his four children, didn’t catch the basketball bug but was a skilled high school tennis player.

As for the third child, only Barb, Dana and Lisa use the name “Ryan” when referring to him. He’s “Archie” to the men in his family, his wife Morgan and everyone else he’s encountered in his basketball career.

It’s a nod to the crotchety nature of the Archie Bunker character in the 1970s television sitcom All in the Family, as John Miller said that Ryan was “always sort of an ornery little guy.” The nickname stuck, and that’s the reason why the Flyer Faithful will cheer for Archie, or “Arch,” despite his possession of a driver’s license that reads “Ryan Joseph Miller.”

That ornery little guy enjoyed being around his father and Sean, who’s 10 years older, when they went to the gym, and John took Archie along when he traveled to coach at clinics across the region. Archie carried the bag of basketballs and other equipment for his father, and as his reward for being such a good helper, he earned a front-row seat to watch the winning process in action.

Sean, at 6-foot-3, left Blackhawk High to become one of the most popular players in University of Pittsburgh history and from there began taking the steps that would help him launch a successful coaching career. Although also a point guard, Archie was smaller at 5-foot-9, a measurement that created more adversity as he attempted to follow a similar path.

It might have been a blessing in disguise.

“He was undersized, so when he began to play, he became sort of that tough-nosed player that battled for everything,” John Miller said. “He’s always had that bit of aggressiveness. I don’t think losing ever enters his mind.”

As Blackhawk High’s point guard, Archie led the Cougars to back-to-back state titles in 1995 and 1996, his sophomore and junior years. That’s two more state titles than Sean can claim.

College coaches were noticing. Herb Sendek, a Pittsburgh native who attended rival Penn Hills High School in the 1970s and early ’80s, was well acquainted with the Miller family through the high school and Amateur Athletic Union coaching circuits. He attempted to recruit Sean in the late 1980s when he was an assistant coach at Providence College in Rhode Island.

In 1994, Sendek snagged his first head coaching position, getting the call at age 30 to lead the Miami (Ohio) program. Sendek hired Sean Miller to his RedHawks staff, and two years later he moved south, taking over at North Carolina State.

Sendek hired Sean again as an assistant and recruited Archie to play for the Wolfpack. Sean was there for most of his brother’s college career, leaving after the 2001 season to become an assistant at Xavier.

For Archie, the connection with Sendek was the beginning of a relationship that would transcend its initial incarnation as coach-player and eventually become one of professional colleagues and even friendly rivals when Sendek landed at Arizona State and Archie became an assistant on Sean’s staff at Arizona.

“Basketball was coded in Archie’s DNA,” Sendek said. “He grew up with it day in and day out. I have great respect for him. He was a self-made Atlantic Coast Conference player who overcame a lot and did it through hard work. He was one of the best shooters I’ve ever had the chance to coach.”

Going coast to coast

Morgan Cruse, a track and field and cross-country athlete, arrived at N.C. State in 1999. Before she enrolled, she and her father Steve visited the school. Steve Cruse noticed Archie shooting in the gym and said hello.

Morgan and Archie were connected long before they met, although they didn’t know it at the time. John Miller played baseball at Pfeiffer College in Salisbury, N.C., for a man who also coached Steve Cruse’s American Legion baseball squad.

Steve Cruse told his daughter, “I think I met the guy you’re gonna date next year.”

Morgan brushed off the comment, but soon after her arrival on campus as a student, one of Archie’s teammates arranged a blind date between the two. She called her father and told him she was going on a date. With “Arch.”

“See, I told you so,” he said.

Father knew best. Morgan and Archie Miller will celebrate eight years of marriage Aug. 30.

As an athlete herself, Morgan understood the demands of Archie’s schedule. She was a supportive presence as Archie completed a productive collegiate career that ended with a 2002 NCAA Tournament berth. From 1998-2002, he had 218 career 3-pointers, third-best in Wolfpack history, and a career 42.8 percent 3-point average, ranking him sixth all-time. Archie is ranked second on the school’s all-time free-throw percentage list (84.6 percent) and holds the second-best 3-point field goal percentage for one season, making 59 of 102 (57.5 percent) of his attempts during the 2000-01 season.

Near the end of his college career, Archie began to consider his options for the future. His days as a basketball player would end at N.C. State, but Archie decided not to leave the game behind entirely.

He was going to join the family business.

“It just seemed like a natural progression to get into coaching,” Archie said. “It’s one of the things I like to do … one of the strengths I’ve always had was being able to communicate and teach the game. When you’re around a coach every day of your life, you learn to talk like him, think like him, you see the game like him.”

His position as a point guard also helped him make the transition.

“Being a perimeter player/point guard, you see the game like a coach,” he said. “You’re a coach on the floor. When I got into coaching, it was seamless in terms of what I knew was going on.”

He was a coaching intern under Sendek at N.C. State for the 2002-03 season and became director of basketball operations at Western Kentucky under Darrin Horn in 2003-04. Sendek brought Archie back to N.C. State the following season, hiring him as a full-time assistant coach. Morgan and Archie welcomed a daughter, Leah Grace, in 2004.

When Sendek left N.C. State at the end of the 2005-06 season, he moved west to become head coach at Arizona State. He again added Archie to his staff, and the young couple spent the 2006-07 season in Tempe, Ariz.

Archie returned to the Midwest the next season to work for Ohio State coach Thad Matta, who had been a Sendek assistant at Miami. Matta became Xavier’s head coach in 2001, hired Sean Miller as an assistant and shared an office with him. When Matta left for Columbus in 2004, Sean earned a promotion and snagged his first head coaching position.

Archie thought that coaching in Ohio would help expand his recruiting base and expose him to the style of play in a different conference under yet another coach considered to be a young, rising star. With Matta’s connection to Sendek and his brother Sean, Ohio State was an easy choice for Archie.
He made an impact with the Buckeyes immediately, Matta said.

“You just knew he had ‘it,’” Matta said. “I love the fact that when he came to Ohio State, he hit the ground running. It was like he had been here for three years. His ability to read people and communicate with them is one of his strengths. He didn’t need much direction from me.”

Archie and Morgan also saw Columbus as part of a longer-term plan. With a young family and closer proximity to family in Pittsburgh and North Carolina, the idea of settling in the Midwest for a few years was quite appealing.

“As we got married and started getting into the early years, I think we all understood that early on we were going to try to make some moves,” Morgan said. “I think that every place we’ve ever been, though, we felt like we’d be there for a while and ended up not being there for a while.”

Two seasons later, the coaching carousel began spinning again in the state of Arizona, this time at the University of Arizona. When it stopped in 2009, that school announced the hiring of Sean Miller as its new head coach.

It was a potentially risky move for Sean, considering that the Wildcats program had completed a tumultuous two-season stretch with two interim coaches, and fans in Tucson wanted a long-term leader who would return the program to its glory days under legendary coach Lute Olson, who led the team to four Final Fours and an NCAA Championship in 1997.

When it was time for Sean to assemble his staff, he picked up the phone and placed a call to Columbus.

‘He’s not a bad guy’

From 2004-09, Sean Miller was Enemy No. 1 in Dayton, continuing Xavier’s decades-long winning record over the Flyers in Cincinnati and sending the Flyer Faithful home in frustration from UD Arena twice during his five years as the Musketeers head coach.

Archie jokingly alluded to the family connection during his introductory press conference at Dayton, saying his brother and former boss “wasn’t a bad guy.”

And now, Sean Miller is a Dayton fan.

“I have the utmost respect for Dayton and its program,” Sean said. “I’m going to cheer as hard as I can for them.”

Even when the Flyers play Xavier.

Those tough nights at UD Arena in the mid-2000s left such an impression on Sean that he asked his brother for a favor when he got on
Dayton’s campus: Go see the pep band director who plays the saxophone for the national anthem, associate music professor Willie Morris III.

“(Sean) felt like it was the most awesome thing he’d ever seen,” Archie said.

If Sean had his way, Archie would have been working with him much earlier. He tried to get Archie on his staff at Xavier, but the school had a nepotism policy that prohibited such hires.

With no such issue at Arizona, Sean extended an offer to his brother in April 2009, and once again, Archie and Morgan were back in the desert.
“Personally and professionally, I felt like if I didn’t do it, I would regret it,” Archie said. “So I made the move, and it turned out for the best for everyone. It was a unique opportunity.”

Said Sean: “Arch didn’t have to come to Arizona. He was in a great place with Thad Matta and doing a great job recruiting. He came because he wanted to help me. I appreciate the fact he came out here in the first place.”

Sean and Archie were always close despite their 10-year age gap, but their relationship often resembled a mentor-student collaboration, especially when Sean worked as an assistant at N.C. State.

On the positive side, the age gap prevented the usual manifestations of sibling rivalry from sprouting and eventually led to the strong working relationship the two developed at Arizona.

“Ten years older is a lot older, especially in sports,” Archie said. “When I was coming up as a youngster, he was playing at Pitt as a basketball player. When he gets out of college and I’m coming up through junior high and high school, he was a college coach. To me, he’s always been my brother, but at the same time, he’s always been a mentor and a guy you want to take after.”

The Wildcats finished with a 16-15 record in the Millers’ first year. The team failed to make the NCAA Tournament that season, breaking a 25-year streak of NCAA appearances, the longest in Division I at that time. It was the proverbial rebuilding season, but one that laid the foundation for one of the biggest turnarounds for a college basketball program in 2010-11.

Arizona won the Pac-10 regular season title and sophomore Derrick Williams, now a projected top-5 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, won the Pac-10 Player of the Year award. Shortly before the postseason, it was Williams who made a particularly prescient comment to the Associated Press about Archie’s coaching prowess.

“I think sometimes Archie tries to take over, but Coach (Sean) Miller has his own opinions,” Williams said. “Sometimes they headbutt each other, but they’re two great coaches and they always end up doing what’s best for the team.”

In the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Arizona earned a No. 5 seed. The Wildcats beat Memphis and Texas in the first two rounds to advance to the Sweet 16 and play reigning national champion Duke.

The next weekend was one of the more memorable experiences for the extended Miller clan. Arizona throttled top-seeded Duke in spectacular fashion, a win that Morgan Miller said she savored even more than usual as an N.C. State grad.

Arizona fans reveled in the 93-77 victory. Morgan told Leah Grace that they were going to Disneyland since Arizona was playing in the West Regional in Anaheim, Calif. Sean was the new hero in Tucson, and once again, Archie played a significant role in a program’s success.

The Wildcats came two points from making the Final Four, losing, 65-63, to eventual champion Connecticut in the Elite Eight. But it was a magical season nonetheless, as Arizona finished the year with a 30-8 record and the Millers looked forward to greater things to come.

“To be out there at the same time, inheriting something that was really bleak and, in a short 24 months, turning it into something that wasn’t so bleak anymore, it was really an awesome turnaround,” Archie said. “Sometimes the process is more gratifying than actually winning the games.”

Although Archie didn’t coach the Wildcats in the Final Four in Houston the next week, he still made the trip to Texas for what would be a life-changing experience.

Moving again

Morgan sensed that her family’s life would be changing after that weekend in Anaheim. Call it a coach’s wife’s intuition.

She had settled into life in Tucson, made new friends and found a school that she and Leah Grace equally adored. Arizona was again one of the “it” teams in college basketball, and Sean’s success ensured that his staff of assistants didn’t have to worry about job security in the near future.

But Morgan knew from experience that top assistants at those “it” programs were often the first ones a school looking for a young and hungry head coach sought out, and Archie fit the bill as well as any.

“As any college basketball wife would tell you, that’s when you feel in your gut that something’s going to happen,” she said.

It happened when they had gotten comfortable with Columbus and Sean called his brother to offer him a job in Arizona. It happened during their first stint in the Grand Canyon State, after Archie decided to leave Sendek and Arizona State behind to go to Ohio State.

In Dayton, Wabler said Archie was on the short list of coaches he’d compiled at the start of the season in case the Flyers found themselves in need of a new head coach by the end of the year — especially if Gregory parlayed the Flyers 2010 NIT championship into an NCAA Tournament berth.

Although that didn’t happen and the Flyers season ended with a first-round NIT exit, Georgia Tech came calling anyway for Gregory, and Wabler prepared to hire a new coach.

Days after Arizona’s victory over Duke and the near-miss against Connecticut, Archie was eating dinner with Wabler in Houston, talking about his plan for the Flyers. In order to keep the process as private as possible, the two met Wednesday, March 30, at a hotel far from the official coaches’ lodging in Houston. They met again Saturday, April 2, in Cincinnati to finalize the process.

Archie called his wife that night and told her to get to Dayton. Morgan and Leah Grace drove more than two hours to Phoenix to catch a flight, and on Sunday afternoon, they watched with pride at UD Arena as Wabler announced that Archie Miller was the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Dayton.

Ready to fly

Miller said he never envisioned the exact age at which he’d become a head coach, although the idea became more of a reality after his stints at Ohio State and Arizona.

“I think you start thinking about it a little more and feel you’re probably ready,” Miller said. “I was never the guy who worked at a place and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to be a head coach at 32.’ That was never my goal. My goal was to have an opportunity to get a head coaching position and, when I got it, I’d be ready. I didn’t know when it would come or where it would be, but I know this. I’m at a great place, and I couldn’t be more excited to be the head coach here and represent this place.”

If anything, the recent success of head coaches born during the Jimmy Carter administration might make an early 30-something a hot commodity. The 2011 Final Four featured two such examples — Butler’s Brad Stevens (1976) and Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart (1977). The latter coach’s path went through Dayton, as Smart served as the Flyers’ director of basketball operations from 2001-03.

Neither bolted for Bowl Championship Series conference programs during the offseason, sending the message that conference affiliation matters little for a young coach looking to build a program and stick around to see it grow.

Miller plans to run an up-tempo offense, dryly noting that no coach worth his salt would ever boast that his team would be slow and plodding on the court.

“We’re going to play fast, play with a lot of movement on offense,” Miller said. “I want our guys to learn how to play. I want them to be taught how to play, I want them to develop and, as they get older, I want them to be able to branch and grow into their roles.”

Defensively, the Flyers will be a “man-to-man” program, as Miller has no intention of abandoning the blue-collar mentality embraced by the coaches with Western Pennsylvania roots that mentored him as a player and coach.

“We’re gonna be tough-minded,” Miller said. “To win championships at the highest level, which is what we’re trying to do, we have to be a team that’s based on defense.”

Off the court, Miller also spoke of maintaining the program’s high academic standards and strong graduation rate. UD has graduated every men’s basketball senior but one since 1979 and ranks in the NCAA’s Top 10 in Academic Progress.

“We are about the highest standards of excellence when we’re operating and representing the University of Dayton,” Miller said during his press conference. “Our degree is as prominent and powerful as any in the country. Our young men who come in here and achieve their degree will have a weapon for life. They’re not going to leave unprepared and unable to attack the real world when the ball stops bouncing.”

Miller’s work began immediately, and he spent his first month hiring a staff of assistants, visiting recruits that had committed under Gregory — and in some cases, had reopened those commitments to consider other schools — and working to bring new recruits into the fold.

The requisite rounds of media interviews have been ongoing, and in August, Miller will lead the current players on a pre-scheduled tour of Europe, giving him a chance to bond with his new charges in a unique atmosphere.

Morgan is handling the house hunting and school scouting for Leah Grace, who will enter first grade this fall. As adept as she is at the process, Morgan hopes this will be the time when she and her family get to stay in a community for much longer than a year or two.

Flyer fans and supporters certainly echo that sentiment.

Reaction in the rough-and-tumble online chat world has been generally positive, even though a few concerns have surfaced about Miller’s relative youth and lack of head coaching experience. John Miller, Archie’s father, said he’s surveyed the sports blogosphere and message-board land, and has seen a few references to his son’s possible “Napoleon complex.”

He smiles at the description. Knowing his son, the ornery little guy who was always cranky, always fighting and always showing his mettle, John Miller is confident those Flyers fans won’t be disappointed in the product his son puts on the court this winter.

“I think Arch is that type of guy,” John Miller said. “You don’t have a wet-noodle type of guy over there. He’s not gonna back off. He’s going to go for the jugular.”

Shannon Shelton Miller joined the staff of the University’s communications office in December. She was previously a sportswriter at the Detroit Free Press, where she covered Big Ten football and basketball, and at the Orlando Sentinel. She looks forward to her first UD men’s basketball game this season.

Archie Miller is only the sixth head coach in the last 64 years of Dayton men’s basketball. Here are the other five:

• Tom Blackburn, 1947-64, 352-141, 10 NITs (1962 NIT Champion), 1 NCAA

• Don Donoher, 1964-89, 437-275, 8 NCAAs, 7 NITs (1968 NIT Champion)

• Jim O’Brien, 1989-94, 61-87, 1 NCAA

• Oliver Purnell, 1994-2003,155-116, 2 NCAAs, 3 NITs

• Brian Gregory, 2003-11, 125-68, 2 NCAAs, 3 NITs (2010 NIT Champion)

From 1903, Dayton’s first basketball season, to 1947, the Flyers had 13 head coaches, including Harry Baujan from 1923-28. The team had no coach from 1903-09.

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Happiness is …

1:47 PM  Jun 10th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

“Are you happy?” You probably don’t hear that question very often.

What about, “How are you?” You’ve probably heard that already today, that polite question we use to greet strangers and friends alike. But these “how are you” exchanges don’t really tell us any more about happiness than today’s weather tells us about the season. Sometimes it snows in July, after all.

But, “Are you happy?” Now, that’s a different, deeper question, the kind you save for after all the other guests have left the party, when you’re settling in for the wee hours with a dear, old friend. In the act of taking stock — of wandering through longings and joys, through sadnesses, setbacks, and moments of revelation and accomplishment — there is an intimacy that begets further love and friendship. I could ask any acquaintance or stranger, “How are you?” But, “Are you happy?” — that’s something I’d ask only a real friend.

The human desire for happiness is nothing new, of course. Questions about what it is and how to attain it stretch at least as far back as Aristotle and the ancient Stoics, who each had their own answers. UD professor Jack Bauer is one of a group of current social scientists applying the scientific method to the study of happiness, and in this issue he offers some of what he and his colleagues have learned. Bauer’s research, and his story here, focuses on stories — how the ways in which we make sense of the facts
and experiences of our lives affect our happiness.

Though the research is complex, the conclusions might not surprise you. While a multibillion-dollar marketing industry works 24/7 to persuade us that the things it’s selling will make us happier, Bauer’s research points to head-scratchingly obvious advice we all too often forget: Look for experiences that help you change and grow. Do things on behalf of others. Spend time doing what you enjoy with friends and family you love. All easier said than done with the pressures and expectations of our lives, not to mention our immersion in a culture of buy-more-stuff-now. But if you can funnel out the noise and pull it off, you increase your chances of finding more happiness, more often.

And isn’t that advice another way of talking about what we often call “community” at UD? Years after walking in the graduation line, what remains with alumni across generations, more than anything, are people and experiences. Tossing a football on the KU lawn. Getting that concept down before the exam or that scholarship letter in the mail. Figuring out coin-operated laundry machines. Going on that retreat or planning that charity 5K. Fending off crushes and falling in real love. Finding the friends still with us today.

Bauer might call those stories of growth. We call it UD.

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Front porch to the world

1:46 PM  Jun 10th, 2011
by President Daniel J. Curran

Because of a project that’s transforming a block along Brown and Caldwell streets, a premed major from Chicago could be rooming with an engineering student from Shanghai in eye-catching townhouse-style apartments by fall 2012.

Lawrence Kondowe knows what it’s like to share his porch in the student neighborhood with students from across the country — and the world.

“I’m from Malawi, Africa, and found a home away from home at the University of Dayton,” Lawrence said this spring at the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony for the new housing project. “And I’m not alone. I met more friends than I ever imagined. It’s one big community on this campus.”

I’ve heard that sentiment many times before. Whether students come to the University of Dayton from Boston or Beirut, they experience the Marianist spirit of hospitality from the moment they step foot on campus.

In today’s global higher education marketplace, we are better poised than many universities to embrace a shrinking world and make our mark in it. This fall, we will welcome the largest influx of international students in school history, including more than 200 Chinese students. At the same time, we are sending growing numbers of students abroad to help prepare them for the world they’ll face.

Today’s world is interconnected, and a global outlook has become a prerequisite for many careers. That’s why we are encouraging students to travel outside their comfort zones into new time zones. We want our students to bring not just cell phones to campus but to pack their passports, too.

Because we partner with universities and Marianist communities around the globe, it’s not unusual to find University of Dayton students immersed in cultures thousands of miles from campus.

This summer in Leipzig in the former East Germany, students are visiting wind farms, studying sustainability issues and evaluating “green” initiatives. Engineering students through ETHOS are working on a wastewater treatment project on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Claire and I established a scholarship fund that is helping 15 students study in Africa, South America and Europe this summer. Two other students received prestigious Fulbright scholarships to teach English in Korea and Mexico. Others have received Learn, Lead, Serve grants that fund their international experiences because they know employers value candidates who are comfortable and competent in other cultures.

Our faculty are becoming citizens of the world, too. In May, some retraced Blessed William Joseph Chaminade’s footsteps along cobbled streets in Bordeaux, France, as they visited the oratory where Chaminade hid priests during the French Revolution and other holy Marianist sites. Over the academic year, professors from varied disciplines — engineering technology and music therapy to visual arts and philosophy — studied Chinese history, culture and current events. For three weeks this spring, they traveled throughout China, developing ways to advance the University’s internationalization through new courses, partnerships and research opportunities.

We are immersing faculty in the world they’re preparing their students to enter. And like their students, they will be profoundly changed by the experience.

As the University of Dayton transforms itself into a global university, the world has become our classroom.

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Tampa Bay

3:26 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Kristin Daugherty ’11

When Tampa Bay alumni named Jim Sirak ’79 their new chapter president, he immediately wanted to focus on promoting a fun atmosphere.

And his system worked — just one year into his presidency Tampa Bay was awarded Chapter of the Year by the National Alumni Association.

“I was shocked,” Sirak said of the honor. “I don’t feel like we do anything exceptional or unusual, but I always try to hear the leadership council and hold as many events for as many people as possible.”

The chapter was singled out for soliciting and incorporating feedback from local alumni and best practices from alumni chapters around the country.

But, Sirak would say, that’s how Tampa Bay has been doing it for years.

For the past 11 years, former chapter president Joe Daum ’85 has been in charge of the annual golf outing at MacDill Air Force Base. This year, the chapter has decided to make it a charity event and give the proceeds to the Sidney School for Autism.

Another event the chapter always looks forward to is its annual Day at the Races at Tampa Bay Downs. Tampa Bay Downs is the only thoroughbred racetrack on the west coast of Florida, and the chapter has been attending races there for more than 10 years.

“We get to enjoy a lunch buffet and also have a race named after us — the University of Dayton Stakes Race,” Sirak said. “Several alumni are always invited down to have their picture taken in the winner’s circle, and we always have a great time.”

This February, President Daniel J. Curran traveled to Tampa Bay. From the headquarters of Valpak at an event hosted by Jim Sampey’82, chief operating officer at Cox Target Media, Curran updated the chapter on campus projects using recently taken aerial photos. He also stayed after to enjoy the men’s basketball gamewatch versus St. Bonaventure.

“It’s one thing for the University to try and relay information, but it’s another for the president to come down and do it himself,” Sirak said.

“Dayton knows how to treat its alumni chapters right,” Daum added.

Top Tampa Bay attractions

1. Minor league baseball Ball caps, hot dogs and peanuts are the perfect combination for a sunny afternoon watching the Clearwater Threshers, a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, located just outside Tampa Bay.

2. Bay Palms Golf Complex Join the alumni at their annual golf outing at MacDill Air Force Base, home to two 18-hole, par 72 courses and beautiful tropical weather.

3. Ybor City Affectionately known by some alumni as “the Oregon District on steroids,” Ybor City is an original Cuban neighborhood full of a variety of cuisines, night music and red brick buildings — a refreshing change of pace from the sandy beaches.

4. Tampa Bay Downs Visit the only thoroughbred racetrack on the west coast of Florida and one of America’s oldest racetracks. Join our alumni each March for their annual Day at the Races.

5. The Straz Center This performing arts center has a leading Broadway series, produces grand operas and presents a variety of concerts, performances and events frequently attended by Tampa Bay alumni.

For information about the National Alumni Association and your local alumni chapter, visit the alumni website.

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How to keep ’em coming back for more

3:19 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Matthew Dewald

Amanda Pfriem ’11 is the marketing manager at Flyer Enterprises’ ArtStreet Café division, which pulled in more than $180,000 in revenue last fiscal year selling paninis, wraps and more. Her tips for getting customers in the door:

1. Solitaire is a card game, not a strategy Pfriem relies on a team of marketing volunteers for ideas, legwork and energy. They come from different majors, and she plays to their strengths. When new additions made the menu impossible to navigate, for example, she turned to three art students for a major redesign.

2. Be neighborly Pfriem’s core customer base lives within one or two blocks of the café. She regularly sends her marketing team “Ghettostorming,” blanketing the south student neighborhood with coupons, fliers and other promotions.

3. Don’t reinvent the wheel Tried-and-true methods won’t win innovation awards, but if they work, why quibble? The café’s buy-10-get-one-free punch cards, afternoon happy hour specials and such keep customers coming back for the best deals.

4. Let nature take its course Is there anything more beautiful than a college campus on a spring day? When the weather’s nice, the staff throws open the doors and turns up the music. Creature comforts like hot cocoa dominate winter marketing.

5. Get back to basics Pfriem’s real secret weapons aren’t so secret: great customer service, positive attitudes and an upbeat staff. “We want people to feel good when they’re here,” she said. “We have regulars, and we know their orders.” And that keeps them coming back.

You can follow ArtStreet Café on twitter @artstreetcafe.

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How to sing in front of 8 million people

3:12 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Shannon Shelton Miller

If first-year music education major Emily Gatlin had missed her very first University class — an 8 a.m. course, no less — her professor might have understood. She and members of Eleventh Hour, an a cappella group at Kettering (Ohio) Fairmont High School, had just spent 2 ½ weeks in Los Angeles competing in the NBC reality show The Sing Off.

The group lasted two episodes, and Gatlin was back in time for that first class with tips for anyone who wants to sing in front of a crowd — even if it’s just the 10 people at your local karaoke bar:

1. Find that happy place You might be trying to entertain a crowd, but you can’t worry too much about it. “I don’t think about all of the people out in the audience,” Gatlin said. “I’m just somewhere else when I’m singing.”

2. Fake it ’til you make it It’s okay to be nervous, Gatlin said, but if you project an air of confidence, no one will notice your jitters. “You learn to just smile, especially when you know you’re on camera.”

3. More on that smiling thing Gatlin said that when her friends watched the show, they spotted her easily because of the big grin on her face. “Some people would be making faces, and I would be like, ‘Whee! I’m on national television!’”

4. Be prepared “Don’t go to your audition not knowing what to expect,” she said. “In our case, it was to have three songs prepared. We drilled those three songs so we knew them like the backs of our hands.”

5. Hook ’em Highlight your unique qualities. The other groups on the show consisted of professionals or college students, so Eleventh Hour used its youth to its advantage. One judge called the group the “real life version of Glee,” in reference to the Fox program about a high school choir.

Missed The Sing Off and want to hear more? Eleventh Hour records a CD each year that’s available on iTunes. The latest is called Electrify. Videos of the group’s performances can be found at http://www.nbc.com/sing-off/.

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Engineering an innovative education

2:52 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Kristen Wicker ’98

Through a gift, one entrepreneur is making sure others have the same opportunities to innovate that he had.

“There are so many things that are part of business success, whether you’re running a business or focusing on being an engineer,” said O. Jack Anderson ’54. “I didn’t come to UD to be a marketing man or an accountant. I came here to be an engineer. But I found I needed to know about these issues for business success.”

Anderson, a business graduate, founded CAD/CAM Inc. in Dayton. For many years, the company offered an apprenticeship program in which students attended school while working at CAD/CAM nearly every workday. The program helped give students an understanding of business and entrepreneurship, Anderson said.

Now, he and his wife, Opal Anderson ’81, are enhancing a program named by a national foundation as “best-in-class in project-based engineering innovation education.” The Andersons’ gift of more than $600,000 will endow the O. Jack and Opal Anderson Faculty Fellowship in Engineering Innovation. The new fellow will lead the growing partnership between the School of Engineering and the School of Business Administration to prepare students to better design products for society. The position also will work to provide additional entrepreneurial and product design learning experiences Universitywide.

The Andersons have long believed in supporting education at the University of Dayton. In 2003, they provided $60,000 in seed money to launch innovation and design projects through the Design and Manufacturing Clinic, the predecessor to today’s Innovation Center. They have also supported service learning and community building through the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.

Jack Anderson’s own time at UD exposed him to the business world, as he attended classes by day and worked as an apprentice toolmaker at night. He also earned an MBA from UD in 1965. Anderson represented small businesses on President Gerald Ford’s education committee to provide input on what students needed to be successful in industry after graduation.

“I’d like to see students have a broader, more entrepreneurial view of engineering or whatever business they go into,” he said.

The engineering innovation program addresses that. The endowed professor will enhance existing programs by coordinating with faculty from numerous disciplines to build on current successes — all intended to give students a better understanding of business and entrepreneurship. The Andersons hope this, in turn, will provide students with the kind of experiences they’ve had.

“Jack credits UD for allowing him to start a business and advance in the business world,” Opal Anderson said. “His UD education really opened up opportunities.”

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Another summer in Appalachia

2:48 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Maureen Schlangen

One night last October, economics graduate Matt Lambiase ’88 awakened with UD on his mind. He sent an e-mail and asked, “Do you still have the Summer Appalachia Program?”

Yes, indeed, said Nick Cardilino, director of campus ministry’s Center for Social Concern. For the past 46 summers, campus ministry has sent up to 14 UD students to Salyersville, Ky., to run a youth day camp, staff a teen center, visit the elderly and grow in faith as they serve others in the Marianist tradition.

Students raise funds all year for their room and board while preparing academically, socially and spiritually for the nine-week experience, said Brother Tom Pieper, S.M., a campus minister who oversees the program.

Lambiase, president of Chimera Investment Corp. in New York City, sent a check the next day — enough to endow a scholarship fund and cover a portion of the program’s utilities, food and materials for the summer of 2011.

While work prevented Lambiase from joining the program as a student, he recognized its importance. “This is my way to participate now,” he said.

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The subfloor of tradition

2:35 PM  Mar 8th, 2011
by Thomas M. Columbus

Today’s Arena playing floor is not your grandfather’s hardwood. And that’s one reason why, on Dec. 6, 1969, when the Arena saw its first Flyers’ game, the court was not wood.

It was Tartan, a name derived not from a plaid of red and blue but more likely associated with Scotch tape, a product of 3M, the maker of the floor.

“When the UD players came to the Arena for their first practice, they beamed — not just at the Arena itself, but at the floor,” says Don Donoher ’54, who spent his playing career on the Fieldhouse floor before coaching the Flyers to a record 437 victories.

The Fieldhouse (now the Frericks Center) may have been a legendary venue, but its floor was, Donoher remembers, “shin splints waiting to happen.”

The Tartan floor, made of a rubbery plastic compound, was, however, resilient. It also gave the ball a truer bounce than many wood floors.

The quality of Tartan was not the only reason it was the Arena’s original floor, remembers Donoher. Danger of flooding made a permanent wooden floor impractical; lack of storage made a moveable floor an impossibility. That changed after the Flyers made a run in the 1984 NCAA tournament, finishing in the Elite Eight and benefitting financially. Athletic director Tom Frericks was able to excavate space for the dual purpose of a media room and storage for a wood floor, installed for the 1985-86 season.

Today the Arena’s floor has the traditional look of wood but, unlike old-time floors, also gives truer bounces and fewer shin splints.

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