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Alumni profile ’93: Ready for her close-up

8:54 AM  Jul 18th, 2017
by Jeaneen Parsons

As president of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Susan Zech ’93 has seen many thespians preparing for close-ups. The boutique college with campuses in New York and Los Angeles counts among its alumni Robert Redford, Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Kirk Douglas, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, to name a few from its 132-year history.

“I consider it a privilege to lead an institution I so wholeheartedly believe in,” Zech said. “It’s a joy to do work that honors an important legacy and advances a mission I really care about. Actors are vital to our civilization. Art heals. Inspires. It holds a mirror up to society and helps audiences understand the human condition. What could be more thrilling?”

Zech wears many hats — strategist, problem solver, consensus builder and mentor — and credits UD’s Learn. Lead. Serve.
maxim as a central philosophy that has shaped her leadership style. “It’s funny how what resonated for me then has remained important over the years. As I’ve matured in my role, I’ve discovered more about leadership being rooted in service,” she said.

The Academy attracts a global student body representing nearly 40 countries and all 50 states. Zech says this diversity enriches the learning process both professionally and socially for students.

When not commuting between the two coasts for work, Zech spends time with family and friends. “There’s no place like New York. I’ve also found it’s important to find a beach, lake or mountaintop from time to time to recharge.”

So, would Zech ever utter that famous line from Sunset Boulevard, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up”? Not likely.

“I have the greatest respect for actors. They are among the most courageous souls on earth. I get to contribute in a meaningful way to the development of young actors, but my calling is not to be on stage,” Zech said.

Filmmaker Cecil De-Mille, Academy Class of 1900, found many others who would.

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Celebration, vision

1:53 PM  Jul 10th, 2017
by Michelle Tedford

The celebration started and ended with a focus on students, just as it should.

This April, during a jubilant four days, the Univer-sity inaugurated its 19th president, Eric F. Spina.

After a joyous Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, it was time to tour student talents — from a cappella singing by the Audio Pilots to to community building with a Walnut Hills Neighborhood picnic. Spina and his wife, Karen, got into the fun, acting out scenes from a living scrapbook with members of the improv troupe On the Fly.

His participation was an extension of the admiration he’s shown for UD students since he joined campus July 1, 2016.

“You never cease to amaze me,” he said. “You are our inspiration and our promise to the world.”

Spina’s optimism for the future and the impact UD students, alumni, faculty and staff will make in the world guided the program for the celebration.

During panel conversations Monday, April 3, professors in math, education and engineering shared a table where they discussed how their disciplines contribute to shared community solutions. Such cross-collaborations will be an intentional part of the University’s vision moving forward.

The innovation theme continued through Tuesday, April 4, when a keynote address and panel discussion focused on opportunities to create distinctive futures.

“Not everyone can be an inventor, creator or discoverer,” said 44-year IBM veteran Nicholas Donofrio during his address. “But everyone can be an innovator.”

With an eye toward ingenuity, the installation ceremony incorporated elements of both tradition and whimsy. Faculty and representatives of other universities marched into UD Arena to formal brass music, and at the conclusion danced and clapped their way out to jubilant tuba music alongside members of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. In between, the audience of more than 1,100 heard voices of the community, including those who shared what makes this “Our UD.”

For Dominic Sanfilippo ’16, it is “realizing that our big, complicated world is made more joyful and more just by sharing stories, taking risks and finding our voices together.”

Two former UD presidents — Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M., and Daniel Curran, both of whom remain active on campus — took the stage to embrace their newest counterpart before Spina shared his vision.

“I remember all the voices I have heard on campus, in alumni communities around the nation and in Dayton gatherings as we shaped our aspirational strategic vision to be ‘THE University for the Common Good,’” Spina later said. (Read more on the vision, Page 27).

The Celebration of the Arts performance was that evening, followed the next day by Stander Symposium presentations. The students — through grace, wit, sweat, inquiry and resolve — shared with the community the best of their education.

It was a celebration rooted in the optimism and vision of an ambitious president, in the transdisciplinary collaborations of faculty and staff, and in the impact students will make in the world as they strive for common good through a UD education.  

“I’m still clapping,” Spina said after the performance. “And can’t wait for next spring’s encore.”

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A very, very fine house it will be

4:24 PM  Jun 15th, 2017
by Thomas M. Columbus

Amenities. Accessibility. Air conditioning. And a very cool look.

As well as a lot of infrastructure that fans won’t see.

Over the next three years, a $72 million project will transform one of the nation’s most iconic sports venues, the University of Dayton Arena.

The 2017 phase of the project will include a new four-sided, center-hung video board, LED ribbon boards on the fascia of the Spectrum Flight Deck and suites, new 100- and 200-level seats, and updated and additional American with Disabilities Act seating. Upgrades to the audio system and broadcasting infrastructure, initial work on platforms for four new terrace suites, and upgrades to the dewatering pumps are also planned.

A new concourse and new 300- and 400-level seats will come in 2018 as well as several upgrades to the infrastructure, including new court lighting and improved Wi-Fi. The corner video boards will be moved and turned toward the 300/400 level. Restrooms, concession stands and merchandise locations will be added and upgraded.

The concourse and 300- and 400-level seats, restrooms and concession stands will be completed in 2019. New club seats will appear between the 200 and 300 levels; terrace seats, in the four corners. The exterior will see a new design with upgraded lighting; the interior will be climate-controlled.

Funding will come from philanthropy (spurred by several multimillion-dollar lead gifts), corporate sponsorships, external private and business partnerships, ticket revenue and general University support.

In a message to the University community, Eric Spina, president, and Neil Sullivan, vice president and director of athletics, wrote, “We do not plan to seek any governmental funding for the project. We expect the fundraising will have little, if any, impact on our high-priority academic

goals because of the difference in individual donor interests. No donors will be steered away from other funding priorities to support the Arena project.”

Game schedules will be maintained throughout the three-year renovation, during which time the 10 millionth fan to watch a Flyers men’s basketball game at the Arena will walk through the doors.

And as the renovation comes to a conclusion, it will be time for the venue that has hosted more NCAA men’s basketball tournament games (117) than any other to celebrate its 50th birthday.

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Returning to ‘a special place’

4:17 PM  Jun 15th, 2017
by Thomas M. Columbus

Talking to a group of current students about UD, a 1987 grad said, “This is a special place.” Back on campus for the first time in quite a while, he easily recalled the address of his old house — 1302 Brown St.

The grad was Anthony Grant, speaking at an April 1 news conference at the University of Dayton Arena. Two days earlier he had been announced as head coach of the University of Dayton, only the seventh in the last 70 years.

The students to whom he was talking were his team.

“This is a labor of love,” he told them. “This program is about this community, about the city of Dayton, about you guys.”

The basketball program, he said, “is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”

Christina Grant, his wife, told Campus Report editor Shannon Miller, “Two weeks ago we were talking about settling down and making Oklahoma our home for a while, so our high schoolers could graduate.”

The Grants had been there for two years; he was on the coaching staff of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder. Then, UD’s coach at the time, Archie Miller, resigned to go to Indiana. Dayton called Grant, who as a senior at UD was co-captain and MVP.

Don Donoher, Grant’s UD coach, said, “He was into the NBA with a great franchise and everything, and all of a sudden I got a call from him. And he said, ‘What do you think?’

“And I said, ‘Come on!’” “When he got the call from Dayton,” Christina Grant said, “it was like a whole different world. He has a special place in his heart for Dayton, so I figured if he spoke with the administration, it was likely going to happen.”

For the Saturday news conference, the Grants didn’t fly in until that morning. Tom Archdeacon ’72 reported in the Dayton Daily News, “Friday was prom night for the Grants’ son, Preston. ‘It’s a big deal. His mom wanted to be here when he came home,’ [Anthony] Grant said.”

The lack of selfishness that characterized Grant as a player has stayed with him.

“I told Neil [Sullivan, UD athletics director] that I wanted what was best for Dayton,” Grant said. “Selfishly, I want it to be me, but as an alum, I want what’s best for this University. And if they, the members of the administration, thought that this hiring was the best thing, then I’m doing backflips down Brown Street.”

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Living classroom on a green hillside

9:00 AM  Jun 8th, 2017
by Debbie Juniewicz ’90

From a St. Joseph medal and the promise of $12,000, great things continue to grow. Building on faith and opportunity, the university founded on that promise is helping to create a school in Malawi, Africa. It will be a hub for experiential learning and research initiatives, supporting development in Malawi as well as the futures of the UD students who will serve there.

Amidst the winding, rugged dirt roads and atop the rolling green hillside, brick and mortar buildings have taken shape.

The sturdy man-made walls are in sharp contrast to the natural beauty, with the Great African Rift Valley and Lake Malawi both in view. It won’t be long before students and teachers walk among the classroom buildings and dormitories of the Wasambo High School campus. But it’s not the physical structures that will have the greatest impact; it’s what the buildings represent — opportunity.

“People in Malawi value education above almost everything else,” said Matt Maroon ’06, founder of Determined to Develop, a Karonga-based nongovernmental organization in Malawi. “I’ve seen mothers sacrifice food in order to pay school tuition for their children. I’ve seen families sell their last goat to send their promising son to the first term of high school, not knowing at all where they will get the money for the second term, let alone the following three years.”

Maroon has found the common theme in this land-locked African nation to be one that resonates more than 8,000 miles away on the campus of the University of Dayton, where students, faculty and alumni have worked with Maroon’s organization to make the school a reality for Malawian children.

“Faith — it’s people’s faith that tomorrow will be a brighter day with hard work, persistence and an education,” said Maroon, who first visited Malawi in 2006 during a year of service with the Society of Mary. “It’s the idea that one’s current condition need not assign them a set path in life, but that they have the choice if only given the opportunity to find the road toward prosperity. And that education is the surest way to lift one’s self to a state where one can comfortably, and humbly, take care of a family.”

It’s a faith reinforced by Flyer research, volunteerism and fundraising, from students and faculty in engineering, education, arts and sciences, and business. It is a faith that will also be passed on to future UD students, who will benefit from having the school as an experiential learning base. Wasambo High School, when it opens Sept. 1, 2017, will showcase the best of the University’s transdisciplinary, liberal arts education in the Marianist spirit of partner-based community building.

“UD is taking the exact opposite approach of an ivory tower, instead realizing that its talents and treasure can make a concrete and lasting impact on education in a global context — and that’s happening on the ground in Africa,” Maroon said. “This is the Marianist approach, to be around the table with the people whom we serve, partners in development and uplifting one another along the way. It’s intentional. It’s grounded in reality, and it’s faithful.”

A great need

The Society of Mary, UD’s founding order, is deeply rooted in Malawi, opening Nkhata Bay Secondary School in the early 1960s and, shortly thereafter, operating Chaminade Secondary School — which still educates students today — in Karonga. The Marianist sisters this year will open their own mission in Malawi and focus on teaching.

The population statistics of Malawi underscore the need for educational institutions: Close to 47 percent of the population is 14 years old or younger, and another 20 percent is between 15 and 24. The median age in Malawi — a country with an estimated 976,300 people living with AIDS or HIV — is just 16 ½ years old. According to Maroon, there are significant hurdles in the Malawian education system, including access to high school and quality education.

“Only about 18 percent of eighth-grade graduates, students in our area who have finished primary school, are able to continue on to high school because of capacity,” Maroon said. “There are simply not enough schools or room at the existing schools.”

Standard Malawian curriculum has not traditionally emphasized enrichment and experiential learning.

“We want to take the Malawian model — based off the British system — and infuse it with some of the best practices internationally,” Maroon said.

UD Department of Teacher Education Chair Connie Bowman is excited about her department’s involvement at Wasambo. Faculty and students will assist in professional development for teachers in Malawi, focusing on student-centered instruction and active engagement for learning, as well as curriculum development and recruitment.

“Many of our graduates are teaching in foreign countries,” Bowman said, “and we believe Malawi will be an excellent place for them to engage in teaching and infuse their training in best practices through the educational field.” 

The first phase — which is currently under construction — is a boys’ high school, set up in an English boarding school style. The long-term plan includes a girls’ high school and a technical college.

The desired outcomes for Wasambo High School are threefold: provide a world-class education for the students; create a teacher training program that enables instructors to learn and implement best practices; and create a “living classroom” as part of the UD partnership where UD students and faculty can analyze challenges and work with Malawians to develop solutions.

The new school is located in Sangilo Village, Chilumba area in the Karonga District. This district is several hundred square miles with a population of about 60,000. Students will come from all around Malawi with an emphasis on offering positions and scholarships to local students. The impact of the school, however, extends well beyond the region.

“This is a benefit to the nation,” said Scotch Kondowe, Karonga District education manager. “In line with Malawi’s development strategies, strengthening secondary education is a top priority. To have a partnership with Determined to Develop and the University of Dayton is a welcome concept, and we are glad that outside stakeholders are taking interest in supporting government through the development of secondary education.”

While students will soon experience the immediate benefits of attending the new school, long-term benefits are expected for generations to come.

“Lack of education is a barrier to development,” said Senior Chief Wasambo (pictured left), the traditional authority and custodian of all land and culture in the region. “Having the school will change lives and opportunities, from poverty to prosperity, and it will transform the community for the better long term.”

The school, not coincidentally, is named in the chief’s honor, as it was he who allocated the 120 acres of land to Maroon in 2013 to establish the campus. The cost? Anyone familiar with the story of Father Leo Meyer and the purchase of the property on which the University of Dayton now stands will find the answer remarkable. Maroon paid about $12,000 to compensate a few local farmers for the land. In 1850, Father Meyer purchased 120 acres from John Stuart for the promise of $12,000 and a medal of St. Joseph as collateral. Maroon, likewise, presented Chief Wasambo with a St. Joseph medal.

Each entering class will consist of 80 boys from more than 50 elementary schools in the area. Some students at the all-boys boarding school will pay tuition, while others will receive scholarships. Looking forward, Wasambo will have 300-plus students onsite in four years.

“The community can see that there are not enough schools in our area,” said Alick Zika Mkandawire, a community liaison officer. “The schools we do have don’t have good learning materials and don’t have enough teachers. The new school will provide these, and the community is excited for good things to come.”

The Marianist way

Maroon’s connections with the University of Dayton have evolved and benefitted both the Malawians and UD students.

Students have worked on issues of human rights in Malawi with Determined to Develop since 2010. Since 2011, the School of Engineering’s ETHOS program has worked with Malawians on projects from renewable technology to potable water. The political science department initiated the Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development in 2013. The practicum, now housed in the Human Rights Center, pairs UD students with Malawian university students in-country to tackle development questions that give Determined to Develop insight into how it can best serve the community.

“It’s amazing when we have our UD students here, as they can dig into an issue and, with their Malawian counterparts, help us understand where we should focus our efforts,” Maroon said. “Their research gives credibility to our mission and influences the direction we take our programming.”

UD student research has been broad in scope, ranging from assessing community access to clean water to an assessment of gender-based violence against girls. From an examination of health systems to agricultural studies, the students work hand-in-hand with their Malawian counterparts.

“UD’s partnership with Determined to Develop and the people of Sangilo Village has grown organically over the years and has really been defined by the priorities and vision of our Malawian partners,” said Jason Pierce, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s heartening to see the collaborative spirit that has emerged on campus and with our partners.  Folks just get it and are eager to play a role.”

Collaboration has translated to action, and there’s no better example than Wasambo High School. UD practicum students have examined local challenges in access and quality of secondary school education. ETHOS students conducted land surveys and are helping with plans and construction. Teacher education faculty and students are working on curriculum and teacher training.

“In my mind, the Wasambo project vividly illustrates the capacity of UD as a comprehensive university, one that leverages students and faculty from engineering, education, business, and arts and sciences to find localized solutions to global challenges,” said Pierce, who as former chair of the political science department initiated the Malawi practicum.

More than an education

There is a buzz of anticipation surrounding the opening of Wasambo. Sophie Phiri (pictured left), a local mother and cook, is excited about what the school could mean to her children.

‘‘I’m happy because, now, there is an opportunity for my children to go to a good quality school,” Phiri said. “Teachers coming from outside Malawi will be able to help my children learn things like English and other skills quicker. If my children learn fast they can get good jobs, which will help our family lots in the future.”

Moses Mulungu, a local bricklayer and father, anticipates that his children will, one day, travel beyond Malawi thanks to Wasambo High School.

“They will only be able to do this by get-ting a good education and learning to read road signs and other important life skills,” Mulungu said.

While the parents are hopeful, the excitement of the students who may some day call Wasambo home builds with each passing day as the campus takes shape.

Since they broke ground in September 2016, much progress has been made on the physical facilities. The garage and storehouse are complete. The foundations for the head teacher’s house, boarding master’s house and volunteer teacher’s house are also complete. Maroon said building is expected to move quickly once the water system is in place. The water tower — which will hold four plastic 5,000-liter tanks for the gravity-fed water system — has been finished, as has the drilling for the three onsite wells.

Computer and multimedia labs will be among the facilities in the classroom blocks, and space has been reserved for a small outdoor amphitheater.

“My heart is pounding with excitement and nervousness,” said James Mayni, 14 (pictured left), who is looking forward to improving his English through the teaching of native English speakers. “I have always wanted to go to a boarding school, and this could be my dream come true. I will keep hoping that my next chapter of my life at Wasambo High School awaits.” 

Lowani Chirwa, 14, is also hopeful that he will be in the initial class of students admitted to Wasambo. His goal is to become one of the most educated people in his village and to fine-tune his English, as Wasambo will be an English-speaking campus.

“I believe that I will be able to learn higher reasoning skills, since the teachers will be highly educated,” Chirwa said. “I am looking forward to becoming a good, fluent English speaker.”

Exceeding expectations

Rick Pfleger, a 1977 UD graduate, has been on board since the beginning of Maroon’s development work in Malawi in 2008. He and his wife, Claire Tierney Pfleger ’78, met Maroon when he was a UD student living near their daughter, Lindsay Pfleger ’06.

“When Matt first decided he wanted to stay in Malawi, we wanted to help him financially,” Rick Pfleger said. “His goal was to start an orphanage for children who had lost their parents to AIDS. At the time, we thought if he got 10 to 15 orphans under roof, it would be a home run. He now has 45-plus orphans in dormitories, four nurseries and preschools, and serves more than 500,000 meals a year in the community.

“I never envisioned he would stay this long, much less have the incredible impact he has had in Chilumba. Matt has become a fixture in the community, even to the point where the village chiefs made him an honorary member of their group,” Pfleger said.

Maroon brings two or three young members of the community to Chicago annually to meet the Pflegers.

“From the very beginning, we have been amazed by the spirit and optimism of these children,” Pfleger said. “When they share their stories with us, it enthuses us even more to continue our annual support. They are incredibly sincere, hopeful and grateful.

“Determined to Develop is certainly one of the most encouraging and fulfilling projects we have ever been involved with. We could not be more proud of Matt and what he has accomplished in the Marianist spirit.”

The Pflegers’ contribution to UD’s experiential-learning mission in Malawi has helped make Wasambo a reality. The wider UD community has also contributed, including a $10,000 fundraising initiative in 2014 by the University of Dayton student chapter of Determined to Develop.

“The Pflegers’ faith in UD, Determined to Develop and the Sangilo Village is inspiring.” Pierce said. “I am profoundly grateful for their support of this project and for seeing early on the impact the partnership could have in the community and the life-altering experiential learning opportunities it provides our students.” Pierce added that fundraising continues for future experiential learning opportunities for UD students.

While Wasambo will be life changing for the young people who attend school there, the experience of working in Malawi has also been life changing for those who have shared their time and talents with the people of the region.

“One of the most meaningful things I have learned from my time in Malawi is that no matter who you are you can probably help someone, know someone that can help, or you have the resources to learn how,” said Rob Greene (pictured left in red T-shirt, with members of the planning and work crew, including Matt Maroon, far right), an ETHOS graduate student currently working on the Wasambo project. “Being in Malawi has also made me rethink relationships and truly value them. Of course making friends halfway around the world and then leaving is one difficult aspect, but you could sit down with someone and immediately know 100 ways that you are different, but all you need is one similarity, one point to connect. Surprisingly you’ll find that not only are you not that different, but you can probably help each other.”

Greene — who is working toward a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering with a focus in environmental engineering — has been working as a project manager onsite and with Maroon on future construction plans.

“At times, it seems like ETHOS has only complicated my plans, but now I understand that I don’t only have an opportunity but also a degree of responsibility to act to better benefit my community and greater world community,” Greene said.

Department of Political Science Chair Grant Neeley has seen firsthand the impact the work in Malawi has had on the practicum students.

“It’s a tremendous learning experience and, in some cases, it most definitely shapes their career plans,” Neeley said. “But, regardless of their career path, this experience equips them with a greater understanding of how to work in a community setting. They gain a respect for others and their opinions and an ability to work through challenges, and that’s incredibly valuable because no matter where they go, they will be in a community.”

Even after years of UD student involvement in projects in Malawi, Pierce is impressed by the scope and impact of Wasambo High School.

“It’s a reflection of the commitment and passion of the community in Malawi, Matt, and UD,” he said. “It’s exciting to see our faculty and students engage in work that resonates so deeply with the Marianist mission.”

Pierce anticipates University of Dayton involvement with Wasambo and in Malawi well into the future.

That’s music to Maroon’s ears.

“The longer I am here in Africa, the more I realize that people have the same goals, no matter their culture or differences,” Maroon said. “We all want to push ourselves forward and we want to take care of our families. We all have the same motivations; to be happy, healthy, useful, fulfilled, valued and loved. This school will allow that impact to multiply the current work that we are doing. It will be a transformational force for families that will ripple from each person who passes through. We are transforming a society and are building another pathway to prosperity. How exciting is that?”

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

In 1998, the College of Arts and Sciences talked of sowing the seeds for human rights professionals who could collaboratively transform conversations and communities around the world. Today, those alumni serve in seven countries and numerous organizations dedicated to bettering the human condition. Here’s a look at where some alumni of the 2014 Malawi Research Practicum on Rights and Development, featured in the Winter 2014-15 UD Magazine, are today thanks to a UD education that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Alyssa Bovell ’14
Associate director of Project Partnerships IPM (International Partners in Mission)

“The interrelated challenges that impede the social, economic and political empowerment of women inspired me to pursue a human rights-based career in development. Women’s economic agency as a force of global poverty reduction has become an issue of international importance that I’ve become passionate about. [The practicum] has led to my current position at an international nonprofit that is focused on supporting women with equal access to resources and services to transform and sustain their communities.”

Jed Gerlach ’15
International programs assistant, Plan International USA

“It was great to be part of [Determined to Develop], a grassroots organization that was doing such great work with the resources given to them — an organization that not only helped people, but empowered them. To see that, as a student, had a great impact on me: on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.” 

Jason Hayes ’15
International program coordinator, Operation Smile

“You can study these things in a classroom and read every textbook out there but, at the end of the day, it’s just not the same. It doesn’t have an emotional effect until you get there and you see, firsthand, what the realities are. It was huge for me. I would highly recommend fieldwork. It affirmed for me the work I wanted to do.”

Andrew Lightner ’16
London School of Economics

“[The Malawi practicum] introduced me to wonderful people, fascinating research and exciting future opportunities. I have difficulty describing its impact, as I cannot recognize my worldview, experience at UD or current career trajectory without the practicum. I am currently studying international development and economics and aim to continue research in international and economic issues. The values and relationships Determined to Develop helped me form will continue to drive my career and non-career decisions.”

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Alumni Profile: Secrets of the museum

8:47 AM  Jun 5th, 2017
by Karina Cabrera ’18 and Gita Balakrishnan

Wide eyes, open minds, contagious laughter. The whimsical sounds of children exploring interactive exhibits keep Jan Wrzesinski the happiest she can be at her job as the executive director of the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in Mobile, Alabama.

A communication major while at UD, Wrzesinski had a stint working in radio broadcasting early in her career, where she was known as Jan McKay. She now finds herself with more than 25 years of experience working in museums.

And, she says there’s never a boring day. As the executive director, Wrzesinski blends her skills to work on fundraising,
communications, planning and outreach to the community.

“The Exploreum is a very exciting place. Our mission is to inspire a love of math and science among all citizens, in particular school children, through summer camps, special demonstrations, and other hands-on learning opportunities,” she said.

She recalled the time when NASA gave a moon rock to the Explorerum for two weeks.  Although there was a high level of security surrounding the extraterrestrial object, the museum guests enjoyed the opportunity to see firsthand a piece of outer space.

Ultimately, Wrzesinkski said she hopes the museum experience provides an additional learning environment for children to appreciate the world around them: “We help bridge the formal classroom learning environment with group and individual science activities. We make it fun.”

Wrzesinski enjoys the challenges of running the museum, which has a $2 million budget, to help maintain the three permanent galleries, several rotating galleries and the pre-kindergarten demonstration area.

Children can participate in chemistry experiments, learning how to cook healthy, examining the lungs of smokers, and taking part in other hands-on activities.

“Kids mean a lot to me in the work that I do,” she said. “To me, all kids are precious.”

—Karina Cabrera ’18 and Gita Balakrishnan

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ReadSeeHear This: Millenial Reboot

12:55 PM  Jun 4th, 2017
by Maureen Schlangen

A book by Kate Athmer ’09

In Millennial Reboot, sport management graduate Kate Athmer and her co-author Rob Johnson tackle prejudices and lay out the ways “old-school” and “new-school” can co-exist and move an organization forward. “A lot of our peers, including some of our best friends, are frustrated with their options and not really sure how or where to start looking for a path to advancement,” Athmer says. The book has practical advice on networking, negotiation, interviewing and attire without sugar-coating reality: Work hard. Keep learning. Recognize when you’re wrong. Respect cultural norms. Seek advice. Share your knowledge. The book was published in November 2016 by Lioncrest Publishing.

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ReadSeeHear This: God’s Betrayal-The Credo

12:54 PM  Jun 4th, 2017
by Gita Balakrishnan

A book by Daniel Hobbs ’68

A political-religious thriller, God’s Betrayal: The Credo is the third installment of his Baby Boomer Betrayal series that Daniel Hobbs, under the ghostwriter name Ben Leiter, published in March 2017. The story begins when Father Gabriel Garza questions his Jesus and his God. Exiled from his tough Washington, D.C., inner-city parish and assigned to Rome for two years of graduate study, Garza stumbles through blood-soaked Vatican archives. His mysterious academic adviser works for Vatican intelligence and shares explosive religious and political files with Garza — but why? Hobbs is currently working on the fourth installment of this series, which he says “contains more explosive twists and turns, and a surprise ending.”

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Heartfelt reminder

4:25 PM  Jun 2nd, 2017
by Danielle Damon ’18

More than 20,000 health care providers across the world wear a golden, penny-sized lapel pin on their white coats. In the middle of the pin sits a red enamel heart surrounded by the phrase “The Healer’s Art.”

This spring, the UD Physician Assistant Program became the first PA program to offer The Healer’s Art course. The pin, given to course graduates, serves as a reminder of lessons learned, but it also is an invitation for providers to approach one another in a time of need.

The Healer’s Art course is a product of the Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Wright State University (Ohio) Boonshoft School of Medicine. Dr. Rachel Remen designed the course in 1991 to address topics not usually discussed in medical school. Deep listening, acceptance, grief and loss, healing and self-care are some of the topics found on the syllabus.

“The course is both transformative and informational,” said Dr. Evangeline Andarsio, director of the National Healer’s Art Program. “It takes vision and courage to be innovators and the first PA program to offer the course.”

Twenty-two students took five sessions of the optional, ungraded course that required open ears and no textbooks.

Student Paige Brennan said the sessions facilitated a bond among the students and an awareness of emotions often not nurtured during a rigorous medical curriculum.

“The class gives you the tools necessary to bring out your best self,” Brennan said. “We will be more compassionate providers.”

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Faith in a UD education

3:20 PM  May 30th, 2017
by Shannon Shelton Miller

When Brother Blaise Mosengo, S.M., joined the Marianists, he, like all vowed religious, accepted the call to go wherever God needed him.

During the last five and a half years, that place has been the University of Dayton.

“I came to UD as a mission,” Mosengo said. “I live in a community of people who teach here and work here. That’s their mission. God called me to go to UD and to study. That’s my mission — to be a student.”

A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire), Mosengo came to UD in fall 2011 when Marianist superiors wanted him to obtain a master’s degree to enhance his administrative skills. Mosengo, a high school principal in the neighboring
Republic of Congo and 2013 graduate of UD’s educational leadership program, is now working on his doctorate. 

Mosengo is one of about five international Marianists pursuing advanced degrees at the University with the goal of returning to their home nations to strengthen established missions there. With Asia and Africa providing the bulk of the Catholic Church’s growth in the late 20th and early 21st century, the Marianists see those two continents as crucial to spreading the Gospel, and established Marianist schools there already educate thousands of students annually.

“How can we assist our growing presence in the developing world? We have an excellent university,” said Father Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, who lives in the Stonemill community with Mosengo. “We can bring them here for academic studies, especially from east and west Africa and India. It’s one thing we can contribute at the University of Dayton to the worldwide Marianist community: educating them so they can then enhance their educational missions at home.”

Fitz, vice president for mission and rector, said the Marianists commit to supporting advanced degree study at UD for four to five international members at a time, and an alumnus, who chooses not to be named, funds their living expenses. Brothers from Kenya, Congo, India and Togo, among other nations, are currently completing graduate work.

“Having these men here allows us to maintain a global perspective,” Fitz said. “We’re not just ‘filling holes.’”

Father Ignase Arulappen, S.M., is another member of the Stonemill community studying at UD with assistance from the Marianists. “Father Iggy,” as he’s nicknamed, was executive director of the University of Dayton Deepahalli Educational Center in Bangalore, India, before coming to UD in August 2016.

Arulappen taught theology in India and is completing a doctoral program in theology with a focus on Mariology through the International Marian Research Institute. When he’s done, he plans to return to Bangalore.

“All my life as a Marianist, I have been teaching and administering a formation program,” he said. “My interest in education was already there, and the Provincial Council in the United States and the Regional Council in India made a request to me to see if I wanted to take a break from my work and do these studies.”

During their time here, the international Marianists also get involved in the greater UD community. Arulappen presides at the Eucharist at Holy Angels Church adjacent to campus, and the communities host students for dinner and conversation. Mosengo has developed friendships with students from China and Saudi Arabia through the Center for International Programs, and they often reflect on the commonalities they share beyond their individual faith traditions.

“We come from different faiths, but we come together to talk about one God,” Mosengo said.

The international Marianist presence in Dayton extends beyond the men receiving graduate-level scholarships. Koreans study at the novitiate at Mount Saint John, as no novitiate exists in South Korea, and five Marianist sisters from Vietnam, Italy and India have studied on campus, learning English through the Intensive English Program.

The international Marianist network isn’t a one-way connection either. Other partnerships develop when American-born UD students spend time at international Marianist missions in places like Zambia, Kenya and Malawi. Fitz notes the example of Matt Maroon ’06, who spent a year at a mission in Malawi and remains there more than a decade later operating the nonprofit charity Determined to Develop. 

As for the Marianists who do earn advanced degrees and return to Africa and Asia, they’re already making a difference. Brother Basant Kujur, S.M., earned a master’s degree in human services in 2010 and works as a scholasticate director in Bangalore as well as a faculty member at the Deepahalli Educational Center.

“The UD environment opened up a new horizon for me to see the new reality of Marianist pedagogies of education,” Kujur said. “I am very grateful to all my professors and classmates, Marianist brothers, sisters and
fathers, and the entire UD environment for giving me a golden opportunity to learn and to be formed as what I am. I am grateful to
God and to my Marianist family.”

Mosengo, the Congolese high school principal, noted that the United States is currently the only nation with Marianist universities, meaning Marianist higher education is unavailable to most of those they serve.

“In many countries in Africa, parents and students will complain that we provide education until a student graduates from high school, but there’s no follow-up,” Mosengo said. “The idea is that we can start having a Marianist presence at a higher educational level in the countries where we are.”

With his impending doctoral degree, Mosengo hopes to further that mission.

“I would love to teach in college, but I can also help in the administration,” he said. “I want to go back somewhere in Africa, but which country, I don’t know. I know what I would like to do, but I will wait and see where they ask me to go.”

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