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1:35 PM  Oct 10th, 2016
by Eric Spina

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.

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Grow on

4:31 PM  Oct 4th, 2016
by Dave Larsen

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.

Leslie Sheward, Twin Towers Neighborhood AssociationBut, finally, someone is giving back.

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.

Don Pair, Associate Dean, College of Arts and SciencesLincoln Hill Gardens will help achieve that goal, said Don Pair, College of Arts and Sciences associate dean and acting head of the institute.

“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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry BurgessIn addition to urban food production, Lincoln Hill Gardens will provide research opportunities for University faculty and students and show what can be achieved through community partnerships.

“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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry BurgessThe resulting 5-acre lot — bordered by Nassau and Dover streets, and Harper and Demphle avenues — offers a commanding view of the Dayton city skyline.

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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry Burgess“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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry BurgessMackell noted faculty and staff were becoming more engaged with the issue of food access, especially as it relates to urban social justice and service learning.

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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry BurgessResidents wanted a youth basketball court, park-style barbecue grills and a traditional playground, none of which were included in MKSK’s site plan.

“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.

Lincoln Hill Gardens, by Larry BurgessOn an unseasonably hot day in late April, Lincoln Hill Gardens was alive with activity during one of several volunteer days to build three hoop houses on the site for food production.

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-14-07-pmAlready, 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.”

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A conversation with UD’s 19th president

9:00 AM  Sep 14th, 2016
by Michelle Tedford

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.


Our tweeting president. Photos by Larry Burgess

Why are you on social media @DaytonPrezSpina on Twitter and Instagram?

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.


Making a few calls from his office. Photos by Larry Burgess

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?


Karen and Eric SpinaWhat activities do you and your wife, Karen, like to do together while exploring Dayton?

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.


Dr. Spina talks with students about their research in Kettering Labs. Photos by Larry BurgessName one way being a university president colors the way you see the world.

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.


Click to read more about President Eric Spina. To connect to his blog, click here

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Life lessons from a single bathroom

9:16 AM  Sep 12th, 2016
by Michelle Tedford

Friendships endure, but few are endowed.

The women of 321 Kiefaber St. celebrated both this June.

“That year living off campus was life-changing,” said Ann Rice Mullen ’66 of 1965-66, when nine women lived and grew together. Last year, the friends awarded the first 321 Scholarship to a UD student in acknowledgment of the impact UD had on their lives.

The women all lived in Marycrest the first year it opened, and they found one another through housing assignments and friendships.

When it came to their senior year, they discovered a cute white house with a wide front porch and a landlord willing to rent it — advertised for five or six women — to all nine friends who couldn’t bear to live apart. And he charged them the advertised price: $45 per month per woman.

“How did the nine of us live in one house with one bathroom?” asked Jessica Prendergast Krueger ’66 when the women reunited on campus during  Reunion Weekend 2016.

It was a learning experience for them all. There was the old wringer washing machine in the basement, a fourth bedroom that was really just a closet, and Friday night house meetings for divvying up the chores. For senior prom, they made a schedule that gave every woman 15 minutes in the bathroom.

“Somebody was ready two hours early and someone was ready at the last minute, and it all worked out,” said Ann Hurley Testa ’66.

Mullen’s mom could not believe the arrangement. “If you are friends after this year, you’ll be friends for life,” she told her daughter.

How true.

In recent years, the women have reunited at the Jersey Shore and in Florida. At the reunion in Dayton they remembered housemate Ellen McGarvey Sodnicar ’66, who died in 1990, through sharing stories. Pat Wetzel Kuss ’66 recollected how Sodnicar talked a Marianist brother with an airplane into flying the two women home to Indianapolis — and then into allowing her to take the controls.

“We all grew up together, from innocent little girls,” Karen Sikorski Guszkowski ’66 said, throwing a sideways glance to her friends, “into fine young women.”

Housemates Lexie Shanley Jumper ’66 and Janice Maezer Norton ’66 nodded in agreement.

While the women and their husbands reminisced, senior Abbey Saurine was 8,000 miles away in Zambia, benefiting from their friendship. At the suggestion of one of the husbands, the housemates endowed the 321 Scholarship fund through cash donations and charitable gift annuities to honor their friendship and support the education of a female student committed to service.

Saurine was the scholarship’s first recipient. She is a Catholic religion education major, a Chaminade Scholar, a Campus Ministry volunteer and an assistant in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community.

Last summer, she joined a service-immersion trip visiting the Marianist brothers in Lusaka and the Sisters of Charity in Lubwe. In Lubwe, she and her fellow Flyers presented scholarships to students and money to their teachers to repair and equip the schools.

“We built relationships and learned about the power of relationships,” Saurine said.

She said she was especially excited to receive the scholarship from a household of nine women; this fall, she’s living with 10 women in the Marianist faith community at 1903 Trinity Ave.

The women of 321 say that while friendships endure, so do the lessons they learned at UD. The women continue to give back in their communities through their churches, groups and mission projects.

Said Jean Gilles Fredericks ’66, “We just value our friendship so much. We are who we are because of our time together.”

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Faculty remembered

1:06 PM  Aug 26th, 2016
by Michelle Tedford

We remember the lives and contributions of faculty members who have passed away. Thanks to those who responded to a call from the UD Magazine for their remembrances. Please add your comments and sympathies below.







Tom Davis, 6-11-17, professor in the School of Business

“I was the department chair who hired Tom in the late 1980’s. Tom absolutely loved being a UD faculty member — and his students loved him.” — James Dunne, professor and interim dean in the School of Business Administration





Dan Miller, 3-30-17, professor emeritus of sociology

“Dan was a scholar in every sense of the word. Conversations with Dan included a magical mix of wit, wisdom and esoteric references of popular culture. Students would flock to his classes as he didn’t just teach sociology — he taught students how to live.” — Leslie Picca, department chair of sociology



Father Christopher Conlon, S.M. 3-26-17, former director of Campus Ministry and lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies

“I knew Chris on a very personal level. We studied at UD as young Marianists. We then had the good fortune of being assigned to Cathedral Latin School in Cleveland. Many years later we rejoined at UD and spent many years together. During that time, Chris was always the loyal and supportive friend. My immediate and extended family fell in love with him. He said our family Christmas Mass for over 20 years. I will always remember and miss him.” — Myron Achbach ’58, retired director of admission

“Chris was a gift to this department.  He had vision for Church and ministry that was enlivened and faith filled.  He encouraged collaboration in the Marianist Spirit and risk-taking in ministry.  He was a champion for students and their roles in ministry.  He appreciated diversity of expression in faith and challenged the Campus Ministry team – and others to do the same.  He was a fabulous photographer and spent his later years of ministry gracing us with homemade cards that were a testament to the Glory of God he encountered on his travels.  He loved and was beloved by his family.  He inspired and supported me on a personal and professional level.  He knew the challenges of leadership and affirmed many of us as we grew into and beyond those challenges.  Heaven is rejoicing now that Chris is among them telling stories and taking pictures.  And those of us behind are praying in gratitude to have been blessed by God through knowing him.” — Crystal Sullivan, director of Campus Ministry

“Fr. Chris has been dearly missed ever since he moved to California. We were blessed to have him work with us in the SBA. I always enjoyed his wit and warm smile.  I especially remember him from the 6:00pm Sunday mass at the Chapel. His sermons were laced with life lessons with warm heartedness, humor and wisdom, leaving you with a thoughtful message. He just brightened your day! Heaven just got brighter with his presence!”— Teresa Wehmeyer, senior administrative assistant, Marianist Educational Associate, department of accounting

“Fr. Chris was such a lovely man and oh so Irish!  He always had a twinkle in his eye especially when he was telling a “blarney” joke.  He helped me personally through some difficult times in my life and gave me such caring and understanding advice.  He was part of the School of Engineering Breakaway committee (and founder of it!) and was so instrumental in bringing faculty and staff together in the SoE.  I had such fun times with Fr. Chris and his laughter was infectious.  He was one of those people that brightened a room when he walked into it.  I loved that man dearly and admired him so much.  He was so strong in his faith and in being a Marianist.  One of his passions was photography and he was quite good at it.  I still have cards that he sent me with one of his photos on the front.  I will cherish them and they will bring me comfort as I grieve for this great man.” — Margaret “Peg” Mount, senior administrative assistant, Marianist Educational Associate, engineering management, systems and technology department

“We are blessed by memories of working with Fr. Chris. We planned and executed several annual SBA Prayer Services together, and on behalf of the SBA, I playfully “fought” over him with Engineering to snag him for other events in the School. What a pleasure he was to work with! I have missed him for a long time, and am thankful he is at peace.” — Jeanne Zeek ’08, ’14, Senior Administrative Assistant for Assurance of Learning and Marketing, Marianist Educational Associate, School of Business Administration
“Fr. Chris will be dearly missed by the School of Engineering.  He was a bright light, who graced us with his wisdom, great sense of humor, caring and compassion and his excellent skills as a photographer.” — Margaret Pinnell, associate dean for Faculty and Staff Development; associate professor, department of mechanical and aerospace engineering


Father Francois Rossier S.M. 3-2-17 Executive director of International Marian Research Institute

“François was dedicated to the mission of IMRI of making Mary more known, loved and served. He cared deeply about IMRI’s work and its students. He was a lovely person. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know and work with him. He was kind and thoughtful.” — Kathleen Webb, dean of University libraries.

“Fr. Rossier was very interested in connecting with the University community beyond the IMRI. He cared deeply about the mission and identity of our Marianist and Catholic university.” — Rev. James Fitz, S.M., University of Dayton vice president for mission and rector.


David W. Ahern 12-26-16 professor emeritus of political science

“David was a wonderful colleague and teacher, and a terrific friend with a delightful sense of humor and an engaging conversational style.”— John Geiger, former University provost

“He loved to rib folks he liked about any number of issues ranging from their driving habits to choices of restaurants. Dave was generous to a fault — in my case, he offered me his home while he was traveling, provided I would take care of his belligerent cat.” — Rick Ghere, associate professor of political science

David had a delightfully sharp sense of humor. He was a creative and innovative educator, developing simulations and computer-facilitated learning well before inquiry-based models of learning became more common in higher education. Former students are still quick to remember fondly their time in Ruritania. He also provided valuable leadership for the department of political science over many years.” — Jason Pierce, dean of College of Arts and Sciences 




Father Joseph Patrick Tedesco, S.M. 12-2-16 professor of psychology

“Father Tedesco was an adjunct member of the UD Department of Psychology from 1996 to 2011, and for the fall semester of 2015 when he was back in Dayton on sabbatical. He taught many courses including intro, abnormal, developmental, personality, tests and measurements, and his all-time favorite, sports psychology. He was very beloved by his students and admired by other faculty. Father ‘Teddy,’ as he was affectionately known, was also my teaching mentor when I first came to the department in 2007. He was a natural born teacher and standup comedian. He was also a licensed professional clinical counselor and a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology. His dissertation research was on performance enhancement. He also received the honor of being inducted in the Ohio Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2006. Father Teddy was also my formation mentor when I first joined the Marianists. We lived together in the Alumni Hall Marianist Community from 2008 to 2010. He helped shape me into the Marianist I am today. He taught me volumes about generosity and self-giving by his example. Father Teddy and I were also co-advisers together for the Greek Fraternity on campus, Beta Theta Pi. He said this made us ‘double brothers.’ He was my truly my best Marianist friend. We all and will miss him terribly. He deeply touched many lives as a priest, teacher and friend.

“May his good and great memory be for us a blessing!” — Brother Thomas Farnsworth, S.M., professor in the department of psychology


joesph-kepes-pics-1 Joseph J. Kepes 9-18-16 professor of physics

“Early in my career at UD, I was assigned to teach in the department’s Summer Intensive Physics Program, which was instituted by Joe. This program offered students the opportunity to complete the two semester algebra-based physics sequence, both lecture and laboratory, in a total of 7 weeks during the summer. Participants were fully immersed in physics, meeting 6 days a week, all day and into the evenings. Because it was a unique offering at the time, students from a number of institutions around the country enrolled, and although the course was very demanding of the student’s time, students always reviewed the experience as productive and valuable.

Joe was a constant member of the Physics golf team that played in the annual Jim La Vance Memorial Golf Tournament. It was great to be able to spend a morning playing golf with Joe, who was an avid golfer. As skilled as he was, he enjoyed playing with those of us with questionable skills. We looked forward to fielding a team every year and spending the time with colleagues outside of the department.” — John Erdei, associate professor and chair of department of physics


takis-tsonis Panagiotis A. Tsonis 9-3-16 professor of biology

“Takis had a passion for regenerative medicine and, in particular, limb regeneration that will transform the lives of those who have suffered from such life-changing injuries. His work on regeneration was a very significant scientific breakthrough. Takis’ loss is a major blow to UD and the research community as a whole.” — Khalid Lafdi, professor of chemical and materials engineering

“Takis was an inspiration. The department’s current research success was built around Takis’ efforts and spirit; he was one of a very few scientists who could make research sing. I think many of us saw that his best days were ahead of him, which makes his passing all the more difficult. He will be sorely missed.”— Mark Nielsen, professor and chair of the department of biology


“No words to describe Professor Tsonis. He was a special person. My Godfather. He had a foresight that very few could understand. He was men of his own kind. Scientist of a caliber not less then a noble laureate. If someday I have to give title of father of tissue regeneration-I will be glad to nominate his name. He could have achieved, and contributed lot more than what he had. His hypothesis has always worked. His imagination was beyond limits. His power to read patterns was nothing less than a God Gift. I am sad that he passed away, and left me like this. Hope whereever he is he is in peace, and solitude because that is what he was searching for in his last two years of life. God Bless my Mento. Dr. Panagiotis A. Tsonis. Amin!”— Abijeet Mehta, doctoral candidate in department of biology


John RoweJohn J. Rowe 7-22-16  professor emeritus of biology

“Dr. Rowe encouraged us to stretch our intellects. I vividly recall him handing me a copy of Nature with the advice that, even as an undergraduate, I should be aware of cutting-edge research. Though he was academically demanding, he was also warm and hospitable. He once invited a group of us out to his farm to look at the Andromeda Galaxy without the light pollution of the city. Of course, Dr. Rowe had a bonfire, drink, and an evening of storytelling waiting for us. He will be dearly missed.” — Kaitlin Moredock DiNapoli ’08


John QuinnJohn F. Quinn 7-13-16 professor emeritus of philosophy

“John contributed a great deal to our department during his decades at UD. He developed both our business ethics courses and our philosophy of law courses, coordinating with the schools of law and business. A constant learner, he taught a wide variety of courses including medieval philosophy, Islamic philosophy, philosophy of art, logic, and philosophy of language, and served as a docent at the Dayton Art Institute for many years. John was effusive and outgoing, and loved teaching, food, drink and friends. He will be missed by his colleagues in the department of philosophy and elsewhere on campus.” —Rebecca Wisnant, associate professor of philosophy

“Dr. Quinn was a renaissance figure in many ways and wanted students to feel connections with hands-on experience. For example, what would it be like to do our taxes based on Roman numerals, and how did we shift to the numbers that we use today? Dr. Quinn created UD’s PHL 365: Islamic Philosophy and Culture course to introduce students to the wider web of geometric structures in Muslim art and architecture. He wanted students to embrace the Islamic rebirth of math and science that led directly to our use Arabic numbers and algebra today, with all the efficiency that this has brought in its wake.

“The University of Tehran invited him to speak more than once on Islamic philosophy. During these visits, Dr. Quinn assembled a remarkable collection of beautiful illuminated manuscript pages, which he often shared with students.

“Dr. Quinn was a trailblazer at UD in establishing PHL 313: Business Ethics and keeping it up to date. He would consistently receive top awards for papers at academic conferences on business ethics.

“With his law degree, Dr. Quinn would often give colleagues and students legal advice free of charge.” — John Inglis, professor and chair of the department of philosophy

“John Quinn was one of my professors when I attended graduate school in philosophy at UD in the 1980s. He possessed an appetite for knowledge. He studied law, art, philosophy, business and whatever peaked his curiosity. In many ways he was a true Renaissance man. He volunteered as a docent for the Dayton Art Institute. He created the now popular course in Business Ethics. John was generous with his time. Over the years, he dealt with health issues with great courage, humor and dignity. This is how he faced his death. I am glad to have been his student, his colleague and his friend.” — Bill Marvin ’91, lecturer in the department of philosophy


Joe WatrasJoseph L. Watras 6-5-16 professor of teacher education

“Dr. Watras was an amazing faculty member who inspired education majors at UD for decades. He would start every class with a little joke to draw us all into the moment, but he didn’t have to. He had our attention the moment he would softly say, “Good afternoon.” Like every other member of the Dayton family he cared for his students. I wasn’t the best scholar, but his genuine nature always made me feel like my contribution to the conversation mattered.  He had a way of making every student feel as bright and unique as one of his bow ties.” —Michael Fletcher Skelton ’12

“I had Dr. Watras freshman year at UD. He was an excellent professor who truly cared about all of his students and wanted them to learn and grow to become wonderful educators. I will always remember his corny jokes and custom bow ties that he wore daily made by his wife. He is definitely a professor I will never forget!” — Anne Nestor ’12

“Dr. Joseph Watras of the Department of Teacher Education passed away recently. He was 72. His scholarly work, which was considerable, kept our students in touch with the history and philosophy of education. In this day of computers and endless proposed techniques and methodologies associated with teaching, Dr. Watras reminded students to think of what schools are for, where is education headed, for what social purpose. One former student wrote me recently: “Dr. Watras was only 35 when I had him as an instructor. He impressed me as being intellectual and wanting his students to think for themselves. He put alot of emphasis on choosing words. He would challenge you if what you said did not make sense… Socratic method of challenging the student on presumptions in order to stimulate critical thinking. He could be viewed as harsh in that regard as he indeed challenged you.” Most schools of education do not offer a philosophy of education course; students are interested in so called “practical” techniques and methodologies. Therefore, philosophy of education is difficult to teach.  Surveys indicate that it is the least liked teacher preparation course yet, Dr. Watras endured this disinterest and did magnificent work in stimulating deep and serious thought by students. His voice is regrettably dying in teacher education. The profession will miss him.” — Ellis Joseph, dean emeritus, School of Education


K. Michael Geary Michael Geary 4-6-16 retired professor of accounting

“I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Geary as a professor during my time at UD. I took his introductory audit course and distinctly remember it being one my favorite classes due to his enthusiasm and practical experience with the subject. Dr. Geary didn’t just simply teach what the textbook said, but instead taught by providing real-life situations that made the topics both interesting and relatable. Dr. Geary truly cared about his students and their well being and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him.” — Anita Shankar ’11


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Finding light in darkness

9:50 AM  Aug 4th, 2016
by Erin Frey '18

In the midst of tragedy, Colleen O’Malia Stine learned that positive messages were so much more than words on T-shirts.

Stine started by selling handmade prints adorned with phrases like, “Choose being kind over being right, and you’ll be right every time,” and “There is a time and place for kindness. Always and everywhere.”

In 2012, one of Stine’s prints was featured on Pinterest. Her website soon had thousands of views and too many orders to fill, so Stine reached out to her sister Shannon O’Malia Hall ’96. Being 10 years her elder, Shannon would do anything for her baby sister, even drive from Chicago to St. Louis to help her complete the mountains of shipments.

With her sister and a business partner, Colleen opened the online store Mama Said Tees.

“The main goal of the store is to remind us to stay positive and show our children how to treat others,” said Stine, a public relations major at UD.

Five days after the shop opened, Shannon was killed, leaving her two children without parents. Stine took them in as her own, doubling the size of her family.

On her blog The Best Job I’ve Ever Had, Stine recounts what it was like to lose her sister, “I felt hopeless. I felt lost, like a part of me was missing. I didn’t think I would ever live wholly again.”

The store helped, the sayings on the shirts now brightening her own life. Although still mourning, Stine and her business partner created a new T-shirt and print, “Let your smile change the world,” reflecting Shannon’s infectious attitude and in support of a college fund for her two sons.

Stine honors her sister through the store and also with naming her newborn daughter after Shannon in August 2015. Her business also recently launched a national campaign called #letsredefinenormal in the hopes that everyone can accept themselves and others wholly.

“It has become so much more than just selling T-shirts,” Stine said. “It has shown me that there can be light in the darkness, and that the most important thing is to spread happiness wherever you can.”

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Transforming Cultures

9:48 AM  Jul 30th, 2016
by Madalyn Beban ’17

For Patricia Russell, innovation comes in all forms. Not only has she taken risks professionally, starting her own consulting firm after a successful chemical engineering career, but her methods as a consultant concentrate on changing individual perspectives.

During her time as an undergraduate, Russell recorded a great deal of firsts. She helped found Minority Engineers for Advancement and was both the first woman from the Bahamas and the first African-American woman to graduate from the University with a chemical engineering degree.

After getting her master’s in chemical engineering and working in the field for several years, she discovered a different path.

“I loved chemical engineering — I liked the analytics and the numbers,” she said. “But while working as a chemical engineer, I discovered the type of work I really belonged in. It was always about people.”

Sixteen years ago, she made the leap. By starting The Russell Consulting Group, Russell was able to pursue the work she loved. Her firm works with companies, primarily in health care and higher education, to improve productivity and create a great place to work.

“A lot of consultants work on changing behavior, hoping that will impact results,” she said. “I focus on shifting thinking, on identifying thought patterns behind behaviors, on mastering ego to transform cultures.”

Russell’s engineering background has continued to serve her well, giving her firm a competitive edge.

“The strategic-thinking skills I learned help me survive the ups and downs of consulting work,” she said. “If you don’t have that strategic or critical-thinking talent, it’s almost impossible to adapt your business model.”

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Spinning Success

3:21 PM  Jul 25th, 2016
by Anna Adami

A short story by UD senior Anna Adami.

I corner my boss between desks and ask him if we can talk. The whole office hears. The whole office hears everything. We keep our eyes fixed on computer screens and pretend to be lost in our work. Spreadsheets and hollow numbers never led me to feeling found, and I am tired of searching.

I sit across from him in the conference room. He clicks his pen. I give him my two weeks’ notice.

“I’m confused,” he says. He leans back in his chair. “You work hard. With time, you’ll be promoted.”

I watch the clock. “I’m sorry, I am,” I tell him.

“Oh, replacing you won’t be a problem. I’m just concerned for you. Do you have another job lined up?”

“Well, not exactly, but — 

He says, “The economy is tricky. Unemployment is on the rise.”

He stacks a pile of papers that are already straight.

“I’m worried for you.”

“I appreciate your concern, sir.”

He takes an exaggerated breath. “Very well.”

I stand. “Thank you for your understanding.”

“Best of luck.” He turns away from me. I walk out.

I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with my mother and brother. Mama came home every night after dark with bags under her eyes and fingers that ached.

One time, Louie left me home alone. I must have been 6 or 7 years old. He checked his appearance in the cracked mirror. He was nine years older than me. “I gotta go,” he said. “Mama should be home soon.”

I sat alone with dust and cobwebs. I was crying when Mama jiggled open the finicky door. “Hush, child. I know it’s late,” she said, “But I’m here now. I’m here.”

She picked me up and hugged me close. “Let’s get you washed up, why don’t we?” She started the bath, and she sang. She scrubbed me up, and she kept on singing. Then she tucked me into bed. The linens needed to be washed.                                                                                                                                                                                              
I snuggled my body close to hers. “Mmm, girl,” she said,
“You smell good. Like lavender and bubbles.” She was asleep before I could reply. 

She never had time for much. She waited tables in the mornings, sewed shirts the afternoons. She left food for us when she wasn’t home. She had her jobs and she had her kids and she had one friend who came over for dinner on Sundays. After dinner they’d have “adult conversation.” I would crack open the bedroom door, lay on my stomach and listen to the grownups talk as if they were movie stars on the television we never had.

I remember a time they laughed so hard that my mama fell out of her chair. And then they laughed harder.

“I mean, shoot,” my mama said, “he says,” she clutched at her stomach, “he says, ‘You ain’t a slave! You get paid!”’ They howled. Then they wiped the tears off their faces and let silence settle with the dust. My mama reached for a napkin and scrubbed at a stain on the table that never seemed to come off.

“Norma?” her friend asked.

“Hmm, child?”

“We doing a good thing, ya hear?”

My mama nodded her head like she did in church. “I know it,” she said.

Her friend sighed. Mama stood and turned on the radio. Jazz wiped away the silence. She closed her eyes and hummed. She rocked back and forth, tapping her foot, nodding her head. “We doing more than putting food on
the table,” Mama said. “We serving our kids a future. The platter ain’t silver, but we manage.” She rocked, back and forth. “We manage.”

Her friend leaned back in her chair. “Sometimes,” she said, “I thinka what I would do if I were born with opportunity. I think I’d want to be one a’ those university boys.                                                                                          
Get myself a degree. History. I’d wanna study history. Awful fascinating,” she said. “Maybe I could rewrite it.” Mama’s eyes were still closed. Her friend continued. “And I’d have to have a hobby. A sport,” she said, “Like horseback riding. Might feel like flying.”

“There are no horses in the city,” Mama said.

“Well, I’d have a second home. In the country. I’d leave the city on the weekends to fly with horses when the history got too heavy.” Her friend smiled. “Wouldn’t have to worry about a thing. Not really. Ever thinka that?”

“No,” Mama snapped her eyes open and shook her head, like dusting off cobwebs. She walked to the refrigerator and took out the milk. “I think about how I can live this life the best I can as who I am,” she said. “I think about the power I do have, not the power I don’t. I got the power over my own thoughts, firstly. I got the power to work. I got the power to love my children.” She pulled two mugs out of the cabinet. “Want some coffee?” she asked. “I got some coffee and the power to share it.”

I call my mama to tell her I quit my job. She starts  talking before I do.

“You remember that old friend of mine?” she asks, “I’d have her over for dinner sometimes. She was another single mother. Worked with me at the diner. Anyway, we got to talking yesterday for the first time in three years. She asked about you. I told her about how you’re doing so good for yourself. How you got yourself a car now, and a good, well-paying job. How you moved to the suburbs. Now you’re just looking for a husband,” Mama laughs. “I told her ain’t a single man good enough for my baby girl.” I let Mama keep talking. When my doorbell rings, I have an excuse to hang up.

I’d ordered Chinese. I don’t open the boxes. My stomach is cluttered with cobwebs. I go to bed early. I toss from my left to right side. I think through telling Mama I quit my job. I rehearse scenarios in my head. I turn to my stomach. Louie always told me I wouldn’t have bad dreams if I slept on my stomach. I fall asleep in an instant.

In the morning I have my coffee with the newspaper and a legal pad. At the top of a fresh page I write “DREAMS,” then cross it out and write “FUTURE.” I look through the jobs pages, but don’t find much worth circling. Where the job descriptions end, the obituaries begin. I read one. A white boy. Twenty-two years old. Graduated from Columbia. Summa cum laude. Interning for a marketing firm. Unpaid, probably, but he had “such a bright future ahead of him.”                                                                                                                                           
He fell off the Brooklyn Bridge. Left “two loving parents and a sister behind.”

My stomach feels empty, but the thought of food makes me sick. I stare at the black and white photograph. I grab my Sharpie. I circle the date, time and address. I go to my closet and try on the black dress I haven’t touched since Louie’s funeral.

I sit at the back of the church. We all stand when the family walks down the aisle. A wail jumps from the mother’s mouth, though she tries to keep it caged. The father wraps his left arm around the mother. His right hand clutches a handkerchief to his nose. The sister walks with a straight back. She looks at each face they pass. Her eyes hit mine. They gleam with still dewdrop tears. She looks away.

Grief walks with the family. Through it, they reach for each other. Except the girl. She shrugs away. She wants time with Grief alone. She has questions she needs to ask it.

There’s a reception after the funeral. I don’t want to trespass, but I’m not ready to go home. I pace through the garden in front of the church. I stand in front of the statue of a saint and wonder what it means to be that good.

I turn and see the sister. She is sitting on a bench and looking straight ahead.

“Mind if I sit here?” I ask her.

“Have at it,” she says. Her voice is empty.

“Your brother?” I ask the obvious. She nods.

“Did you know him?” she asks.

I say, “Not very well.”

We sit still. A spider crawls over my knee. I don’t flick it off. The girl pokes the silence. “People don’t just fall off the Brooklyn Bridge,” she says.

I watch the spider crawl across the bench but feel it in my throat.

“They jump,” she says.

The spider stops. “My parents refuse to acknowledge it,” the girl continues. She lets out a breath and a hollow laugh. “They mean well, they do. They just … well,” she rubs her palms back and forth on her skirt. “They pushed Dave,” she says. “They pushed him hard, you know. Private school his whole life. His first day of high school they said, ‘Make us proud.’ After high school was Ivy League. If he wanted to go to college, he had to prove himself. He doctored his life to fit a résumé. He thought college meant freedom. God.” She looks at her hands. Then she starts watching the spider, too. It crawls toward the tiny tree in front of us.

“He wanted to major in philosophy,” the girl says. “My parents told him they wouldn’t pay for that. So he studied business.” The spider climbs the tree. “He didn’t come home much.” The spider starts spinning a web. “I think … I think my brother may have ended his life because he felt like it wasn’t his in the first place. Everyone’s saying how tragic his death is because he just graduated and his life was getting started, but I think how tragic,” she starts laughing, “how tragic it is that his life hadn’t started before.” She laughs harder. “I mean, Jesus!” she says. “His life should have started the day he was born!”

Then I laugh, too. We both laugh body-convulsing laughter on a sunny day that would be better off cloudy. I imagine the reception happening inside. I think about people eating meatballs on toothpicks and making small talk about tragedy and about future. I laugh harder. I never thought I’d relate so much to a dead white boy or his laughing sister.

We stop laughing but we don’t stop crying. We sit still and let the saltwater surge like the tide of an ocean too big to entirely fathom.

I snag my voice back from the spider. “I’m sorry for your loss,” I tell her.

“Me too,” she says. A dull ache throbs in my sinuses. “Thanks for listening,” she says. “I didn’t realize I needed to say that stuff.”

“Oh, child,” I tell her, “I didn’t realize I needed to hear it. But I did. I did.”

I reach into my purse and fumble for paper. “When you need to talk,” I tell her. “Real talk. With someone unrelated to anything else.” I write my phone number. “Call me. I’ll probably need to talk too.”

“I will,” she says. She looks at me. “I like you,” she says.

“I like you, too.”

She stares ahead again. “Life is strange,” she says.

“And heavy.”

She rubs her eyes with the palms of her hands. “Yeah,” she says. She takes a quick, shaky breath.

I leave the girl so she can talk with Grief. I shake the branch that holds the spider’s web. I watch it fall. I walk away. But I know the spider will crawl back up the tree. It will spin a web again. It will catch a mosquito and it will eat it and it will feel full. So full.

When I get home, I pick up the phone. I lay on my stomach and listen to it growl.

I call to ask for my job back.

Anna Adami graduated in May with an English major and a Spanish minor. She found a writing community at UD of professors and peers who gave generous encouragement, smart critique and unfiltered love. For the development of her writing skills, she credits the passionate English faculty: style with Patrick Thomas, fiction with Joe Pici and screenwriting with Chris Burnside. She recently transferred her writing from the page to the stage, performing downtown with the Dayton Poetry Slam, an equally eclectic and supportive community. She is now looking for a job that will  employ her passion for the written word. Her story first appeared in the autumn 2015 issue of Orpheus.

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Divergent Thinking

9:46 AM  Jul 25th, 2016
by Grace Poppe ’16

In 2012, Robert Boeke and his wife, Rita, traveled to Haiti to teach a three-week math and English course. They didn’t intend to visit the island more than once. But in August 2014, they returned to facilitate a seminar that helped Haitian students plan for their futures.

Originally, the Boekes went to Haiti at the suggestion of Father Medard Laz, with whom they started a Catholic parish in Inverness, Illinois, in the 1980s. When Father Laz later became involved in a project in Haiti, he informed Bob Boeke that his math background would be a help at the University of the Nouvelle Grand’Anse (UNOGA) in Jeremie.

Upon arriving in Haiti, the Boekes realized almost immediately that their students had trouble envisioning the future in their work.

“We were concerned that university graduates in agronomy and business management would be hampered in their ability to start businesses, plan plantings and bring about change in Haiti,” Bob Boeke said.

He and his math educator colleague Mercedes McGowen planned a two-week seminar to stimulate multiple areas of the brain and help students become well-rounded independent leaders and thinkers.

After the Boekes returned to the U.S., the Divergent Thinking Seminar was approved by the UNOGA administration for Aug. 18-29, 2014.

UNOGA will continue to offer the seminar, after sending three Haitian employees to stay with the Boekes for a two-week training on presenting the material. Following the training, the Boekes plan to have daily Skype sessions with the teachers for support.

“Perhaps the most important ongoing result of the seminar is that the students have a sense of empowerment. They are talking among themselves and others about believing that they can change Haiti,” Bob Boeke said.

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Porch Reads, and beyond

9:44 AM  Jul 22nd, 2016
by Shelby Quinlivan '06

Whether it’s a question about research or the best place on campus to curl up with a good book, Heidi Gauder has your answer.

As coordinator of research and instruction at University of Dayton, Gauder coordinates a team of librarians to teach students how to conduct research, a task that has evolved as much as the library has since Gauder began her career there in 1998.

“Not only do we provide core services like reference work, teaching and collections, but we have also expanded,” Gauder said. “We have an institutional repository that archives campus scholarship — and serves as a platform for conferences and journals; we have gallery spaces; we have a faculty delivery service; and we are engaging our users on social media. We are also digitizing portions of our special collections and archival materials.

“The library has great study spaces, but it’s so much more than that these days. The best part of this job is helping folks get to an answer or see that they have learned to do it on their own.”

Gauder, an American studies major a UD, expanded on her interest in how students learn in the library — whether as part of class for a library-led session or in training for student library employees — during her recent sabbatical research.

Having firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be a student at UD, Gauder also saw an opportunity to help undergraduates find time to unwind with a good book. Porch Reads, a book club exclusive to UD, gives students four novels to read per year and the opportunity to have lively discussion in a group setting. Now in its 10th year, Gauder has seen the program grow in popularity.

As for where to curl up with a Jane Austen or Tom Wolfe novel, Gauder recommends the sixth floor of Roesch Library or the gazebo between Albert Emanuel Hall and Roesch.

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