Read our interactive issue to see videos, links and more.
When I addressed faculty, staff and students at my presidential installation 12 years ago, I talked about how a Catholic university must be a force for social change.
Today, I’m more convinced of that than ever.
At a February lunch with students, one shared an intriguing idea about how he could develop safe water in developing countries. During summers, teams of our students have traveled to Africa, where they’ve worked with villagers to install pipelines to carry clean water. Still, the problem of access to safe water persists in too many places in the world.
Our faculty and students have long fought against human trafficking — to the point of encouraging Ohio legislators to pass Senate Bill 235 that made it a felony. Still, more than 1,000 children in Ohio become victims each year.
In October, I signed an agreement with Catholic Relief Services that supports faculty research and advocacy in a campaign to eliminate slave labor in Brazil. Last summer, five professors visited the country to examine slave labor in the manufacture of consumer goods that Americans buy. They met with government and church officials to map strategies for change. Still, the International Labor Organization estimates that 40,000 people work in slavery in Brazil today.
News and social media show us faces of the poor, of refugees, of victims of starvation and genocide. We shouldn’t turn our eyes.
So last fall, we convened a global conference to share research on effective human rights advocacy and announced our intention to create and endow a human rights center on campus. In recent weeks, we’ve met with foundations and alumni to share our vision for a center devoted to education, research, advocacy — and action. We are seeking partners in this work deeply rooted in our mission as a
Catholic, Marianist university.
We will be a voice for the voiceless. To do so, we must continue to analyze the systemic causes of injustice, advocate solutions and educate students for work that will advance human rights.
We’re in an ideal position to make a difference. We started the country’s first undergraduate human rights program in 1998 and began offering a bachelor’s degree in human rights studies a decade later. Our alumni today work worldwide in humanitarian roles.
During the past two decades, we’ve held symposia on human rights issues, including the rights of the child and violence against women. Through a generous gift from alumnus Peter McGrath ’72, we began a rigorous research fellows program. Faculty and students conduct research in all areas of human rights, from human trafficking to refugee resettlement.
I’m reminded of Marianist priest William J. Ferree’s philosophy of social justice: It’s not up to individuals alone to make a difference. It’s the responsibility of all to work together to create change.
In the Marianist spirit, through the center for human rights, we will work together to address the world’s systemic injustices and promote the dignity of all people.
Whenever I walk through campus and spot the towering blue dome of the chapel, I instantly feel at home — and at peace.
I occasionally take a break from the busyness of the day to steal a few moments, sit in the chapel, reflect and be one with God. This is the spiritual heart of our campus. It’s a place to witness grace in our lives. It’s where we come together to celebrate, to find solace, to pray in community.
During my time in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, I have seen that it is in need of care. We’ve completed only partial renovations of the chapel since its construction by the Marianists in 1869.
Today, this sacred place deserves a thoughtful and unified renovation. We want to improve the interior to meet contemporary liturgical requirements while bringing back the wood finishes, warm colors, pews, artistic touches and the simple elegance of yesteryear. I recently reviewed preliminary sketches for new stained glass windows that will mimic the original colors and patterns — and respect the chapel’s rich history.
More than $11 million toward a $12 million renovation has been committed from trustees, alumni and friends, including a major bequest and a recent anonymous $3 million gift. I’m confident we can meet this fundraising goal and begin a yearlong renovation in August 2014. I’m so grateful to our supporters for their faith in this project.
Earlier this year, we entered into a formal partnership with the Church of the Holy Angels, which sits in the middle of campus among student houses on the corner of Brown and L streets. This is not a merger but a true collaboration. A graduate assistant is helping to direct a K-6 faith formation program at the parish, and undergraduates in the two-year Forum for Young Catechetical Leaders program are teaching catechism classes and offering programs in adult faith formation and sacramental preparation.
Most importantly, when we need a larger worship space, Holy Angels will now be available. That has allowed the University to recommend a renovation rather than an expansion of the chapel. We are now working with a liturgical consultant and architect to finalize the plans.
Preliminary plans call only for a modest addition on the south side of the building for a bride’s room, reconciliation room and restrooms. As people walk through the chapel’s beautiful wooden doors, they will enter a new gathering space. Just inside the chapel, a baptismal font will serve as a visual reminder of the origins of our faith. Traditional wood pews will replace the chairs. Every detail, from the art and statues to the religious symbols used on the windows and walls, will reflect a desire to enhance the chapel’s natural beauty and create greater harmony.
The newly renovated chapel will stand as a testament to what a community of believers can accomplish through faith and action. It will be a symbol of our gratitude to our Marianist founders, who taught us that we are to use our knowledge and faith to make a difference in the lives of others.
It will be a sacred place for all.
Feeling a spray of mist, I float down the Great Miami River with the River Stewards, an eclectic group of students from almost all majors united around their love of the river.
As I paddle my kayak past tree-lined grassy banks and watch the downtown skyline emerge in the distance, I understand more deeply their passion, their sense of wonder at the possibilities.
The River Stewards represent a new generation of water enthusiasts. As ambassadors for riverfront development, they are a critical part of a team of regional leaders and planners working to leverage the assets of more than a dozen waterfront communities in a 77-mile stretch winding from Sidney to Hamilton — and right through our campus.
Don’t underestimate the power of their vision, the depth of their tenacity.
With the help of donors and educational leaders, they recently converted a 53-foot semi-trailer into a mobile, multimedia classroom. It’s a roving billboard that vividly illustrates the students’ commitment to conserving and promoting the Great Miami River watershed. It’s set to travel to area schools this fall.
The RiverMobile’s mission is simple: to develop pride for the region, to provide knowledge about Dayton’s river system and water resources, and to develop personal responsibility for the protection of local water resources and the environment.
As Rivers Institute graduate assistant Bethany Renner ’12 told her fellow River Stewards at the unveiling of the RiverMobile, “We believe that if people learn to appreciate and grow to love our local watershed and its assets, they will do their part to act as good stewards.
The RiverMobile is just one very visible example of how the University is bringing Dayton to the river. This summer, we partnered with the Miami Conservancy District to construct a bike path extension along the river from Stewart Street to the softball diamond. We plan to build stairs to the river and place benches or swings along the adjacent bike path. We’re launching the Outdoor Engagement Center so all students will have access to the equipment they need to enjoy our rivers and trails.
More importantly, faculty, staff and students in the Rivers Institute can be found at the table of every major regional discussion about water. The River Stewards recently lobbied to remove a dangerous low dam in down- town Dayton. They created a river leadership curriculum for UD students. They spearheaded an annual River Summit to develop a regional strategy for tapping into the untapped potential of the rivers.
We educate our students to be community builders. One trip down the Great Miami River is all it takes to see how well the River Stewards have learned that lesson.
It’s rare for a global company to build a huge research center on a college campus, but GE Aviation doesn’t think small. Neither do we.
The world’s largest jet engine supplier spends about $1 billion annually on research-and-development efforts and plans to double its engine production during the next decade. I admire that kind of forward-thinking philosophy because we think and act boldly, too.
When finished this summer, GE Aviation’s new EPISCENTER rising along 8 acres at Patterson Boulevard and River Park Drive will create more electric power than any other lab of its kind in the world. The company says this aerospace research complex will be the “intellectual heart and soul” of GE Aviation’s electrical power business.
It will stand as a testament to what imagination — and collaboration — can accomplish. In the higher education landscape nationally, this innovative partnership can be a model for the future.
When we bought our first big parcel of land from NCR in 2005, we worked with regional leaders to secure the federal and state funds necessary to transform the largely vacant urban brownfield into a vibrant academic and mixed-use development. We envisioned attracting strong companies that could spur additional research, serve as real-world classrooms and spark economic development for the region.
Admittedly, some people thought that was a far-fetched idea. Not only is the EPISCENTER, which stands for Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center, opening this summer, Midmark, a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of health care products, is moving its corporate headquarters to the 1700 South Patterson Building on our River Campus.
These companies are looking for intellectual talent, for young professionals to join their ranks and build a future of innovation in Dayton. GE Aviation and Midmark will only have to look in their backyard for their future leaders.
Internships, particularly those that lead to full-time positions, are the top recruiting strategy for a growing number of employers. In the past year alone, we’ve seen a remarkable 43 percent jump in postings for internships and co-ops through our Career Placement Center.
GE Aviation wants to tap into the best minds in our classrooms and labs. That’s why the company is committing at least $1 million annually to bring graduate engineering students into the EPISCENTER to work on design teams.
Talk about a résumé builder. As Lorraine Bolsinger, then-president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems, told community leaders at the 2012 Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, “This will not be an ivory tower kind of place. This is not a center where people will walk around in white lab coats and tinker in R&D as a hobby. GE scientists will team with UD graduate students and faculty to develop new electrical power systems for future aircraft. And we will sell them worldwide.”
That’s the kind of vision we at UD like, bold and forward-thinking.
Driving along Rahn Road in Kettering a few years ago, I noticed a Christmas tree decorated in Flyer colors.
“Look, Claire, that tree has only red and blue lights,” I said to my wife after we passed it.
“No, it doesn’t,” she said in surprise. As we drove down the same road later, she pointed out the multicolored lights on the tree. “The problem with you is that you only see red and blue,” she said with a laugh.
After more than 10 years as president, I’ve discovered my love for the University of Dayton only grows deeper with time.
Last fall, The Princeton Review ranked the University 10th in the nation under the category, “Their Students Love These Colleges.” That’s no surprise to those who live and study here. A sheet draped from a Woodland Avenue porch at the end of August said it all: “6 Girls, 5 Majors, 4 States, 3rd Year, 2 Porches, 1 Home.”
In a hotel lobby in Xi’an, China, a person behind me in the registration line noticed that my traveling companion was wearing a Dayton Flyers shirt. He wanted to talk about the two degrees he earned here. We reminisced for an hour about a campus 7,000 miles away, about his time as a student and the resulting bond that stretches around the world.
Our students are the heart of this university, the hope for our world. Their passion energizes me.
Students in the Rivers Institute, with generous support from local donors, imagined and created the RiverMobile. Converted from a semi-trailer, it’s a traveling exhibit that showcases the Great Miami River watershed for local schoolchildren.
Other students lobbied to bring Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof to campus this spring for an annual social justice event called Consciousness Rising, aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking.
And what can you say about the Red Scare? On game day, they paint their faces red and blue, dress up as the Wright brothers, wave oversized signs and never sit down. They are the reason why the University of Dayton Arena is arguably the best place in America to experience college basketball.
This February, we are celebrating the monthlong “I Love UD” campaign. We want you to tell the world how special this place is. For those who haven’t been involved recently, we invite you to reconnect. Share one of your vintage Lawnview porch photos. Make a donation to a UD scholarship fund. Spearhead a food drive, tutor students or engage in a random act of kindness on your own or with others in your local alumni chapter.
In 1850, Father Leo Meyer, S.M., had the foresight and faith to borrow money and buy a farm. We are all stewards of that legacy. We are all builders of a university that we love.
Let’s show that love.
On a steamy Sunday morning in August, I walked into Shanghai’s St. Ignatius Cathedral for Mass.
The church’s pews overflowed with 2,500 parishioners, so I stood quietly along the back wall, marveling at the sight of faith in action in China. I was surprised by the number of young people worshipping.
Earlier that day, I spent an unforgettable hour with one of the oldest Catholic bishops in the world in his apartment in the cathedral. Jesuit Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, 96, is an inspiring figure, the most influential Catholic in China. About two decades ago, he traveled to our campus to talk about his experiences in China, a Communist country with a checkered relationship with the Vatican. Even now, his stories hold so much power.
Bishop Jin, who’s still spry and energetic, spent nearly three decades under house arrest, in re-education camps and in prison in his native land. Yet, he never lost the faith.
When he was released from prison in 1982, he discovered that St. Ignatius Cathedral, the church where he had been ordained, had been turned into a state-owned grain warehouse during the cultural revolution. The once-stately church had been vandalized, stripped of its magnificent Gothic spires and stained glass. Today, the cathedral’s grandeur has been restored after China began allowing the practice of religion again. Estimates put the number of Catholics in China at 12 million to 15 million, and that figure is growing.
Bishop Jin is not part of the so-called underground church in China. He lives openly as a Catholic priest under the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and promotes dialogue with both the government and the Vatican. The Vatican recognizes his ordination, and he’s made a number of important reforms, including receiving permission to celebrate the Mass in Mandarin instead of Latin.
We talked about faith, what it means to be a Catholic in China, and the role the University of Dayton can play in the future. It was such a positive, uplifting conversation and, for me, reaffirmed why we’re establishing a physical presence in China through the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou Industrial Park (P. 26). As a Catholic, Marianist university, we’re here, ultimately, to spread knowledge and live our faith. In the spirit of our Marianist founders, we are builders of community — whether we’re celebrating Christmas on Campus or working with engineers around the globe to solve problems.
We don’t shy away from our identity. Our logo is featured prominently on the outside wall of the China Institute, which will include a center for showcasing our Catholic, Marianist heritage. Suzhou Industrial Park officials plan to build a Catholic church within the ultra-modern, sprawling park, and I believe we can play an important role in
helping the church realize its social justice mission in China.
I left China inspired by a bishop who’s living the faith.
As I walk across campus, I’m often greeted by a friendly student voice, “Hey, Dr. Dan. What’s up?”
I appreciate that students casually seek me out for a chat between classes. That kind of comfortable rapport keeps the lines of communication open and helps us learn from one another. During a recent “Dialogue with the President” town hall meeting in Sears Recital Hall, I chatted with students for more than two hours on issues as wide ranging as housing and curriculum to academic reputation and the faith life of campus.
How will campus change in the next five years? Are you going to tear down our houses? What are the plans for Brown Street? These were just a few of the questions they peppered over a lively and candid exchange.
Students promoted the informal gathering in a way that made me laugh. It’s certainly an odd feeling walking across Kennedy Union Plaza and coming face to face with a nearly life-size cardboard cutout photo of yourself.
It’s even more startling to glance over at the rowdy Red Scare student section in UD Arena and spot your giant face bobbing up and down with the likes of the Wright brothers and Flyers basketball coach Archie Miller.
I realize it’s all in good fun.
Like most college presidents, I spend much of my day moving the strategic plan forward, participating in alumni gatherings and fundraising. The job is energizing, but the moments I interact with our students are very special to me.
In my presidency, we’ve built more houses than we’ve torn down. And while we’re committed to modernizing Founders Hall, the oldest residence hall on campus, I assured students at the town hall meeting that we’re also turning our attention to academic buildings. The places where they learn and study — the Science Center, Roesch Library and Chaminade Hall — are all due for upgrades. We’ll be introducing new majors, such as a proposed master of physician assistant practice, and opening an academic and research center in China. The renaissance of Brown Street will continue with bike lanes connecting the campus to downtown.
Claire and I love having students over to our house for meals. I attend Flyer basketball games, but I’m just as likely to cheer students at a volleyball match or a soccer game. I feel such a sense of pride when I listen to students share their research projects at the annual Stander Symposium on campus that celebrates undergraduate research and creativity.
I’ve driven into the heart of Appalachia to visit students running a summer day camp for children in Salyersville, Ky., a campus ministry service project now extending into its 49th year. Another time, I found our students camped outside a Biloxi, Miss., church held together by wooden beams, its walls blown out by a hurricane. They had traveled there over their fall midterm break to aid the relief effort.
Our students help me see life through their eyes, remind me of the power of life’s possibilities. Their curiosity, intellect and compassion never cease to amaze me.
Not to mention their ability to make me laugh when I least expect it.
When the campus community gathered in the chapel to celebrate Brother Ray Fitz’s golden jubilee as a Marianist two years ago, his voice started to break when he spoke about how children and families living in extreme poverty in Dayton allowed him to “see the face of God in a new way.” He called that a gift.
Tucked away in an unassuming office on the fourth floor of St. Joseph Hall, Brother Ray still works on issues of social justice and faith that have defined his life and left a permanent mark on this university. As the University’s first Father Ferree Professor of Social Justice, he devotes much of his life’s work to those living on the margin.
Brother Ray may have stepped down as president a decade ago after moving the University of Dayton into national prominence, but he’s not slowed down. Not one bit.
He’s teaching the course Cities and Social Justice, running a graduate student seminar, helping lead a campuswide dialogue on strengthening the University’s religious identity, participating in a public forum on the future direction of county government and attending a lunch honoring this year’s recipient of the Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Ph.D. Award — an award for someone in the Dayton community dedicated to nurturing and protecting children and families.
And that’s just part of his calendar during a typical week.
Few personify the Catholic, Marianist character of UD better than Brother Ray. He continues to lead through service to others. He teaches us that leaders can inspire by their quiet example. Because he shies away from the spotlight, we’re offering a rare, behind-the-scenes look at his life and work in this issue of University of Dayton Magazine (Page 22).
Of course, I have my own favorite stories.
A person’s character is often illuminated in life’s little moments. One day I started to pull into a UD Arena parking spot only to realize an orange cone had been inadvertently left. As I got out of the car, a man leaned over to move the cone. That’s Brother Ray, humble and caring.
Shortly after I was named president, Brother Ray invited me to attend a “porch party” organized by faculty and staff to celebrate his 23-year tenure as president. They showered him with gifts, and he passed me a ceremonial baton. It was a joyful day for both of us.
That baton sits in my office, a daily reminder of how privileged I am to have succeeded him as president — and how blessed we all are by the gifts he continues to share.
When I meet alumni through my travels, they always ask how the University of Dayton has changed. “Is my house on Kiefaber still there?” “What are the plans for the chapel?”
They cherish memories of hanging out together on front porches and seeking a quiet moment in the chapel. From surviving 8 a.m. classes in St. Joseph Hall to hiking up Stuart Hill on a perfect spring day, they tell me this campus remains a touchstone of their lives.
That enduring sense of what makes the University of Dayton so special is not changing as we adapt with the times and build for the future. We are living through the largest land expansion in our history, and the decisions we make today will shape our destiny. In this issue, we share highlights of our newest master plan and invite your observations as we create the University’s future together. Please share your thoughts with me at email@example.com.
Some projects — like the chapel expansion and renovation, future phases of an interactive Alumni Center and a proposed University Center for the Arts — will rely on private support from alumni and friends. Other strategic priorities endorsed by the board of trustees, such as the construction of townhouse-style apartments on Brown Street and renovations to the Science Center, are expected to be internally funded. We also remain open to exploring partnerships that tie into the University’s mission, such as our collaboration with GE Aviation. The global company’s $51 million research center, currently under construction on eight acres of campus land near the Marriott Hotel, opens in 2013 and will provide numerous research opportunities for students and faculty.
The University of Dayton remains in an enviable position in higher education. While many universities stepped back in recent years, we have been in a position to step forward and take some calculated risks. Universities don’t typically acquire a building that once served as headquarters for a Fortune 500 company, attract funding to reclaim a largely vacant urban brownfield or add a sprawling park to their campuses.
Our master plan will guide our future development as one of the nation’s pre-eminent Catholic universities. It’s a living plan, purposely flexible to allow us to react swiftly to new opportunities in new times.
I invite you to view a multimedia presentation of the master plan at www.udayton.edu/masterplan. If you have a tablet or a smart phone, you can download a free University of Dayton Magazine app that allows you to read the feature and enjoy the multimedia extras.
I see a canvas of possibilities limited only by our imagination. We can never predict the future, but we can — with faith and ingenuity — create it.
A journalist recently asked me about the University of Dayton’s remarkable growth during my presidency.
As I enter my 10th year as president, I’m grateful to lead a university that’s been extraordinarily well-managed for more than 160 years. I inherited a university on an upward path from Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., who led UD into the modern era with a blend of pragmatism, boldness and humility.
In the spirit of our Marianist founders, our faculty and staff have embraced change at a pace some might consider astounding for higher education. Our local, state and national leaders have rallied around our knack of seeing the possibilities — whether it’s the transformation of a brownfield or the launching of centers of excellence in emerging high-tech fields.
We’ve accomplished the extraordinary because of the ingenuity, leadership and buy-in of a community of supporters on campus and beyond.
That’s how we were able to nearly double the size of campus through two major acquisitions from NCR Corp. and then attract a new GE Aviation research center. Seizing opportunities, our faculty and researchers have doubled the sponsored research volume by developing expertise in emerging fields like sensors and alternative energy. We’ve changed our marketing strategy and dramatically increased selectivity and the geographic diversity of our student body. This fall, we’re enrolling the largest number of international students in history and opening a stand-alone institute in China in one of the fastest-growing innovation parks in the world.
Those are all achievements our faculty, staff and students accomplished by reading the signs of the times and acting boldly. It’s just the Marianist way of working together as a community to make change that has created a real difference in the way the University is perceived in the world. I’m inspired — and gratified — by their tireless work.
Alumni tell me they’re proud of the new residential and academic facilities on campus, but it’s the everyday moments that strike me the most.
When a professor or student shares news of winning a Fulbright scholarship, I feel so proud. When an alumnus visits campus after decades and catches the spirit of innovation and the infectious energy of this place, that renews me. When a group of Chinese students tells me they feel at home here — that this is their community — I’m gratified. When our alumni and friends respond with gifts, large and small, that help us grow our endowment and become a stronger university, I’m motivated to set our aspirations higher.
The strength of the University of Dayton is — and will always be — the strength of our community. Nowhere is this more creatively communicated than in the lobby of Albert Emanuel Hall. If one prospective student stands in front of the new motion-sensitive iWall in our admission welcome center, only one vignette of a larger video pops up. If a group is talking to one another in front of the wall, a surprising panoramic view is created. It sends the message that we learn, live, pray and solve problems together — in community. And great things happen when we do that.
As I reflect on the University of Dayton’s future, I believe we are poised to make a quantum leap into the realm of world-class universities. Just as we prepare students with the ability to adapt and thrive in a changing world, we’ve positioned our university to do the same.
We will not be followers, nor will we embark on this journey by ourselves. In the Marianist spirit, we will imagine our future and, together, create it.