Read our interactive issue to see videos, links and more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Because of a project that’s transforming a block along Brown and Caldwell streets, a premed major from Chicago could be rooming with an engineering student from Shanghai in eye-catching townhouse-style apartments by fall 2012.
Lawrence Kondowe knows what it’s like to share his porch in the student neighborhood with students from across the country — and the world.
“I’m from Malawi, Africa, and found a home away from home at the University of Dayton,” Lawrence said this spring at the blessing and groundbreaking ceremony for the new housing project. “And I’m not alone. I met more friends than I ever imagined. It’s one big community on this campus.”
I’ve heard that sentiment many times before. Whether students come to the University of Dayton from Boston or Beirut, they experience the Marianist spirit of hospitality from the moment they step foot on campus.
In today’s global higher education marketplace, we are better poised than many universities to embrace a shrinking world and make our mark in it. This fall, we will welcome the largest influx of international students in school history, including more than 200 Chinese students. At the same time, we are sending growing numbers of students abroad to help prepare them for the world they’ll face.
Today’s world is interconnected, and a global outlook has become a prerequisite for many careers. That’s why we are encouraging students to travel outside their comfort zones into new time zones. We want our students to bring not just cell phones to campus but to pack their passports, too.
Because we partner with universities and Marianist communities around the globe, it’s not unusual to find University of Dayton students immersed in cultures thousands of miles from campus.
This summer in Leipzig in the former East Germany, students are visiting wind farms, studying sustainability issues and evaluating “green” initiatives. Engineering students through ETHOS are working on a wastewater treatment project on the outskirts of Shanghai.
Claire and I established a scholarship fund that is helping 15 students study in Africa, South America and Europe this summer. Two other students received prestigious Fulbright scholarships to teach English in Korea and Mexico. Others have received Learn, Lead, Serve grants that fund their international experiences because they know employers value candidates who are comfortable and competent in other cultures.
Our faculty are becoming citizens of the world, too. In May, some retraced Blessed William Joseph Chaminade’s footsteps along cobbled streets in Bordeaux, France, as they visited the oratory where Chaminade hid priests during the French Revolution and other holy Marianist sites. Over the academic year, professors from varied disciplines — engineering technology and music therapy to visual arts and philosophy — studied Chinese history, culture and current events. For three weeks this spring, they traveled throughout China, developing ways to advance the University’s internationalization through new courses, partnerships and research opportunities.
We are immersing faculty in the world they’re preparing their students to enter. And like their students, they will be profoundly changed by the experience.
As the University of Dayton transforms itself into a global university, the world has become our classroom.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception powerfully symbolizes who we are — a great Catholic university. It is the spiritual heart of our campus and an icon of our faith.
As we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, I invite alumni and friends to honor all the brothers, priests and sisters who selflessly devoted their lives to building this University.
Let’s make a bold statement to celebrate their legacy. Together, let’s raise $12 million in private support to renovate and expand the most beautiful and sacred building on campus. It’s the perfect way to celebrate our heritage, renew our commitment to our Catholic, Marianist identity — and to thank the Marianists.
Historically, the chapel has always been a work in progress. Over the years, it’s been repaired, redecorated, retouched. Incredibly, we’ve never spent more than $100,000 at any one time on its upkeep since it was built for $40,000 in 1869.
Now we need to reinvest in this sacred building — in this place that holds such special meaning for the campus community and our alumni.
Jeff Gonya ’95 got down on one knee in front of the chapel doors and proposed to Leslie Rosell ’94 on a Good Friday. Like many alumni, they got married in the chapel. After hearing me talk about the chapel renovation and expansion project at the annual alumni awards dinner, they hand-delivered a $10,000 check — a testament to their faith in the chapel’s powerful legacy.
I remember feeling right at home when I heard the soaring refrain of “We Are Called” during a Mass on the first day of my presidency in 2002. Since then, I’ve shared sorrowful mo-ments with students when a classmate dies and celebrations when another group takes part in a commitment ceremony, promising to live out our Marianist ideals of community, inclusivity and faith. Between meetings, I sometimes enter the chapel’s always-open doors for a moment of calm reflection. It’s a sanctuary.
We cherish this building. Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., my predecessor, calls the chapel “a touchstone” and a reminder of “the deep connection this University has to the sacred.” We need to preserve and strengthen that.
It’s time to make a substantial investment, one that will serve the worship needs of future generations. The chapel needs to be expanded and renovated to allow for a wider range of liturgy and special rituals, in accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We will be sensitive to the original architecture, retaining the chapel’s familiar massive wooden front doors, towering dome, brick exterior and many original pieces of religious art.
Much of the current interior furnishings are makeshift. For instance, the chapel lacks a permanent and prominent baptismal font. Claire and I recently made a leadership gift to the University, of which a portion will fund a baptismal font in a new, highly visible gathering space in the entryway. We want to be part of the renovation of this landmark campus building, and we hope you will join us.
The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception will be a tribute to what a community of faith can build with courage, vision, support and prayer.
This is our time.
Some call Blessed William Joseph Chaminade a “pragmatic visionary.”
Others, like Brother John Samaha, S.M., view the founder of the Society of Mary as a humble priest whose “peaceful life turned into the stuff from which the plots of adventure movies are developed.”
For me, he’s a fellow sociologist.
As the University of Dayton celebrates the 250th anniversary of Chaminade’s birth throughout 2011, I’m inspired by how his life story continues to fuel the University’s upward momentum.
When Father Chaminade escaped the bloody French Revolution and went into exile in Spain, he imagined a new beginning for the embattled Catholic Church in France. This was a time of radical social, economic and political upheaval in his homeland. The monarchy had collapsed. During the Reign of Terror, priests and other church leaders were harassed, imprisoned or killed. Society was in chaos.
Yet Chaminade saw a path forward — a way that would re-energize the church and create a new religious movement empowered by the laity. When he returned to Bordeaux, he brought together an eclectic group of merchants, priests, teachers, chimney sweeps, former soldiers and others from all walks of life who drew their inspiration from Mary, the mother of Jesus. A community of believers, they treated each other as equals and shared a deep sense of mission.
Father Chaminade viewed the world with a sociological eye. He saw that in the midst of social change, which can be radical and disruptive, institutions can remain vibrant and grow. New times, he believed, called for new methods.
That philosophy guides us every day as we live out the Marianist mission on campus. As a community, we read the signs of the times and act boldly and imaginatively.
That’s why we purchased NCR’s former world headquarters and are transforming it into a riverfront center for research, graduate studies, continuing education and alumni outreach.
It’s highly unusual for a corporate giant such as General Electric to build a $51 million research facility on a college campus (Pg. 5), but we see that move as the future for leading research universities. When the University made its first large land purchase from NCR in 2005, we worked with regional leaders to secure the federal and state funds necessary to make that land, largely a brownfield, vibrant again. We envisioned attracting strong companies that could spur additional research, serve as real-world classrooms and spark economic development for the region. Today, that vision is coming to fruition.
As we look outward, the University of Dayton will welcome a more diverse and academically prepared student body from all socioeconomic walks of life and from all over the world. Our academic reputation as a top-tier Catholic research university will gain greater recognition. More alumni and friends will invest in our shared future.
We will make a deeper mark on the world while remaining true to Chaminade’s ageless philosophy.
We educate for adaptation and change. We develop technology that benefits mankind. In a fragmented world, we encourage dialogue between faith and culture. We foster community, and we remain deeply committed to the common good.
An 18th-century priest still imparts lessons for a modern-day university. That’s worth celebrating.
When the University of Dayton welcomed the largest, most geographically diverse first-year class since the Vietnam War era, we paused to celebrate the moment.
It is an extraordinary accomplishment, but not the one by which we measure our true success. We are continually transforming the University of Dayton to meet the needs of today’s students and shape our future.
I posed two big questions to my administrative team at a summer retreat. How do we remain a vibrant, forward-thinking learning community in the Marianist tradition? How do we ensure broader recognition of the value of the educational experience we provide?
We are viewing the challenges in higher education with an inventive spirit — and an eagerness to embrace change and take action. While our retention, graduation and alumni giving rates rank higher than national averages, I believe we can do better. We must do better to compete.
We will improve the first-year experience for new students, offer more scholarships and do more to prepare all students to enter and thrive in a rapidly changing world. We will inspire greater numbers of alumni to invest in their alma mater because, having experienced the transformative power of a University of Dayton education, they recognize their important role in our mission. We can reach our aspirations only through greater levels of private support.
In a highly competitive marketplace, we are focused on improving our position nationally and globally. We will boldly communicate our distinctive identity and continue to establish broader domestic and global markets, ensuring that all students feel at home on our welcoming campus. We will assess our programs, abandon outdated ideas, and introduce curricular innovations and new technologies at a pace normally not seen in the world of academia.
This is not a new management philosophy. The Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary, advocated for ongoing, adaptive thinking that responds to world conditions. He called for a clear vision of education and continuous improvement of methods. Our history brims with examples of how we have boldly transformed this campus to meet the needs of the day.
Over the years, we have built a strong campus community that educates students to link learning and scholarship to lives of leadership and service. We have never viewed ourselves as an ivory tower isolated from the urban community that surrounds us, but as a social force that must be involved in the region to reach our full potential. We have worked to create knowledge in service to the community — and the world.
These are distinctively Catholic, Marianist values that guide our work as educators every day. Our historic mission will not change. It’s as fresh and relevant today as it was 160 years ago.
Chaminade knew how to read the signs of the times and respond boldly with faith and action. We’re walking in his footsteps.