The University of Dayton chose to hold the grand opening for the China Institute on Aug. 8, because eight is considered a lucky number in Chinese culture.
Then a typhoon hit the east coast of China that morning, bringing an all-day torrent of rain and heavy winds in Suzhou. Vic Bonneau, president of electrical power systems for GE Aviation, traveled to Shanghai, but road closures prevented him from traveling the last 75 miles to participate in the grand opening ceremony.
“This is quite a theatrical backdrop for the opening, just a little drama,” said Tim Pelling, a freelance photographer who caught the last train that morning out of Shanghai before the trains quit running.
Later in the day, two music professors and eight University of Dayton performers and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company members spent 45 harrowing minutes crammed in a stuck elevator.
Dressed in their concert clothes, they donned hard hats and climbed up a ladder to safety.
“There was no air. We finally climbed out through the light fixture. We were covered with white concrete dust,” recounted Sharon Davis Gratto, chair of the music department, the next day.
The University of Dayton Horn Quartet barely made it to the grand opening ceremonies in time. But when they walked onto the stage to perform, they didn’t appear flustered.
And they didn’t miss a beat.