The History of the Rivers Institute
The Rivers Institute at the University of Dayton began as an initiative of students, faculty and staff challenged by the concept of engaging the University of Dayton with the Great Miami River which runs through the city and the campus. The University, a major Catholic institution, has a legacy of connecting with the surrounding community dating back to the disastrous flood of the Great Miami River in 1913 and has received recent recognition for its extraordinary contribution to the Dayton area from the Saviors of Our Cities ranking in 2006 and 2009. From its beginning with a 17-mile paddling trip on the Great Miami River in August 2004, the Rivers Institute has focused on the environment. A student cohort aspect was developed in 2006 - the first cohort of River Stewards consisted of eight students of various majors.
Housed in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, the Rivers Institute involves interdisciplinary cooperation among faculty, staff, students and community partner organizations focused on the Great Miami River Watershed and its connections to the Dayton area. It weaves together themes of civic engagement, environmental education, experiential learning, community building and leadership. The value of community partnerships has expanded as the Rivers Institute itself has grown. The Miami Conservancy District, Five Rivers MetroParks and the City of Dayton are still involved in the work of the Institute and several additional organizations and programs have joined its work over the years.