Monday November 7, 2016

New President, No Problem

Late in the fall semester of 2014, former University of Dayton president Dr. Dan Curran announced his plan to end his 14-year presidency term. At that point in time, my only experience with our president had been when I was exiting a building and was unexpectedly greeted by a tall and smiling umbrella-yielding Dr. Curran. My heart dropped into my socks as I nervously greeted him in return. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Eric Spina was given the nod as the new president (how do you pronounce his name? SPEEN-UH or SPIN-UH?). As a freshman I remember thinking this change of leadership would most likely have little impact on me, a lowly undergraduate student. After experiencing a few months of his presidency as a junior, my initial thoughts about our university’s new “fearless leader” were quite mistaken.

My first experience with Dr. Spina (it’s pronounced SPEEN-UH, by the way) came in the summer of 2016 when I was interning in an ecology research lab on campus (SEE PREVIOUS BLOG). During his first week as the official new president, Dr. Spina came to a lunch for all undergraduate students participating in scientific research. After lunch, Dr. Spina then spoke about UD’s emphasis and dedication toward undergraduate research. Further prompted by student questions, one of which was from myself (after admitting that I had been creeping on him online), Dr. Spina explained how excited and humbled he was to begin his presidency term at UD. I specifically remember him saying that UD already “feels like home.”

There is very little Dr. Spina isn’t doing to show his commitment to UD students, save perhaps mopping floors (however I am unable to keep tabs on the man around the clock, so I can neither confirm nor deny this). He wants to be an active member of the community, not just the guy who makes all the big decisions. Dr. Spina has ventured into dining halls for lunch to interact with students face to face, to understand what students think “off the record.” His social media outlets, while also more expansive than my own, are constantly featuring the students he is engaged with. He is even watching out for students when they least expect it: Friday nights in the student neighborhood. The new prez tagged along with a public safety cruiser to get a true feel of UD’s student experience (Featured in a blog from the president). I have even learned of student testimonials of emailing Dr. Spina about racial tension that is present on campus. Dr. Spina replied to the emails personally.

The man simply wants to learn in order to understand, and understand in order to immerse fully in the UD community. The University of Dayton is not a stepping-stone in the career path of one Dr. Eric Spina. To him this is home. Well, let me know wherever the battle is, Dr. Spina. I’ll be right behind you. 

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