Thursday January 26, 2017

3.8 Million Hours and Counting

By Eric F Spina

I quickly did the math. My nearly seven months of service as the University of Dayton’s president paled in comparison.

Faculty and staff honored at the annual President’s Service Recognition Luncheon have contributed 3.8 million hours — roughly 1,880 years — of serving and building our University. Some have worked for four UD presidents, stretching back to the days of Father Raymond Roesch, S.M. Others are rookies, logging just a quarter of a century of their professional lives.

One — Marcia Rausch, a production systems specialist for UDit — earns my version of the Cal Ripken award for her 45-year streak of service. I couldn’t resist taking a selfie of us to remind me of the dedication and loyalty to UD to which I aspire.

As we honored silver jubilarians and those who have devoted 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service, I reflected on their myriad, diverse roles — and how they work together to make up the mosaic that we call the University of Dayton.

For 25 years, Gaynor Payne has repaired what needs to be fixed in the student houses. Brother Tom Pieper, S.M., a campus minister affectionately called “BT” by students, spends summers in the hills of Appalachia, where students live among the people of Salyersville, Kentucky, as part of the University’s longest-standing campus ministry service program. Music professor Linda Hartley, who started the New Horizons Band for senior adults learning to play an instrument, has taken her initiative and administrative talents to a new level as associate dean in the School of Education and Health Sciences. Art historian Roger Crum and faculty colleagues teach interdisciplinary courses in Florence, Italy, giving students valuable global experiences before graduation. For four decades, Debbie Stoner has kept meticulous records of donor gifts.

There are as many stories of selfless service as names in the program, but they all share one similarity. Nearly 100,000 students have been touched by those honored. Now imagine the impact that *they* have had. Just think of our graduates teaching today in inner-city Catholic classrooms, the researchers who invent novel drugs to fight cancer, the lawyers who devote pro bono legal services for the poor and the vowed religious who help communities maintain their moral compasses.

Our honorees have profoundly changed the lives of students and helped to build a university with a reputation for serving others. As Father Jim Fitz, S.M., observed in his opening prayer, these faculty and staff “bring different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same spirit” of service.

It’s so important for us, as a campus community, to pause and celebrate that. As president, I express my deep appreciation for all our faculty and staff who truly make us the University of Dayton. 

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