Alumni Awards 2017

Learn. Lead. Serve. Repeat.

Molly MacCready ’08, who established a nonprofit organization to provide scholarships to street children in Uganda, coined a catchy new phrase at the 2017 Alumni Awards dinner: “Learn. Lead. Serve. Repeat.” On Sept. 9, we paid tribute to the accomplishments of Molly and five other outstanding alumni.

Here are the reflections I offered at a dinner at River Campus:

I am thrilled to be here tonight to honor some of our most selfless and gifted alumni who represent the best the University of Dayton offers to the world.

Our students have come to believe that they can change the world because of the lives you lead. Think about the significance — and importance — of that for a moment…

I firmly believe that they are drawn to UD because of the path that all of *you* have charted as students and alumni.  A path of selfless service to others, to your communities, to your cities, to the world.  There is a virtuous circle here at this great University, and I thank each and every one of you for the critical role that you play in defining our difference as a university and enabling our greatness.

Last year, I asked our alumni and our campus community to think big — even audaciously — about the future of the University.  How do we honor our past as we imagine and shape our future?  More than 3,000 people weighed in on that discussion and are now helping to push us toward a path to be known as The University for the Common Good.

That has always been our aspiration throughout our history, but today we are imagining an even bolder future with the common good as a cornerstone. We are asking ourselves, How will we educate students to confront the tests facing humanity? How will we work together to shape a more just future for all? How can we engage students and conduct research that makes a difference right here in Dayton and around the world? You will hear much more about our strategic vision in the days, months and years ahead.

Tonight, though, is a time of celebration.

As I’ve gotten to know our alumni award winners, I’ve come to deeply admire the way they have lived the mission of the University of Dayton in their everyday lives. They have made a real difference in the world. And to be able to celebrate their achievements here tonight is truly a blessing for the University and for all of us. Thank you for being here to honor them. I offer a special thanks to Ray Blakeney, president-elect of the Alumni Association, and the Alumni Awards Committee for shining the spotlight on these outstanding individuals.

Our honorees will tell their stories in their own words, but I'd like to offer just a few words about how they inspire me through their lives of imagination, action, faith and service.

John Gravier and Molly MacCready, both 2008 graduates, heard a call to serve and answered it.  Both are dedicated to educating children — whether in under-resourced communities in our country or Uganda, where former street children receive scholarships. John and Molly, who graduated from UD less than 10 years ago, stand out for their imagination and the belief in the possible.

I admire John Beran's dedication, loyalty and service to his alma mater. He brought lessons from a successful 43-year career in business to our faculty and students in engineering and business disciplines. John, I love your passion and I appreciate your counsel. Alumni like you and so many in this room tonight move our University forward through your singular focus on students — and how we prepare them for a changing world, a world that needs UD graduates more than ever.

It’s ironic, but the best stuff about Jonathan Judge isn't even on his resume.

He proposed to his wife, Chris, on the set of a shoot with Amy Poehler. He once dumped Justin Timberlake into a pool full of slime, and he’s probably still paying for it. He has played a monkey or ape twice. He can juggle and bugle at the same time. And he lived in Iceland for more than a year.

Most importantly, though, he's built a prolific career as a television director and producer. He's been nominated for three Emmys for outstanding direction in children's television, but I think he might say his beautiful twin boys are his greatest production.

Chris Hill is a visionary volunteer who took the Biblical words, “for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,” quite literally.  At an elementary school in the middle of a Nairobi slum, more than 2,000 students eat breakfast — a meal they wouldn’t have gotten — because she saw a need and answered it. Like Mary, she said “yes.”

Finally, we’re honored tonight to have Debbie Anderson and her family with us to accept a long overdue honor for her father, Joseph Desch, who died 30 years ago.

A brilliant inventor, he was good at keeping secrets. In fact, it was only after his death that Debbie discovered her father led a top-secret, classified program to unscramble German Enigma codes, a contribution that hastened the end of World War II. As one reporter wrote, “It’s a story of loyalty, invention and sacrifice.”

Congratulations to all of our recipients.  We are so proud of all you’ve accomplished — and the mark you’ve made and will continue to make on the world.

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