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Looking Back

By Margaret E. Maloney

When Mr. and Mrs. Hanley announced the gift of 12.5 million dollars to the University of Dayton in the Fall of my freshmen year, I did not realize nor expect the amazing outcomes of this donation. I remember seeing the beautiful white tents spread across the central mall, with hundreds of people gathered for the unveiling of this donation. After the ceremony, Bro. Don Geiger, Marianist brother and professor emeritus in the Biology Department, was beaming with hope as he proudly stated to me that this gift would change the face of the University of Dayton. And he was right.

Fast-forward 4 years, I am now a senior and a student leader for the Hanley Sustainability Institute (HSI). My position as sustainability education student leader has changed the course of my career path, instilled a passion in me for environmental education, and reminds me daily what I feel called to do. So how did we get here? How did HSI grow, create and inspire over the past four years? Hopefully this blog will shine some light on the tremendous amount of opportunity this gift has given the University of Dayton campus and beyond.

In the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I met with Amanda Hanley in Kennedy Union to discuss what the gift meant to the students. It had been less than a year after receiving it and the students were just beginning to fully understand the capacity of this gift. As Amanda and I chatted about the environmental movement in regard to the student body, I was astounded by her willingness to meet with students and support them in whatever way she could. Most notably, she was more than willing to help any student sustainability initiatives reach its full potential. She was genuinely curious about what my vision was for the University in regard to sustainability and what students wanted and needed for this movement to take off. After what was supposed to be a “quick coffee chat” I was in awe of the Hanleys’ selflessness, and persistence to create the most environmental good with this gift.

During the duration of my sophomore year, I spent some time on the Hanley Executive Council as the student representative. During this year, I helped voice the students’ opinions on the direction for HSI. During executive meetings, we would talk about how the gift should be spent and the vision for the institution. To put it bluntly, this was not easy work. With 12.5 million dollars, each person had their own vision for how the money should be used or on their own causes that would support the Hanley mission, if they were financial supported. However, this was crucial period of growth for the university. Tucked away in the 6th floor of Fitz Hall, a beautiful vision began to form and be put into action towards the goal of the University of Dayton becoming nationally recognized as a leader in sustainability.

From these visioning sessions, HSI began to make a name for itself on campus and off. The student representatives and leaders program was born, with over 10 student leader projects currently taking place on campus. From this program, the KU green roof, an expansion of composting, and How to Be Green at UD path sessions were born just to name a few. Thousands of students have been involved in sustainability projects, initiatives or education sessions due to the fruition of the HSI. Moreover, a partnership with Lincoln Hill Gardens was created in the Twin Towers neighborhood. This partnership allows for university students to learn about urban agriculture and help create a community assets within economically diverse neighborhoods. HSI continued to support student education by supporting 4 students from the Honors Program to go to India each summer as part of the Global Flyers program. In addition, professors are doing groundbreaking research in climate change. This past summer, HSI helped sponsor a student to conduct research on forest fires in remote Siberia. HSI has also helped create a graduate certificate in sustainability studies, and sponsored student initiatives such as Sustainability Week hosted by Sustainability Club.

Meg Maloney in IndiaFor me personally, HSI has given me un-ending opportunities in a field I am so passionate about. Through HSI, I was able to experience a life-changing trip to India to study food and nutritional security. From this trip, I found my passion of working in developing countries to help create and facilitate sustainability related projects. This has given me so much direction for my career moving forward. Moreover, HSI has also helped me discover my niche for environmental education through my position as a sustainability leader. I am so grateful for the leadership and career opportunity I have received from this institution, and I could never be more thankful for the Hanleys’ generous donation.

The University of Dayton is well on its way to becoming a nationally recognized campus for our sustainability initiatives. From the Hanleys’ donation, hundreds of students have received the opportunity to explore and deepen their understanding of sustainability, gain hands on experience in this field, and make a difference on our campus and beyond. Looking back from 4 years ago, I am beyond amazed of the progress this institution has made, and I look forward to see how HSI will continue to be a trailblazer for universities across the world.

Meg Maloney is a Senior, Environmental Biology major, SEE minor, and is pursuing the Undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. Meg is a River Steward, as well as an HSI student leader, and works for Campus Recreation - Outdoor Education. 

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