Thursday March 5, 2009

The Big Read

During a recent luncheon with a provost candidate, administrators were asked to introduce themselves by name, by title and by book - what they're reading outside of work. Their selections ran the gamut from fiction and art to faith and finance.

At least one University of Dayton administrator "reads the stock market."

Not surprisingly, that's Tom Burkhardt, who keeps an eye on the University's endowment as part of his role as vice president for finance and administrative services.

Administrators shared their passion for books at a recent lunch with a provost candidate, allowing him to eat while they offered a glimpse into themselves. Here's a sampling of what they're reading:

Out Stealing Horses (Per Petterson)

"I'm reading it for my book club — all guys, including (former athletic director) Ted Kissell and (former Ohio Gov.) Bob Taft," said Tom Lasley, dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions.

The Moment I First Believed (Wally Lamb)

"He's from my native Connecticut. A great writer. I'd read anything by him. This particular book shows the human side of the events that led up to the Columbine disaster, from a teacher's perspective," said Joyce Carter, vice president of human resources.

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (Lewis Hyde)

"Hyde presents a general theory of giving, drawing especially upon anthropology and folklore," said Paul Benson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Fire in the Blood (Irene Nemirovsky)

"Nemirovsky wrote in France in the years leading up to World War II. In 1942, she was sent to Auschwitz and died there. Her last book (Suite Française) was smuggled out of France, and her daughter published it a few years ago. A few pages of Fire in the Blood were found with the Suite Française manuscript, but the rest of the manuscript was feared lost until it was discovered in papers given to her editor for safekeeping. Her books are realistic glimpses of French life in the years between World War I and II," said Kathleen Webb, dean of University Libraries.

The Trophy Kids (Ron Alsop)

"A lawyer recommended it. It's about how the Millennials are changing the workplace," said Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of the School of Law, who's juggling the book with Michael Chabon's murder mystery The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Gwen Ifill)

"Ms. Ifill's razor-sharp observations and analysis of such issues as generational conflict and the 'black enough' conundrum offer a rare glimpse into the halls of leadership," said Lynnette Heard, executive director of the president's office. "As I'm reading, I'm feeling as if we're all participants in shaping this dramatic chapter in our nation's history."

Exiles (Ron Hansen)

Sister Annette Schmeling, R.S.C.J., vice president of student development and dean of students, described the religious novel as "the vocation story of (poet and convert) Gerard Manley Hopkins" and "a quest for the living God." On the flip slide, Schmeling is reading John Grisham's legal thriller The Associate, which she depicted, tongue in cheek, as "coming of age in an intriguing downward spiral — just another case study."

— Teri Rizvi