Tuesday June 30, 2015

Bold Leap Forward

President Daniel J. Curran, like our Marianist founders, “reads the signs of the times” and acts boldly and with vision. He will step down in 2016 after presiding over historic growth.

Curran remembers feeling right at home when he heard the familiar refrain of "We Are Called" in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the opening day Mass of his presidency in 2002.

“We are called to act with justice.

We are called to love tenderly.

We are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God."

Later, at his formal installation, he reiterated that call: "We believe we are called to lead. We say this not with vanity or arrogance. For we know that a leader is really a servant. We know that we must use what we are — our resources, our talents, our energies, our spirits — to build a community and to serve all those in it."

Today, 12 years later, few would disagree that he heard the call to lead and serve — and acted on it. The first lay president in the University of Dayton's 164-year history has navigated Ohio's largest private university through transformational times while preserving our historic mission and Catholic, Marianist identity.

By every measure — from selectivity and research dollars to rankings and endowed faculty — the University of Dayton has grown in stature during Curran's presidency.

The University has nearly doubled its footprint with two major acquisitions from NCR Corp. while changing its enrollment strategy to become a more selective university that attracts most of its students from outside Ohio — and many from around the world.

The University's endowment, first-year applications, number of endowed faculty positions and the value of its land and buildings have doubled, and sponsored research has nearly doubled.

Student retention and entering test scores stand at all-time highs.

Dayton Flyer student-athletes continue to boast graduation rates consistently among the highest in the country, and the overall winning percentage in all sports is better than any other time in school history.

"Being opportunistic and strategic are potentially mutually exclusive, and we've been able to do both," says Steve Cobb, chairman of Henny Penny and a 1986 alumnus who serves as chair of the University's board of trustees. "Maybe that's the secret sauce. Dan has taken us out of our comfort zone in a measured way, a pragmatic way. The higher education field and our prospective students and their families are indicating the University of Dayton is really a hot brand."

When Curran became president, he inherited a university on the move from longtime president Brother Ray Fitz, S.M., and discovered a community willing to ask the big questions and seek out answers together.

"I've been humbled and privileged to lead the University of Dayton during such a transformative time in our history," he says.

As the board of trustees gets to work searching for the University's 19th president, Curran says he will devote the remainder of his tenure to working with the faculty on academic initiatives, visiting alumni communities and raising funds to renovate Chaminade Hall as a home for the Human Rights Center and the Hanley Sustainability Institute.

A sociologist by training, Curran will take a one-year sabbatical, then join the faculty as a professor. As president emeritus, he will teach and conduct research on campus and serve as executive-in-residence for Asian affairs in the University of Dayton China Institute in Suzhou, China. The University of Dayton's board of trustees will conduct a national search for his successor.

"I think this will be one of the top jobs in higher education," he observes. "It's the right time to step down while the University is so well positioned to continue the momentum."

For more information, contact Teri Rizvi at 937-229-3255 or rizvi@udayton.edu.

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