Aerial photograph of the Immaculate Conception Chapel

About Us

The nature of the leadership challenges in the Dayton community requires adaptive learning and leadership across professional and community sectors. The University of Dayton has established a reputation as an effective community partner, especially with urban Dayton, on difficult community challenges. The University of Dayton adds value with a Center which brokers and leads ongoing community building partnerships.

History & Impact

The Fitz Center was created in 2002 by combining Strategies for Responsible Development/INCLUD (1974-97) and the Social Science Research Center/Center for the Study of Family Development (1979-97). It was built on solid relationships with dozens of neighborhood, community nonprofit and government organizations and associations.


Achievements in Ten Years

  • Genesis Project and Brown Street vision
  •  Dayton's Neighborhood School Centers
  • Rivers Institute and Ohio’s Great Corridor
  • Presenters at local, regional and national conferences
  • Leadership in Building Communities Seminar—Relationships with more than 20 Dayton neighborhoods
  • Four student leadership programs: Semester of Service, Dayton Civic Scholars, River Stewards, Neighborhood School Centers interns
  • Central to multiple national recognitions for University of Dayton for its role in the local community
  • The community building focus has attracted national attention and influenced directions of other universities in their communities.
  • The Fitz Center uses highly regarded scholarship (Harvard, Northwestern, MIT, Penn, Kettering Foundation), but the Center believes that new knowledge is created every day in partnership with local citizens.
  • The practiced principles of the Fitz Center are not novel, but the combinations are highly unusual and worthy of careful study.



The Fitz Center for Leadership in Community initiates and sustains partnerships within urban neighborhoods and larger communities that both support comprehensive community building and provide a context for broadly connected learning and scholarship.



The University of Dayton is the national leader in educating leaders who build communities.



For the Community: We nurture relationships that produce and sustain results, especially for the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized.

For the University: We educate leaders who build communities.

For Higher Education: We demonstrate community building as a preferred outcome of academic service learning and civic engagement.


What is Community Building?

Community building is the art of co-creating a desired community future based on a widely shared vision that is characterized by respect, the common good, and a preferential option for the poor.


Practiced Principles

Community assets: Not just needs and problems

Social capital: Trustful relationships

Constructive public conversations: Balanced inquiry and advocacy

Adaptive capacity: Learning together to change

Widely shared vision: Not just a leader's vision


Faculty Collaboration

  • Arts and sciences interdisciplinary, education and business classes on the Dayton community and community-building principles and practices
  • Identification and development of Dayton Civic Scholars and River Stewards as transformational leaders
  • Rivers Institute and River Leadership Curriculum
  • Establishing service-learning partnerships
  • Assistance with grant applications and evaluations
  • Access to Montgomery County data for research (Office of Family and Children First)
  • Thematic bus tours to introduce new students and faculty to Dayton’s assets and issues