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In Memoriam: Don Vermillion

Don Vermillion, executive in residence in the University of Dayton Department of Political Science and former director of public projects for the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, died Friday, July 27. He was 68.

Vermillion joined the Fitz Center staff full time in 2003, after serving in Dayton-area government for nearly 25 years. He served the city of Miamisburg, Ohio, as city manager and assistant city manager from 1973-1976, and joined Montgomery County as a deputy administrator in 1979. He served as Montgomery County administrator from 1988-1997.

“Don was a mentor to many and lived fully the Marianist charism,” said Eric F. Spina, University president. “He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and students and leaves behind a lasting legacy of public service. His commitment to students, the Fitz Center and the entire Dayton community was unwavering.”

Vermillion started teaching courses in public administration at the University in 1991. He worked with Fitz Center projects including the Dayton Neighborhood School Centers Program and the Dayton Civic Scholars, supported the CityLinks conference, and co-taught the Leadership in Building Communities class. He also served as interim executive director of the Fitz Center.

“Don made an incredible contribution to the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and all he touched,” said Hunter Phillips Goodman, Fitz Center executive director. “Since his passing on Friday, I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of love and respect and the many stories on his impact on countless alumni and students. He leaves behind a lifetime of public service and an example of servant leadership for many to follow.”

President Emeritus Brother Raymond Fitz, S.M. — for whom the Fitz Center is named — recalled Vermillion as a great listener.

“I could share my laments about how we as a community were not addressing the issues of poverty, especially the poverty of children of color,” Fitz said. “He would listen sympathetically and help me construct strategies beyond lament.”

In 2018, Vermillion joined the Department of Political Science as executive in residence, teaching and mentoring students through the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program.

Michelle Pautz, associate provost for the Common Academic Program and associate professor of political science, said Vermillion worked with MPA students, among others, for decades to help cultivate and grow their commitment and leadership in the public sector. She previously served as MPA program director.

“For many, Don was the mentor who helped them figure out that they had a passion and vocation for the public sector,” Pautz said. “For many, he was the teacher who helped them learn and make the connections between theory and practice. And for many, he was the professional acquaintance who became a dear and trusted friend. It would be impossible to count the number of lives he touched.”

Vermillion held a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s in political science from Miami University.

He is survived by his wife, Laima Rastikis, and two children, Stephanie and Christopher Vermillion — all three are University of Dayton graduates.

The campus community will honor Vermillion with a prayer service 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. A reception will immediately follow in the Kennedy Union Torch Lounge. All are welcome to attend.

Fitz Center graduate assistant Eva Schuller ’18 will create a slideshow for the event featuring photos of Vermillion with students. Alumni and students who wish to share images can email them to

Visitation was Monday, July 30, at the Tobias Funeral Home, in Dayton, followed by a Mass at St. Albert the Great Catholic Parish in Kettering, Ohio. Burial will be at a later date. The family has requested that gifts in Vermillion’s memory go to support the programs of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio, 45469-7052.

  • - Dave Larsen, communication coordinator, College of Arts and Sciences
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