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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Photo from the 1946 yearbook of Ann Fitzgerald Wourms. She is one of 125,000 living Dayton University alumni.

Sharing Flyer History

When Teddy Ragsdale ’21 chose to attend the University of Dayton, he knew he was joining a long, proud tradition. What he couldn’t know was that he and nearly 1,100 other undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students would help make history when they graduated in December, pushing the University to 125,000 living alumni.

For Ragsdale, the decision to become a Flyer was an easy one. The Missouri native knew that he wanted to attend a Midwestern, Catholic university after high school. He visited other schools, but Dayton felt like home.

Seventy-five years earlier, Ann Fitzgerald Wourms ’46 made a similar decision. Like Ragsdale, Fitzgerald Wourms was drawn to UD because she wanted a Midwestern, Catholic education. But her options were limited. Xavier University and Notre Dame were only accepting male students at the time, narrowing her choice to UD, which had become fully coeducational five years earlier. Still, she and the other girls had to sit in the back of any class and had to leave University property by 10 p.m. Because they couldn’t live on campus, many women, like Fitzgerald Wourms, lived at home with family. Others rented a room at The Loretto. Now the site of a parking lot at the corners of West First and North Wilkinson streets, the building’s owners proclaimed The Loretto “Dayton’s finest home for businesswomen.”

“So different from now,” she said with a laugh.

During her four years at UD, Fitzgerald Wourms earned her degree as part of the inaugural class in dietetics, spending time on campus with historic UD leaders. Rev. George J. Renneker, S.M. ’10 was president, while Harry Baujan, Maurice Reichard ’35, and William Wohlleben ’04 were staff members. The latter three would go on to have facilities named after them.

The campus footprint was smaller, with the Rike Center, St. Mary’s, Chaminade, St. Joseph, Alumni and Albert Emanuel halls hosting most student activities. Chaminade Hall was home to a women’s lounge, where card games took place during the day. There were no athletic facilities other than the football field, which was quiet because of World War II. The gymnasium was in the Rike Center, while the basketball team played at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds Coliseum. In fact, the yearbook from Fitzgerald Wourms’ graduating year shared early construction plans for what would eventually become the Frericks Center.

By the time Ragsdale started, the University had grown beyond the so-called “First Five” buildings and even the facilities available to Fitzgerald Wourms and her fellow students. Some of Ragsdale’s favorite places like Kennedy Union, Roesch Library and UD Arena were among the buildings hosting educational opportunities for students.

“Yeah, I’m ready [for graduation], for sure,” said Ragsdale.

Both agree that their University of Dayton educations prepared them for the future.

“It seemed like anyone who went there did not have trouble getting jobs or, if they wanted to go on to more school, they didn’t have trouble getting into a graduate school,” said Fitzgerald Wourms.

And, despite the time between Fitzgerald Wourms’ and Ragsdale’s graduation ceremonies, both say some of their most treasured memories are linked to that same feeling 125,000 other Flyers share, too.

“You know how everyone says a sense of community? You can definitely feel that on campus,” said Ragsdale.

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