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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

A photo of Michael DiFlora, Jeffrey Hoeffel and their wives, Holly and Amy.

Building a Foundation and Creating New Ones

For Michael DiFlora, the wheels of success started turning early in his career, and while he never attended the University of Dayton, the University was the grease that helped those wheels get going.

When DiFlora graduated from college in 1972 there were more engineers than positions available. The space race had recently ended and NASA, the government agency that had inspired so many for so long, had downsized. Despite that, DiFlora had multiple job offers, but one intrigued him more than the others. True, it paid the least, but it offered DiFlora the chance to do research, something that fascinated him.

“I never took a job for money,” said DiFlora. “I always took it for the challenge of the job.”

Saying yes to the job meant DiFlora began working for James Hoeffel ’59. Under Hoeffel’s patience and mentorship, DiFlora began to build the foundation for the rest of his career. He worked hard, made mistakes, found solutions and learned how to keep meticulous records of all of it.

“When you’re researching you have to keep notes. I didn’t know what a patent log was before that job,” said DiFlora. “I got that experience working for Jim.”

Those patent logs helped DiFlora secure more than 20 patents of his own over the course of his 40-year career. Now technically retired and reflecting on those who contributed to his success, DiFlora thought of Hoeffel and how his guidance helped set so many things in motion for him. 

DiFlora and his wife, Holly DiFlora ’83, decided to fund the James D. Hoeffel Scholarship at UD — Hoeffel’s alma mater and the place where he also taught night classes — to pay it forward.

The DiFlora’s met with Hoeffel’s son and daughter-in-law, Jeffrey and Amy Hoeffel, to talk about the impact they hope this scholarship will make.

“It was very cool to hear about the scholarship,” said Jeffrey, who followed his father into the world of technology and now works for the University of Dayton Research Institute. “He was always engaged in his classes and was not afraid to learn anything. He’s a cool cat.”

But for DiFlora, the goal of this scholarship is to do more than just pay tribute to someone who made a big impact on the trajectory of his career.

“This was a thank you for somebody who was a mentor,” said DiFlora. “Hopefully, someone else says ‘this is a good idea’ and is inspired to establish a scholarship for their mentor.”

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