Skip to main content

Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Forever Marianist

There’s a cross in every classroom at the University of Dayton — constant reminders of UD’s Catholic, Marianist mission, but it’s the faculty, staff and students who bring that mission to life and create the vibrant, intellectually curious and welcoming community. 
To help ensure that campus continues to shine in the glow of Marianist charism, University donors during One Day, One Dayton, the University’s annual day of giving, have made giving to the Forever Marianist initiative a popular choice. Gifts to Forever Marianist are helping to ensure that UD’s mission is respected, tended to, and advanced by a community that lives the “Learn, Lead, Serve” motto.
One unique way that initiative achieves this is by funding the formation of Marianist Educational Associates, lay people who partner with the Society of Mary and help develop, strengthen and advance UD’s Catholic, Marianist philosophy of education.
Rev. Jim Fitz, S.M. ’68, vice president for mission and rector, said that the three Marianist universities (Chaminade University, St. Mary’s University and the University of Dayton) created the Marianist Educational Associates in 2005 to develop faculty and staff champions of the Marianist and Catholic identity on campus.
“We run programs for students, but that’s not going to be the same as having people who are trained, who are here long-term and are committed to it. I see the Forever Marianist initiative, and its support of the Marianist Educational Associates, as trying to develop faculty and staff champions of our Marianist and Catholic identity.”
Students are only at the University for a short time before they share their gifts with the world. Faculty and staff are able to continue to share what they have learned and experienced in community with class after class of students.
Ryan Allen, executive director of UD’s Center for Online Learning, attended the MEA training in 2014 and said that he continues to see ripples of change growing from the formation experience that, frankly, he wasn’t convinced he was the right person for.
“I would have never thought when I began at UD, let alone even now, that I should be the one talking about what it means to be a Marianist,” said Allen. “But what I’ve found, and what people have told me, is that people need to see this coming from other people. And I think that’s part of what being an MEA is, too. You don’t have to be a priest. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to be a perfect Catholic. You have to be somebody aspiring to try to learn more and do better and build connections on this campus in a way the collective gets to be better.”
Across roles and locations on campus, Marianist Educational Associates bring the depth of their experiences and commitment. And by bringing that Marianist philosophy and guidance to their vocation, they are creating their own ripples for fellow faculty and staff and, of course, UD’s students.

Leslie Picca is a professor of sociology and the Roesch Chair in the Social Sciences at UD, and she became a Marianist Educational Associate in 2017. Picca co-teaches the course Sport and Bodies with fellow MEA Corinne Daprano, professor and associate dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences.

“I'm in sociology, and she’s in sports management, but we’re both MEAs,” said Picca as she explained how the course looks at different aspects of how the body is altered, displayed or portrayed in sport in terms of gender, race, class and ability. “Often, we bring it back to our Catholic, Marianist mission in terms of why we are engaging in these conversations.”

Picca explained how her experience as an MEA has helped her see the deep connections between the Catholic and Marianist charism and the work of belonging, diversity and inclusion — which is where most of her work at UD takes place.

“For me, those connections have created a deep awareness and appreciation for how we, as a university, prepare students to live and interact in an increasingly diverse and complicated society in ways that they can help to make the world a better place.”

Previous Post

Fulfilling a Childhood Dream

Celeste Friel knew at an early age she wanted to be a lawyer. What she didn’t know is how a worldwide pandemic and some unexpected generosity would propel her to achieve that dream.
Read More
Next Post

Organic Growth

Jeremy Erb’s passion for organic chemistry synthesized in university and professional labs. Now an associate professor at UD, Erb is determined to foster curiosity and community among his students through hands-on lab experience.
Read More