Skip to main content

President's Blog: From the Heart

Pulling Through — By Pulling Together

By Eric F. Spina

In an assembly line operation in the RecPlex staffed largely by campus volunteers, between 500 and 600 students daily are receiving a COVID-19 test and result before they unpack their bags and move back into their residences.

“I think my favorite volunteer is Mike Krug from the provost’s office because he tells students at the checkout station that they’ve already passed their first test of the semester, and every student laughs,” says Lindsay Maxam in the student development division who is coordinating the work of 260 volunteers, many working multiple shifts alongside staff from Premier Health and CompuNet.

Another 82 faculty and staff have signed up to serve as virtual case managers for students placed in isolation or quarantine. Widespread early testing puts us in the best possible position to be able to transition from online classes to a hybrid model on schedule, as long as students continue to follow the COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

This is an extraordinary campus-wide effort that some volunteers quip compares to Chick-fil-A’s customer-friendly, rapid drive-through experience. “Rarely, if ever, do students wait, and you can tell people are genuinely happy to be back in person,” says Cari Wallace, who’s teaming with Lindsay and other colleagues in student development, Jim Froehlich in housing, Thom Madden in finance, Tom Weckesser in my office, and many, many others to ensure the 16-day process runs smoothly.

“I don’t think there’s a single division that hasn’t contributed in some way,” Jim says. “At one point, I observed a faculty member, the dean of students, and an athletic coach all working together to check a student in for a COVID test.”

This is not the only concerted and collaborative endeavor to bring students back safely as well as serve the wider community during the pandemic.

Volunteers with the emergency phone bank, managed by University of Dayton Magazine editor Michelle Tedford, have answered more than 700 online questions from parents and students since mid-December on top of their daily work. One unsung hero: Linda Raisch in University marketing and communications has not only volunteered to be a virtual case manager but also leads the team in answering or assisting in requests handled.

Beginning last week, Scott DeBolt and his staff quickly transformed UD Arena into a pop-up mass vaccination clinic. All eight faculty and nearly 50 students in the master’s of physician assistant practice program volunteered to help Premier Health give vaccines to more than 1,000 elderly per day, some of the most vulnerable in our community. They’re literally saving lives.

This brigade of volunteers and staff, working behind the scenes, exemplifies the Marianist spirit in a way that both humbles and amazes me. This is a community united, a community in action.

“I have been privileged to work with students and alumni for over 20 years and witnessed the community we so often speak of with pride,” says Kelli Holmes, a development officer who’s assisting with re-entry testing. “During a time in our world that has seen division, fear, and uncertainty, our faculty and staff have selflessly come together to welcome our students back to campus — and I can’t think of a more beautiful definition of community.”

Me, either.

Previous Post

A Seat at the Table

“We’re all nurses, and we look like the population we wish to serve. We’d like to have a seat at the table.” That was Daneika Reynold’s passionate pitch for a new community venture, “Black Doulas of Dayton.” Her start-up would train doulas to help prevent the deaths of Black mothers during childbirth, which are, sadly, nearly triple that of white mothers.

Read More
Next Post

A Community of Care and Support

In the midst of the pandemic, Holly Harmon arrived on campus as the new director of the Counseling Center and quickly realized the times we live in called for a new, more nimble approach to serving students.

Read More