Skip to main content

President's Blog: From the Heart

More Than a Trustee

By Eric F. Spina

When longtime, current University of Dayton trustee Mary Jo Scalzo died after a brief battle with cancer on Christmas day, we lost more than a valued member of our governing board.

We lost a three-time University of Dayton graduate, who brought more than four decades worth of experience working with young people as a teacher, principal, curriculum director, and superintendent of nearby Oakwood City Schools to her volunteer work as chair of the Board’s Student Life Committee.

We lost one of the most positive, selfless, enthusiastic leaders I’ve ever met.

We lost a friend.

“Having worked in the field of education her entire life, she was filled with experience and wisdom to share. Her death has shaken me to my core,” said Vice President for Student Development Bill Fischer, who considered her a mentor.

Everyone in the room could sense Mary Jo’s joy when talking about students. She delighted in sprinkling her committee meeting reports with observations and anecdotes, “always seemingly in awe of UD students’ passion, talent, commitment, energy, care, and concern for each other,” said Lisa Rismiller, secretary of the Board.

The University of Dayton is blessed with a Board of Trustees filled with extraordinary individuals like Mary Jo. Many have held long distinguished careers in business, law, and education. Others, like newly appointed recent alumni trustees Lyric Fields and Khristian Santiago, are rising young stars. Nine are Marianist brothers or priests, including Father Oscar Vasquez, Provincial for the Marianist Province of the United States, and our own Father Jim Fitz, UD’s Vice President for Mission and Rector. All are servant-leaders who care deeply about the future of our great University, and they have successfully built a wonderful sense of community and commitment within the governing board that makes our Board of Trustees particularly effective.

Our trustees are ensuring that UD’s Catholic, Marianist mission — the special way we educate students to make a difference in the world — is preserved and strengthened for generations to come. Beyond a fiduciary responsibility, they share the deep care for the University and its people that Mary Jo exhibited in every meeting, phone call, and vote.

When the Board of Trustees meets later this month, we will share a prayer and a moment of silence for Mary Jo, whose unquenchable spirit will always live in our hearts and through the lifelong success of our students. Godspeed, my friend.

Previous Post

Elevating the Arts

If the walls could talk at the nearby Marion’s Piazza, I think they'd tell us a bit about why entrepreneur and philanthropist Roger Glass is such an avid supporter of the arts.
Read More
Next Post

The Joy of Making Music

When I tell people that the University of Dayton Orchestra is comprised of a majority of non-music majors (including many engineering students!), they look at me in surprise.
Read More