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President's Blog: From the Heart

Courageous Leaders

(The University of Dayton honored Mark Masthay and Crystal Sullivan as the 2022 recipients of the prestigious Lackner Award for their significant contributions to the Catholic and Marianist character of the University of Dayton. Paul Benson, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, offered these remarks at the Feb. 25 dinner.)

What a wonderful night of celebration for two extraordinary members of the UD family and most worthy recipients of the Lackner Award!

Crystal and Mark, your journeys of faith inspire — and strengthen — all of us. As Marianist Educational Associates, you personify the heart and soul of UD, and as members of the UD family you have touched so many with your faithful witness to the Gospels.

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade welcomed dedicated lay people from all walks of life — from chimney sweeps and teachers to priests and merchants — into a new religious movement. I see echoes of his vision of inclusivity in your lives. You both build community across diversity — and you do it exceptionally well, authentically, and without fanfare.

It can’t be easy being “the first,” but when Crystal became the first woman *and* the first lay person to lead Campus Ministry at UD, she became a model, not unlike Mary, who swallowed any apprehensions and said “yes” to her calling. She trusted God.

I’m not sure she knew at the time how many countless committees, task forces, working groups, search committees and meetings that would entail, but her mark is felt all over campus — from the renovation of the chapel and creation of liturgical spaces in the residence halls to the foundational underpinnings of UD’s Commitment to Community philosophy.

Crystal, I admire how you lead the Board of Trustees in an opening prayer service at its meetings, setting the stage for dialogue and collaborative decision making at the highest level of the University. I appreciate how you advocate for religious diversity and support students of all faiths. You are a bridge builder and a faith-filled leader who models Marianist hospitality and graciousness. Thank you for all the gifts you bring to our work, especially courage, which I see most visibly as you relentlessly advocate for — and support — the dignity of *all* people, especially those who have been historically marginalized by society, by our Church, and even at UD. My warmest congratulations, Crystal.

Mark came to UD as department chair in chemistry, and, as we heard tonight, he was uneasy at first. Though a person of deep faith, he wasn’t Catholic. But this is a place where you can grow in your faith and appreciate the faith of others. It’s a place where faith and reason can co-exist in harmony. It’s a place where you can find your vocation.

Like Crystal, Mark said “yes,” accepting opportunities that opened his eyes and heart to Marianist spirituality. He walked in the footsteps of the Marianist founders in France, Spain, and Italy during a pilgrimage with UD colleagues. As an MEA, he works in partnership with the vowed religious to invigorate and perpetuate the Marianist mission on campus. I have seen firsthand the work that Mark does with students, pouring himself into them, supporting their growth and challenging them to be difference makers.

Mark, I admire your profound faith, your mindfulness, your openness to entering into interreligious dialogue — and, above all, your courage. Thank you for all the gifts you bring to our work.

Mark and Crystal, you are so worthy of this recognition and, both personally and on behalf of a grateful University of Dayton community, I congratulate you.

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