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School of Law | Steve Yuhas: You Get More than a Degree from UD

Steve Yuhas: You Get More than a Degree from UD

Steve Yuhas graduated from the School of Law in 1985 and received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from UD in 1982. He received the School of Law's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 for his many contributions to the School and the Dayton community.

He has been an attorney with Flanagan, Lieberman, Hoffman & Swaim in Dayton for 22 years, specializing in workers' compensation, personal injury, juvenile law, divorce and criminal law.

Yuhas, who become president of the School of Law Alumni Association in 2002, has been instrumental in the association's efforts to increase involvement of alumni in activities at Dayton Law. He will step down as Alumni Association president during the 2010 Alumni Weekend, May 14-15.

He recently answered a few questions about his time as president.

Think back to 2002 when you became president of the Alumni Association. How did you become president?

I was privileged to have been involved in a number of activities like the Keller Hall fundraising campaign, the Call to Lead campaign, and other volunteer work at both the undergraduate and law school level. In addition, I had been approached on several occasions prior to 2002, and asked to consider serving as the president of the Alumni Association, but I had up until that point declined because the timing for me personally wasn't right

But I agreed to become a candidate for president of the association after being approached personally by Lisa Kloppenberg and Tim Stonecash. I felt like whatever they wanted I would do for them, I didn't think I could tell them no. I'd been doing things for UD when I was asked since I came here in '78. I don't think I've ever turned anybody down and I wasn't going to start with that conversation. So I was nominated and the Board of Trustees elected me.

Why should a Dayton Law graduate get involved in the Alumni Association?

I believe in the UD mission. I believe that when you graduate it's time to give something back to the University on some level. I think it prepares you on many levels to be successful, and that's why I believe that as you find success it is your responsibility to give back something to the law school. For some people that's financial support. For others it can be helping out in different ways, from opening their conference rooms for alumni events and meetings in various cities across the country to writing letters for the law school or volunteering as a mock trial judge at a law school event.

I personally believe that I should be involved in efforts to help the law school because that is how I was raised, that is what I was taught by my mother and father. When I was in grade school, my mother worked at my Catholic grade school and volunteered at all of the parish events. Quite truthfully, to this day, at age 78, she still helps out at our parish by organizing all of the readers for the Mass schedule and shows up every Friday morning to make pirogies at our parish to raise money for the church. In addition, my father remains president of the men's lodge at our parish, a position he has held for over 15 years, and has volunteered at Holy Trinity Church on many levels over the course of his life. When I was in grade school, our pastor approached my father because my father had been painting as a second job for a rather long time and quite naturally when our parish priest told my dad that our enormous church really needed to be painted inside but the parish didn't have the funds, my dad spent approximately six months painting the interior of the church on scaffolding and never took a penny for his efforts. Truthfully, with parents like my mom and dad as role models, volunteering and giving back to the University of Dayton School of Law is a very natural and simple thing to do.

I also think my being involved in the way that I have been involved was a process that was nurtured through my years at UD. There is no doubt that part of the message that I received from being here on campus as an undergraduate as well as the three years that I spent here in law school lead me to believe that service to your community, whether it was local service organizations or service to your alma mater, was very important.

The wonderful thing about my past eight or nine years in serving as Alumni Board president is that I can count on two hands the number of times that I have called on a law school grad for help or asked them to attend an event and been told "no." I've made thousands of calls over the past eight years, and I believe that this one example speaks very well of how our graduates feel about UD, their experience at law school, their beliefs about the positive trajectory of the school, the current leadership, and most importantly, where the school was when they were students here, and where it is currently heading.

A lot of people do give back because they received more than a degree, and that's because of the Catholic and Marianist character that the University tries to espouse. Most people that I speak to ' and I speak to hundreds of graduates a year ' knew the first time they stepped on campus that there's a different spirit at the University of Dayton. And that is part of what brought many of them here and keeps them coming back to give their time and their treasure. It's hard to put into words what that special feeling is, but I have no doubt that it's here and you feel it when you come on campus.

How has the Alumni Association changed during your time as president?

I believe it's gotten younger and it's gotten stronger. In addition to adding board members from around the country, from places like Chicago, New York, Washington, Texas, Florida and, of course, Dayton, we now have active participation by these alumni during our monthly board meetings when they join us by phone. We have good, thoughtful people on the board who are very willing to get involved.

In addition, I think that because of Tim and Lisa's efforts, as well as the other folks at the law school, our alumni events in these other cities have increased and continued to be successful. More alums are also helping in job placement efforts for our students.

It's a joy for me to think that our collective efforts have given the Alumni Board a real positive spirit and that our alums, in addition to feeling better about the law school, maybe have an organization that they can be proud of. I believe that our alumni take genuine pride in being on the Alumni Board because what we have been doing has been successful. Numerous people on the board have stepped up over the past several years and now they are volunteering at these events, coming back to the law school for the events, and many are writing contribution checks, which is another way that they can help. It's been just wonderful.

What have you and the Alumni Association Board accomplished during your tenure as president?

I believe that the Alumni Board has simply built on the accomplishments of previous presidents who had served prior to my election in 2002. Terry Miller, Dan Gehres, Marybeth Rutledge, A.J. Wagner, Harry Beyoglides, Gary Schaengold and Scott Andes are all dedicated alumni and were strong leaders within the association.

I think that we have accomplished a number of important goals during the past eight years. Quite truthfully, I believe that the most important issue that Tim and Lisa and I discussed was including as many law school alumni as possible in all of our law school activities. I truthfully believe that this goal has been achieved but at the same time believe that more work has to be done along this line. We also set out to increase the Alumni Board's involvement with law students and to increase the attendance at all alumni events, and I believe that we have addressed those priorities and made some strides along those lines. I believe that we have worked hard to enhance the content of our alumni events and to make them more fun for alums and their families.

Really, what I have done as Alumni Association president has been a small part of what has been accomplished. It's more of a credit to the School of Law staff, our Alumni Board and our alums because they have really made a positive impact and increased the involvement of our alumni in the School of Law. I am just glad that I could be here to help.

From my perspective, there are three major events that the Alumni Board organizes on a yearly basis: The Kessler Scholarship Golf Tournament and the Dean's Classic Softball Tournament in late September; the alumni basketball game and reception during the winter months; and Alumni Weekend in May. If you were to look at sheer number of alumni who now attend these events, that would be one of the possible indicators of whether we were doing our job or not on the Alumni Board. And it is my understanding after watching these events all grow in one way or another throughout the past eight years, that attendance at all of the events has doubled or tripled. I believe that we have only begun to tap the potential of, not only our Alumni Board, but of our alumni.

How has the Alumni Association's approach to planning those events changed?

The wonderful thing about having been here for eight or nine years is it gave Tim and I and Lisa and whoever else was involved plenty of opportunities to experiment with different things and find the best of the best way to proceed. For instance, the Alumni Board gets together for lunch once a month and we've tried various places. We've had lunch and golf for people at NCR and at Keller Hall to change the pace.

In terms of the Kessler Golf Tournament, we set out to increase the number of hole sponsors. In addition to having alums together having a good time playing golf, eating, and socializing, the tournament is an opportunity to raise money for scholarships. I have had the privilege of meeting a number the scholarship recipients over the past eight years, and every time I have met one of these folks, it has just simply made me push harder to obtain hole sponsors and other sponsors of the golf tournament because I know the money is really important to the law school students as they deal with the costs associated with the law school. So we have made a conscious effort to increase the hole sponsorships, and we now regularly have between 25 and 35 hole sponsorships at $250 per sponsorship. I think that we have been blessed in so many ways to be able to put approximately $50,000 into the scholarship fund during the past five years, which is just wonderful. The credit again belongs to a number of people who work year round on the tournament.

In terms of Alumni Weekend, we wanted to use this event more effectively to welcome alumni back to the School of Law. We began with an ad hoc committee of 25 to 30 law school grads to discuss how we might make the Alumni Weekend events more attractive to our alumni and their families. We also surveyed all alumni, which is something we continue to do about every three or four years. We went through the whole Alumni Weekend process, everything from when we should start making contacts, how many times we contact each alum, whether we should have entertainment, how the program should be run, whether we should have one buffet line or two. That ad hoc committee of 25 or 30 people, and those who responded to the surveys from around the country, deserve a lot of kudos because they did tremendous work to lay the foundation for all of this.

Why are you stepping down as president of the Alumni Association?

Right now my son Daniel is a sophomore at Alter High School and my daughter Katy will be a freshman at Alter next year. I have become more involved in the Alter soccer program because of my son's efforts on the team, and next year my daughter will play volleyball at Alter. I want to make sure that I can give as much time and dedication to everything that is going on in their lives as I possibly can at this point. And quite truthfully, I think that if you spoke to my wife, Maureen, or my kids, they would agree that our lives are kind of hectic at this point, but I still don't miss any of my kids' events. I just want to make sure that I can continue to remain active in my kids' lives during their high school years before they move on to college.

Plus, the normal course in any organization is for people to step aside and let other people take a leadership role. I feel we are well positioned for that to happen with so many fine and enthusiastic people of the Alumni Board. Kate Huffman brings a lot of wonderful qualities to the position of board president. She's going to do a great job leading the Alumni Association.

The 2010 Alumni Weekend will be the last at which you'll be president of the Alumni Association. It's also your 25-year class reunion. What are you most looking forward to?

I would love to have the best ever turnout at this year's Alumni Weekend. I look forward to seeing my classmates again and meeting other graduates of the law school. We are working hard to ensure the weekend is a memorable and good time for everyone.

What's next for you?

Whatever I'm asked to do I'll do the best I can to help. I'm still involved on the Advisory Council, I'll remain on the Alumni Board, and my expectation is I'll remain actively involved in whatever I'm asked to do by Lisa Kloppenberg and the future dean and Tim Stonecash and company. That's not going to change here.

In addition to you stepping down as president of the Alumni Association, Dean Kloppenberg will be stepping down in July 2011. What do you think that means for the law school?

My experience over the last eight or nine years working with Lisa and the rest of the folks at the law school leads me to believe that we are in the middle of a very exciting time. While the law school has made incredible strides during Lisa's tenure and she continues to work extremely hard as she always has to end her current term on a strong note, I feel confident that the law school will make a great choice for her successor and that person will do a good job as dean.


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