Nicole Ortenzi struggled when she first came to UD. She wanted to study business but said she was clueless as to what path to follow. She remembers the day she asked for help and talked with a staff member for an hour.
"As we were sitting there, I got it all planned out," she said.
Today, she’s a senior finance and accounting major and has since volunteered as a peer adviser to 150 students.
"I wanted to be able to give back what they gave to me, and I want to be able to help students the way the advising center helped me," she said.
In spring 2022, the University of Dayton School of Business Administration dedicated in Miriam Hall the John D. Mittelstaedt Center for Advising and Business Student Success, where students like Ortenzi find support and guidance. Mittelstaedt, former dean of the School of Business Administration, died Dec. 8, 2020. Donors provided funds to establish the center and create a scholarship in his name to carry on the student-centered work he championed.
Students come to the advising center to discuss majors, classes and study abroad options, to decide on goals and construct four-year plans to meet them, to figure out transfer credits, to connect with mentors, and to seek support for academic, personal and professional challenges.
Advisers and peer advisers get to know their students. This nurtures student success outside of the classroom as well, said Jamie Riley, assistant dean and director of the advising center.
"We all come from different backgrounds, we come from different experiences, and so building relationships is the No. 1 priority to breaking through and understanding what students need outside of education," she said.
Mittelstaedt modeled this deep care for every student. He became dean in 2017 with the dream to establish a center that supports students.
Senior accounting major and peer adviser Trey Mullins attended a business school open house in 2019 and said he was touched by Mittelstaedt’s compassion for those in the UD community. It inspired Mullins to share his experience with attendees at the center’s dedication.
"He just had a smile that lit up the room."
"He just had a smile that lit up the room," Mullins told those gathered. "I remember ... wanting to say something to him afterward, but I stepped up and said I would speak at this, and I know it was one of the best decisions I have ever made."
By continuing to help students, the center intends to honor Mittelstaedt’s vision and legacy.
"The center was created because John had a heart for students and staff," Riley said. "Having the center dedicated to him gives us not only what we have always done, but gives us a new purpose of making him proud."