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Our UD: How we grow

Our UD: How we grow

Staff April 20, 2023

Illustration of UD Basketball at the UD ArenaA FLYER SITTING IN THE RED SCARE SECTION AT A men’s basketball game is never alone. Members of UD’s largest student organization take flight together, building leadership skills and contributing to the best NCAA basketball fan experience in the country. 

They support student-athletes on 16 NCAA Division I teams in 12 sports. The work players do on the field, court, track and green contributes to the cultivation of skills in leadership, team building, time management and more. 

At UD, we grow together in so many ways. 

“Every aspect of the day contributes to the heart of campus.”

“Every aspect of the day contributes to the heart of campus,” said junior Ben Thompson, a member of ROTC. Thompson and his fellow Fighting Flyers were selected as the top Army ROTC program in the Midwest, earning the 2022-23 MacArthur Award from the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation. 

And there’s much to do. 

  • More than 250 campus clubs and organizations give students opportunities to serve their communities and share their talents. 

  • Fraternities and sororities offer rich professional and social connections. 

  • Campus Recreation attracts 4,000 unique players to 1,900 intramural teams. 

  • Flyer Media provides hands-on print, digital, radio and TV news creation. 

UD’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is rooted in the Catholic and Marianist conviction that every person has innate dignity because all people are made in the image and likeness of God. The Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center is among the most visible initiatives on campus supporting the academic, social and cultural needs of a diverse community of scholars through heritage programming, PEERS mentoring and more. 

Faith is central to all UD does. In addition to daily Catholic Masses, the UD community offers space and grace for observances of the faith traditions represented by its citizens. These range from the colorful spring Hindu celebration of Holi to fasting for the Muslim observance of Ramadan. In 2014-15, the University renovated the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception to ensure celebrating the Catholic faith is accessible and joyful. The Office of Mission and Rector has also increased offerings from music liturgy coursework to instruction in the Marianist charism. The Forever Marianist fund initiated during the We Soar campaign is increasing funding for mission-based endeavors; in 2022, UD invested nearly $3 million in encountering faith and exploring life. 

At UD, we bring our whole selves as we become the people we were meant to be. 


Illustrations by Zachary Ghaderi.

HOW WE GROW: Then and now 



Affordable housing and services vice president 


José Cerra Castañer '94
José Cerra Castañer '94

UD OFFERS A LOT MORE THAN JUST ACADEMICS, and that’s one of the things that really attracted me, especially all the offerings from Campus Ministry. Starting the second semester of my freshman year, I attended almost every retreat: CARE, MORE, the senior retreat, a Latino retreat and a retreat for LGBTQ students. Retreats really helped me connect with people. 

I was at UD from ’90 to ’96 because I stayed to get my master’s, and Catholicism was very important in my development because of the social justice aspect of the religion. Retreats expanded the notion of what spirituality is about, what friendships are, what love is. Volunteering to lead retreats was a way for me to give back to the community. In the process, I was finding out more about myself because I had to go deep into questioning some of my beliefs so that I could explain them to other people and make a connection. 

One retreat that really stands out was the CARE retreat my junior year. Someone shared about their childhood sexual abuse, and it allowed others to open up and share things they had never shared before. It was an opportunity for students to get the help we needed and to connect to other services at the University, including the counseling center. I’ve remained in contact with several students from that retreat. 

I really appreciate the Marianist way of living in community, of respecting people and of being open, as Jesus was, to people from all walks of life. The Marianists have a special place in my heart. 



Junior civil engineering major 
St. Louis, Missouri 


Ben Thomas '24
Ben Thomas '24

IT’S DARK AND IT’S EARLY, AND EVERYONE ELSE IS asleep. We are all running together from campus and eventually down toward the river. It’s so quiet. Then we start up the cadence, and sound and energy surround us. I think about how everyone else is cozied up or still sound asleep, and I’m here, running with the rest of UD’s Army ROTC, bettering myself. 

This is changing my lifestyle. This is changing my habits. This is helping me. This is my job. I’m all in. I love it. 

My personality definitely aligns to everything I’ve gotten involved in at UD. I tend to want to get outside and not just stick to a routine pattern. 

I’ve been a class representative for SGA the last three years, and I volunteer as a president’s emissary, meeting with alumni and bringing other students to breakfast dates with the president to share their ideas. I’m in the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. That’s my recoup time, to get my batteries recharged. 

It all connects to my major. In fact, if you make a map of all my movements on campus, you’d see all these little blue dots intersecting on the Central Mall as I go from my house on K Street to the chapel and up to O’Reilly Hall, over to math class in the Science Center, to engineering class in Kettering Labs, on runs around campus with ROTC and to SGA and emissary meetings in KU. 

I’d say Dayton aligns to just about anybody’s personality. Pick and choose what you want to do. 

And know that Dayton picks and chooses you. 

Where we're going