Our UD: Where we live
ONE DISTINCTIVE SYMBOL OF THE University of Dayton is its neighborhood of porches — an unbroken welcome mat of hospitality and camaraderie.
“We’re a nice, tight community,” said Katelyn Woodruff, a junior biology major and neighborhood fellow.
Look more deeply, and you can see how the University has intentionally cultivated its remarkable learning-living environment within its bounds.
In the 1970s, the University began purchasing properties in the neighborhoods surrounding campus. Once single-family homes for workers at National Cash Register, the houses became yet another opportunity for students to build community with one another. Students grew in faith, knowledge, experience and understanding that comes with negotiating dish duty and study hours with fellow Flyers. By 1990, UD owned 200 homes. Today, it owns 420 houses with 2,055 beds.
Charming and quirky, most of the properties in the north and south neighborhoods are more than a century old — which means UD as a landlord continues to make significant investment in housing for its city. Miles of flooring and gallons of paint have spruced up the interiors, while new roofs and siding have enhanced curb appeal. New houses — with porches — have been built in formerly vacant lots. Solar panels dot some of the roofs, and student sustainability ambassadors make the rounds to collect compostable waste from buckets left on the front steps.
Students celebrate culture, academics and faith in special-interest housing that helps lift up their neighbors. Neighborhood fellows foster student growth through social, cultural, service and educational engagement. The Brook Center for Empowerment and Wellbeing, in the heart of the south neighborhood, provides relationship education with oneself, others and their environment.
It’s a unique living arrangement that speaks to the times, just as it is with every housing venture UD has embarked on since its founding, including when St. Mary’s Hall supported a sea of beds for students. Marycrest, which opened in 1962, was erected in response to the success of co-education. As enrollment boomed, students lived in off-campus locations like West Campus. Virginia W. Kettering Residence Hall features suites for four roommates, a new attraction for students starting in the late 1980s. Marianist Hall, which opened in 2008, incorporates dynamic educational areas. In 2018, the Adèle Center added apartment living with multipurpose areas for student services, meetings and worship. An integrated residential curriculum offers intentional social growth and community learning opportunities.
In this city of scholars, every moment of living is an opportunity for learning.
I DIDN’T VISIT UD BEFORE I CAME DOWN HERE FROM Cleveland. University Hall was a surprise to a lot of us.
It was a building that was at one point a VA home, so it had rooms and a big main hall. The University had too many students to house them all on campus, so about 500 of us lived off Gettysburg Road at West Campus. There was an old airplane hangar with at least four — maybe six — basketball courts out there. We played a lot of basketball.
UD ran a bus called the Blue Goose every half hour or so back and forth to campus. They’d let us off right in front of St. Mary’s and the chapel. The challenge for us was during the weekend. We’d come over to campus and socialize, but the last bus back was at midnight. We didn’t always make it, so we developed friendships on campus so we could stay overnight.
I went back to University Hall as a resident assistant my super-senior year, but it wasn’t the same. Enrollment was down, and they closed the hall spring semester. But the friendships we made on that floor freshman year have lasted.
What’s important to understand is that the location just happened to be University Hall. The camaraderie that runs through the University of Dayton supersedes years and buildings — the common thread is community. It’s a thread that the Marianists, quite frankly, are very good at utilizing. It might be different experiences, different times, but that bond of community still runs strong.
EVERYONE HAS THE OPINION THAT THEIR housing is the best, but in reality they’re all really great, because it’s all about the people you meet.
Right now, I’m living on Irving Avenue in a house for five women. I really like it. It’s nice to be on the outskirts of the neighborhood, with Oakwood across the street. As a neighborhood fellow, I watch after my block and houses up Irving, and I do rounds in the south neighborhood. Part of my job is to make sure everyone’s abiding by University rules, such as keeping the noise down, because our studies come first. And part of it is to foster community and engagement. Juniors and seniors, sometimes we think that we can navigate things, but in reality we still need help. Just this past week, one of my residents came to me with a roommate conflict. They just needed a person like me, the mediator, to help guide them through the conversations and allow them to have their time to talk. I think they’re going to be able to work it out.
Living in the neighborhood reminds me of the neighborhood where I grew up: You have that trust and a feeling of safety and security. You meet everyone who moves in. It’s nice when you see your neighbor. They walk past. You smile. You ask if you can pet their dog.
That’s the best way I can describe it: It just feels like home away from home.
Illustrations by Zachary Ghaderi.