Our UD: Where we're going
THE UNIVERSITY OF DAYTON HAS always been an institution on the move — from the nascent school for boys to the proverbial city it has grown into today. And through the We Soar comprehensive campaign launched April 19, the trajectory is ever skyward.
That includes a shared vision where every University of Dayton undergraduate student experiences a holistic, relationship-rich education with intentional integration between their classroom and out-of-classroom educational experiences.
Kristen Altenau Keen, assistant dean of students and director of the Brook Center, said the path forward will focus on what the University does so well: build relationships.
“We are helping students think holistically, not just about a career choice, but about a vocation, and what that means for their whole self.”
“We are helping students think holistically, not just about a career choice, but about a vocation, and what that means for their whole self,” she said. “That’s what sets us apart. That makes us unique as an institution.”
Students seek to integrate their whole selves into how they learn, live and grow, which will change the way they approach leadership, scholarship, service and research.
For example, many engineering students want to explore the arts — something they’ll do alongside classmates from many majors on the stages of the Roger Glass Center for the Arts when it opens next academic year. Students will bring to their political science class skills they’ve learned during sessions in the Dialogue Zone in Roesch Library. Formal opportunities for experiential learning will no longer be confined to one’s academic program.
“Manifesting our Catholic and Marianist identity, we are called to educate and respond to the signs of the times,” said Michelle Pautz, professor and associate dean for curriculum and student academic success. “What our students need, what our faculty need, what our staff need are all dynamic — they continue to evolve.”
“What our students need, what our faculty need, what our staff need are all dynamic — they continue to evolve.”
Learning partners could help shepherd that evolution, one example of a future innovation UD is considering. Paired with an undergraduate student, these partners could instill confidence that the student will be supported and successful while deepening the student’s sense of belonging at UD.
“We have a person to walk alongside the student in their journey, to help cultivate that relationship and get them thinking from the get-go about experiential learning opportunities, realizing and growing into who they are called to be,” Pautz said. “Our learning partners have the potential to provide that.”
While the majority of students currently engage in experiential learning, understanding the barriers to participation and removing them will be important to making the opportunities available to every student, Keen said, an assurance that will also set UD apart from other universities. A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is at the heart of it.
From the needs of the first-generation college-goer to the student of faculty parents, the question of equity pervades. “How are we centering access for everyone?” Keen asks.
Access allows every student the space and place to discern their vocations as citizens of the world who work toward the common good.
“How are we preparing our students for a changing world?” Keen asked. “How are we prioritizing and centering the common good, making sure that students have the ability to critically evaluate? If we’re going to prioritize critical evaluation of our times, are we teaching the critical evaluation skills? So much of that happens in relationships.”
Conversations on the future will center on the structures needed to build and explore these meaningful relationships. As it always has been, the Catholic, Marianist call to build community remains the cornerstone on which those in this city of learners will continue to live, thrive and belong.
Illustrations by Zachary Ghaderi.