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Sowing, growing

Sowing, growing

Zoë Hill '22 December 06, 2023

Finding community at the University of Dayton is almost a given for most students. But for Chris Murray ’89 and Angela Lovett Murray ’92, their “found families” kept them rooted throughout college. It has also inspired the couple to grow in their giving to the University; this year, they celebrate five years as members of UD’s Front Porch Society, which honors donors with three or more years of consecutive giving.  

Chris Murray ’89 and Angela Lovett Murray ’92

UD was not the initial plan for Angela; her sister was a UD student when Angela was making her college decision, and she wanted to get out of Southwest Ohio for school. But after visits for Family Weekend and Christmas on Campus, Angela decided to become a Flyer, too. 

For Chris, there was never a choice. 

“UD was the only school I physically applied to,” he said. 

Angela was immediately a very involved student, using her four years at UD to become the editor of the then-African American student newspaper, The Black Perspective; co-chair of the Homecoming committee; and president of Delta Sigma Theta. She credits all of it to a push from the leadership at the Multicultural Affairs Office, now known as the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center. 

Growing up going to predominantly white institutions, she had prepared herself to enter the culture of UD at the time, but on a larger scale. 

“The staff at MEC were really instrumental in providing a safe space to come and regroup — not just for myself but for most of my peers,” Angela said. “MEC helped me navigate UD, they helped make UD smaller for me, and that provided an immediate community.”

While Angela found her community in MEC, Chris found his within his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha. His first week on campus, he met a student who was involved with a Black fraternity at UD. Chris was in awe of how this student had found a home at UD, and he wanted that, too.

“I cannot divorce my fraternity experience from the UD experience because it was all the same for me,” Chris said. “When I think about UD, I think about the extended family that I developed. It became so palpable that I can't separate the two.

“[UD] is the place where I became a man. It's a place where I met my bride. The pride and the feeling that I have for UD, I can't shake it now.”

“When I think about UD, I think about the extended family that I developed. It became so palpable that I can't separate the two."

The two met through Greek life. They both attended a Delta Sigma Theta ball, where Angela noticed Chris as he was laughing at his table with his fraternity brothers. 

Chris said he loved every minute of the five years he spent at UD, but he knows that’s not the story for everyone. He noticed that too often it is the case that students are admitted on scholarships but can’t survive financially after the first year. You can tell if there's a culture of support and respect at a university if they’re dedicated to getting students graduated, Chris said.  

“When we hear about the new scholarship programs that are recruiting low-income students who have the grades but not the financial means, and we know that those scholarships are renewable … that’s one of those pieces that make us say, ‘UD is really committed.’” 

Angela is steadfast on MEC’s place in the equation: “I know the presence of MEC and its programming is just as valuable and needed today as it was back in the ’80s, so I just want to do whatever I can do to ensure that they have the resources they need to provide that safe place, community and mentoring for today's students of color at UD.”

A big push to turn that giving spirit into consecutive annual donations directed toward MEC came from the appointment of President Eric F. Spina, the couple said. 

In 2008, Angela helped plan the first Black Alumni Reunion, volunteering their time for UD. A decade later they met Spina, and he reignited their excitement for the direction of UD with his emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. They decided they were now in a position to donate, and they knew what they wanted to support.

“The authenticity, I think, was palpable,” Chris said of meeting Spina. “On the way home, we looked at each other and realized, ‘Well, that was a game changer.’”

Added Angela, “We just knew how important it was for a university to have a president — not just an office — who was saying, ‘No, this is not just a Multicultural Affairs Office thing. This is a university thing. This is my thing.’” 

As a couple guided by faith, the Murrays believe in the biblical principles of reaping and sowing. They said they are excited to see the fruits of their investment and the efforts of others into the “good soil” of UD. 

“I love the fact now that UD is living up to promises that were made to me as a freshman,” Chris said. 

Tall buildings, big dreams