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The Atlantic explores how UD is "reinventing town-gown" relations

The Atlantic takes a look at the University of Dayton’s expanding role as an anchor institution in the Dayton community in an online article by James Fallows “The University of Dayton is Reinventing Town-Gown Relations.”

Fallows and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are looking at local communities for the magazine’s Our Towns feature. Our Towns examines how “the most positive and practical developments in this stage of American life are happening at the local and regional level,” however “most Americans have barely heard of those developments except in the communities where they themselves live.”

Fallows has visited Dayton several times, and the article on UD is the second in his posts about how the city is facing its challenges. He spent time with UD President Eric F. Spina, who explains in the article some of the reasons the University has taken on projects like the Arcade innovation hub and onMain.

“One (reason) was ‘our fiduciary responsibility to students — making sure that they have the best possible education.’ Rigor in the classrooms is supposed to be taken for granted. But, he said, ‘I believe that education is optimized if we get students out of their bubble.’ Through engagement in the community’s struggles, ‘they may come to understand that they aren’t going to solve any of these problems. They are there to contribute — their knowledge, their skill, themselves — to a team that can address big issues. That is learning to be a leader, in the Marianist way of life.

“The city’s name is in our name,” President Spina told Fallows. “The health and vibrancy of the city, especially of the urban core, are central to our ability to exist — to attract the best faculty and staff, to convince parents that this is where they want to send their kids. So bringing vitality to this city and region really is an existential question for us.”

Fallows is a staff writer at The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the 2018 book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which was a national bestseller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.


News and Communications Staff