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University of Dayton to award honorary doctorate to President Emeritus Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., in recognition of lifelong social justice work

The University of Dayton will award an honorary doctoral degree in humanities to Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., the longest-serving president in University history and a committed community and faith leader who has dedicated his life to educating young people and addressing critical social justice issues.

Fitz, who served as UD president from 1979 to 2002, will receive the honor April 1 during "The Common Good in a Divided City," a University-sponsored conference focused on regional solidarity — an issue championed by Fitz during and after his presidency. 

Fondly known as "Brother Ray," his presidency was marked by the active engagement of the University and his personal involvement in some of the most pressing needs of the Dayton community — poverty, racism and other social concerns that affect children and families. His work, which has spanned more than 50 years, is grounded in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Marianists' signature emphasis on community. 

"This honor is not about recognizing Brother Ray, the president emeritus, this is about Brother Ray the scholar, the faculty member, the citizen of the community, and the committed adherent to Catholic social teaching," said University President Eric F. Spina. "Through Brother Ray’s deep belief and understanding of Catholic social teaching and social justice, he takes the core tenet of Catholicism and applies it to all that he does." 

Fitz became a trusted figure in the Dayton region on pressing community issues. During his presidency, county commissioners asked him to co-chair the Montgomery County Family and Children First Council task force after five children in Dayton’s child welfare system died, and he helped launch neighborhood school centers in Dayton’s poorest elementary schools. While building a national reputation for UD as one of the nation’s top Catholic institutions, Fitz and a skilled administrative team were the driving force behind the Genesis Project, which helped transform the Fairgrounds neighborhood between UD and Miami Valley Hospital into a vibrant place to live and work. The area’s revitalization triggered an economic boom for Brown Street, the University’s main thoroughfare. 

After stepping down as UD president in 2002, he moved into a position as Father Ferree Professor of Social Justice — a professorship named for his mentor — in the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, a center the University named in his honor that year. The Fitz Center represents a lasting legacy and a continuation of his work to create partnerships among neighborhood, community nonprofit and government organizations and associations. As Ferree professor and chair from 2002-19, he fostered collaborations with community and church leaders on generational poverty-reduction strategies, as well as listening sessions in West Dayton on the Catholic Church's role in alleviating racial injustice. 

Click here for a full-length feature story on the legacy of Bro. Ray.

For interviews and head shot, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at 937-229-3391.


News and Communications Staff