This past week, I wrote a feature story on the 10th anniversary of Daniel Curran’s arrival as University of Dayton president. While working on the story, I had the rare opportunity to sit down in Curran’s office for 45 minutes to ask him dozens of questions about how he arrived at UD, what he likes best about campus now and the school’s future.
As the second part of a three-part outtakes series of extended quotes from my interview, this post covers Curran’s thoughts on some of his favorite stories, most difficult moments and top UD picks.
Flyer News: What’s one story that you think is seminal of the 10 years here?
Daniel Curran: “I have so many interactions with students it’s hard to pick one out. You know, I think when I go back, I think one of the most interesting, when you talk about where the university is going, is where my family and I were in Tibet and we know there is a UD group there. And we were walking in Lhasa, and all of a sudden I hear, ‘Dr. Dan, Dr. Dan.’ And a group of students run up to me, and here you are on the other side of the world, your students are excited to see you and your excited to see your students. And I think that’s one of the interesting interactions; I have multiple interactions where students have bumped into me: I’ve bumped into our students in Venice, I’ve had people in China come up to me and say, ‘I have two degrees from the University of Dayton and I’m so proud to be here.’ …
“And the other thing, the flip side, when you have a student get hurt or something when you had that accident earlier this year with the two Chinese students was, any loss of a student is hard and sometimes you don’t hear from it from a graduate, but that really when it’s a student that’s here you feel like you left the family down. ….”
FN: How many times have you been to China?
DC: “I’ve lost count. You know, I did research in China since the mid-‘80s and when I was doing research, I could be there three times a year. I bet approaching 40 times, approximately 40 times. I go much less now, I will probably go once this year. I think it’s more important now for other people to go from the university because China is all about relationships and at some point I’ll have to leave. ….”
FN: What’s one of the hardest things for you? You mentioned the November crash.
DC: “Certainly, you know, we’ve had this year the death of those two students here was very hard and I think it was compounded by the fact their parents came from such a distance but, you know, we’ve had several students take their lives and that’s hard to understand and that has a tremendous impact on the community also. I think that’s one of the hardest things. I think at a much less significant level, I always feel bad when a student spends two years here, has borrowed money and just can’t make it in the long-run. They might not be able to make it academically, they might not be able to make it financially, we’ll even try to help financially, but if it’s an academic issue, I feel bad for the students, I’ve said this at first-year orientation but I’d like to see 100 percent of students graduate. ….”
FN: What’s your favorite place on campus?
DC: “My favorite place on campus, you know, I actually on campus here, I actually like the [Central] Mall now. I think there’s so many places where you can look out, if you look out from Marycrest, you look out from the Science Center, it’s just something that was missing and it’s the heart of the campus, it’s always great to see people just sitting around, just the flow of students. …
And the other place I like a lot is the arena, I obviously do like basketball and I think it’s a great thing for the campus. … So I like the arena, sometimes I will go and watch the practice, the men practice and it’s relaxing. Because at the games it’s people coming all the times, it’s really work at the games, except when the ball is tossed up, then I don’t want to be bothered, I want to watch the game. …”
FN: What is your favorite place to eat on campus or on Brown Street?
DC: “Oh I’ll tell you, I go to Dewey’s quite a bit on Brown Street. My son told me the new place FUSIAN is pretty good but I haven’t been there yet. I eat most of my meals here in Kennedy Union on the third floor. … There’s some days where I’ll eat on campus breakfast, lunch and dinner. Thank God the food’s good, Chef Herbert [Schotz] does a good job. So I guess Kennedy Union’s my favorite place but I guess they probably do special things for me, I know they do, they take care of me. But I go to Dewey’s a lot, my wife and I used to go to Dewey’s like twice a week, it was embarrassing. ….”