By: Emily Haynes – Staff Writer
The University of Dayton has made the decision to rename the College Park Center to Raymond L. Fitz Hall, in honor of the longest serving president in UD history.
Brother Fitz served as president from 1979 until 2002, and even after leaving this role, he still works at the university as the Fr. Ferree Professor of Social Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I have great pride in UD, because over the years, we have been consistent in educating the whole person and in linking learning and scholarship with leadership and service,” Fitz said, who is currently in India doing a series of workshops for the Society of Mary.
“I am excited by our continual journey of integrating liberal arts and professional education to the new challenges of our world,” he said.
It was this mindset that made Fitz worthy of this honor. Music professor Donna Cox has known Fitz for 25 years and said she believes the renaming of the hall is an incredible thing.
“The University of Dayton is, in large part, who we are because of his leadership, forward thinking and his ability to keep people at the table talking until issues could be settled,” Cox said. “It is an honor for us to be in a building that will bear his name. I cannot think of a better way to honor Brother Ray.”
This honor will include a plaque outside of the building and a statue of Jesus. The plaque reads: “This strong and versatile building, long part of Dayton history, now highlights the common themes of Marianist education. It is fitting that it is hereby dedicated to the example of Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Ph.D.”
The statue is representative of Fitz’s longtime dedication to teaching in the style of Jesus as a missionary disciple.
Dick Ferguson, executive director of the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, has known Fitz for 35 years and believes the renaming of the center will be meaningful and symbolic of his impact.
“I like the decision to rename the CPC,” Ferguson said. “Only three buildings on campus have been named for specific vowed Marianists: O’Reilly, Roesch and Fitz. As far as impact, probably current and former students whom Brother Ray has taught and those alumni who received their degrees from Brother Ray, will sense its importance.”
Junior music major Gillian Taylor said she enjoys the renaming of a building she spends most of her week inside. Although she doesn’t know Fitz personally, she said the new name will change how she views the building.
“Knowing that I’m going to a hall instead of the College Park Center makes me feel like I’m still a part of campus life,” Taylor said. “It will have a warmer feeling, in my opinion.”
Cox said she doesn’t think the new name will be a problem for students because the center didn’t start having classes for a lot of students until a few years ago.
“I hope everyone will appreciate the significance of naming a building, that I’m told will be the most populated academic building on campus, after the man who successfully led our university for nearly 30 years,” Cox said. “His reach goes well beyond the university community but throughout the Dayton community as well.”
Fitz, for which the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community was also named after, has been involved in a variety of committees in the city of Dayton, such as Dayton Public Schools Family and Community Advisory Panel, the Family and Children First Council and more. Despite his accomplishments, Fitz has been humbled and surprised by this honor.
“Whatever I was able to accomplish here was because there was a great leadership around me that helped enrich my ideas and keep from not making too many mistakes,” Fitz said. “Our academic program grew by leaps and bounds because [we] had a creative and persistent faculty. I feel I was only a small part of the success we had at the university – our success was the work of many people.”