DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The old sports adage is you never want to be the guy who follows the legend, but that is what Daniel Curran did 12 years ago when he succeeded Brother Raymond Fitz as the president of the University of Dayton.
Curran is putting his unique stamp on a university that now extends well beyond the hill.
He can still recall the words of the board of trustees that hired him.
“We expect you to be bold. We expect you to make a major contribution to this community,” said Curran.
And that he has. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Brother Ray Fitz was a daunting challenge, but Curran has responded by nearly doubling the size of campus.
He spoke with 2 NEWS’ Mark Allan at one of his major acquisitions, the former NCR World Headquarters.
“It was important for the Dayton region. We were coming off several losses of big companies and we felt we could come in and utilize the building, make sure it was intact and still the symbol of the vitality of the Dayton region, so it actually was a very easy decision.”
Another bold move was the new $51-million GE Aviation Research Center on campus, a unique partnership between a university and a Fortune 100 company.
“They were really looking for a different type of environment to establish a location and they were very drawn that a university setting would be very advantageous to them researchers and students are here our students are there with internships now.”
Curran has embraced the Marianist philosophy of “being present in the world” by extending the university’s reach into the community, and well beyond, even to the University of Dayton China Institute in the Suzhou Industrial Park.
“They actually approached us and said make a proposal and our proposal was we would link to business while bringing our students over there. It’s taken off, 14 to 15 corporate partners in our facility right now, other universities are coming in wanting to see our model.”
As for the future, contrary to published reports, Curran says UD is not currently involved in the plans for the present Montgomery County Fairgrounds, but he is keeping a very close eye on it and says we all should.
“That is one of the most significant economic development projects in this city, a valuable piece of land, well located, it’s a game changer, so if we had to get involved in any way, you know the University of Dayton will get involved.”
Curran says his other immediate goals are making sure UD students can compete worldwide and upgrading current campus buildings.