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Off-court, UD, Stanford are David v. Goliath

Similarities include undergraduate enrollment, private school status.


The University of Dayton’s Cinderella story continues today as the men’s basketball team takes on Stanford University in the Sweet 16, a matchup pitting UD against one of the nation’s most academically elite schools.

But UD and Stanford University actually do have a few things in common: they’re both private schools; they have about the same number of undergraduates; and their basketball teams are both high seeds that scored a couple of upsets to get to the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s “Sweet 16.”

Beyond those similarities, however, the two schools’ paths diverge rather sharply. In many ways, UD is David to Stanford’s Goliath — and we’re not talking about the basketball matchup.

Stanford, for example, has the fifth-largest endowment among U.S. colleges and universities, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. UD ranks 164th.

Between 2011 and 2014, according to USASpending.gov, Stanford received more than $3 billion in federal grants and contracts. UD received $166 million.

Stanford’s most recent fund-raising campaign spanned five years, ended in early 2012 and generated $6.2 billion. Its athletic department spends $90 million a year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. UD, which doesn’t have a Division I scholarship football program, spends about $21 million.

On the academic front, Stanford is among the most selective schools in the country: 96 percent of its incoming freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class. At UD, it’s about 24 percent.

UD goes after a different brand of student, said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at the school.

“We are not about elitism,” Kumarasamy said. “Their (Stanford’s) mission is to take the cream and make it better. We take the B+ kids and make them into A+.”

UD focuses on being community-minded and socially responsible, he said.

A true liberal arts school, UD students are required to complete course work before graduation in categories including: art/fine arts; English, foreign languages, history; humanities; math; philosophy; science; social science and religion.

Stanford’s students are only required to complete work in humanities, math, English, foreign language, science and social science.

Kumarasamy said the school wants to help students learn how to make a difference in their community and grow into well-rounded individuals.

“Our mission and the education itself stems from faith-based education,” he said. “It’s about sharpening the mind, body and spirit.”

Mike Kelly, assistant vice president to athletics, said one of the hallmarks of the school is its humbleness. When he talks to people outside of Dayton, they tell him the university doesn’t “express ourselves enough.”

“We have something very special here,” said Kelly, who has been at the school since 1977. “Money is not the answer to everything. We know who we are. We know what we are all about.”

According to information from the university and the National Science Foundation, UD is second among all universities and colleges in the country for sponsored materials research and 12th in the nation for Department of Development-sponsored research and development.

“The university has great partnerships all around,” said John Leland, director of the University of Dayton Research Institute and associate vice president for research. “Wright-Patt obviously is the biggest one but UD has part of its Marianist beliefs the desire to contribute back to the community. We’re very tied to the local community. We’re very strong at partnering.”

The university’s partnerships extend overseas to several countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Brazil and many others but the school stays focused on the Dayton community, he said.

“You can almost get too big,” he said. “We’re an international university now but we haven’t forgotten our roots are with Dayton.”

Reece Newman, assistant professor of computer information systems at Sinclair Community College, attended both UD and Stanford as a student.

Those campus experiences were separated by about four decades — Newman graduated from Stanford in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and he is a current student of UD’s educational leadership graduate program. Newman sees one strong common theme.

“Both institutions are committed to a high-quality academic experience,” he said.

The missions of the schools differ, the Sinclair faculty member said. Stanford is a secular school; UD is affiliated with the Catholic Church. UD focuses greater efforts on character, service and molding its students into moral citizens than a secular school does, Newman said. “That religious tradition is unique in some ways,” he said.

Stanford is focused on research and undergraduate education. “It was really wonderful to be a student there,” Newman said of his experience in the early 1970s. “Students benefit from some of the finest minds in the world — and they are the ones teaching you.”

But Newman also had high praise for his UD grad-school experience. As for tonight’s contest, he acknowledged he is “conflicted.”

“My heart is with Stanford, but my head is with UD,” Newman said.



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