Former UD president talks about his new work

Dan Curran, president emeritus of the University of Dayton, really isn’t the retiring type. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

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Dan Curran, president emeritus of the University of Dayton, really isn’t the retiring type. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Connections to Dayton remain strong for president emeritus

Dan Curran isn’t the retiring type.

Though he stepped down from the presidency of the University of Dayton last June, he recently handed an interviewer not one but two business cards — one for UD, where he is president emeritus and an executive in residence for Asian affairs, and another for Fuyao Glass America Inc., where he serves as an independent company board member.

“This is true globalization,” Curran said. “Sure, positions are going over to China. But now, with Fuyao, you have a Chinese company coming to the United States and making jobs.”

Curran — 66, UD’s first lay president — doesn’t get mired in down time. In less than two weeks, he will travel to China, where he will teach and travel all over country. He’ll introduce students to work that cleansed a lake of algae blooms and he’ll consult with Catholic bishops on how to assist their ministries there.

A sociologist by training, Curran says his primary responsibilities remain with the university and he maintains an array of local connections, including serving on the Dayton Power & Light Advisory Board for the past two years.

A look at his career shows someone whose interests span continents. He recently spoke with the Dayton Daily News about that and more.

Question: You're an independent board member for Fuyao. In this context, what does "independent" mean?

Curran: "The board consists of about five or six people, primarily Chinese. As an independent board member, I'm one of the people who have no true affiliation with the company. I'm not a vice president of the company. 'Independent' refers to the fact that I'm not employed by Fuyao."

Q: That's a paid position?

RELATED: UD president's impact felt from Dayton to China

Curran: "There's a stipend. It's very similar to UD or any other advisory board. At UD, your responsibilities were to talk about the macro-issues and not to get into the every-day operation. I think that's the key thing for me. While I may talk to Jeff Liu (Jeff Daochuan Liu, Fuyao Glass America president) … in terms of the everyday operation, I'm not there. I have strict requirements because of my UD commitment, and how much time I can spend there."

Q: Is it fair to say you serve as a bridge from Fuyao to the Dayton community?

Curran: "I think that's a little strong. I think I'm one of multiple people who have been involved. Again, I think I'm a person who can help Fuyao move forward. …

“The more people who know them (Fuyao managers), the more at ease they feel. I think that’s one of the goals here. The other nice thing is a lot of (Dayton-area) governmental officials know me. It makes it easier now.”

RELATED: Fuyao donates $7M to UD

Q: You've studied and visited China since the mid-1980s. What sparked that fascination?

Curran: "It's the mid '80s … and you're seeing essentially, as a sociologist, you're looking at the industrial revolution that took hundreds of years in the west and Europe. And you're saying: 'This is happening.'

“And I can remember debating with another faculty member at St. Joseph’s (University) — I was still there — he was saying Russia is the place to be. And I’m going, ‘No, China is the place to be.’

“I’ve had the pleasure of being there in the mid-’80s. I have a photograph out of a hotel I was staying in a few years ago. This hotel was nothing the way it is now. Now, it’s a five-star hotel. The photograph out of the window was of a main street in Shanghai. I think there was one car and a thousand bikes. Now, it’s a thousand cars and one bike.”

RELATED: Curran's UD legacy includes new faces, expanded footprint

Q: Retirement doesn't appear to mean that you're leaving Dayton behind.

Curran: "One thing you can clarify: My primary responsibilities are with the University of Dayton. … I am in town. I'll spend seven to eight weeks teaching in China then do at least one other trip a year. But I'm here. And that allows me to be involved in things."

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