Sep 28, 2011

UC Grad Puts Cincinnati on Filmmaking Map

Question: What do the University of Cincinnati, City of Cincinnati and a romantic comedy have in common?

Answer: Brad Wise, a 2002 graduate of UC’s DAAP graphic design program.

“I am a visual storyteller who relies on a team of people to accomplish a goal,” Brad noted in a recent interview with UC Where You Are. “I owe UC for giving me that foundation and teaching me how essential it is to have a relentless work ethic.”

That work ethic was put to the test recently, as Brad wrote his second feature film, the romantic comedy A Strange Brand of Happy. The film revolves around Joyce Heller, a single Christian life coach who falls for an agnostic client. Proving that life is never as simple as we’d like to make it, the film delves into such complicated topics as faith, hypocrisy, relationships and spiritual compatibility.

“Screenwriting is great if you're very comfortable rewriting,” Brad explained. “I started writing in January of 2009, and was still making changes to the script on-set. I can't tell you how many drafts I went through… dozens and dozens. I spent countless hours alone writing to Miles Davis and his contemporaries and then emerged to collaborate with a team of trusted readers and critics… only to go back to the drawing board with a glass of Cab and my friend Miles.”

The film wrapped production in early September after four weeks of shooting in Cincinnati, where Brad lives and works as the Creative Director of Vineyard Cincinnati. The film’s cast included Academy Award winner Shirley Jones (Elmer Gantry, The Partridge Family); Grammy Award winning, Rebecca St. James; comedian Marty Ingels; award winning producer/director, Joe Boyd; Joe Stevens (True Grit); Venida Evans (The Adjustment Bureau); and Ashley Palmer (Paranormal Activity). The process of editing the film and searching for distribution partners will take place over the course of the next several weeks, after which Brad will begin the writing process anew.

“I just have to decide which idea – there are about five! – I’m most passionate about right now,” he said.

Passion is a recurring theme in Brad’s life. He got his start in filmmaking after shooting a documentary and a short film at Vineyard Cincinnati in 2008. “We discovered we had a community of people passionate about telling stories together.”

Further experiments in screenwriting, producing, directing and even acting followed… though perhaps Brad’s most awe-inspiring role to-date is that of father. He and his wife had their first child in July, a son named Henry, shortly before filming A Strange Brand of Happy. 

As for his current project, he hopes a little of his own passion for self-discovery will rub off on viewers.

“I hope this film starts conversations among friends about their life passions and purposes,” Brad says. “I believe people can change the world (and have fun while they're at it) when operating out of their passion.”

If Brad’s career trajectory is any indication, we think he’s hit the nail on the head.

Sep 22, 2011

President Williams Talks about Life on the Color Line

After moving to Cleveland recently with my husband, I was ecstatic to find out that UC President, Gregory H. Williams was planning to meet with UC alumni living in the Cleveland area.

On Thursday, Sept 8, President Williams met with a small group of alumni in downtown Cleveland. While attending the reception, my husband and I met so many fascinating UC alums. For the two hours we attended the event, we felt as if we were back in Cincinnati again. We had a chance to talk about the progress UC is making in a variety of ways. President Williams discussed his strategic plan for the University.

President Williams, me, Antione Drakeford,
UC Foundation President  Mike Carroll
UC alumni at Cleveland reception
On Friday, there was a separate event at The City Club of Cleveland. President Williams talked about his book, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He was Black, and his perspective as an African American. In case you are not aware, President Williams is biracial and he grew up thinking he was white until he was ten. His life drastically changed once he found out his grandmother was black. His mother left his father during this time, and his family lost everything. As one can imagine, growing up as a biracial child during the Jim Crow era made his life extremely difficult.

Listening to President Williams talk about the troubles he has endured throughout his life was empowering. He discussed the current state of race relations in the United States today, and while the President of the United States is African American, he explained we still are striving towards Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream.
UC alumni with President Williams

"The dream still lives," President Williams said. "And in my view, it is up to each one of us to keep it alive and keep it real."

Watch President Williams' speech at The City Club of Cleveland by clicking on the YouTube video above. Have you read President Williams' book? What are your thoughts?

Sep 20, 2011

UC alumni share favorite 1970s memories

From water balloon fights, to insightful words of wisdom from UC deans, to meeting spouses at UC, several UC alums recently shared their favorite memories from the 1970s.

Do you want to reminisce about your favorite UC memories from the 1970s? Join us for the 1970s Reunion on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the University of Cincinnati. Graduation is not a requirement to attend.

Can't attend? Let us know what your favorite memories are below!

Sep 19, 2011

Developed vs. Developing

If you ask Robert Herbold, it’s easy to see which country – the U.S. or China – is developed, and which one is still developing. 

In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal, Herbold noted that

“Recently I flew from Los Angeles to China to attend a corporate board-of-directors meeting in Shanghai, as well as customer and government visits there and in Beijing. After the trip was over, in thinking about the United States and China, it was not clear to me which is the developed, and which is the developing, country.”

So begins a guest editorial by Robert Herbold, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati. The retired chief operating officer of Microsoft and current managing director of the Herbold Group, LLC, makes the case that China is one-upping the U.S., thanks to the country’s commitment to infrastructure, strong government leadership and an aggressive five year plan that seeks to improve innovation, the country’s environmental footprint and jobs creation.

Furthermore, Herbold argues, politicians and voters alike must, “snap to and realize they are getting beaten,” by polarizing issues and government red tape.

You can read the entire editorial here.

As an institution dedicated to the pursuit of academics and learning, we must pose the same question Herbold asked in his editorial:  Is the U.S. being passed by because it is developed, instead of developing? And if so, as Herbold asks, “Why is this occurring and what should the U.S. do?”

Make your points in the comments below.

Sep 17, 2011

Reconnect at 1970s Reunion

Did you attend the University of Cincinnati during the 1970s? Are you wondering what your classmates, sorority sisters, teammates, college sweethearts and friends are up to now? Well you're in luck! Join us for the first-ever 1970s Reunion: Back to the Bridge, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011 on UC's Uptown Campus.

Celebrate your days at UC and reconnect with fellow alumni starting at 4:00 p.m. on Sigma Sigma Commons. Check out the latest updates to UC's campus on a campus tour, then meet and greet your long lost comrades from 5:00-7:00 p.m., and then dance the night away to a dose of 70s hits from local band, The Remains!

If you plan on attending, please register for the reunion. For more information, visit the 1970s Reunion page.

Sep 16, 2011

Taking Online Learning to a Fun New Level

A great way to learn, while having fun.

That’s the motto of Clever Crazes for Kids, an online educational tool for students grades K-8 with strong ties to the University of Cincinnati. Founded by UC alumnae Dianne Dunkelman, the site was designed as an asset for educators, parents and guardians to boost academics and build strong minds, core ethics and healthy bodies for kids and their families.

The success of Clever Crazes revolves around the program’s ability to engage kids in learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) principles are integrated into everyday lives… and how these educational basics are connected to healthy individuals, healthy relationships and a healthy planet. The program’s curriculum revolves around nine areas of academic focus, called, “worlds,” that teaches kids how STEM principles through a series of fun, interactive online games and quizzes. There is even a physical fitness component, which teaches kids about nutrition and exercise. Each curriculum can be taught as an after-school activity or as a supplement to classroom-based lesson plans.

For example, in the “You and How Things Work” curriculum, students are introduced to physics, chemistry and associated topics including heat, light, and sound, as well as electricity and magnetism. Students can begin by learning a few key facts from the lesson plan, or they can just right into an interactive game that quizzes their understanding of scientific principles. As students answer questions correctly, they earn points… which may eventually help their school win a bevy of prizes.

But it’s not just the kids who are having a ball online. Parents and teachers are getting in on the action, too, with specific portals designed just for their use. Teachers can even earn graduate credit from the University of Cincinnati or certifications required for professional development credit at their schools.

Dunkelman originally launched Clever Crazes in 2006, after becoming alarmed at the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity. The original program focused on reducing the incidence of overweight and obesity in young populations… reaching children in grades K-6, as well as teachers, parents and caregivers. This education effort, which has grown from the distribution of approximately 40,000 educational supplements in 2006 to more than 1.2 million supplements in 2011 – includes information on nutrition, physical activity, self-esteem and respect for the environment.

In 2009, after focus groups with educational professionals indicated the need to boost the academics of elementary and middle school aged kids, Dunkelman expanded Clever Crazes to include supplemental learning materials that focused on the STEM disciplines. The current iteration of Clever Crazes, Version 3.0, expands the program into the world of online learning, with a safe gaming twist.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Clever Crazes could help your child or their school, check out the curriculum at or visit the program’s Facebook page.

Sep 14, 2011

UC Alum Blake Layda Reminisces About UC/Cincinnati Favorites

First you boil Kraft Mac & Cheese noodles, then heat a can of Skyline Chili, and mix them together.  This is called “Skyline Mac & Cheese,” a recipe UC Alum Blake Layda created to remind himself of Cincinnati.  Using Blake’s recipe to make Skyline Mac & Cheese has us thinking Blake could have a second career in the culinary arts if he ever gets bored as a Managing Director at Jones Lang LaSalle. 

Blake, who graduated from the College of Engineering in 1999, rates his Law for Engineering class as the most interesting and relevant class he attended with respect to his career today. Not all classes were as interesting as Law for Engineering - he recalls his engineering math classes being extremely difficult, and his Differential Equations class being the hardest of them all. 

Blake graduated with a BSCE in Civil Engineering and also swam competitively on the UC Swim & Dive Team, waking up early to swim in Laurence Hall, where the pool was located before the Recreation Center was built. He left his legacy at UC by holding the 50-yard freestyle record for over 10 years after graduation.  Currently, Blake holds records in the top 10 spots of six different swimming events.

Between studying and swimming, Blake managed to form a group of close friends who stay connected by attending the same Bearcat football game every fall. Before the game, they walk the campus and admire the transformations since they attended UC in the late ‘90s. 

Blake and his former roommate, John Wagner, recently made a joint endowment gift that is unique in that it benefits both CEAS and the UC Swim Team. Blake says he donates from a sense of loyalty to UC. His advice to current students is to enjoy college, balance a “social and scholastic life” and build networks.  Blake believes college is a place where a person grows the most.

Blake’s Cincinnati Picks

Gold Star or Skyline Chili
Graeter’s or United Dairy Farmers ice cream
Taco Bell or White Castle
Frisch’s or Pomodori’s
Adriatico’s Pizza or LaRosa’s Pizzeria
Cactus Pear or Uno
Inn the Wood or Uncle Woody’s

Sep 10, 2011

Impacting Education

With school districts throughout Ohio and the entire country facing challenges from budget constraints to deteriorating facilities to lacking math and science curricula, it’s nice to hear about the educators who are making progress in spite of these obstacles. Garrett Carter is one such educator. A Darwin T. Turner Scholar and '06 graduate of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services with a criminal justice degree, Garrett’s career in education began as a substitute teacher.

“After accepting a long-term substitute teaching position, I knew I was meant to be an educator.”

Garrett applied to UC once again to obtain a Masters in Education. He is now in his third year of teaching middle school language arts at Northmont Middle School in Clayton, OH in a district rated Excellent with Distinction, the top rating a school in Ohio can achieve.

While some people believe teachers vacation all summer, Garrett traded “down-time” for the pursuit of publishing a book: Not an Oxymoron: Standards-Based Fun in the Classroom! 30 Projects and Activities for Middle School Language Arts.

“What excites me the most about releasing this book, are all of the students around the country who will benefit from these standards-based, meaningful, relevant, engaging, and FUN projects and activities!”

Garrett is an active alumnus and donor. “I'm not rich," he says, "but I do what I can!”

We’re thrilled to have Garrett representing the thousands of UC alumni making a huge impact in the community.

Sep 9, 2011

TGFF -- Thank Goodness For Football

Bearcat fans were so excited to kick off the 2011 football season, almost nothing could keep them away from Clifton to support the team – not even a record-breaking heat wave.

Fans came out in force to watch the ‘Cats cruise to a 72-10 victory over Austin Peay State on Saturday, September 3, even though the daytime high reached 100 degrees and shade was a precious commodity.

The UC Alumni Association’s Bearcat Blitz was packed with sun shelters and tents, as was the brand new Bearcat Tailgate Grid on Sigma Sigma Commons.

The enthusiasm for the new year was palpable, but perhaps the best showing of support came as the team made its way to the stadium on the CatWalk. The players and coaches were thrilled to see such a strong show of support, and some people had to stand on nearby tables just to get a view of the action.

The Bearcat even got a few extra cheers of support considering how hot it must have been in the bodysuit!

Here’s to hoping this victory was a sign of things to come this season. Make sure to join the party on September 17 as the Bearcats host Akron at Nippert Stadium!

Sep 6, 2011

UC Pride, even in the loo

We've seen numerous basements, offices, and family rooms adorned in red and black, but never a bathroom. UC student Chris Trimbach ('12) recently tweeted @proudlycincy photos of his parents' (Michael, '83 and Eileen, '86) red and black bathroom that looks more like a mini Bearcat museum. The bathroom has been work in progress for about 5 years, and has a ticket from every UC football bowl game since the Humanitarian Bowl. It even includes a signed Big O jersey and a ticket from the first game played at the Shoemaker Center! These are true diehard Bearcats fans!

Do you have a room in your house decorated in Red and Black from the floor to the ceiling? Can you top the Trimbach's Bearcat bathroom?

Sep 2, 2011

Training for a Marathon? UC alum has tips for you!

David with poster of his book
If you have ever considered training for a marathon, you may want to pick up UC alumnus David Levine's book: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Marathon Training! He also gave us some great insight about his experiences at UC and what he has learned since he graduated.

When did you graduate from UC and what was your major?
1980, with a major in Political Science.

What were some of the most memorable experiences you had at UC?
Way too many to write, and possibly some things would be inappropriate to mention.  I guess you could say, I grew up a lot at UC.  I do remember a housemate, Reid Horowitz, giving me a book on running in 1977.  He said, “I don’t know why I’m giving this to you, but I sense it will help you somehow.”  Well, since my first book is on running, I guess it helped - and I still have that book.

How did UC transform your life?
In several ways, but possibly the most important, I learned to question why.

What makes you proud to be a graduate of UC? Why are you Proudly Cincinnati?
UC was the first time in my life where I found I loved learning.  I learned a lot there.  Sparks began at UC, which later turned to flames.

Explain what you did after graduating from UC. What are you doing now?

Writing has always been a big part of my life, since UC.  Just after graduation, I wrote for a local paper; did PR for a theater; covered stories for a magazine, and moved to Los Angeles.  I was even an assistant to an Academy Award-winning writer  at one time. I spent a lot of my time working at studios, and after 13 years, I still work at Sony Studio, on the old MGM lot.  I stopped writing for a while, and took up endurance athletics - I wanted to see the ocean and get outside. Well, here I am writing again.  I have a few other articles which I already wrote as well.

David after an Ironman race
What have been your biggest accomplishments in your career?
The book was a good one; winning a huge theater acting award; completing Ironman races are exciting; and I have loved helping people achieve dreams and get faster, as a coach.  However, I sense that the definition of being young at heart is when you feel as if you haven’t really achieved much, and have a world of accomplishments yet unturned.  That would be me.

How did you decide to write your book about marathon training? How long did it take you to finish your book?
I have long been frustrated with the ineffective methods which most non-pro, adult athletes use to train for endurance running events.  A friend e-mailed me that a publisher was looking for writers for a book on marathon training.  I had her submit a writing sample of mine, and boom, we were in.  Our deadline was six months, and that was about how long it took to finish everything.

How does it feel to have a book that is selling nationally?
I’m not sure.  I’ve done a few lectures, but I do that sort of thing anyway.  You know, I had this idea that one day I would walk into a huge bookstore and find someone glancing at my book. Shuffling over to that person, I would mutter, “Great book,”  and then calmly walk away.  So I one day I saw this enormous bookstore closing forever.  Sad, but great discounts and I remembered this nutty idea. When I walked through the doors, I found most of the shelves to be empty, and if they ever had my book, there was no sign of it anywhere.  So I never had the experience of receiving much recognition as an author.  On the other hand, it is a new world.  Nearly all of the books I have purchased lately have been online and I seem to have received some amazing reviews on 

Anything else you would like to highlight about your career or your relationship to UC?

I miss those days at UC.  Don’t get me wrong, life gets better, if you remain positive.  However, having time to simply learn, and nothing else, would be something I would now absolutely cherish.  In fact, I’m toying with the idea of going back for a master's, if I can figure out where to find the time.  Creating time to learn is something we adults place far too little emphasis on.