There’s one in Dayton and Beavercreek. Riverside and Vandalia have them too. In fact Enon, Oakwood, Brookville, and Bellbrook also make the list of cities and villages that have Wright State University graduates currently serving as mayor.
“I’m so glad you are doing this story because it did seem to me that there are a lot of us Raiders these days doing good work as mayors,” said Brookville Mayor David Seagraves (’81, ’82). “Wright State changed my life. My experience there is priceless to me.”
Wright State has long prided itself on teaching the importance of civic duty to its students. Whether through community service, military service, or public service, Wright State students are inundated every day with examples of their peers, faculty, staff, and alumni making a difference in their communities.
The proof of this longstanding commitment is in the results. Raiders with degrees from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s are leading their respective communities today as mayors after having first shaped their commitment to others as students at Wright State.
Current students, faculty, and staff know that Wright State is committed to transforming the lives of its students and the communities it serves.
Wright State grads are also former mayors and city council members; Cliff Rosenberger (’12) is the 102nd Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives.
Oakwood Mayor William Duncan (’74) said he’s not surprised at all that so many Wright State grads have become leaders in their communities.
“They encouraged me to embrace lifelong learning and to give back to our great community. Raider Nation!” said Duncan. “Now I have over 40 years of community service. I encourage young people to volunteer. Helping others is a very rewarding experience.”
A commuter student when Wright State’s campus had just four buildings, Duncan shares a story similar to those of his mayoral peers like Brookville’s Seagraves or Riverside Mayor Bill Flaute (’89). Each chose to stay home and commute to college. That kept them connected to their local communities more than students who went away to school. When they earned their degrees, they turned around and put their skills and civic lessons to work in the places they knew best—home.
Many started serving first as college students and kept it going after graduation.
Seagraves has been on Brookville’s City Council for 36 years.
“In 1981, I received my Bachelor of Education. That same year, I was elected to my first term as a Brookville Council member,” said Seagraves. “My educational endeavors at Wright State provided me the discipline and guidance needed to function as a critical thinker, public speaker, strategic planner, and professional within a competitive workforce.”
Bellbrook Mayor Bob Baird got his start with the Bellbrook Sugarcreek Area Chamber of Commerce when he was in his 20s. Flaute worked on campaigns for Congress and state office as a student before getting involved with the Priority Board and the City of Dayton after graduation. When Enon Mayor Tim Howard (’88) was a student, he served as a volunteer paramedic on the Emergency Squad.
“All of us have day jobs that keep us busy, you know. But maybe not busy enough because we’re still called to do more. When I graduated at the Nutter Center in the ’90s, I knew I wanted to do more for my community than just get a job,” said Baird.
They’ve built lasting relationships in their communities, but these mayors have also stayed close to Wright State. Duncan is currently a member of the Planned Giving Advisory Council with the Wright State Foundation. Howard, Seagraves, Duncan, and Beavercreek Mayor Brian Jarvis (’82, ’97, ’04) are lifelong members of the Wright State Alumni Association. Jarvis has hosted Wright State’s On the Road in Raider Country event for Greene County alumni and often returns to campus to attend university events, including ROTC ceremonies and graduations.
“It’s important to me to impart the same help that I got when I was a student, and I was a student for a long time (laughs), to the young people of today. When you reach out and really care for them, they learn to do the same for others,” said Howard.
Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick attended Wright State and later became a long-standing faculty member in the College of Nursing and Health. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (’09) teaches a course at Wright State on Women in Leadership.
“I have always had a passion for community service and encouraging citizens to make their voices heard,” Whaley said. “Wright State helped me focus my passion and sharpen my skills to ensure that the Dayton region moves forward.”
A three-time graduate of Wright State, Jarvis is as visible and engaged as any mayor in the area.
“We have the ability to make a significant difference in people’s lives, more than what can simply be accounted for in the sum of the things we do from our council seats,” said Jarvis. “We have to use those personal qualities and characteristics that we’ve developed throughout life to reach out and touch people and make a difference.”
Students working hard today to better serve the communities of tomorrow would be wise to follow the lead of these Raiders for life, who never stopped learning how to build relationships, solve community problems, and advocate for others.
“Wright State continues to flourish because they teach young people how to be leaders,” said Flaute. “Attend Wright State and learn how to be a good leader. Be confident and work as hard as you can to make your goals a reality. Do plenty of volunteer work in your church or other community organizations. Enjoy being around people and help whoever you can to attain their goals. They will never forget your kindness and will spread the word about what you do and the kind of person you are.”