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Endowed Gift to Honor Professor John D. Groppe and Mrs. Rose Marie Groppe

Alumnus Dr. Bart Ng (SJC 1968) endowed a writing prize at the University of Dayton to honor Professor John D. Groppe and Mrs. Rose Marie Groppe.

Dr. Bart Ng (SJC 1968), Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at IUPUI, endowed a writing prize at the University of Dayton with a gift of $106,000 in honor of Professor John D. Groppe and Mrs. Rose Marie Groppe. “I wanted to express my gratitude to Professor Groppe who changed my life and to Mrs. Groppe for her generous hospitality in welcoming me to their home when I was a student,” Dr. Ng said at the award luncheon at Dayton University on March 8, 2024.

The John D. and Rose Marie Groppe Award for Excellence in Writing was inaugurated on March 8 when Dr. Margaret Strain, Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at the university, presented to both Eleanor Yates-McEwan and Daniel C. Napoli a check for $750. The Groppe Award will be awarded at the end of each semester to students, irrespective of their majors, who distinguish themselves with outstanding performance in one of the University’s required writing courses in the Common Academic Program or courses in the Core Program that require extensive writing. The prize winning writings will be published in Line by Line: A Journal of Beginning Student Writing, a peer-reviewed journal issued twice a year.

Dr. Ng came to Saint Joseph’s College from Hong Kong in 1965 to major in mathematics and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1968 and as the class valedictorian. He then attended the University of Chicago where he was awarded an M.S. in 1970 and a Ph.D. in 1973, both in applied mathematics. At Saint Joseph’s College Dr. Ng took three courses from Professor Groppe: basic composition and two courses in world literature, both required of all students under the college’s general education program at the time.

Dr. Ng stated that he did not have a love for writing when he started college. “I did not have any use for it. It was my good fortune to wind up at Saint Joseph’s College. I was very concerned because I was not an English major. I had no interest in literature. In fact I was very much anti humanities. Because I am a mathematician, all I cared for I was what can be boiled down to an equation. I was never a good student in language, especially the Chinese language. The structure is such that I never found it very easy to make an argument and I liked to argue.

“Professor Groppe took me under his wing. One of the marks of a great teacher is to recognize the limitations of his students and then make the best of it. I think that in that sense, Professor Groppe is the world’s greatest teacher.

“He changed my mind about the humanities and literature. Professor Groppe made me really appreciate that people outside of science can actually think about things in as rigorous a way as scientists do and perhaps they even have a much harder time because in science you have many guideposts and you know what is valid or not valid. In the humanities you are facing a much bigger challenge, and writing is the foundation of it all.”

Professor Groppe and Dr. Ng chose Dayton University as the home for the award as the University provides a strong writing program that has a course in rhetoric as a foundation for preparing students in public reasoning.

Dr. Ng is Professor of Practice and Mathematical Sciences at Indiana-University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and the Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of the M. L. Bittinger Chair. Dr. Ng also held many administrative positions at IUPUI including Acting Dean of the School of Science and Acting Director of the Mathematical Bioscience Center.

Professor Groppe taught at Saint Joseph’s College from 1962 until 2003 when he retired.

Several SJC alumni attended the award ceremony including two of Dr,. Ng’s classmates, Dr. Tim and Mrs. Karen Seiler (SJC 1968), Ray Leliaert (SJC 1968). Also present were Mike Tully (SJC 1976) and alumnus and faculty member at St. Joe’s, Father Bill Stang, C.PP.S. (SJC 1972), Professor of Biology (1977-2017).

Dr. Timothy L, Seiler, Ph. D. English, Indiana University 1980, was the Director of The Fund Raising School and Rosso Fellow Clinical Professor of Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University and is now retired. Mrs. Karen Seiler is a retired middle school teacher from Saint Maria Goretti School, Westfield, Indiana.

Raymond Leliaert is retired from South Bend Tribune where he served as a reporter, the City Editor and Business Editor.

Michael D. Tully, is a 1980 graduate of J.D. Cleveland Marshall College of Law and practices law in Lorain, Ohio.

Father Stang is presently serving the three Downtown Dayton Parishes.

Also present were four of Professor and Mrs. Groppe’s five children. Mrs. Groppe was unable to attend. For the invocation at the award lunch, Dr. Elizabeth T. Groppe, Professor of Theology at Dayton, read Professor Groppe’s “Prayer to Saint Joseph” that was commissioned in 1999 by Saint Joseph’s College President Albert “Skip” Shannon.

The University of Dayton is a Catholic research university founded in 1850 by The Society of Mary, a community of priests and brothers whose members are usually called Marianists. In 2023 Dayton University enrolled 7,918 full time undergraduates and 3186 in 80 academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education, health sciences, engineering, and law.

Father Stang commented:

I recently had the pleasure and privilege of being invited to an event at the University of Dayton. They were honoring several student writers with the John D. and Rose Marie Groppe Award for Excellence in Writing.  The award was created by one of Professor Groppe's former students to honor John's contribution to so many students while teaching English at Saint Joseph's College.


Professor Groppe was there to present the award as were several of his former students at Saint Joseph's College. As we reminisced about courses and teachers we all noted how much we had learned during our time as students at Saint Joseph's College. It wasn’t just book learning. We learned how to be good, adult human beings. We were grateful to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and dedicated lay professors whose sacrifices had made it possible for us to afford to attend Saint Joe's.


We told stories about those professors who had made a particular impact on us. Needless to say we spoke about John Groppe the most, but other names kept popping up. The Egan's in music and Dr. Cappucilli in theater of course came up. Then there were the philosophy classes with Drs. Nichols and Wood. I tried to get their team-taught courses, because that included Mr. Brinley who translated their ideas into terms I could understand.  Frs. Bierberg and Kaiser got mentioned, as did Frs. White and Robbins. Fr. Robbins and Mr. Marini were especially good at helping students find a way to be able to pay for their education. Several of them mentioned they would not have been able to stay at Saint Joe's if it hadn't been for them.


One of my memories was Professor Anne Marie Egan teaching music appreciation to a class of 100 students in the auditorium. It began my love of classical music. John’s former students who were present at the UD ceremony had graduated before we started the Core Program. So I told them how Professor Groppe had been active in the Core program. John made sure that Core emphasized the ability to communicate, the importance of reading, and how essential it was to speak and write clearly. Prof. Groppe made reading, writing and speaking integral parts of the Core program, part of the glue holding the different sections together. We were all sad that the 4-year college phase of St Joseph’s had moved into the past, but we were so grateful that we've been blessed to go to school there and be taught by so many dedicated people..


At the end of the event I went home with a renewed appreciation of the contribution so many dedicated Saint Joseph's College professors had made to so many people. The essence of the college had not been its buildings and grounds; it had been its teachers. Those teachers were professors in the faculty, but they were also staff and other workers who did, not just their job, but many extras to help us.

Photos by Dave Larsen, University of Dayton

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