By SEAN BARRON
The excitement that Dan McCauley feels after the Youngstown State
Penguins’ 31-17 win over the Pitt Panthers last Saturday has not faded.
Nevertheless, what had faded was paint highlighting large letters in a section of seats at Stambaugh Stadium that boldly say “YSU” — until he acted on his goal to spruce them up.
“It was fading and chipping away,” the 70-year-old Youngstowner said Wednesday. “I kept saying to those people, ‘The logo needs to be repainted.’”
McCauley, a former part-time YSU sociology professor, was referring to the university’s athletic department, which he approached in June about volunteering to repaint the letters.
McCauley, a 1960 Ursuline High School graduate, said that some personal difficulties also motivated him to give the YSU sign a paint upgrade.
Chief among those was a life-threatening illness he said resulted in financial hardships as well as losing the ability to work.
McCauley lives close to Wick Park on the North Side and often walks on and near the campus, he said, adding that he’s sensitive to its aesthetics.
While attending a Penguins football game last year, he noticed the letters needed a little attention, the first step in his decision to volunteer to give them a makeover for free.
For a few months, however, no one from YSU returned his calls regarding the idea.
“I guess they thought my bid was too high,” he said with laughter.
Recently, though, McCauley received the university’s permission to add paint — and a bit of luster — to the letters, an undertaking that took about one week and wrapped up Monday, he said.
McCauley listed beautification projects and community volunteer efforts as two of his passions, saying the former often leads to an increase in property values and a decrease in crime.
“Volunteerism is important, especially when you’re older. It keeps you from thinking [too much] about yourself,” said McCauley, who’s also an adjunct professor at Florida International University in Miami and headmaster of an American foreign-studies school in Rome.
McCauley added that the illness, which he did not specify, also changed certain perspectives, such as causing him to more deeply appreciate “the importance of giving back and reaching beyond oneself.”
Another major source of enjoyment is being part of a group that travels around the world, courtesy of a friend in New York City who organizes the trips.
His trying experience also led to the support of friends, former classmates and business associates, some of whom knew about McCauley’s love of traveling and sponsored his trips to Argentina, Brazil, Turkey and India.
A jaunt to the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, is on McCauley’s horizon.
So, what might McCauley’s next local beautification effort entail?
“My next project will be to pick weeds on campus with or without the knowledge of the university,” he said with a chuckle. “I was hearkened by a professor carrying weeds in one hand and books in the other.”