Profile: Patricia M. Summe

PATRICIA M. SUMME
Bachelor of Arts, Political Science, 1975
Chief Judge, Kenton County Circuit Court
Covington, Ky.

Recognition | Summe’s career on the bench has brought her a number of awards, including the Kentucky Bar Association’s 2009 Outstanding Judge Award, the 2006 Salmon P. Chase Alumni Association Exceptional Service Award, the 2003 Martin Luther King Award from the Kenton County Chapter of the NAACP and a 1998 Kentucky Post Woman of the Year award.

Xavier Roots | Summe was part of the second Xavier class to include women. A Northern Kentucky native, she followed her father and seven uncles to Xavier. She was not alone: Four of her five siblings attended either Xavier or Edgecliff.

Xavier Days | “It was all a very wonderful time. I enjoyed the socializing. I enjoyed Dana’s. I enjoyed the football games, because there were still a few. I enjoyed the basketball games. I enjoyed going to class with young men—I’d come from an all-female environment. So that was very challenging and also very heartening because you started to exercise your intellectual abilities.”

Embracing Law | Summe worked as a legal secretary in her father’s law office during her last two years at Xavier. Somewhere in her final year, she decided to give law a try as a career choice. “I thought, ‘If I really like it, if it’s what I’m supposed to do, then fine. If not, then I’m going to walk away.'” By her second year of law school she was hooked. “Before you know it, you’re thinking as they want you to think, and you can’t think about being anything else.”

Plans Interrupted | Following law school, Summe worked with her father for 18 months. She was looking to move to a larger firm with more opportunities for litigation when her father died, after which she and her brother, Peter Summe, continued his practice. During those years, Summe gained experience representing several cities as well as family law and real estate law.

Approaching the Bench | “About 17 years ago, I decided being a judge would be a good fit for me. So I ran for office, and I lost. The next judgeship that became available was this one, and because my name was out there, it made it easier to run for this position.” Summe was elected to the bench in 1994.

On the Docket | The court did not keep statistics on case loads until 2001, but since then, Summe has tried 129 cases, including three death penalty cases. One of those resulted in a death sentence, which was negotiated to life without parole when the defendant agreed to testify against a co-defendant.

A Higher Power | Being a judge has “made my life calmer, more thoughtful, harder in some ways because you are making tougher decisions than most people have to make. Death penalty cases are things that you really have to think about and pray about. You have a larger opportunity to be thoughtful about the decisions that you make, which is something that the Jesuit education was always about—thought.”

Adult Behavior | Summe is known as a no-nonsense judge. “I was always taught that I had to be responsible for my own actions. I expect everybody to act like adults. To that extent, I think people need to be truthful with themselves. So when someone says to me, ‘Judge, it was a mistake,’ I say, ‘No, it’s not a mistake, it’s a crime. Let’s all be real clear what we’re talking about.'”

The Reluctant Servant

The voice on the phone speaks easily and laughs often. John P. Foley, S.J., may be several lifetimes removed from his youthful days at Xavier, yet, from the tone of his voice, it’s hard to imagine the 1958 graduate ever sounded more enthusiastic, more humble or more filled with wonder. Life, after all, is a beautiful mystery. How else to explain this son of a Chicago car salesman standing in the White House last year receiving the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’ second highest civilian honor?

“I’ve always found God in my life where I least expected to find him,” Foley says with a sparkle in his voice.

Indeed, Foley has a long history of finding deep meaning and fulfillment in making choices he didn’t want to make, going to places he didn’t want to go and doing things he never planned to do. He reluctantly entered the priesthood, reluctantly became a Jesuit, reluctantly went to the missions in Peru and was ambivalent—if not exactly reluctant—about returning to Chicago 34 years later to help launch Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, which is built around an innovative program in which students pay for their education—and gain invaluable life experience—by working in entry-level office jobs at large corporations. In the process, he presided over the growth and development of numerous K-12 Peruvian students, lived through periods of civil unrest and violence, and offered some Hispanic students of Chicago’s South Side a hope and sense of purpose they could not previously imagine.

A quiet murmur fills the west wing of the White House. It’s December 2008. Foley and a group of fellow honorees are standing face to face with President George W. Bush. The President hands Foley a blue box containing a gold medal embossed with an eagle over green leaves: the Presidential Citizens Medal, awarded to citizens who have “performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.” The list of awardees includes, among others, athletes Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron, civil rights activist the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and now Foley.

“I’m in the Oval Office and I want to pinch myself,” he says. “What am I doing here? What happened?”

Foley can perhaps be excused for failing to recognize the full extent of his accomplishments—and their implications as a model for the future of Catholic education in progressively difficult economic times. He was, after all, awfully busy. As the Cristo Rey idea took hold, Foley helped develop the work-and-study model into a national network of 24 schools—and more are on the way, including one in Cincinnati in 2010. By the time he resigned as president of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School to become president of the Cristo Rey Network in 2005, Foley had raised $26 million and created a $2 million endowment for the flagship school. He’s now chairman of the network’s board.

Success, as they say, begets success. And, along with success often comes recognition: besides the Presidential Citizens Medal, recent years brought Foley several honorary doctorates, the National Catholic Educational Association’s 2007 Seton Award and a 2009 Pax Christi Award from St. John’s University.

Foley may wonder at these things, but Jim Gartland, S.J., isn’t surprised. Gartland, a 1980 Xavier graduate, succeeded Foley as president of Cristo Rey High School. He joined the Jesuits in 1983 and spent his regency working with Foley in Peru. Gartland was involved with the feasibility study for the school in 1993, and it was he who suggested Foley to head the new project.

“John is charismatic, and his enthusiasm is contagious,” Gartland says. “He always says, ‘It’s Christ who leads. We simply lend a hand.’ Well, John’s personality brought many hands to the project. People love to be with him. He’s fun. He’s a hard worker, but he believes you should have fun.”

This sense of fun permeates Foley’s conversation, even when discussing the more difficult decisions of his life. The younger of two brothers, Foley attended Loyola Academy, graduating in 1953. The idea of becoming a priest surfaced early. Foley resisted.
“I was very taken with the local pastor,” Foley says. “He was a member of the country club and a good golfer. He was a very good man. He would come over to our house and play bridge with my parents a lot. He was definitely an influential figure in my life.”
Foley tried to get around that influence. “I never wanted to be a priest,” he says. “And then I decided that being a priest was what God was calling me to. So I reluctantly decided to be a priest. Even though I went to Loyola Academy, when I thought about the priesthood, I thought about diocesan priesthood because I knew the Jesuits didn’t belong to country clubs. I started thinking if I was going to go that route, that I wanted to make it as painless as possible.”

A close, trusted school friend then weighed in on the matter, urging Foley to become a Jesuit. So, as a high school senior, Foley went to see a counselor at Loyola Academy who told him that he wasn’t ready for the Jesuits. “He said ‘No way until you go to college because you aren’t sure yet.’ That was the best piece of advice I ever got,” Foley says. Foley was also momentarily relieved, but the advice only delayed the inevitable. Foley spent his first year out of high school at Georgetown University. And it was there—on March 7, 1954—that he attended the funeral of John Smith, S.J. As he looked at the dead priest and prepared to pray before the casket, Foley got his vocation. “I said, ‘That’s the way I want to die.’ ”

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Peru sits along the western coast of South America. What isn’t covered by the Andes Mountains is jungle or arid plain. It’s hot. It’s poor. And it’s the last place in the world John Foley wanted to be. Committed at last to his Jesuit vocation, Foley spent four years at the Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati, learning the life of a priest while simultaneously earning a bachelor’s degree in Latin from Xavier. In 1961, following three years at Loyola University of Chicago where he earned master’s degrees in sociology and
education, Foley was poised to begin his one-year regency as a French teacher. But his life took another unexpected turn. Pope John XXIII asked all religious groups in the United States to send 10 percent of their personnel to Latin America. Some were interested. Foley wasn’t.

“I thought, ‘Thank God they all want to go to the missions, cause I sure don’t,’ ” he says with a chuckle. “I ended
up in Peru. I was 25. I had no idea what I was getting into.”

Language was the first hurdle. “I didn’t know any Spanish. None of us did,” he says. “I came down and lived in the novitiate in Peru for about four months just trying to get my tongue loose so I could be able to say something in Spanish.” Initially “bummed” because he was assigned to teach grade school, Foley quickly realized that the accepting, uncritical nature of his young students provided the perfect foundation for his growth as an educator. He settled into his work, moving the next year to teach high school, eventually working in a total of three schools and serving as president of two of them.

Matt Garr, S.J., arrived in Peru as a novice in 1965 and soon met Foley, who was then working at a Jesuit high school in the southern city of Arequipa. The two worked together several years later and have remained friends since.

“What impressed me—and for that matter everyone else—about John is his smile, which is the manifestation of something much deeper, namely, his friendliness,” Garr says. “When you are with him, you are the most important person. He isn’t distracted by other things, and he is genuinely interested in you.”

Latin America was a place of unrest during those years, but Peru was less affected than some countries. To be sure, there were dangers—particularly when the anti-government Shining Path organization was in full swing in the 1980s and early 1990s—but Foley saw many successes. One of his students from that grade school class, Alberto Bustamante, rose to become prime minister of Peru. He saw other students become Jesuits; helped develop a program that aided city children in understanding the needs of the poor in their own country; and was involved in starting a center to aid working children. As far as Foley was concerned, Peru was home. “I just thought that’s where I was going to leave my bones,” he says. “I loved every minute of it.”

Then—when he least expected it—change came again. “The Provincial of Chicago came down,” Foley says. “He said, ‘Would you ever consider coming back? I want to start a school in Chicago for Hispanics.’ ”

Foley hadn’t thought about working in America again and didn’t particularly want to. Gartland, who was presenting the meeting, recalls the moment. “John said, ‘I’ll do what the Society of Jesus asks me to do.’ I think his response says a lot about his character.”

[divider] [/divider]

Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood has long been an American port of entry for succeeding waves of immigrants. Washington Post columnist George Will once called Pilsen a “heartland Ellis Island.” It’s the kind of place where people move in and stay only until they can afford to move out. Most recently, it’s an Hispanic enclave with Spanish as its primary language, from street signs to daily commerce.  It’s an insular area—many residents have never made the 15-minute trip to downtown.

Against this backdrop, Foley returned to Chicago in 1995 to begin “by far the hardest year that I ever spent. I was totally out of sync in Chicago.” There wasn’t much time to get in sync. Foley was assigned to a three-person team charged with opening a new high school for low-income, at-risk Hispanic students. With virtually no money in hand, they turned to consultant Richard Murray, who helped develop a plan in which, ultimately, teams of four students would work in the offices of some of Chicago’s biggest corporations. Each student would work one day a week and the company would pay the school the equivalent of an entry-level wage for one worker annually—now between $26,000 and $30,000. Unlikely as it may have sounded, the idea worked: Cristo Rey opened in September 1996, about 20 months after Foley returned to the States.

Beyond the work component, Cristo Rey’s operating principles are unique on several fronts. The school has no entrance exam. Potential students come in for an interview, and a primary key to admission is their desire to be part of the school. Personality also figures into the equation: Students who are too shy to ask questions or to admit they don’t understand something won’t qualify, although they may come back at a later date and try again. Those who are accepted go through a pre-first year orientation boot camp designed to teach them the cultural skills necessary to succeed in dominant-culture office environments. These include behaviors ranging from making eye contact—which Hispanic children may be raised to see as a sign of disrespect—to shaking hands and taking phone messages. Once in, students are expected to do three hours of homework nightly, and the school enforces a zero-tolerance policy for such things as drugs and violence.

“We have found gang symbols in a person’s notebook and he’s gone,” Foley says.

But the rewards are great. “To our surprise, the educational breakthrough here is that when they see that there’s a place in that professional office for them, their self-esteem goes over the top,” Foley says. “They never suspected that would be a place where they could find a future, or even be welcome. All of a sudden there’s a future to this whole thing.”

To be sure, there are issues to work out. Gartland says that, in the face of family mobility and academic rigor, retention across four years remains a big problem. But the vast majority of those who make it are accepted to at least one college or university. Xavier now has welcomed about 21 students from the Chicago school in recent years.

“We’re learning,” Foley says of the network. While the Chicago school continues to be exclusively Hispanic, other network schools—which may or may not use Cristo Rey as their official name—serve students from a variety of backgrounds. “Our mission is generally to guarantee the product and guarantee the name Cristo Rey. We have 10 mission effectiveness standards. Our job is to keep people honest about using the name.”

And though he’s “ecstatic” about the success of the model thus far, it’s also clear he’s taking nothing for granted. At the end of the day, Foley remains in awe—and pleasantly surprised. “God continues to surprise me,” he says. “I think that’s what it is—it’s discovering that our God is a God of surprises.”

The Sound of Music

 Philip Enzweiler grew up listening to his mother’s advice: Give yourself career options, learn to do more than one thing well. The 1976 graduate took the message to heart. A German major during his Xavier days, Enzweiler has been a professional violinist for 30 years—most of those years a member of the Dayton Symphony Orchestra.

“I always wanted to be a musician,” he says. “I started studying when I was about 7 years old.”

With that goal in mind, Enzweiler spent a year at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music before switching to Xavier. “I knew some German, and I wanted to study it some more,” he says. “It turned out the German program was very good.”

 

After receiving his degree, Enzweiler attended UC for two years of graduate study. But a life in academia didn’t really appeal to him, and the lure of music remained strong. When the Dayton Symphony had an opening, he auditioned and got the job. With the exception of one year with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a short period in Europe, he’s been there ever since.

In his spare time, he has played “hundreds” of weddings, served as a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra, subbed with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and worked in the pit orchestra for Broadway productions in Cincinnati theaters.

In the competitive world of classical music, Enzweiler’s longevity with one orchestra is somewhat remarkable. He still finds “playing the music” to be the most rewarding part of his job. And though he has played much of the standard classical repertoire multiple times, Enzweiler finds ways to keep things fresh.

“To a great extent, it’s routine,” he says. “You know what’s going to happen. But it’s never easy. Especially if it’s a new piece or a difficult piece, you have to come prepared. There’s always something new—so that keeps you on your toes.”

Soldier Poet

War and family are the major themes in Capt. Christopher Collins’ life these days. Perhaps that isn’t surprising—the 2001 MEd graduate is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he serves as a detachment commander in psychological operations and has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

What sets Collins apart, though, is that war and family are also the primary themes of his poetry. Recently two of those poems, “Child of Chicken Street” and “War,” were selected to appear in Against Agamemnon: War Poetry, a book edited by Pulitzer Prize nominee James Adams.

Publication is nothing new for Collins—his work has appeared in roughly 10 journals over the past decade, most recently The Chaffin Journal, Poetry Midwest and the English Journal. He began writing as a second grader at St. Mary of the Assumption grade school in Alexandria, Ky. Love of language led Collins to major in English as an undergraduate at Thomas More College. An Army reservist since his undergrad days, Collins joined R.O.T.C. at Xavier while in graduate school.

“I think I was one of their first ‘graduate’ cadets,” he says.

Married to his high school sweetheart, Angela, and now a father of two, Collins teaches English at Covington Catholic High School in Northern Kentucky and is continuing his education, working on a Master of Fine Arts at Murray State University. He hopes one day to teach college.

“I write to relay experiences, and if someone ‘gets’ something from it, maybe a deeper understanding of war, nature, family—whatever the theme is—then great,” he says. “It is beautiful to write something where a reader can read the work like they are listening to a musical composition. Music touches people through the emotions. That is what poetry does for me.”

Global Reach

James Buchanan has vivid memories of the first time the F.B.I. came calling. It was five years ago, shortly after the U.S. State Department began sending representatives from the Muslim world for visits to Xavier’s Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue. Buchanan, the Center’s director, gave each of the visitors his business card, one of which was later found in the possession of an individual with questionable ties in the Middle East.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Buchanan says, “simply because they came in and they knew everywhere I traveled throughout the whole year. ‘When you were here, who did you meet with?’ ”

Times have changed. Buchanan has gotten used to the now-annual event. These days the agents often call instead of stopping by, and those calls serve as regular reminders of how far the Bruegge­man Center has come in just a few short years.

Six years ago, the Center was nothing more than a name and a few shelves in the McDonald Library. Now, through projects like the annual Town Hall Meeting, the Christian/Jewish/Islamic “Artistic Expressions of Faith” series and the landmark “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” exhibition—as well as many less-visible-but-no-less-important projects—the Center has emerged as an important cog in interfaith relations locally and beyond. Equally important, the Center’s scope also provides space at the table for other disciplines, the business and governmental communities, and civic society.

When it comes to environmental issues, Ralph Nader and John Pepper appear to be polar opposites. But Nader, the famed consumer-advocate and presidential candidate, and Pepper, the former chairman of Procter & Gamble, discovered unexpected common ground at the 2003 Town Hall Meeting on “Globalization and the Environment.”

“They were disagreeing, but in many ways their goals for humanity were pretty much the same,” Buchanan says. “What was interesting is that they found a kinship in that moment.”

Such is the power of dialogue. The ground rules are simple—the projects must be cutting-edge and the participants must have what Buchanan calls “the will to risk”—that is, they must be open to the possibility of having their views transformed. Finding an answer is secondary to beginning the conversation. “Every project we do I look at as a spark of hope,” Buchanan says. “You don’t know what’s going to come of it.”

Such sparks of hope are a treasured commodity on all fronts these days. Shakila Ahmad, a trustee for the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, says dialogue is critical for real interfaith progress. “If we don’t talk to each other, how are we going to build understanding and learn to work together?”

The Islamic Center and the Brueggeman Center have engaged in a number of joint projects, from the biannual Artistic Expressions of Faith to a recent film screening that included opportunities for audience members to engage in one-to-one dialogue, to the 2006 Town Hall Meeting on “Islam and Global­ization,” which featured Karen Armstrong, an internationally known expert on Islam. Ahmad says those projects neatly illustrate the Center’s multi-level contributions—fostering one-to-one discussion, taking a leadership role to bring in world-renowned experts for dialogue and in the creation of programming that can serve as a regional an national model.

Jonathan Cohen, associate professor in Talmud and Halachic Literature at Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, has collaborated with Buchanan on a number of programs. He points to “A Blessing to One Another” as a high point that solidified the Center’s place as a leader in interfaith relations. “The Brueggeman Center is unique and crucial to our community,” he says. “We need it to succeed in reaching as many people as possible.”

Building social capital is at the heart of everything the Center takes on, and its reach is long. To date, it has hosted individuals from 44 countries. In the midst of this activity, it has also emerged as a model for the power of collaboration—a particularly important trait in this era of shrinking budgets and programmatic reassessment. With funds limited to a small endowment, the Center has partnered with a broad range of organizations and corporate collaborators in staging a staggering number of events that bring in experts from around the world to dialogue on some of the critical issues of the day.

At 7:36 a.m. on May 5, Buchanan is at his computer, e-mailing the 2009 list of Winter/Cohen Brueggeman Fellows. Six students were chosen for the one-of-a-kind program in which they design and implement their own international research project and, ultimately, travel to places like Haiti, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Jordan and Egypt. Alone. Unlike other study abroad experiences, the Brueggeman Fellows don’t have the support of faculty or other students traveling with them.

For Buchanan, that means another summer of sleepless nights. “We live on the edge when they’re out there doing this,” he says. “I’m on pins and needles. While we would never put them in harm’s way, we are not putting them in easy situations.”

Despite the sleepless nights, Buchanan says the program is his favorite among the Center’s many activities. Previous fellows have visited 17 countries. It’s all part of better preparing students to live and succeed in a globalized world. “It’s transformative,” he says. “They come back changed.”

A glimpse at some of the past Town Hall topics conveys a sense of the Center’s programmatic scope and underscores its focus on globalization. “China and Globalization: Challenges and Oppor­tunities,” “HIV and Globalization,” “Global­ization and Ecology,” “Cincinnati on the Brink: Race, Regionalism and Prospering in a Global Economy” and “The Impacts of Globalization on Women in the U.S. and Globally.” The events featured participants including Nader, Pepper, David Rusk, Mary Robinson, Dr. Paul Farmer and Vandana Shiva.

Buchanan has been studying globalization for years as an extension of his dialogue work. Now that globalization has become mainstream, his work puts the Center ahead of the curve and provides an edge in creative, impactful programming. Along with this programming, the Center is increasingly involved in other types of projects, such as producing books as the outgrowth of programs like last years symposium on religion and mortality, “Confronting Death.” It’s also working to aid refugees and asylees in Greater Cincinnati and trying to help navigate the financial and international regulations that would allow the production of affordable AIDS medication in Ghana. The Center was also one of eight nationally to participate in a new Fulbright visiting scholar program in 2008 and is involved in a long-term project on fundamentalism.

On Feb. 3, Buchanan was delivering the 2009 Harry S. Truman Lecture in Kansas City, an event sponsored by the Truman library and Avila Univer­sity. While there, he floated a new idea to the audience—the need for a cabinet-level position on interfaith relations within the U.S. State Depart­ment, someone who understands the various religions and can effectively engage them diplomatically. If the idea didn’t stick with anyone in the audience, it didn’t matter because it stuck with Buchan­an. And when he gets an idea, it rarely dies. So as he travels—a byproduct of the Center’s success—he’s working to build support for the idea and plans to propose it more formally in the near future.

“The fact is, they don’t have people who really truly understand the religions or how to engage those networks,” Buchanan says. “If you think of how much of the world is being driven negatively by interfaith conflict, the question becomes how can we take that and flip it around so that interfaith relations are something upon which we can build new types of international or global communities to work for common good?” And it isn’t just the greater world. Buchanan also believes interfaith cooperation holds a key role in America’s future. “As America moves into what I think is a genuine crisis with this financial meltdown, with the disintegration of our communities and everything, we need to find new sources of social capital, and I  believe interfaith communities can be a real source of social capital in our communities again.”

To that end, Buchanan follows a dialogic model through all phases of programmatic planning and implementation. “We rarely ever run a program by ourselves,” he says. “One of the ways we’re able to do so many is that we partner, we leverage. That allows us to do more and bigger programs. But the real payoff is that every time we do a program with a different group and involve them from the planning stages all the way through to implementation, we’ve made another friend. We’ve brought somebody to us who, the next time they have an idea for a program, is going to think of us first, come back to us and be out there telling people, ‘Xavier is a good place to partner with.’ ”

For Cohen, this openness for true collaboration is one of the Center’s truly exciting facets. “Not only is the Brueggeman Center a leading center in interfaith relations, but it is also one of the most exciting organizations to partner within a wide range of areas because it has succeeded in collaboration in a meaningful way,” he says. “There are many places that invite you to participate, but there’s a difference between being a guest and being a collaborator.”

This willingness to partner may succeed in building social capital and make it easier to do a variety of programs, but the responsibility for long-range planning still resides in the Center and its staff of two. “The real challenge is trying to figure out what we should be doing a year and a half from now and putting that in motion—and figuring out whether I’ll have the money to do it,” Buchanan says. “If your programs aren’t cutting edge, if you’re not ahead of the curve every time, people quit coming. But that’s what keeps it interesting. There’s no humdrum about this because it’s all creation. The Brueggeman Center gets reinvented every year, every month, with every new program. The primary question is always ‘What’s next?’

Message of Hope

Rabbi Abie Ingber can’t hide his discomfort. It’s a breezy, overcast Friday afternoon, and Ingber pauses outside the Gallagher Student Center’s lower level. In several days, he leaves for a humanitarian visit to the refugee camps in the African nation of Chad. There, under the auspices of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), he plans to share a message of hope with some of the 300,000 refugees who escaped the genocide in Darfur. It’s a trip envisioned to be long on heart but short on armed security.

“Am I scared? Yes,” Ingber says, pulling his blue pea coat tighter against the cool March breeze. “But in the end, I couldn’t tell my kids that when the opportunity came to do this, I stayed here and sold T-shirts.”

Ingber, director for Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engage­ment, was invited to Chad by HIAS, an organization founded in 1881 to help Jewish immigrants. Now one of the premiere refugee/immigration humanitarian organizations worldwide, its work in Chad with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees focuses on helping refugees deal with trauma and other psychosocial aspects of displacement.UNHCR

The trip carries special significance for Ingber, a child of Holocaust survivors. His parents met and were married in a refugee camp following World War II and received aid from HIAS. Now more than 70 years later, their son is traveling to Africa to share their story of hope beyond horror with a new generation of genocide survivors in a new generation of refugee camps.

Over the course of the trip, Ingber is speaking in each camp and distributing several digital cameras, asking the refugees to aid him in taking pictures of camp life to document their plight. Combined with his daily journal entries, the tragedy and triumph of those in the camps is brought to life.

[divider]Day Three: The work begins  [/divider]

After two days of travel and meetings, Ingber’s work begins in earnest at 4:30 a.m. when a crowing rooster shatters the silent darkness in the city of N’djamena. A half-hour later, Ingber is preparing for a flight to the town of Abeche. From there, accompanied by armed security vehicles, his group makes a 60-kilometer drive over a lunar-like landscape to Gaga refugee camp.

JOURNAL ENTRY: Thursday, March 12—The drive took almost two full hours. The vista everywhere has cypress trees, low vegetation, boulders of granite and other piles of stones collected by natives to bring to town and sell for construction. Young girls on donkeys transported piles of freshly picked wood; young boys stood watch near assemblies of goats and large cows.

The camp itself is perhaps 5 kilometers past the village … We met with a large assemblage of refugees in the HIAS program hut. We were formally welcomed, and our words were translated into French, then to Masalit, a dialect from Darfur. My message of hope from the refugee camps of the Holocaust was exceptionally and tearfully received. Then one of the refugee leaders spoke for the group with passion and appreciation for HIAS work and the support of the American government and people.

[divider]Day Four: Children’s day  [/divider]

The second day of visits to the Gaga camp is children’s day.

JOURNAL ENTRY: Friday, March 13—When we arrived some 200 children were assembled on the large open field, lined up single file in a perfect square, boys with boys, and girls with girls … The Chad  811 pictures Abie's Camera 3 175children sang in one voice a song “Bilad,i” to their homeland. The second song was about crossing the border from Sudan and being picked up in trucks to be brought to their home, Gaga camp. We shook the hands of every single child in turn. I wished each one “ASalaam Aleikum,” and they responded with “Aleikum Salaam.”

There is no crime in the camp; on the rare occasion that a theft occurs, the police are called in to make an arrest. Hassan [one of the refugees to whom Ingber gave a camera] was all smiles to tell me of all the pictures he had taken. He had been up late at night and rose early to comply with my request to use the camera every moment. What an exceptional young man. We may need him as an ESL student at Xavier.

The camps close to outsiders at about 4:00 p.m. each day, so at 3:00 p.m., the group loads into vehicles for the return drive to Abeche for a weekend of meetings with UNHCR and HIAS staff members.

[divider]Day Seven: Abuses [/divider]

After a three-hour drive From Abeche, the group arrives in Hadjer Hadid to visit the Bredjing refugee camp, home to 33,000 Darfuri refugees.

JOURNAL ENTRY: Monday, March 16—The major issues are gender/spousal abuse, infanticide, abortions, forced young marriages, domestic conflicts, adultery, etc. Some of the community mobilizers [specially trained members of the refugee population] spoke of running out of medicine for epilepsy and young people being chained because of their mental diseases. Much of the mental illness can be attributed to the shock of the genocide that the people saw in Darfur. I pushed hard to see if HIAS might open the door to the medical services in charge of the camp (IFC-Red Cross) to see if Xavier could provide some nursing students to serve for a month or two to help with women who have been raped or encountered other sexual issues.

In Hadjer Hadid, Ingber’s party also visits the Chadian deputy prefect for the region. The prefect, a Muslim, handles all the Chadian affairs for the local camps of refugees.

At the end of our meeting, our eyes met and the prefect asked if I was an Arab. “No,” I responded, “a Jew, but I work a great deal with Arab students at my university.”

[divider]Day Eight: Hopelessness comes easy  [/divider]

On the final day of camp visits, the HIAS group drives to the Tregiune refugee camp, home to 16,500 Darfuri refugees. On Tuesdays, the community mobilizers bring the psychosocial staff to families with pressing needs.

JOURNAL ENTRY: Tuesday, March 17—The first family we visited had a 19-year-old son with epilepsy. In the camps he had received medical treatment, but the pills were not available anymore. When he suffered he would wander and fall, injuring himself terribly. The boy’s father kept him chained. It was difficult to hear the story, but the family acted out of love and out of fear for his significant injury.

Our second home visit was almost unbearable. As I entered I saw a crudely fashioned gate of Chad  811 pictures Abie's Camera 3 118twigs. Behind the door was an elderly woman with severe mental problems. The family members said she not only would hurt herself, but would bite children. Her bony fingers extended from behind the twig door. I responded in traditional fashion and took her fingers in mine and kissed them.

As we exited, I needed some comfort. It came as the Psalmist foretold. I looked ahead, and an Imam was sitting beneath a makeshift hut, copying Koranic verses onto a wooden tablet for his students. I asked for his permission to photograph and for him to recite some verses from the tablet on which he was writing. His chant began, and I quickly pulled out my audio recorder to capture the moment.

The day’s visits end with a 15-year old-boy who received a head injury as a young child and, as a result, suffers seizures and mental problems.

There is little or no medication, and hopelessness comes easily.

Later that evening, as he prepares to return home, Ingber reflects.

We had come to Chad to see the 250,000 refugees from the tragedy in Darfur. We did not see everyone but we saw thousands and physically touched hundreds. Each one was a shining star in the tapestry of humanity. Every star is unique. Every star has its place in the heavens. Every star shines its unique light on our earth. Sometimes you have to travel to an unfamiliar sky to see the uniqueness of each star. I will never forget the Chadian sky. I will never forget the stars shining from Darfur.

The prophet Abraham was told to look to the heavens to number his blessings. This too is our prayer. Insha’Allah. Keyn yehi ratzon. May it be God’s will.

[divider]One month later:  Back at home [/divider]

On an overcast April afternoon, Ingber sits in his office in the Gallagher Student Center. His framed humanitarian visa from the Republic of Chad leans against the window, positioned to provide a tangible reminder of the trip each time Ingber looks out across the campus. He’s been home about four weeks, but the feelings he experienced in Chad have not dimmed—nor do they show signs of doing so. Ingber’s initial trepidation is replaced with glowing possibilities: He now sees opportunities for the University and its students to become involved, whether through education or service, and ways of sharing the numerous exceptional photos taken by the refugees. It is clear that, in many ways, he found more than expected in Africa.

“Before I left, I could have given expression to why I went,” he says. “But I never realized that the opportunity to tell the story of the Holocaust, and my parents experiences in a refugee camp and the 60 years of hope and life and celebration that followed, could really bring hope and life and celebration to refugees from a place as far away as Darfur. But that’s exactly what happened.”

He pauses. “If you open yourself to see God in all people, and you allow yourself to experience the gentle hand of God in the direction of your life, it’s amazing how powerful those two things can be together. I cannot wait to go back.”

Voice of Hope

Marge Thurin’s parents were always involved in service organizations. So Thurin expected that she would be, as well. But Thurin didn’t envision the unexpected challenges she would face along the way.

Thurin graduated from Edgecliff College in 1956 and came to Xavier to begin working on her Master of Education degree. In between, she met her husband, David, who received his MEd from Xavier in 1957. The couple married the next year and quickly began raising a family.

But in 1972, at age 43, David was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. By then, the family was living in Minnesota, and Thurin became active at Struther’s Parkinson’s Center and chaired its community advisory board for a number of years.

Through the Struther’s Center, she started giving presentations for caregivers and families, and by the late 1990s, she occasionally “hit the road” for the National Parkinson’s Foundation.

The road trips gave her much-needed breaks in caring for David, who battled Parkinson’s until his death in 2003.

In 2006, Thurin delivered a presentation on hospice care to the World Congress on Parkinson’s Disease in Washington, D.C. She was the only non-scientist who spoke.

Now eyeing retirement, Thurin works part time helping the elderly who have problems with the system. She also serves as a Eucharistic minister at a local hospital.

“If we are going to fulfill mission as Christians, we have to serve one another,” she says. “People served us as well. It’s kind of like karma: What you put out there, you get back.”

Pay It Forward

Even on the most optimistic day, Denver is a long way from Cincinnati. But for an 18-year-old, deciding to leave the security of home in the high plains to start a new life as a Xavier student amidst the valleys and hills of the Queen City, the decision and the distance take on a larger significance. It’s a decision that requires courage and commitment of so many levels: spiritual, emotional, intellectual and financial.

Matt Robinson knows.

After visiting Xavier on his tour of colleges as a high school senior, Robinson felt like Xavier was the right place. But the biggest barrier before him wasn’t the miles between Denver and Cincinnati, it was the money. How could he afford it?

After applying and being accepted, the answer arrived one day in the mail. He was awarded a St. Francis Xavier Scholarship. Suddenly the gap between Xavier and a state university was closed and his decision made.

“Without it, I can say without a doubt I wouldn’t be here,” says Robinson, a philosophy, politics and the public major who plans to teach in inner-city schools as part of the Teach for America program after graduating in May. “Once it came through, I never looked back. I knew that I had to be here.”

Robinson’s story is, in many ways, a familiar one. One of four siblings—and the third of four to go to college—a school like Xavier could easily have been out of the question. “It just was not financially feasible to go to a place like this without any help,” he says.

Financial aid, in one form or another, has grown in importance in recent years. Now as college tuition costs creep higher nationally, competition for top students tightens and overall economic uncertainty continues, the importance of endowed scholarships at Xavier cannot be overstated.

“An endowed scholarship is, in my opinion, the most important gift somebody can give to the University,” says Peter Owendoff, Xavier’s senior regional director for development. “It’s intangible, but it has so many faces—it effects some many people in so many ways. Getting a loan is a little bit more difficult in the current economic conditions,. Xavier is not an inexpensive institution. It’s the generosity of individuals through scholarships that makes a Jesuit, Catholic education possible.”

The University is highly dependent on tuition, but tuition doesn’t cover the full cost of educating a student. It cost about $34,510 to educate one student for one year at Xavier. Each student pays an average of $17,889 out of pocket, leaving a gap of $16,621. At many schools, that gap would be made up with interest generated by endowed funds. At Xavier, much of that is drawn from the University’s general fund.

In his long association with the University, Gerald De Brunner has seen Xavier through the eyes of a student and as a member of the University’s board of trustees. This combination of inside/outside experiences give the 1959 graduate a long, well-rounded view of the way Xavier works. Looking at the big picture, De Brunner says, scholarships would clearly benefit from an increase in Xavier’s endowment, which has traditionally been far less than the endowments of the schools with which it competes.

“I was on the board of trustees for a long time, so I’m very familiar with the numbers,” he says. “If the University had more of that funded via the endowment, it could use more of that money for other good purposes. Less would have to come out of the general fund.”

As of August 2008, Xavier had approximately 357 endowed scholarships with a total equity of $41.5 million, an average equity just under $116,400 and a total market value of about $61 million. Projections for the 2009-2010 academic year indicate $37 million is needed for undergraduate tuition, and a total of $40 million is needed for all types of financial aid, including graduate tuition and remission. Of this, just $2.3 million will be funded by the endowed scholarships.

When it comes to endowed funds, here’s no question that Xavier is playing catch-up. “We are still behind schools we benchmark—Dayton, Marquette, John Carroll,” Owendoff says. “They had operations in place 20, 30, 40 years before Xavier, so their endowments are much greater than the ours. We’ve come a long way, but we have long way to go.”

Selling donors on the idea of endowing a scholarship can be tricky—at least initially. The concrete, tactile nature of bricks and mortar are often much more appealing, Owendoff says. But that attitude often shifts when donors see the real-life impact scholarships have on students.

Like Jana Clear. The junior marketing major from Hamilton, Ohio, overcame childhood leukemia and entered the University three years ago on an ultra-competitive Service Fellowship.

“For me, coming to Xavier was a choice that I knew I always wanted,” she says. “But having two brothers and being given a private education my whole life financially took a toll on my parents. But they really pushed me academically and gave me the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. I ultimately receive it, and that’s why I’m here. I’m not sure if Xavier would have been an option without the financial aid and the scholarship process.”

If the fellowship opened the door, Clear has worked hard to make the most of it. And she is well aware of what it means to her. “I’m confident that years from now, I will still find incredible value in what I have experienced,” she says. “At Xavier I’ve been taught how to think, not what to think, and that has given me the power to pursue my passions and mature into the young woman I am today. I already have a better understanding of my faith life and a realization of my scholastic ability.”

Of course, there was a time when Xavier students were able to work their way through school. But those days are long gone. The demands on students have changed and so has the face of financial aid.

“When I came here to school, there was no financial aid,” De Brunner says. “The financial aid we had was really the Jesuits, because they were the bulk of the teachers here. You could literally work your way through school by working a job and coming to school. You can’t do that today without financial aid. So in effect, if you’re talking to some of the older alums, they ought to be thinking they’re repaying the Jesuit endowment that they had when they were here.”

Owendoff underscores De Brunner’s point. He says those donors who set up scholarships are often those who themselves attended Xavier with the help of financial aid. Understanding the challenges students face sometimes results in a pay-it-forward attitude. “You cannot work your way through Xavier,” he says. “It’s not going to happen. Because of the rigorous core courses—you know, there are only so many hours in the day. For the actual true cost and what an 18-year-old can earn at Abercrombie and Fitch, it isn’t going to happen.”

This reality is not lost on Robinson. “I don’t know a single student at Xavier who doesn’t have some sort of financial aid or scholarship,” he says. “I feel like Xavier did everything it could to get me here, which was something unique in my college experience. It’s an individual focus. I’ve always appreciated that because it brings a really diverse group in—folks like myself from out of town, people from out of the country, even people from right in town that maybe never thought they could go here. They really get to take advantage of this amazing education because of the generosity of alums and friends.”

Take Two

Russell Goings has been busy this winter. In January, the 1959 graduate saw 13 years of writing, rewriting and revising rewarded when Simon and Schuster published his epic griotsong, The Children of Children Keep Coming. There followed a number of books signings and some very special events—Columbia University staged a theatrical adaptation of the piece and hosted a separate discussion around it in February. And in January, the New York Stock exchange honored Goings by inviting him to host a signing and ring the closing bell. Goings was one of the first African-American stock brokers on Wall Street and started the first black-owned, fully operational brokerage company to own a seat on the exchange.

The Children of Children is a 256-page poem that draws on African oral traditions—griots are oral historians—and a combination of mythical and historical figures to trace the arc of the African-American experience from slavery to today. Goings began the piece when he decided to take up creative writing and enrolled at Fairfield University. The book also features rare drawings by the late African American artist Romare Bearden, a longtime Goings’ friend.

Saving History

Former professor of communication arts Denis Clark is now in a different field—history. For nearly 40 years, Clark has been collecting and distributing historic movie memorabilia from his own “museum” in Riley Township, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. The two-story, climate-controlled facility houses thousands of film reels, movie stills, lobby cards, posters and more. And during one of his many searches for rare cinematic memorabilia, he stumbled across a find worthy of “Antiques Roadshow”: two posters from 1898 and 1905 promoting one of Europe’s most famous and elaborate stage productions, the Oberammergau Passion Play.

The play dates back to 1633, when the village was devastated by the Thirty Years’ War and the plague. In hopes of saving their village from extinction, the residents vowed to perform “the play of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” once every 10 years. Each performance lasts seven hours, involves more than 2,000 participants and requires 10 full months of rehearsal and preparation.

“I just happened to see one on auction, bid on it and discovered it was from Oberammergau,” says Clark. “In the 1930s, when Hitler was burning books and posters, most of the advertising for it was destroyed. These posters are the only ones known to exist in the world, and I picked them up for about $20.”

In May, Clark is traveling to Oberammergau and presenting the artifacts to the Oberammergau Museum. In exchange,  he receives tickets to the 2010 production of the passion play, which he plans to give to fellow Xavier professor Helmut Roehrig who has always wanted to go but has never been able to do so.

“The value is in the history of these pieces,” Clark says. “I’ve been blessed to find items such as this and take part in preserving history. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.“