Three former Xavier athletes are being inducted into the University’s athletic hall of fame on Jan. 21 during a dinner sponsored by the All For One club. Former men’s basketball star Lenny Brown leads the way, joined by volleyball standout Sally Schulte and soccer star Terrence “Mac” Garrigan.
It was a minor marathon in Michigan, but, as it turned out, a major event in the life of Dawn Rogers. At the time, she was a functionary in the University of Akron athletic department. Her athletic director had just been fired. She was young, uncertain, worried. She was also leading the race after 25.5 miles.
“One of my friends,” says Rogers, “a guy who had finished, came back out to run with me. He was all excited because I had run what was, for me, a great race. I had a half mile to go, and I said to him, ‘I can’t finish.’ He started laughing. He said, ‘Dawn, you’re winning this race.’
“Well, I finished. I did win the race. And I learned something—that it’s not the totality of the race; it’s every mile. You have to take it one mile at a time. If you look at the totality of what’s in front of you, it can be overwhelming; but if you break it down to day-by-day or project-by-project, you can accomplish it. I really think that’s what has gotten me through the last few months.”
They were supposed to be shimmering, momentum-propelled months. In March, the Musketeers were the darlings of the NCAA basketball tournament. Mike Bobinski—the man who replaced the fired athletic director in Akron and later hired Rogers at Xavier—was thinking of moving on to another administrative position at the University. In June, with the basketball program at a station it had never before attained—the 1958 NIT championship notwithstanding—he figured there would be no better time. Knowing that the job he was vacating would deeply interest the 39-year-old mother of two who had been at his side for 10 years—six at Xavier—he figured there would be no better person.
What he didn’t figure was that, by July, before Rogers could even move into the corner office, men’s basketball coach Thad Matta would cut out on the contract designed to keep him at Xavier until 2013. Bobinski didn’t figure on leaving his protégé—Division I’s fifth female athletic director—with such a quick and colossal decision to make just three weeks into the job.
Under her long-time mentor, the Ithaca, N.Y., native routinely ran coaching searches, overseeing the hiring of women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff. Important as they are, those decisions don’t define Xavier athletics and the University profile as much as men’s basketball. Within athletics, there is no more urgent, loaded decision than selecting the men’s basketball coach.
Rogers had it done in a day.
“I told her in the prelude leading up to hiring a coach,” says Bobinski, now the associate vice president for development, “your name will be forever linked with certain issues and decisions. But one of the things I always valued about Dawn is that, whenever a situation arose, I looked to her for a rational perspective.”
In this case, Rogers found perspective around the corner and down the hall. Every so often since Sean Miller was hired as an assistant basketball coach in 2001, she’d stopped by his office for casual conversation. They would swap stories about their kids or compare notes on running. And before she continued on with her rounds, Rogers, invariably, would drop a gentle reminder: “Sean, we don’t want you to go anyplace.”
When the time finally came, she swiftly saw to it that he didn’t. As a result, she says, “I think we will both kind of walk this walk together.”
The challenges didn’t stop there, though. The status of the year’s highest-rated men’s basketball recruit, Nigeria native Churchill Odia, was complicated by visa issues. Baseball coach John Morrey resigned and Rogers hired Dan Simonds in his stead. She approved two new track programs, the first new teams in a dozen years, and eliminated the rifle program. Calmly, she pressed through the fast-coming complications, understanding all the while that if she takes it a mile at a time, the long road could carry the program back to the heady heights it reached last year.
“That’s where we want to be every year,” she says. “Last year makes us see that it’s attainable, that going to the Final Four is a possibility and that we don’t just have basketball to have basketball.”
The University’s partnership with a low-performing inner-city school paid off when Withrow University High School leapt from a basement- level rating by the State of Ohio to the top tier in only three years.
Xavier became a partner when the school introduced a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that aims all students toward college.
Xavier offered a summer program for ninth graders, helped buy microscopes and calculators, paired Withrow teachers with math and science faculty, and worked on community service projects with Withrow students.
Rated in academic emergency when the new program started, the school leapt four levels to the state’s top level of excellent in 2004. Principal Sharon Johnson, a 2002 M.Ed. graduate, says it was a group effort that helped students meet state standards.
Graduate-level students in far-flung regions of southwest Ohio can now get their Master of Education degree without ever setting foot on campus. The University’s first official distance-learning program started this fall at Wilmington High School, about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The site was approved by Ohio and North Central Association officials. About 30 students, mostly teachers, signed up.
“This represents a significant departure from traditional classroom education for Xavier, but there’s a lot of online education out there and Xavier needs to keep up,” says John Cooper, director for graduate services. The hybrid course includes classroom and web-based instruction and videoconferencing. The idea is gaining speed. A second site in Middletown, between Cincinnati and Dayton, was recently approved. How much further up the road it goes is anyone’s guess.
Lin GuoHealth Services Administration
Guo is a professor of quality improvement in health care, teaching graduate students how to be successful at managing hospitals and health service organizations. Guo came to Xavier after earning his doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His lesson plans stress the building of critical-thinking skills through homework and class participation. His hobbies include photography and following sports.
Economics and Human Resources
For most people, becoming rich requires a winning lottery ticket. For Sen, it simply requires having a good grasp of economics. As an economics professor at the undergraduate and M.B.A. levels, Sen gets his students working on that dream, and not by buying them lottery tickets. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Sen, who also teaches statistics, says Xavier is the “right fit” for him because of the focus of the Williams College of Business.
Operations and Entrepreneurship
Wu is one of the newest professors at Xavier, starting in 2004 teaching operations management. Wu says he likes Xavier because the student-professor interaction is easy with the small classes. A native of China, Wu says that students here, unlike those in China, have the opportunity to supplement their academics with part-time employment, putting what they learn in the classroom to work. Outside of Xavier, he enjoys spending time with his family.
Haiyin Anna Yu
Have you ever become so frustrated with your computer that you were one pop-up ad away from traveling back into the dark ages of pencil and paper? This is not a feeling that Yu gets very often. Yu is in charge of the massive task of maintaining the computer Oracle databases for the University. If that isn’t stressful enough, at home she cares for three children ranging in age from 3 to 11 years.
As questions of Jewish/ Muslim/Christian relationships and nation-building heat up around the globe, the Edward B. Brueggeman center for dialogue is quietly building an international reputation as a clearinghouse for greater understanding. Most recently, the center has come to the attention of the U.S. State Department, which, on six occasions during the past year, sent groups of Muslim clerics, political workers and educators from a wide range of countries to the center for frank, direct dialogue.
“One of the biggest issues in these sessions is this belief that if you have an election, you have a democracy,” says James Buchanan, director for the center. “We try to convince them that democracy is not about the winners. Democracy is about the losers. It’s about extending rights to the minorities. It’s about our fear of the tyranny of the majority.”
Feedback has been positive. The groups have expressed appreciation for both the openness of the discussions and the idea that the center takes them—and their issues—seriously.
It’s hard enough sending children off to college without worrying about their safety. To ease parents’ minds, though, the office of student life sent a letter to parents introducing them to a new hotline that aids victims of violence, whether from harassment, sexual assault or stalking.
“This is a problem parents don’t always know about and parents need to know about,” says Luther Smith, assistant vice president for student life. “This is not a Xavier problem—it happens at colleges nationally.” The University addressed these concerns by creating the off-campus hotline, which provides advocates for crisis intervention. When a student calls the hotline—answered by the Rape Crisis and Abuse Center of Hamilton County and the YWCA—and identifies himself or herself as a Xavier student, the operator calls a Xavier advocate, who is a student in the University’s department of psychology doctoral program. These advocates meet personally with the victim to provide support and outline options. Most importantly, they stand by the victim through every step of the process, from the initial call to legal action, if any.
“With parents knowing, it reduces the risk of students putting themselves in situations where things could happen,” Smith says. The hotline number is 513 872-9259. Advocates are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Four days before his wedding, Jamie Schade still hadn’t found anyone to perform the ceremony. Anxious guests and lost deposits, however, were the least of his concerns. If he didn’t find someone to marry him and his bride, Agata Stanczak, they might never be able to be together again. Her visa was about to expire, and with neither visa nor marriage license, she would have to return home to Poland.
“I began calling everyone,” says Schade, a 1996 graduate. By day’s end, he’d found not one but three judges. The wedding was saved. But something was missing.
The couple met three years ago in Dayton, Ohio, where Stanczak was an au pair, but they were soon separated after her visa expired. They rekindled their friendship when she returned a year later, but after only a few months, her visa was due to expire again, this time for good. Not wanting to lose her again, Schade asked for advice from friends and family—even his priest. They decided to marry in a civil ceremony. A year later they remarried, this time in a church in Poland. “I can say with confidence we were married in our hearts once the Polish, Catholic wedding occurred,” Schade says.
In a shifting of institutional structure, Xavier now operates under a provost model, with Roger Fortin filling the role of the institution’s provost in addition to his position as academic vice president. As such, the divisions of student development, mission and ministry, and information resources are now grouped with academic affairs in a new, larger division under Fortin’s guidance. Previously they all reported directly to the president. University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., noted that it’s more beneficial to integrate all offices involving teaching and learning into one area.
Despite a short delay for the much talked-about alumni ALL Card, the national alumni association has mailed 29,000 cards to former undergraduates. Instead of acting as an I.D. card, as it does with students, the ALL Card provides discounts and services to alumni as a further advantage to holding a Xavier degree.
“It’s part of the benefits of the national alumni association,” says Joseph Ventura, executive director for the national alumni association. “One part of our mission is to provide programs, services and value-added benefits that reengage [alumni] with Xavier. The card is one way we do that.”
The alumni association teamed with U.S. Bank, Liberty Mutual Insurance and Cincinnati Bell to create the card. Not only is the card free, but it gives alumni access to the Xavier library and discounts for the bookstore, athletic events, O’Connor Sports Center and on-campus dining.
It provides discounts to national retailers as well, ranging from auto insurance and Internet services to movie tickets and gift certificates. And the ALL Card acts as an ATM card for U.S. Bank members. If you didn’t receive your card, log on to www.xavier.edu/alumnicard. The University will issue a replacement within six weeks.