Northern Exposure

Before moving into Brockman Hall her freshman year, Angela Su Luna had already shared her home with dozens of Xavier students and a few professors. Those participating in the University’s academic service-learning semester program in Luna’s native Nicaragua have made themselves at home in her family’s living room in La Luz, a working-class neighborhood in Managua. During their semester-long stay, students take classes and do volunteer work while living with local families.

“I loved having them there,” says Luna, who was 11 years old when the students first started staying with her family. “Instead of doing homework I thought, ‘Let’s go hang out with the gringos.”

Although her mother, Adilia, usually hosts the program’s director, students often dropped in to visit. “She was one of the reasons they would hang out there,” Luna says. “She was so welcoming.”

Through these visitors, Luna was exposed to the University on a very personal level, so when it came time for college she knew where she wanted to go.

Luna communicated with her mother—who had never been to Xavier, despite years of sheltering its constituents—by phone and returned home at Christmas and during the summer.

In May, however, Adilia Luna finally managed to make a trip to the Queen City. She came for her daughter’s graduation. “She’s my greatest supporter, my biggest fan,” Luna says. “I know she missed me a lot, but she encouraged me to do everything.”

Master Plans

Newcomers to Xavier aren’t always sure when they’re treading on campus property. As the campus has evolved, its boundaries have often become indistinguishable from the surrounding neighborhoods. The University’s looking to fix that, though. And more. This summer the University hired the Boston-based design firm Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott to prepare a master campus plan that brings together old property and new purchases, current structures and future dreams.

“This is historic,” says Richard Hirté, senior vice president for financial administration. “We’re saying we’ll make prudent use of our campus, and as opportunities present themselves, we’ll capitalize on them.”

The plan is needed for a number of reasons. Following the recent purchases of several adjacent properties, the campus is now 146 acres—compared to 80 in 1983. There are more staff, students and buildings, and the academic and technological goals are heightened. All these combine to demand a much different kind of campus.

So planners are assembling three plans, one of which is being presented to the board of trustees in September. Among the possibilities: a grand entrance with a fountain and archways, a hotel and commercial development near Montgomery Road, a new dormitory and more housing for upper-level students, the high-tech academic quadrangle, plus improved signage identifying Xavier and better pedestrian and traffic flow in and through campus.

Grad School Grunts

This year, 100 of the nation’s 4,200 graduating Army ROTC cadets have been awarded educational delays to go to graduate school. Three of them are from Xavier. “To have three of 100 out of 272 schools is pretty good,” says Lt. Col. Timothy Gobin, chairman of the military science department. “It’s unique because there’s very few that actually get selected.”

The group brings to eight the number of Xavier ROTC students who have successfully competed for the waivers in the last three years. Most ROTC cadets graduate as second lieutenants and go right into active or reserve duty. Those who seek a graduate degree postpone the start of their eight-year service commitment but find a wealth of different opportunities available for them when they return.

Patrick Kelleher, for example, is entering Creighton University Law School this fall and, once he graduates, will join the Judge Adjutant General corps as an officer where he’ll experience many facets of law. Lauren Giullito, who’s going to Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Atlanta, knows once she completes her degree, she could be stationed overseas, including in places like Iraq. “Doctors over there I know were armed and working on people as shells were falling,” she says. “It’s possible I could end up there.”

Letters to the Editor

Waxing Nostalgic for the 50s
My era—the 1950s—takes a joshing because the attributes we absorbed back then may seem out of place at times today in a world that challenges outer spaces but still clutters earthly places. Nevertheless, those of us who grew up and graduated from college in that era represent traditions that are nostalgic, realistic, durable and valuable.

I graduated from Edgecliff College in 1955, and conversations with classmates often reflect nostalgic feelings about our beautiful campus with its majestic views of the Ohio River, stately mansions like Emery Hall, “antique” events like the “Daisy Chain,” bridge games in the “Smoker,” marathon runs down Victory Parkway and Friday nights at the “Tally Ho.”

Comparisons of life experiences among our friends reveal, however, the realistic approach most of us have had in successfully meeting the challenges of partnering in marriage and child rearing, achieving in professional job competition and generally adapting to life in the 21st century.

Customs change in each era, but most of us have found that the values and principles on which our education was founded are durable. We have been given the tools to use good reasoning, which usually aids us in making sounds decisions and maintaining a healthy spiritual life.

Considering all this, we can say that our college education provided us with the means to keep abreast of events, to recognize that each year and each phase of life can be a new learning experience and know that what we have is valuable and worth passing on to new generations. All of these things we can treasure in our hearts and pray for blessings on our classmates as well as the faculty and staff who nurtured us.
Eleanor Nicholas Hage

Kosovo Corrections
Regarding the alumni profile, “The Peacekeeper,” after having lived in the province of Kosovo the last 10 months working at NATO headquarters in Pristina, I was surprised to see two incorrect statements, especially from someone who has lived there for as long as the gentlemen has. First, Kosovo is not a country, it is a province of Serbia-Montenegro. This is a big deal politically to both sides, and when Kosovo is mislabeled it only adds to the frictions. Secondly, the March 2004 riots started when three Albanian children drowned in the Ibar River, and the deaths were falsely blamed on Serb children. There were no altercations between Albanian and Serb teenagers. After having viewed the non-govermental organizations and the United Nations workers, it is clear most of them do not want a final solution, for they would be out of work. The true peacekeepers are the members of the NATO armies who would like nothing better than solving the issues, so they could go home and not make a career out of “peacekeeping.”
LTC Todd Mayer

Marion Hall Memories
First, our compliments on the quarterly Xavier magazine you produce. We look forward to its arrival and read it cover to cover. In the spring issue I enjoyed your article on Marion Hall (page 37), but Marion Hall was part of Xavier and housed students well before 1958. In fact, my three roommates and I occupied a second floor room for our junior and senior years. Father Lester A. Linz, S.J., was our resident Jesuit, confessor and keeper of peace. I was proctor for the dorm my senior year.

Marion Hall was known as the “jocks” dorm as many members of the football and basketball team resided there. Our football team beat Arizona State in the Salad Bowl on Jan. 1, 1950. They also beat U.C. during the regular season as did the basketball team.

I enjoyed coed education before it was adopted at Xavier. I met and dated Grace Gilligan who was Mr. Beumer’s secretary through my senior year. We were married on June 10, 1950—just three days after graduation. So my roommates and I spent those three days after graduation preparing for the wedding.

On the morning of the wedding, I was without my black shoes. Fr. Linz to the rescue because he had gone to the Jesuits’ house and found a pair of 10 and a half, which were lent to me for the occasion.
Jerry Weber ’50

Fund Fiesta

Guatemalan custom dictates that when a person of stature visits, pine needles are scattered about so the guest’s feet don’t touch the ground. So when 1989 graduate Joe Berninger arrived in the country bearing textbooks and other educational materials for underprivileged children, he received a royal welcome replete with autograph requests. In a later retelling, Berninger likened himself to Britney Spears, an image that elicited chuckles from the 250 people gathered for the fourth annual Fall Fiesta, a fundraiser sponsored by the Cooperative for Education—staffed largely by Xavier alumni whose mission is to break the cycle of poverty in Guatemala.

“It’s a classy party with good food and music and lots of interesting items to bid on,” says Berninger, the executive director. “Our supporters use it as an opportunity to reconnect with friends they’ve met during service tours to Guatemala, and others come to learn about our work for the first time and explore how they might get involved.” The October event raised $28,800 through donations, silent auctions and craft sales that included Guatemalan weaving, table runners, Afghans, hand-carved puzzles, artwork, hand-beaded purses and coffees.

“We’ve been surprised at how the event has grown each year,” Berninger says. “I see it becoming a major charity event in the area.”

Fountain of Literature

The mission of the Mermaid Tavern, according to student activities material, is “to provide an open and relaxed environment for writers to shape their work and seek guidance.”

It’s a worthy mission for the University’s oldest club. But that was not always the case. Take, for instance, the gritty days of the 1960s when the club operated in an atmosphere of male camaraderie and its members’ writings were brutally but honestly critiqued—over beers, of course.

Founded in the 1930s as a writer’s club in the image of Shakespeare’s famous Mermaid Tavern, the club became a sort of male fraternity that indulged in drinking, smoking and hazing. Every Monday night the members gathered in the Ratterman House basement, decked out as an Elizabethan tavern with long benches and a dark wooden bar. The meetings always carried on elsewhere into the night.

“There was a mystique about being a member of Mermaid Tavern because it was invitational and there was a hazing that was designed to build an esprit de corps,” says Richard Hague, a 1969 graduate. He returned many times after graduation to help carry on the traditions, one of which required new members to recite Keats’ “Lines on the Mermaid Tavern” at the faculty dining table. Hague, today a high school English teacher, can still rattle them off: “Souls of poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?”

The critiques toughened him as a writer and taught him the creative and critical sides of the writing process. But today, the club has mellowed. Women joined in 1970, the hazing disappeared and the emphasis is on sharing work and techniques, not pointed critiques, says English professor Norm Finkelstein. Gone are the links to Elizabethan times, but students’ work still appears in the Athenaeum magazine. And the souls of poets dead and gone still carry on.

Faculty Spotlight

Karim M. Tiro, assistant professor in the department of history, discusses his new class, “A History of the Pig in America, with Especial Reference to the City of Cincinnati, Otherwise Known as ‘Porkopolis.'”

How did you become interested in pigs and their place in America?

I kept on running into references to pigs in different places, and wanted to connect the dots. Columbus introduced pigs to America in 1493, and for a variety of reasons they proved to be very useful to colonization. However, since Indians did not recognize property in animals, and since the pigs did a lot of damage to the Indians’ crops, they became an important source of conflict between colonists and natives.

In the 19th century, Americans debated questions of rights when they argued over who could keep pigs, and where. In the 20th century, the uproar over unsanitary pork packing practices led to a significant expansion of federal government authority. Many of the issues involved—cultural differences, private property rights, government regulation, the collective good—continue to be important today.

Explain the format of your upcoming course, especially the final project.

Since pigs have a special place in Cincinnatians’ hearts, I think there’s an audience interested in what we’re studying. Students will design a web site or museum exhibition devoted to the history of the pig in America. I’m a fan of “The Apprentice,” so the class will be divided into competing teams. I’m looking forward to seeing what names they give themselves.

Explain a bit about the importance of the pig to Cincinnati, a.k.a. Porkopolis.

In the first half of the 19th century, when Cincinnati was in the first rank of American cities, pork packing dwarfed all other industries in the city. Visitors marveled at the rivers of hogs in the streets. Maybe “marveled” isn’t exactly the right word. Anyway, when Chicago overtook Cincinnati to become the capital of American meatpacking, Cincinnati’s star faded.

What do you hope your students will take away from this course?

I want students to see history in the world around them. There are many things we take for granted—our food preferences and our sense of proper relations between animals and humans, for example–that are really artifacts of historical processes. Things that appear to be natural turn out to be the result of the interplay of economics, technology, culture and so forth.

Faculty Spotlight

This past semester, Tyrone Williams, chair of the department of English, received a Wheeler Academic Development Award, which supports improving academic programs. Williams is using the award this fall in his philosophy, politics and the public honors class, “Literature and the Moral Imagination,” when he brings in a guest speaker, “Affrilachian” poet Frank Walker. Here, he discusses the grant and the importance of “Affrilachian” poetry.

Explain a bit about the history of “Affrilachian” poetry and how you became interested in it.

The Wheeler Award was given to me to bring in the self-described “Affrilachian poet” Frank Walker from Lexington, Ky., to do a poetry reading in September for my English 205 class. “Affrilachian” is a term that Walker uses to describe poetry written by those of African descent who reside in rural and urban Appalachia. Nikki Finney is another poet who identifies herself as “Affrilachian.”

How does “Affrilachian” poetry apply to this class and what do you hope the students will take away from their study of it?

This particular section of Literature and the Moral Imagination is concerned with the beginnings of an African-American public in the 19th century. I hope the students will get a live example of how our understanding of the black public can be traced not only to well-known historical figures like Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth but also to someone like York, the free black explorer who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famed Northwest expedition

Who is Frank Walker and what will his poetic focus be for the class?

Frank Walker is a poet, born in Danville, Ky., and now residing in Lexington. He teaches and reads at public schools and universities across the country. More information about him can be found at his web site, I heard him at a poetry reading at the School for Creative and Performing Arts here in Cincinnati and invited him to read. His books of poetry are “Affrilachia,” “Black Box” and “Buffalo Dance, the Journey of York.” “York” concerns the black explorer who accompanied Lewis and Clark and since my course in the fall will focus on blacks in the public sphere in the 18th and 19th centuries, I thought Walker’s poetry would give the students a sense of what the public sphere may have been like for someone like York.

Faculty Spotlight

Stanley Hedeen, a professor in the department of biology, discusses zoos as classrooms.

How are zoos an important educational tool? Zoos are great facilities for teaching a variety of biological subjects: taxonomy, evolution, animal behavior, conservation and environmental science topics.

What do zoos show us about the state of our environment and the future of our world? Zoos show us that we are in the midst of a crisis: the extinction of species due to human activities. A visit to any zoo reveals a large number of signs designating an exhibited animal as an endangered species. It is estimated that more than 10,000 species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes become extinct every year at the present time (the natural rate of extinction is estimated at 10 per year).

How can students and other persons learn about proper conservation and preservation from zoo facilities? Zoo facilities often duplicate the habitat of an animal. Zoo signs point out that the largest reason for extinction is the loss of habitat. When the zoo visitor views an endangered species in its simulated habitat, they should think of the need to save that habitat in the natural world. By supporting organizations whose mission is habitat conservation, people are helping to lessen the present, unnatural rate of extinction.

Faculty Spotlight

John Fairfield, chair for the department of history, discusses the role of baseball in American life.

Why does baseball hold such a special place in American culture? Baseball holds a special place in American culture in part because of its longevity and stability. Even with the shifting of franchises and destruction of ballparks in the last 40 years, baseball still offers a remarkable sense of continuity. We have a remarkably full statistical and literary accounting of an intrinsically interesting human activity going back well over 100 years. The game also embodies some of our most treasured values, an intriguing combination of competition and cooperation, of individuality and democracy, of craft skill and innovation. Above all, it’s a wonderful, beautiful game.

What are some of the more interesting—and perhaps less obvious—aspects of baseball lore? What would most people be surprised to learn? I believe the least understood aspect of baseball is how it embodies many of our civic values and aspirations. The sport emerged in the 1840s and 1850s, just when our revolutionary heritage of civic virtue and concern for the public good was giving way to a professionalized and interest-based politics of machines and parties. Baseball players not only proclaimed the legitimate role of skilled craftsmen in public life, but they proudly wore the name of their city on their chests (on shirts modeled after those of the volunteer fire “ladies” of the period). Ever since—and notwithstanding the great civic crisis of the 1919 Black Sox scandal—civic pride and civic identity have been central to the game including, ironically, central to its market profitability.

Looking over baseball’s long history, are issues such as the recent BALCO scandal likely to have a long-term impact on the public’s embrace of the game? The game has survived great scandals in the past—the 1919 World Series and the lost World Series of 1994—so it is resilient. But like so many public things in our privatizing world, baseball is not indestructible. If we don’t care for it as a civic thing, a public thing, it may not last. What a sad day it will be when all Americans have are the things the market will provide and public things disappear.