Last October, Beth Bronsil took her in-depth knowledge of Montessori education to China and Taiwan where she visited government-run kindergarten and elementary schools in Suzhou and Shanghai and a private school in Qingdao. Continue reading “China Connections”
Holding a syringe at arm’s length, Joyce Cruz checks that it contains exactly 100 milligrams of Dilantin, then slips it into the intravenous line strapped to the arm of a man having a seizure in the hospital bed beside her. Cruz, a junior nursing student, comforts the man while waiting for the Dilantin to take effect, checking to make sure his airway is clear and there’s nothing around that can injure him. Finally she places an oxygen mask snugly over his mouth and nose.
“I’m suffocating,” he says. “I can’t breathe.”
Cruz adjusts the mask as the oxygen begins flowing. Finally, he relaxes and begins taking deep breaths. Cruz is relieved—not only that her patient is OK, but also to know that had she made a mistake, even a fatal one, the man would still be alive.
The man is Stan, a high-tech simulated patient more formally known as “Standard Man.” He is just one of the newest teaching tools in the department of nursing—and one of the items that has helped resuscitate the department from near-death status 10 years ago. Nursing is now the University’s second largest undergraduate program behind liberal arts and fourth largest graduate program in terms of enrollment. Along with a $250,000 high-tech simulation hospital room, new leadership, several unique programs and an emphasis on obtaining a complete education and not just nursing skills, the University is now a major player in the effort to upgrade the profession and stem the country’s growing nursing shortage.
“We’re a destination department now,” says Marilyn Gomez, director for nursing student services. “People come to Xavier to go into nursing, where 10 years ago, someone would say they’re having trouble with pre-med, so they’ll go into nursing instead.”
Cruz, 22, echoes that fact. She says her class today is larger now than when she was a freshman. Some of the new students switched their major to nursing, she says, because of the program’s reputation for producing students who pass the state licensure exam, and “hearing from other students like me.” Indeed, enrollment has more than quadrupled in the last 10 years. (See chart on the next page.) In 1996, there were 60 undergraduate students and 12 graduate students. Today there are 225 undergraduates and 158 graduate students. And the freshman class, at 66, is the largest ever.
“It’s absolutely amazing to see the growth in the program,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., during a tour of the simulation lab. “We’re meeting this incredible need in our changing world. This is yet another way for us to do our mission here.”
What’s attracting students to Xavier’s nursing program are three factors: One is the way students are educated. Xavier requires all students to complete the Jesuit core curriculum, and it’s no different for nursing, which phased out an associate degree program in 1997 to focus on the four-year baccalaureate degree. “You don’t finish Xavier or sit for the state exam until you have finished the whole thing,” says department chair Sue Schmidt. “That’s our philosophy at Xavier. We have a lot of integrity.”
Plus, the department teaches its students to take care of the whole patient and not just the symptoms—a philosophy that made Xavier one of only 14 programs in the U.S. to earn the endorsement of the American Holistic Nurses Association. “We stand out as a program that teaches nurses to care for the whole person across their health and life span,” says Schmidt. “It’s part of the Jesuit focus.”
This theme of holistic care is further developed in the new MIDAS program—the master of science in nursing direct entry as second degree program—which allows college graduates with degrees other than nursing to enter the nursing profession. A highlight is that it follows a clinical nurse leader focus—a national movement to address the fragmentation of health care—which teaches nurses how to oversee a patient’s comprehensive care. It’s the only program in the region to do so. “Because so many physicians are specializing, that leaves a void of communication and no one is coordinating all the care,” Schmidt says. “Marcus Welby doesn’t exist anymore. The clinical nurse leader is coordinating the care.”
A second key factor is choice, such as an Hispanic focus for undergraduates. Also, those wanting a master’s degree choose from five concentrations such as school nurse or health care law. And the accelerated MIDAS program, which graduates its first class in May, allows students to earn a master’s degree and a nursing license in five semesters.
And, of course, the third key factor is the high-tech tools, beginning with Stan and the simulation lab.
“This really is state of the art,” says lab director Mary Sizemore. “In a traditional clinical rotation, you may never care for a heart attack, but here we can make sure you get that experience in an environment where you can make mistakes without negatively impacting a patient.”
Last fall, Stan had a heart attack while Cruz was there with her classmates. The students literally jumped on top of him to do chest compressions. Made of synthetic rubber, Stan looks and acts real. His eyes blink, his tongue swells, his teeth fall out if an intubation goes wrong. He has heart and breath sounds, and he can seize on command. For nursing students like Cruz, he’s a blessing.
“Everyone is nervous the first time they treat a patient, but this helps you out,” she says. “You can think of your first patient as being Stan.”
On-campus entrepreneurship is on the rise. This fall, the University’s entrepreneurial center opened two new student-operated businesses and made subtle changes to one more. The new businesses include X-press Laundry Service, which picks up and delivers student laundry and dry cleaning, and Victory Perk, the coffee shop in the Gallagher Student Center, which is still owned by Sodexho but is now managed and staffed by students. FliX, the student-operated video/DVD rental store, addressed its most serious issue, returns, by requiring a credit card prior to renting a video. There’s more business on the horizon, too.
Students are planning to dip into the e-business works with three more start-ups. One is an informational site with tips on how to dress for an interview with a specific employer. The second is an unofficial guide to fun in Cincinnati, with such listings as where to take mom when she visits campus or where to go for group outings. Students can buy the information in booklet form or access it online for a fee. The third is yet undefined. In the midst of all this growth, the center has another important goal. “We’re looking for a central spot on campus where we can group all student-operated businesses in one place,” says Tom Clark, the center’s director.
Last summer, senior music major Dana Hunter worked as a management assistant for Makin’ Music Inc., a music publishing, production and consulting company located on Nashville’s famed Music Row. She not only created set lists for performances and managed shows at the popular venue, Tootsies, but she had the opportunity to perform as well. Although the songstress studies classical music at Xavier, there’s no shortage of country tunes in her repertoire.
For her senior recital, the Noblesville, Ind., native is giving a completely country music concert on May 5 on the campus green. “I want to give the audience a Nashville experience, so I will be performing many songs that are popular in the Nashville venues,” she says. “I will also be performing some original music I was introduced to while working with songwriters this past summer, as well as some songs I have written myself.”
In addition to her singing talents, Hunter is also a member of the women’s swim team, holds four school records, and is the co-president of the student-athlete advisory committee.
The Williams College of Business opens the third off-campus site for its M.B.A. program in January. The college’s newest site is in the northern suburb of Deerfield Township, which is the region’s fastest-growing area. It joins other off-site locations in suburban Fairfield and at the General Electric Aircraft Engines plant in Evendale. The locations hold classes mostly in the evenings and are set up to help working professionals in those areas who may not be able to make the commute to Xavier’s campus. The Fairfield branch, which opened last year, hosts about 60 students. Another 70 GE employees and contractors take courses in Evendale. About 900 students still take M.B.A. courses on campus.
It took four years, but Xavier’s department of school and community counseling is finally enjoying the national exposure it was previously denied. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Education awarded the graduate counseling program its first accreditation this year. The lengthy process involved an exhaustive self-assessment that evaluated how the program met the national standards and what steps were being taken to improve the areas that did not.
The process led to several major changes, including making students be admitted to the program instead of just the school of education; making counseling a separate department within the school; and evaluating students on their preparation as professionals. “This gives us national recognition,” says assistant professor Bill O’Connell. “It’s a huge achievement.”
Morten Kristiansen brings a true European flair to Xavier’s department of music. The newest hire hails from Copenhagen, Denmark, is fluent in German and is an authority on German composer Richard Strauss’ 19th century opera “Feursnot.” So what’s he teaching this semester, in addition to the department’s other music survey and seminar courses? The History of Rock ’n’ Roll, of course. “I created this course while I was an adjunct at Georgetown University several years ago,” he says. “This course will supplement all the other courses we have—Music Now, the Art of Listening, Women in Music.”
Kristiansen, whose personal specialty is vocal music—he sang across Europe in the Vienna Singverein, one of the largest choral groups in Vienna where he lived for a year—was inducted into the world of classical music by his father, who was a symphony musician in Copenhagen. He majored in music and German at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., and earned a master’s and Ph.D. in musicology at Yale University.
Though a fan of modern rock music, his first love is classical. His favorite musician, after all, is Wofgang Amadeus Mozart—whom some may call the original rock star.
It’s the first truly cold day of fall on the campus green, but that doesn’t deter Algis Aukstolis. The junior advertising major grins as he grabs a megaphone and bounds toward the Gallagher Student Center, intercepting sleepy-eyed students on their way to class.
“Hey, you,” he yells. “Come take a survey. It’s about Facebook, it’ll only take 15 minutes and we have free candy.”
A handful of curious students follow him to the booth, where junior Rachael Jarnigan and sophomores Lindsay Cornell and Becky Hoerr register them for the survey.
The group is helping assistant professor of communication arts Thomas Wagner with a research project on Facebook.com, which is arguably the most popular web site today among college students. Wagner is trying to find out how much someone can learn about another person based solely on the information garnered from a few minutes of reading his or her Facebook profile.
“Facebook is becoming, at Xavier and other schools, a normalized part of a student’s everyday habit,” says Wagner. “We wanted to see why that is, and, from a communications angle, if the web site helps users reduce insecurities about people they meet just from accessing information found in their profile.”
So Wagner and his students set up a Facebook booth for two days on the campus green, persuading more than 160 students to take the survey that will form the basis of the research. Begun by two Harvard students in 2004 as a way of electronically updating the university’s yearbook, Facebook.com now has 10 million registered users—including nearly 5,000 Xavier students and alumni—with about 20,000 new accounts being created daily worldwide. Students create profiles of themselves in which all areas of personal information— from photos to blogs to dating status—are shared with other users. It is this sharing option that has made many people critical of the site. Students can censor their own data, but it is commonplace for them to willingly post personal information and photos of themselves on their profile. Some fear that this exposes the students to unnecessary threats and dangers—and not just from other students but also from those in authority positions. It’s not uncommon for others to monitor Facebook for inappropriate activity. At several universities, including nearby Northern Kentucky University, students were disciplined after school officials saw photos on a Facebook page of illicit drinking. Other students have been disciplined—even expelled—for posting threatening or suggestive comments. Some have even lost potential jobs because employers search the site as a means of reference.
Xavier keeps close tabs on the profiles of its resident assistants and other student leaders, reminding them to keep clean, parent- and student-friendly profiles. But Facebook remains a top web site at Xavier, and Wagner and his students can confirm that, as they are busy reviewing the results of what turned out to be a popular survey. Although the complete results of the research will not be finalized until later this winter, Wagner is optimistic. “I feel that the study, so far, has reasonably reflected the reality we assumed,” he says. “Facebook is really a proxy to communication. It reduces uncertainty and helps the user gain knowledge about others. That way, they can retain information and get to know someone better and sooner.”
The survey, he says, has confirmed that users at Xavier spend an average of one hour a day on the site, and they use it mostly to gather information about other users.
It is this time spent that also concerns some faculty and parents. Does Facebook distract students from homework and other activities? “Sure, the same way that television or video games distract students,” Wagner says. “But it seems to be a healthy distraction, in that it can enhance relationships. So far, this study has shown that this is not the most important thing that students do all day, but it is just a part of their daily life, like checking their e-mail.”
And that routine will most likely be around for a while.
“I think this is a lasting tool,” Wagner says. “I can see video ability being added to the site in the next year or so, and that will only heighten its popularity.”
And that seems to suit Xavier students just fine.
The voices of school children playing outside drift in through Jim Boothe’s office window. The tinkling laughter and chatter from the adjacent Montessori school serve as a lighthearted backdrop for the serious work he does as chairman of Xavier’s department of education. Some might view the sounds as a distraction, but to Boothe they are a constant reminder of why he’s in the business of educating teachers.
“It brings you back to the real world, looking out to see all these little kids running around,” Boothe says. “It reminds you what you’re here for.”
Boothe, a Xavier graduate, basketball player, high school teacher and college professor who’s been working at Xavier for 18 years, hardly needs any reminding. That’s especially true now, as the department he leads undergoes a major transformation, growing from the University’s largest department into its first and only school.
As the new school of education, its four programs now become their own separate departments, each with its own individual chair. The change was brought on by education’s phenomenal growth since Boothe took the helm 12 years ago, and is part of an even bigger change within the newly named—and reorganized—College of Social Sciences, Health and Education. By reorganizing the disciplines under its purview, the new college shifts its focus from an emphasis on traditional Jesuit liberal arts to its integration with the pursuit of social science-based professional degrees. These include education and areas dealing with health—physical, social and mental. Political science, which does not fit this model, moves to the College of Arts and Sciences.
“The new name reflects the maturity and growth of the various disciplines,” says Neil Heighberger, dean of the College of Social Sciences.
The changes go into effect in June and also bring with them changes in leadership. Heighberger, who has been dean since the College’s inception in 1988, is retiring. His replacement will then be charged with hiring someone to succeed the 71-year-old Boothe, who is serving as interim dean of the new school of education.
During his tenure as the college’s only dean, Heighberger’s seen a lot of change: the creation of the department of occupational therapy and its growth into a master’s program; the expansion of the department of nursing from a two-year program to one that now offers multiple master’s degrees; and the conversion of the physical education major to a department of sports studies that now includes athletic training. In addition, the department of health services administration has gained national attention for its graduate-level program; the department of psychology now offers the University’s only doctoral degree; and the departments of social work and criminal justice continue to grow in popularity.
But the greatest growth has been in education. When Boothe took over in 1994, there were 400 undergraduate majors and 935 graduate students. There are still about 400 undergraduates each year, but the number of graduate students has grown by 42 percent to 1,332 students enrolled this fall.
“Education was much too large to be a department,” Heighberger says. “The number of students has grown, and the programs have blossomed. Now we can serve the students better. There will be more personal attention for students, and we can focus more directly on their needs.”
With the realignment, Boothe and his four administrators now preside over the departments of secondary and special education, educational leadership and human resource development, school and community counseling, and childhood education and literacy, which includes the nationally known Montessori program.
The new dean of the school of education will have his hands full, Boothe says. With increasing competition from other institutions, Xavier is challenged to keep finding fresh new ways to help working adults become teachers or add to their credentials. It already offers programs off-site, in summers and that blend online work with class time.
“It’s going to be a fight,” he says. “We have to market our programs and design them to meet our students’ needs. We’ve had a very good percent of the market, and if we can continue that, we’ll continue to be a leader in graduate education.”
Boothe’s successor will also have a dual role as associate dean of the new college, which provides opportunities Boothe could only wish for—time to focus on national issues and attend conferences where such topics are explored. “We need someone at that level who can focus on the national dialogue,” Heighberger says. “The department chairs can take away the day-to-day administrative operations, and the dean can focus on the larger issues and where we fit in that discussion. This increases our visibility and our engagement with the larger educational community.” Boothe will help define the goals of the new school, but it’s possible he’ll return to the classroom with a larger teaching load, leaving the administrative decisions to someone else. And Boothe is OK with that, because, as the children’s voices remind him daily, he can never forget why he’s here.
What better way to spend your summer when you’re into politics than in an internship with one of Washington’s power brokers? Four Xavier students managed to do just that thanks to their involvement in the University’s Philosophy, Politics and the Public honors program.
Erin McDermott was in House Majority Leader John Boehner’s office for six weeks this summer. Boehner, himself a Xavier graduate, put her to work on several projects such as appropriations, education, defense, the budget and immigration, and she wrote summaries of the hearings and floor votes she observed. She spent the second half of her summer studying in London.
Other students had equally impressive experiences. Brian Cantwell spent half the summer with Sen. Mike DeWine and the other half with Congressman Steve Chabot. Kate Holley also worked in DeWine’s office. Greg Koehlerg was with Congressman Brian Higgins of New York. And three students—Jessica Wabler, Mark Manning and Kevin Hoggart—interned in the local offices of Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and the Clinton County administrator in Wilmington, Ohio.