Perhaps, next to a barber and his chair, no other object is more connected to a profession.
In the case of Karl Stukenberg, chair and associate professor for the Department of Psychology—and practicing psychoanalyst—the couch in his Elet Hall office may also be the hardest working piece of furniture on campus.
“It’s the couch on which we also meet when I’m talking to faculty, or to students in my role as head of the department.” In other words, the chair sees a lot people on his couch.
“The pillow is pretty worn out. In fact, I probably should replace the entire couch, which is getting a little threadbare.” But, in truth, the professor confesses to being rather attached to his faithful leather companion.
For the size of the office, the couch is surprisingly large. The furniture arrangement also follows classic Freudian guidelines—the analyst (the person preforming analysis) should be able to sit at the head, and out of the vision range, of the analysand (the person undergoing analysis).
True aficionados will also recognize that the embroidered throw pillow and blanket are standard issues based on Sigmund Freud’s original couch, now on display in a London museum.
As far as how many hours the couch has clocked psychoanalytical sessions? “Probably a couple of thousand hours. One hour at a time, four days a week, for a few years.”
And still going strong, as is its pilot. “I’m the department chair and a faculty member—that’s my job. I also need to keep my chops up in order to teach what we do. This is an art as well as a science.”
Last year the University created the Roger Fortin Award to honor the longtime history professor and University provost. The award is given to a member of the humanities faculty who demonstrates outstanding teaching and scholarship.
This year’s award went to professor of Spanish José María Mantero.
“His teaching statement shows that he allows himself to be inspired by his students and by his community engagement,” the award committee wrote. “Specifically, his research is strongly intertwined with his teaching at Xavier and is an exemplary reflection of the Jesuit teaching philosophy and Xavier’s mission.”
It’s an early spring afternoon and Bryan Cannon, principal of the Alliance Academy charter school, hits the streets with about a dozen seventh and eighth graders in tow. They turn right on Montgomery Road, then hang a left onto Dana Avenue.
Their destination—the polished wood, widescreens and brushed steel of the Fifth Third Trading Center, crown jewel of the Williams College of Business. Scheduled is a biweekly meeting with the student managers of Xavier’s D’Artagnan Capital Fund to discuss all things financial. And yes, there is pizza.
The meeting is part of the Financial Literacy Program, a student mentoring program masterminded by associate professor of finance David Hyland. For the past two years, he’s partnered with Alliance Academy to introduce middle school students to college students—and to the world of commerce. Together, they cover everything from balancing a checkbook to maintaining a stock portfolio.
“We get neighborhood kids who go by this place all the time and see this imposing thing they could never think of,” says Hyland. “We invite them on campus and tell them, hey, there are real people here, too, and there’s no reason why you can’t come here, or somewhere like here.”
“Last year my kids learned about stocks, investment and even basic things about banking and budgets,” says Cannon. “It was so beneficial for them to learn something they weren’t familiar with.”
The program is run by the Xavier students who also manage roughly $1.6 million of the University’s endowment through the D’Artagnan Capital Fund, which Hyland also oversees.
Why mix college business majors with middle school city kids? One reason is to add a human touch to a world that’s typically perceived as being driven by numbers and a bottom line.
Plus, Hyland clearly enjoys his role of mentoring mentors. “I’m a big believer in delegating. I view my role as more of a facilitator.”
But Hyland had only just begun to facilitate. Amid the professor, principal, middle-schoolers and college students, he added real-world experience in the person of Robert Donelan, a retired Fidelity Investments executive. Hyland wanted Donelan to bring his street-level perspective on finance to the pizza party.
“[Hyland] was like, ‘Hey, we’re doing something with the Alliance Academy, would you like to help me put something together on financial literacy?’ So I put a course curriculum together, which included things like: What are the basic things to do to get a job? How do you manage money? How do you invest money?”
They arranged for the kids to go to Fidelity’s operations in Covington, Ky., where most of its U.S. transactions are processed—a facility large enough to warrant its own zip code and where the glamour of Wall Street meets the reality of the back office. It was a trip, Donelan says, that gave the kids insights that everyone could use.
“You’d be surprised,” he says. “There are doctors and lawyers who haven’t got a clue as to how to manage their retirement savings. And the earlier you start kids, the better.”
The Alliance/Xavier partnership began in the spring of 2012 as, of all things, a simple stock market game. Cannon picked students from his own after-school male mentoring program to go to Xavier and play. Hyland, though, found himself looking forward to these meetings as much as the students.
“Every week the kids would come over, we’d have pizza or snacks, then fire up the computers and start looking at the stock market.”
With programs like Squawk Box on the wide screen, plus the dedicated D’Artagnan Fund streaming ticker, it felt like a real trading floor. “It’s fun for our Xavier students, because they get a chance to teach. For example, last year, one of the eighth graders wanted to buy stock in the Army.”
While trying to buy stock in a branch of the armed forces and field trips to massive fulfillment centers constitute—especially to an eighth grader—the glamorous side of big business, at the end of the school day, it’s becoming comfortable with the working world that’s most important to Hyland.
“We talk about budgeting and looking for a job and what kind of place might hire somebody their age,” he says. “And get the kids interacting with the college kids. We’re trying to get them to think about building a résumé, what sort of things can we do in the next four to five years that’s going to help them in college and with their careers.”
Associate professor of education Deborah Kuchey had a small amount of summer homework: Read 60 preschool math books translated from Korean into English and edit them for language and math concepts.
She did it in a month.
Kuchey, a math education specialist, was hired by Eye Level, a Korean company that offers special math and language programs for preschool children ages 3, 4 and 5. With headquarters in Korea and now New York, the company is expanding into the U.S., and Kuchey was asked to make sure their Play Math curriculum reads well and meets American standards of preschool math instruction.
Kuchey used the new common core standards as her guide for aligning the Play Math concepts, which included number sequencing, counting, matching, naming shapes. Everything but subitizing. Subi what? That’s teacher terminology for counting from a random number, rather than starting always with number 1.
“Subitizing is part of counting and cardinality,” she says. “I told them it was missing.” Now, hopefully, children at Eye Level programs are learning how to count no matter where they start.
Music students returning to campus this fall found their music classroom had undergone a complete technological makeover.
Now when they sit down at one of 14 brand new Roland electric pianos and turn it on, they also turn on the new Apple computers attached to each one. They adjust the computer monitor’s movable arm so they can see the front of the classroom, where professor Kaleel Skeirik uses a Roland to write music on the overhead computer screen.
As he plays a riff on the piano, the computer displays the musical notes on the screen—and on each student’s personal monitor—while the sound plays from speakers near the ceiling and in their individual headphones. On his computer, Skeirik adds to or changes the notes on the screen. Together, as their pianos and computers communicate with each other, the class composes music in real time.
The $55,000 makeover created a state-of-the-art music theory and practice lab, a welcome improvement for Xavier’s music program that provided top-notch equipment, improved sight lines and better lighting controls. And the modest $10 fee that each of the 57 music students pays for their lab class will repay the cost of the upgrade and its eventual replacement within six years. Now that’s something worth singing about.
It must have been later than midnight, and I was counting the squares on the ceiling. My sleeping bag was a few inches short of being long enough to cover both my toes and shoulders, and a dead spider lay on its back six inches from my face. My cellmate, who had smuggled in chewing gum, was popping it between her teeth.
There were no clocks, no windows. I could only guess the hour. Eventually, the tiles bled together under the fluorescent light, and the gum smacking turned into ambient noise. That’s when I finally fell asleep. Then I heard the gum pop again. And again. And again. And again.
The popping. I needed to get away, even if only for a minute. Irritated, I looked through the cell windows and saw a key on a table just outside. The woman in charge was asleep at the monitors near the key. Her cell phone was turned over so I couldn’t see the time.
Ready for a change of scenery, I pressed the red button above my cot to catch her attention. Her eyes were still closed. I pressed it again. Not even a stir. As I stared at the key and pressed the button for the third, fourth and fifth time, it occurred to me that the whole experiment might be a conspiracy in disguise, designed to keep me there until I lost my mind. I might not actually be getting out in the morning. She needs to wake up right now, I thought, before I do some damage to my cellmate’s gum stash. I started to panic, extending my finger and pressing the red button with more urgency.
She woke up, rubbed her eyes and glanced my way. My pointer finger was rigid, ready to press again in case she did not see me. Thankfully, she did. She walked over and unlocked my cell.
“Feeling it a little too hard?” she asked.
I shook my head yes, pulled up my four-sizes-too-big, jail-issued pants and walked out of that cell before my sentence was up. I only made it six hours behind bars.
Part I: Criminal History
My night in jail was part of Xavier’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange, a course taught inside of the Lebanon (Ohio) Correctional Institution by criminal justice adjunct professor Christine Shimrock. The exchange brings together University students and incarcerated students, and is designed to create dialogue between the two.
When my editor heard that the course culminated with an overnight stay in a county lockup in Mason, Ohio, about 20 miles north of campus, he thought it would be fun to send a writer along. Since none of my coworkers volunteered, I was nominated to cover the story—all 24 hours of it.
This semester, there were eight “outside students” in the class, and 10 “inside students.” The purpose of the overnight exercise, Shimrock says, is to get the outside students to see things from the inside students’ point of view. This is the eighth year that she’s organized the exercise for her students.
“It’s not supposed to scare or intimidate anyone,” she assured me by telephone a few weeks before. “But it’s pretty revealing—I try to simulate the real experience as much as possible. Students come out of this exercise with different perspectives.”
By the time I parked my car at the municipal court, I was nervous. The other students weren’t. They were chatting in a group outside the courthouse, saying things like, “This is way better than having to go to class,” and “So-and-so took this class last year, but he wouldn’t tell me any of the details.”
We walked in at 6:00 p.m., and police officers instructed us to go to the bathroom and change into orange slippers and baggy prison garb. After that, we were cuffed and told to wait silently on the cement benches for our turn to be fingerprinted and processed. We watched as police-trained K-9 units searched our belongings.
My pants were too big and my slippers didn’t fit. When my turn came and the officer waved me over, I thought about asking him for a new pair—preferably one that had two shoes of the same size. Then I saw the solitary confinement room behind him and decided against it. I knew it was going to be a long night.
Part II: Time Served
I’m not going to pretend to know what it’s like to be incarcerated just because I spent an evening in a municipal court cell. County lockup isn’t the same thing as prison. Having sleeping bags or being allowed to buzz your guard to let you out isn’t the same thing as being in prison, either.
For me, the worst part was the mind-numbing boredom. The tile counting, the gum popping and the lack of windows turned minutes into 60 seconds of stretched-out nothingness. I never want to go back.
The best part happened the morning after, when I returned to get the students’ reactions. They were tired, but I could tell that they, unlike most who sleep in a jail cell, didn’t regret staying overnight. Certainly, everyone was happy to head home, but that happiness was undercut by the knowledge that the inside students couldn’t go home too. We left feeling lucky. We also left with a little more understanding of what life’s like on the inside—an important lesson for criminal justice majors.
“I recommend this class to anyone and everyone,” said one student. “I learned so much, and we became close with the inside students. They would be laughing at us right now if they saw how much we complained. This isn’t anything compared to what they go through.”
One of the basics of business is to give the people what they need. So that’s exactly why the MBA program created a new concentration in values-based leadership. In today’s society, where values often get set aside for higher profits and scandles have become almost commonplace, trust seems to have become a casualty of the corruption.
While traditional MBA classes touch on values and ethics throughout, the new concentration goes beyond the basics. It’s an interdisciplinary program, bringing in faculty from around the University to teach various issues—leadership, values-based decision-making, corporate responsibility, sustainability. One course on internantional ethics even includes a study-abroad time in London.
Led by Ann Marie Tracey and Paul Fiorelli, co-directors of the Cintas Institute for Business Ethics, the concentration teaches students how to develop strategies inclusive of all constituencies and stakeholders in an organization, the community and the global environment.
It’s 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night in February, and the bass from the stereo booms off the walls, muffling the mass of conversations inside the Gallagher Student Center. Sean McMahon, a sophomore English major who lives on campus, is standing halfway through a long line with a few of his friends, inching their, way toward two tall, orange coolers resting on a foldout table. He’s from Rhode Island, which at the moment is under four feet of snow. Over the music, he’s teasing his friends who think it’s cold outside at 27 degrees.
“When it’s their turn, they walk up to the coolers and fill their cups. Sean tosses his head back and downs his entire drink in one gulp. “It’s so weird to be in Gallagher when it’s this late,” he says. “Let’s get some more water and go downstairs. I think I heard that there was a blackjack table.”
As they walk downstairs, they filter past more students who are walking into the building in groups of three and five. As the doors close behind them, they’re greeted by Student Activities Council representatives who sit at a table just inside the main entrance. They hand out party schedules and a map to activities—first floor: blackjack and an inflatable obstacle course; second floor: food and live music; third floor: more food and magicians. An arc of balloons towers over the students, spelling out the party’s name: Muskies After Dark.
Muskies After Dark—better known as MAD—is a late-night party designed to offer students an alternative to high-risk weekend activities. Organized and run by the Office of Student Involvement, MAD events happen monthly during the school year. Taking over the entire Gallagher Student Center, the students set up Twister stations, inflate the inflatable obstacle courses, invite live bands to play and wait for the fun to ensue.
“Not everyone who goes to Xavier has money to go out on the weekends,” says Dustin Lewis, the associate director of student involvement. “And not everyone on campus drinks alchohol, either. That’s why it’s important for us to provide students with safe, free, fun on the weekends.”
Not only is the program great for students, it gives the resident assistants and hall janitors a break from the normal weekend duties. During MAD nights, the residence halls have less reported damage, injuries and incidents than normal weekend nights.
Lewis first heard of late-night, alternative programs during a conference in October 2010. When he returned to work, he proposed that Xavier create and organize a late-night program unique to the campus. The idea sounded great, but there was only one problem: funding. Because the pervading thought was that college students—whether of legal drinking age or not—will always choose a keg of beer over a cooler of water, it was difficult to get others on board with the idea.
But, with the conviction that late-night alternative programming is something every college should provide its students, Lewis
persisted and the first MAD trial run took place four months later. Nearly 200 students showed up, a promising number, so Lewis decided to continue the program.
Now the program is in its second year and the number of attendees averages around 500 per event.
“It’s great for us to be able to provide students an alternative to drinking,” says Lewis. “There’s a trend of good, clean weekend activities across college campuses, and it’s something that we’re proud to be part of.”
The Winter 2013 issue of Xavier magazine included a story about the Roger Fortin Award, which honors the former professor of history and University provost. The award is granted to faculty in the humanities who demonstrate outstanding teaching and scholarship. The first Fortin Award was granted in January and went to Richard Polt, chair of the Department of Philosophy.
“In his teaching and scholarship, Richard Polt has demonstrated that a professor can be both a creative distiller of difficult philosophical concepts and a public intellectual able to converse with a general audience,” said professor of English Tyrone Williams, who nominated Polt.“In the classroom he is able to elicit both gratitude for making philosophy palatable and excitement for making it relevant to the lives of his students. As a scholar his introduction to, and translations of, Heidegger have won him international accolades from scholars. At the same time his editorials for the New York Times have opened a ‘third’ portal through which he engages the public in philosophical debates. In short, [his] career is an exemplary model for how to move back and forth between different constituencies in and outside the classroom.”
Polt came to Xavier in 1992. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago. When he writes, he prefers the method he has used since his teenage years: the typewriter. He has a collection of more than 200 of the machines. His oldest is a Hammond 1 from 1889.