Water World

When it comes to his archeology project in Greece, George Harrison is sitting pretty—pretty in pink that is. Officially known as the Roman Crete Waterworks Project, the undertaking has unofficially been dubbed “Pretty in Pink” for the telltale signs of the ancient Greek waterworks.

“Nowadays pools look blue because of the color of their liners,” says Harrison, an associate professor in the department of classics. “Well, waterproof plaster in Roman times was pink. It’s a dead giveaway.”

These pink pools of water are what started Harrison’s Greek odyssey. In search of cisterns that the early Greeks used as a water source, Harrison devised this project, sought out funding for it and spent this past summer working on it in Crete with his co-director, Jane Francis, an assistant professor of classics at Concordia University in Montreal.

“We’re collecting and analyzing Roman water storage units called cisterns to get a sense of the population size and amount of irrigation,” Harrison says. “Everybody needs water. If we can estimate the amount of water used we can estimate the number of people.”

These population numbers can help the project team figure out additional information about Crete’s history. “We’re trying to discover how many people there were and where they were living,” says Harrison. “We know that to support bigger populations, they needed more irrigation. We’re looking for evidence of irrigation to support crops.”

This summer they spent time just taking photos and identifying the locations of the cisterns. Next summer they hope to start an excavation and at some point bring students over from Concordia and Xavier to work at the sites. Harrison planned the project to last 15 summers—right up to his retirement.

One early coup for the project was receiving a dig site at Mochlos, a small island off the coast of Crete, which includes a cistern with the roof still intact. Harrison is grateful at the opportunity to study a complete cistern. “We know of only six cisterns in the Mediterranean with their roofs intact. There are so few of them we don’t know how they made their roofs.”

According to Harrison, cisterns are found in the slope of a hill. They’re built partially underground to act as a natural form of air conditioning in keeping the water cool, important if you want to avoid typhus. The cisterns also had roofs to avoid mosquitoes and the malaria they carried. Larger cisterns, or more of them, indicate a larger population—such as a city—was once located there.

Harrison first fell in love with archeology—and Crete—as a graduate student studying history and art at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

“What I like about archeology is that you can look in the ground and take a bunch of distinct pieces and figure out the overall picture. When you recreate a home, a temple, it’s easier to imagine the people who lived there more than just from literature. I like the idea that we’re in a position to fill in a part of the human story. We know everything about emperors and gladiators. Now we’re looking at everyday people. We know very little about people in the community. We’re going to learn how they lived and what was important to them.”

Ticket to Ride

In many ways, business careers resemble amusement park rides. Some are like a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. Some are like a merry-go-round, just spinning in circles until the music stops. Some are like the towers that pull riders up and then drop them into a free fall.

For Al Weber, his career’s been like a ride on a sky tram—nice and smooth, the view’s great and it’s above the crowd. And that’s where he’s at now. In May, Weber was named president and CEO of Paramount Parks, which owns five of the most popular theme parks in North America, including Kings Island in Cincinnati.

“My favorite part about the job is creating an escape for people,” says Weber. “It’s great to see people walk away invigorated by a day spent with their family and friends. That says a lot about the business.”

Weber began in the business 34 years ago as a ride operator at Cincinnati’s Coney Island, trying to earn money to go to college. He was promoted to supervisor after a year, and rather than quitting to go to school, he kept working. As he made his way up the ladder, he returned to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in the weekend degree program in 1996 and an M.B.A. in 1997.

“The nice thing about being in the business back then was it was growing,” he says, “so there was a lot of opportunity to advance your career.”

He became general manager of Paramount’s Kings Island, then executive vice president and chief operating officer at Paramount Parks in Charlotte, N.C. As president, he plans on the company continuing to focus on customer service and satisfaction.

“Our relationship with people in the park is really important to us,” he says. “It’s been the hallmark of our success.”

Seeing Green

Students have a new place to study—or toss a Frisbee, or sunbathe, or sleep. During the summer, the five houses in front of Husman Hall were torn down and a 1.2-acre campus green was built in their place. The green includes an outdoor stage, a sculpture, and a lot of trees and wide, grassy lawns.

The sculpture is a 10-foot high working scale that students can balance using metal stones engraved with ethics-related words.

The green also includes two memorials to people who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One memorial is for Helen Crossin-Kittle, a 1989 graduate who was a senior computer analyst for Cantor Fitzgerald and pregnant with her first child at the time.

Her friends and classmates chipped in to purchase the memorial.

“The significance is totally emotional for me, that she’s going to be remembered forever,” says Kristin Kucia-Stauder, who coordinated the effort. She and Crossin-Kittle traveled to Spain together for a six-week study abroad trip. “She was just a wonderful, giving, kind person, just a crack-up kind of person who touched the lives of many people.”

The plaque is being placed at the base of a new sunburst maple tree near the entrance to the Gallagher Student Center. Another plaque, this one from the student government association, is being installed nearby in memory of all victims of Sept. 11.

On Wisconsin

For every 2,000 people living in Ashland, Wis., a tiny coastal city on chilly Lake Superior, there is a Xavier student. Why the direct link? The ROTC program and a guy named Jim Evans.

Evans, the former activities director at Ashland High School, discovered Xavier when his daughter, Jocelyn, received an ROTC scholarship five years ago. Since then, Evans has encouraged other top students to take the ROTC route, and most have chosen Xavier.

“We have an interesting little anomaly, and we are succeeding phenomenally in the ROTC program,” says Bill Leakey, father of 2002 graduate Sara Leakey. “What sold me on Xavier was [director of student retention services] Adrian Shiess. Unlike any other school we talked to, I was convinced that Xavier gave a damn about my kid.”

The legacy of Leakey, Evans and 2002 graduate Luke Fischer is continuing. Fischer’s sister, Lindsey, is a freshman this year. Leakey’s sister, Christy, is a high school sophomore and is considering Xavier as well.

Of Parking and Presidents

“I was in the M.B.A. program that met every Saturday,” says Ed Fink, a 1958 M.B.A. graduate. “At the time, I was traveling a lot on business, and getting to class was tough. I was always getting there at the last minute, and by the time I pulled in, all of the parking spots were gone except this one. It said, ‘Reserved for the President.’ Well, I never saw him, and I didn’t think he would be working on a Saturday, so I just pulled in. Every Saturday it was the same way. Eventually I started getting tickets, which I just stuck in my glove compartment.

“Well, as you’re getting ready to graduate, you get a letter saying ‘You have to pay any debts or you won’t get your sheepskin.’ I thought it was just a general notice. The next thing I know, I get a call from the president’s office: ‘Father O’Connor wants to speak to you.’ I show up and he says, ‘Edward, come in. I want to talk to you.’ I thought, ‘Uh-oh.’ Father O’Connor was this big Irish man and your first impression of him is, ‘This guy’s John Wayne. Hello, pilgrim.’ Very intimidating. Anyway, he says, ‘Edward, one of the benefits of this job is you get your own parking space, and you’ve been parking in it. Do you know how much time I’ve spent driving around trying to find another spot?’ I said, ‘You work on Saturdays?’ He said, ‘Yes, I do. Now we’ve got to come to grips with it. You’re a businessman. Well, this is a business decision.’

“He starts adding up what the tickets were worth and says, ‘I’m going to forget about this, but you’re going to be the first one from your class to make a donation to Xavier. Does that meet with your approval?’ I was scared out of my wits. I came back and paid in cash. Put it right in the good father’s hands.”

Letters to the Editor

About Abuse
All of us are appalled by the abuse of children especially by those whom they trust. It would be well to reflect that there is more than one way to abuse children. Children who are hungry, homeless, lacking in basic education, exposed to war, violence, dishonesty are being abused. Can we indifferent to abuse of children in whatever form it takes?
Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.

Just Noticing
I’ve noticed a great improvement in Xavier Magazine. I just wanted to say I think you are doing a great job and keep up the good work.
Rich Kopro ’69

African Escape
The article in the current issue of Xavier Magazine [Fall 2002] features Xavier alumnus Ven Ochaya and his escape from the tyranny of Idi Amin in east Africa in 1977. He lives as a great success. This caught my interest. I was a volunteer teacher of surgery to underdeveloped countries. In 1969, I was sent to Uganda, located in east equatorial Africa. Winston Churchill described it as “the pearl of Africa.” However, in recent years, the country had rapidly deteriorated. As the fear increased and Idi Amin’s support waned, he survived by pampering his friends and murdering his enemies. In Makindye, prison inmates were forced to beat each other to death with sledgehammers. On my third day in Kampala, I was ordered to remain in the hospital and meet a man from Germany who was a salesman for medical equipment. Because of the crisis situation, the German salesman and I were ordered to drive out of the country at 3:30 a.m. the following morning and escaped before the guard house was opened. We followed orders—crashed through the wood gate and escaped safely.
James J. Berens MD, Class of 1942

Act Two
The first act of the U.S. Revolution began in 1776. I think it remains for us to write the second act and perform it. This second act would truly bring liberty and justice for all, for each human person, created in the image and likeness of God . The second act would be non-violent, courageous, imaginative, effective and comprehensive.

The Millennium can mean a period of prosperity. I pray that this prosperity be for all, that each human person have at least their basic human rights. I dream of a responsible freedom in which individual growth is balanced with the common good and security of all.

Let us thank God for our blessings, the many peace and justice groups in the U.S. who are working non-violently for social justice.

Let us also sing all the verses of America the Beautiful: “America, America, God mend thy every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” Let us beg God’s pardon for our sins, make a firm purpose of amendment and move forward.
Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.


A Stretch
Let me say first that I love your publication. I am a graduate of Marquette and Ohio State. You guys win by a mile. Excellent work.

BUT, your graduation picture of the Ohradzanskys was pretty wierd. First of all, do you people actually gown up and walk for anassociate degree?

Secondly, surely you must have had moms/daughters getting bachelor degrees; or advanced/bachelor degrees.

But associate degree?

Stretching it a bit, I thought.
Rick Singel

For many years I routinely scanned the Xavier magazine briefly when it arrived and then discarded it. Lately I find myself reading it from cover to cover. Congratulations on the interesting and varied articles, X-Files, and other spots. It all makes for interesting reading.
Sister Josephine Patti, GNSH

Grown Up Tastes
I really enjoy the alumni magazine. You guys do a great job–it’s a magazine for adults, which is unusual.
Jack Selzer Professor of English Penn State University

Catching Kudos
My Xavier experience was that of a part-time M.B.A. student in the late 1970s/early 1980s. I earned my degree in 1982, the same year I moved from Cincinnati to Cleveland. And I am practically a life-long Presbyterian, save for my three years as a member of Hyde Park United Methodist Church. Therefore, my view as an alum is very different from those who were XU undergraduate students as well as those who still call the Queen City home.

This email is to THANK YOU for continuing to publish a stellar alumni magazine. You effectively blend campus news and updates with interesting articles about Xavier alums who are making both large and small impacts on our world. I especially enjoy the “X-Files” tidbits. And you do this while emphasizing the vital link to Xavier’s Jesuit heritage and how we must use our God-given talents and abilities in our work, our families and our communities (which, as an evangelical Presbyterian, is very important to me). Lastly, the magazine simply looks good–layout, photos, graphics, etc.

So, this non-Cincinnatian/Presbyterian/former part-time M.B.A. student sends major kudos and encouragement to keep up the great work.

Eric N. Peterson


Summer Reading
I wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed reading the summer 2002 edition of Xavier magazine. Don’t know for sure what you changed from previous editions, but I like it.

Also, as class representative for 1968, thanks for the back cover advertisement to the annual fund. Annual fund is one of the many things that are showing greatness at Xavier. Congrats, again.
Joe Geraci, Class of 1968 and 1970

Hail to the Chief
As usual, I enjoyed reading the latest edition of Xavier magazine. I was especially pleased to see the “Hailing Hailstones” article [Summer 2002], and the naming of Hailstones Hall. Wonderful. Thank you for an excellent publication.
Louis Kuhn, Class of 1963

I cannot tell you how pleased I was when I opened the summer edition of the Xavier magazine and saw the story on my father’s mementos. James Sweeney, my father, graduated from Xavier in 1934 and I graduated from Xavier in 1967. When he died in 1991, I inherited his Xavier keepsakes. I decided that the only appropriate place for scrapbooks and mementos would be back at Xavier. Who knows what my kids would do with them after I died.

My dad loved the years he spent at Xavier and was very proud of his college. He would be very pleased that his scrapbooks are so appreciated and that they will be looked at and preserved for many years to come. Thank you again for taking care of my dad’s keepsakes. They mean a lot to my entire family.
Brian M. Sweeney

In Search of Adventure

Bob Herring and three friends spent the month of July reliving the lives of the early river travelers. The gang rode a retrofitted pontoon boat down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers from Cincinnati to New Orleans in search of a little history, a little adventure and their own solitude, peace and companionship.

“At first, I thought we didn’t have the right equipment and experience to do this,” Herring says. “I found out we could do it, and we did. It was wonderful. We were just four guys looking for a good time on the river and seeing what’s there. I really believe we’re connected to those who have gone before us, and I wondered, ‘What was that like for them?’ ”

Granted, they had luxuries like a gas-powered motor, river maps and binoculars for navigation. Their laptop computer, digital phone and camera for filing daily web dispatches—as well as a refrigerated cooler—were all fueled by a solar-powered generator on the roof of their hand-made hutch. Such modern conveniences made the trip a lot easier than what the early flatboat settlers experienced.

Still, says Herring, they got a taste of exploration navigating through swift currents and around giant barges, running aground once and befriending river town strangers, some of whom helped in the search for gasoline. They finished the trip on July 18, 10 days earlier than planned.

The idea began when Herring, a 1973 and 1977 graduate and principal of Nativity School in Cincinnati, and the school’s artist-in-residence were teaching students what happens to rainfall. A simple conversation became a plan to ride the rivers to the Gulf of Mexico.

The men prepared for the trip by talking to the U.S. Coast Guard, who warned them to be wary of bugs, snakes and country boys who like to shoot at buoy lights at night. They tied up often to refuel the boat and replenish food supplies. Herring filed daily briefings at www.nativity-cincinnati.org/river/river_trip.htm.

Health Offerings

It was a perfect winter day in New Haven, Conn., on Jan. 15—sunny skies, 20 degrees, crisp and clear—the kind of day that made David Benfer happy to go to work. But by 11:00 a.m., it quickly dissolved into the worst day of his life.

Benfer, a 1970 M.B.A graduate and chief executive officer of the St. Raphael Healthcare System, found himself at ground zero of a swirling crisis. Two elderly patients in one of his hospitals were dead because of a faulty gas valve and human error. They, essentially, were gassed to death.

“When you have something like this occur on your watch, it’s like your worst nightmare,” Benfer says.

The hospital went into crisis mode for weeks—police investigations, lawsuits, state and federal probes, daily newspaper headlines. And Benfer is still living the nightmare, which he shared with a health services administration class in July, telling the students they should study and learn from such costly cases.

Benfer is one of more than 80 health care presidents and CEOs nationwide who visit campus to share their wisdom and experiences with each class of students.

“Before our students begin their residencies,” says department chair Ida Schick, “they need to know not only what the current issues are, but how they are being handled in the real world.”

Including deadly mistakes. One lesson Benfer imparted: Don’t place blame where there is no obvious intent. Benfer practices what he preaches. After extensive investigations, no one was fired for the incident.

Glued to His Seat

Mehrdad Safavian, a junior majoring in computer science with a minor in biology, natural sciences and mathematics, spent his summer participating in a rather unusual research project. Safavian worked with Dr. Peter N. Steinmetz in the brain-modeling laboratory at the University of Minnesota.

“The program that I participated in is computational neuroscience,” Safavian says. “We worked on spike sorting methods, in which we used different algorithms to separate noise from spikes. The data were collected from electrodes connected to the brains of patients with pharmacologically intractable epilepsy to localize the seizure onset focus.”

Safavian’s work was part of the University of Minnesota’s undergraduate life science summer research program. The program attracted Safavian because of the opportunity to work in the front line of research and science with some of the top scientists with advanced tools and technologies. He has found his summer in Minnesota a positive experience.

“I have learned a lot in science and I have experienced how the research process works,” he says. “Also, working along side some hard-working scientists has taught me a lot, and I have picked up some of their hard-working habits.”

Connecting undergraduates with faculty research is one of the primary missions of the university, which ranks third among the nation’s public research universities, according to a new study by “The Center” at the University of Florida. The report on the top American research universities ranks public and private universities based on scoring within the top 25 on nine measures, including the strength of the faculty, research program and private support. Minnesota ranks in the top 25 on eight of the nine measures. The only other public research universities that score as well as in the study are the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley.

Fit to a T

Whenever a T-shirt was for sale on campus, Rachael Schlichte was there with money in hand. Homecoming, Manresa, the AIDS walk, X-Treme sports—she got them all. It wasn’t that she was a clotheshorse, but rather she had a very special project planned: a quilt made of Xavier T-shirts.

“When my boyfriend and his brother graduated from high school, their mother had quilts made for them from shirts they had as kids,” says the 2002 graduate. “So when I went to Xavier, I started saving shirts. It’s the neatest idea to preserve memories. It’s something tangible you’ll have for the rest of your life. And what else can you do with a bunch of old T-shirts?”