Mindful Studies

Barbara Neman turned to her son, Eli, as she was preparing for his fifth birthday party. His friends from preschool were about to arrive.

“Eli, would you please set the table?” she asked.

Eli took the plates, the ones decorated with bright balloons, and walked around the table.

“This one’s for Sam,” he said as he set the plate down. “This one’s for Sarah.” Neman stopped and looked at Eli. She was shocked.

Eli is autistic and had never spoken the names of any of his preschool classmates before. And the ones he was naming were from a new group he’d been seeing for only five weeks. Something, she realized, was working for this little boy with the dark brown hair and soft doe eyes. Despite the steady doses of special therapy and constant tutoring, so little had worked for him. Yet this simple act of conversation with people who weren’t present represented a major step forward in his social development.

There were other steps as well. For five weeks during that summer of 2002, he willingly left the car—and his mother—to join this new group of children participating in a research study at Xavier. By the end of the five weeks, he had begun making the important leap from focusing only on himself to comprehending the concept of “others,” a key element in a child’s eventual ability to interact socially as an adult.

Neman suspected the study was having a positive effect on Eli. Developed by a doctoral student in psychology, the study was a dissertation on the socialization of children with autism. The student, Kim Kroeger, developed a social skills modeling program to teach preschool-aged children with autism how to talk and play with each other. It appears she was onto something. By the end of the sessions, Eli and 24 other autistic children culled from the Cincinnati area all showed gains in their ability to interact socially in a group setting.

“It’s very tricky to teach a child to play with another kid,” Neman says. “I would pay for this.”

Kroeger’s research exemplifies the heart of Xavier’s first and only doctoral offering. The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) program requires all students to choose projects that focus on one of three traditionally underserved populations—children, the elderly or the severely mentally ill. In Kroeger’s case, people received real services, and many benefited. One severely autistic 5-year-old girl who doesn’t speak actually waved goodbye to her mother, who tearfully said her daughter had never waved to her before.

“The program is in keeping with the Jesuit tradition and is very much service oriented,” says Janet Schultz, psychology professor and clinical director. “There was a desire to have a program of real strength that would also capture and put into practice the Jesuit ideals.”

That influence is evident in the spectrum of research by other students: personality traits and HIV risk in older adults; suicide threats and attempts among juvenile delinquents; severe mental illness and counseling.

One dissertation on the effects of video game violence and aggression won a University-wide graduate research competition this year. Kroeger’s dissertation in particular caught the attention of the psychology department as much for its potential to have a real impact on children as for its scope, its thoroughness and the extensive research on which it was based. Her proposal was awarded the mentoring and scholarship project chair. The $5,000 grant she received with the award, plus $2,000 from a local autism society, allowed her to plunge into her 18-month study.

Kroeger joined the program, which graduated its third class in May, after earning her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and her master’s at Xavier. She is now completing her required internship at the prestigious Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins University and will graduate this May. She says it was Xavier’s ideal of serving the underserved that drew her to the program, despite it being cheaper to enroll elsewhere.

“I was aware of what I would be paying in tuition. But it goes to the aspect of doing what you are told to do versus what you love to do. I was able to create this project and carry it out.”

At a time when other doctoral programs are experiencing declines, the University’s psychology program is gaining in popularity. The number of applicants this fall is up 300 percent compared with the program’s first year in 1997. Becoming accredited by the American Psychological Association accounts for some of that increase, but the numbers have risen steadily since 2000, when there were 69 applicants. The department received 118 applications for this fall.

Its reputation is expected to continue to spread as graduates like Kroeger enter the workforce and publish their research. She plans to incorporate her training model into a real program, having already presented it several times to local and national organizations and support groups. In her presentations, she explains how the children were placed in one of two groups—a structured play group and a study group exposed to her social skills modeling program. She videotaped the first and last sessions of the six groups, which each met three times a week for five weeks, and counted the social interactions among the children. Children with autism are unable to communicate with others. Traditional treatment has been one-on-one tutoring, not group interactions. But Kroeger found children in both groups increased their contacts with each other. But there were far more interactions among those in the study groups, who were shown how to socialize, than in the play groups.

Eli was in one of the study groups. He’s 6 years old now and still has trouble with his “I’s” and “you’s.” But his mother knows he grew a lot at Xavier and now wants to enroll him in a real program using Kroeger’s model. She hopes, for his sake, she doesn’t have to wait too long.

Lost World

The old man on the other side of the village keeps a leopard in his hut,” the African fathers of Kituru would whisper to their children as they put them to bed. “It wears a red sweater. We’ve seen its paw prints in the soft dirt around the hut.

“But you must never, never go near the hut,” the fathers would warn, “because the leopard likes to pounce on children who come too close.”

The children would listen wide-eyed.

Night after night the fathers would tell the children stories—stories meant to keep them obedient by threatening that if they misbehaved, they would be eaten by the wild animals—mostly lions—that once roamed the lush countryside near the village.

The stories worked, too. The children obeyed.

But for one child in the Kenyan village, the stories had another unintended result. They sparked in him a yearning to discover more about these frightening animals, especially those that had vanished when his people, the Luhya, settled in the region. The child was William Anyonge, who grew up to be one of the department of biology’s newest professors.

Today, Anyonge (pronounced An-yon-gay) spends his time in class exposing Xavier students to another group of wild animals—the saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and other ancient massive predators that died out at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch in the last Ice Age. He spends his free time researching their lost world.

Each summer, Anyonge goes to a site along Wilshire Boulevard at the edge of Hollywood where, amidst the glitz and glamour, sits the grime of the La Brea tar pits. Here, the fossilized, coffee-colored, oil-soaked bones of these ancient animals float to the surface, clumped in rich deposits of natural asphalt. Anyonge immerses himself in the bones, weighing, measuring and X-raying the fossils in an attempt to learn how these animals lived and died, what they ate and what caused their extinction.

“Paleontologists are detectives,” he says in his clipped African accent. “All they have to work with are teeth and bones. They know anatomy and how muscles fit on bones and they want to tell its story.”

Knowing the stories of these animals’ natural extinctions can help humans today keep from contributing to future extinctions, he says.

“It’s important to know how not to accelerate extinctions that already exist,” he says. “It’s important to understand nature. When you do, you understand yourself.”

Anyonge was a scrawny boy of 7 when his father, Nathan Jumba Anyonge, returned from the United States after completing his master’s degree and moved the family from the farmlands of Western Kenya east into the busy city of Nairobi. It was a dramatic change.

Anyonge had spent his early childhood tending the cows on his family’s farm—herding them across the green fields in his bare feet, driving them to the river to drink, milking them twice a day. While the stories of scary wild animals played out in his head, he grew up amidst domesticated chickens and goats, lush gardens of cabbage and corn, tea and coffee, and an abundance of fruit trees like mango, guava and bananas.

His world was a safe, green oasis in the shadow of the Great Rift Valley, where the earliest known human fossils were found. Unaware he lived next to the cradle of humanity, he enjoyed a contented life on the farm with his seven siblings, a life rich in the bounty from the earth. It wasn’t until later he realized how rich his family had been.

He said goodbye to farm life as a result of the move, though, and was fitted with his first pair of shoes before entering a British school in the city. He missed the farm but took to the study of science, chemistry, math and, especially, biology. After graduating he took a part-time job at the Nairobi Museum as a lab assistant to help save for medical school. There he began reading about the real animals of his childhood bedtime stories and learned they weren’t so scary after all. He also enjoyed his first fossil-collecting expedition in the Nairobi Game Park.

His career path took a final turn away from medicine, however, when he met Richard Leakey, son of Louis Leakey, the British paleoanthropologist whose ancient human fossil discoveries in Africa set the stage for modern anthropological science. It was 1981, Anyonge was 20 years old and Leakey, who’d carried on his parents’ legacy of fossil research, was director of the National Museum of Kenya and head of a foundation that supported the education of young scientists.

“Leakey is fantastic,” Anyonge says. “He’s bigger than many prominent presidents in the world. He told me once, ‘When you try to do something in life, don’t look to be the best in your little area. You’ve got to compete with everyone in the world, so you’re good no matter where you are.’ ”

Impressed by the young man, Leakey agreed to fund Anyonge’s education at the University of Utah. Anyonge graduated in 1985 with a degree in geology and has since worked twice at the National Museum of Kenya, participated in field expeditions with Leakey to the Great Rift Valley, earned his Ph.D. in biology at the University of California at Los Angeles and spent five years there as a research scholar and lecturer in biology.

His interest in extinct carnivores was honed during his years at UCLA, buoyed by his work in Kenya and is now backed by a grant to Xavier from the William H. Albers Foundation. Each summer, he settles into the laboratory of the Page Museum at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits and treats himself to the smorgasbord of fossils from the pits.

The skulls, teeth and bones pulled from the tar are cleaned, catalogued and stored for his research, excellently preserved by the asphalt. A natural remnant of evaporating crude oil, the thick, sticky asphalt seeps to the surface through fissures in the earth’s crust.

The pits spelled doom for thousands of mammals that lived in the Los Angeles Basin from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. They are like quicksand, only sticky, and the predators—the cats, wolves, coyotes, pumas, jaguars and bears—that chased their prey into the pits likely went in after them. And died with them.

Anyonge theorizes the animals became extinct, along with the mammoth, mastodon and short-faced bear, during a time when humans were emerging onto the continent and hunting large species for food. As those species’ numbers dwindled, the predatory cats and wolves lost a reliable food source.

Learning what happened then, he says, can help us protect areas with a high diversity of animal species, such as Africa, where he roamed as a barefoot child.

“We fear our children may never see these animals in the wild,” he says. “Imagine a world with no elephants.”

A Life in Prison

A little time in prison is good for business. Just ask Jeff Scheeler, the chief financial officer for First Title Agency.

When the bus transporting Scheeler approached the gates of the men’s correctional section of the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., the sight of the razor wire, guards, dogs and signs warning inmates to stay back or risk being shot had an immediate and profound impact on him.

“Seeing that was eye-opening,” he says.

Opening eyes, of course, is the point. In an era scarred by business scandals like those at Enron, WorldCom and Tyco International, tales of white-collar crime have become all too familiar. So for the past four years, Paul Fiorelli, director for the University’s center for business ethics and social responsibility, has loaded students from his executive M.B.A. classes onto buses and traveled to Lexington to see firsthand the consequences of bad judgment.

This year, Scheeler and 31 of his classmates made the trip, where, over the course of the day, they ate prison food, caught sometimes-uncomfortable glimpses of prison life and spent time talking with inmates from the adjacent women’s work camp, which once housed the “queen of mean,” hotel empress Leona Helmsley.

This isn’t “Scared Straight” for executives, says Fiorelli. It is, however, a powerful reminder. “When we talked to the ladies from the work camp,” Scheeler says, “I realized that they could be in for any number of reasons that I hadn’t considered—mail fraud, wire fraud—and I became a little uneasy. Having worked in a highly regulated industry for more than 10 years, I’ve always tried to do the right thing. But there are always gray areas, and it unnerves me to think that something I do—something I feel very strongly is legal, right and ethical—could be perceived differently by others. I’ll think differently about future decisions.”

The annual visits had their genesis in 1999, when Fiorelli was a Supreme Court Fellow in Washington, D.C. At a sentencing conference, he happened to sit next to Chris Erlewine, general counsel for the United States Bureau of Prisons. The two talked, and Fiorelli put forth the idea of prison visits. Erlewine agreed to contact the warden in Lexington on Fiorelli’s behalf.

“A few graduate programs are doing something similar, but not a lot,” Fiorelli says. “It’s kind of a special thing.”

So on an overcast morning in January, Scheeler and his classmates left cell phones, pagers and all sharp objects on the bus and followed the guards into the men’s facility. There they were processed, stamped with ultraviolet ink, and marched off to lunch, only to find themselves sharing the hallway with about 400 inmates. For many in the class, this was an awkward—even apprehensive—experience.

“They were all lined up,” says Jill Isley, finance manager with Hill-Rom Co., which manufactures hospital furniture and various healthcare-related systems. “We had to march through in the middle, and I remember how uncomfortable I felt. I couldn’t look them in the eye.”

Following lunch, the students broke into two groups to tour the men’s facility with its chapel, drug-treatment facility, exercise yard, segregation unit for prisoners who need to be isolated from the general population, and UNICOR production facility, where inmates manufacture goods for the federal government. Isley says seeing the inmates going about their work struck a chord.

“I work every day, and they work every day,” she says. “I work 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., they work 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. So how is that different? Well, when they get done at 5:00 p.m., they don’t go home.”

Although lack of freedom and privacy are synonymous with most people’s concept of prison, seeing the reality still surprises some students, Fiorelli says.

“We would go into sleeping quarters,” he says. “There might be a guy sleeping there and they’d walk us right in.

“One of the students made the comment that you could read 100 Harvard Business Review cases on white-collar crime and still not get the same sense as when you walk through the halls, talk to people and see them in their environment. You say ‘Wow, this is what it’s like to look at razor wire all day. This is what it’s like to have zero privacy, to have zero control of your life, to have no liberty.’ ”

In contrast, security was much more lax in the women’s work camp. And after getting a feel for the basics of prison life in the men’s area, the class spent the last hour of the visit in the camp talking with five inmates, including a 72-year-old grandmotherly type who’s serving a 15-year sentence for embezzlement. For many in the class, hearing these inmates discuss the circumstances surrounding their crimes was particularly thought provoking, even though some of the stories themselves didn’t ring true.

“I think back at the many deals, decisions, personnel issues and personal situations that I have been involved with,” says Jose Guerra, an information technology management consultant, “and I wonder how many times I might have been near the edge. I know I won’t dramatically change the way I do things as a result of the visit, but it has raised my sensitivity and awareness on making sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed, at least from a legal perspective.”

At 3:30 p.m., Scheeler and his classmates walked out of the camp and headed for the bus. By then, Scheeler’s preconceptions had done an about-face.

“I thought this trip was going to be a colossal waste of time,” he says. “But it turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire program.”

Diversity Affirmed

College was always in the plans for Prince Edward Johnson Moultrie II, whose grandfather came from the Gullah culture of former slave colonies off the South Carolina coast. But Xavier University never made it onto his short list.

He always perceived it as that expensive Catholic school for mostly suburban white kids. Then he met Dameon Alexander. Alexander, an admission recruiter, looks for minority students like Johnson at schools in large urban areas. In his junior year, Johnson says, Alexander came to his school in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati, and talked about how Xavier could be the place for him.

“Xavier targeted me,” says Johnson. “He came to talk to us about college life. I’d thought about coming to Xavier, but I didn’t know if I could afford it. He told me about financial aid.”

Inspired by his father’s and grandfather’s goals for a better life, he’d considered several colleges, but when Xavier offered a substantial financial aid package, it won.

“They were really persistent,” Johnson says. “Dameon contacted me about 10 times.”

In light of the United States Supreme Court’s June 23 decision regarding the use of race in the college admission process, the question must be asked: Was Johnson brought on board through a targeted affirmative action program, or just good recruiting tactics? The answer, University officials say, is both. And the method appears to meet the litmus test of the Supreme Court.

In that long-awaited monumental decision, the justices said colleges have the constitutional right to consider an applicant’s race for admission in their quest for diversity but may not use formulas that arbitrarily give minority applicants favored status for their race. The court’s decisions concerning admission policies at the University of Michigan found its undergraduate admission practice of awarding extra points for an applicant’s race was unconstitutional, while its law school’s more holistic approach in considering race was acceptable.

What effect the decision holds for other universities—including Xavier—depends on their current practices. Large public universities that rely on the formula method to help winnow the huge volume of applications can’t do that anymore. Those schools without formula methods can keep doing what they’re doing with a clear conscience they’re not violating the Constitution.

“It’s like kissing your sister,” says Jim McCoy, associate vice president for enrollment services. “It’s neither fish nor fowl. What it says is you can use race, and the University has the opportunity to define what race means to the educational viability of its mission. But it can’t do it objectively.”

At Xavier, the decision was welcomed as an affirmation of what’s already taking place. “The fact they upheld the holistic decision-making process, that’s exactly what we do,” says dean of admission Marc Camille. “The ripple effect here will be very minimal.”

What Xavier does, Camille says, is look at race the same way it looks at other factors—where they grew up, were they privileged, did they show growth?

“We look at people as individuals and promise that we get to know people as well as possible and then make our best decision on whether to admit,” he says.

Xavier’s approach to affirmative action has been to focus on access. Rather than red-flagging the applications of minorities, it seeks to increase the pool of minorities who apply. Theoretically, if more apply, more get in.

Increasing the pool takes aggressive marketing to put the Xavier name in front of potential students. Admission officers such as Alexander target high school students in urban centers such as New York City, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Indianapolis. They send mailers to students and make personal visits to schools, often returning to reinforce the Xavier message.

Such aggressive minority recruitment is beginning to pay off. The pool of minority applicants is overflowing—due in part to a new free online application process, which has triggered an increase in all applications. Nevertheless, minority applications for this fall grew by 72 percent over last year, including a 93 percent jolt for black applicants alone.

Applications from prospective Hispanic students are up, too, by 30 percent. And though the numbers of minorities who actually enroll remain small, they’re beginning to inch upward. This year’s freshman class of 800 students has more than 100 minorities, including 63 black students, 19 Asian and 18 Hispanic. Minority enrollment is 13 percent of the total, up from 10.5 percent in 1999. The next step is to convert applicants into students, McCoy says.

The growth is chipping away at the University’s long-standing image as rich and white. Black students are more likely to see other black faces in a classroom today than five years ago, students say. With applications from black students numbering 1,024 this year, that trend seems to be going only one way—upward.

Paul James, director for the University’s office of multicultural affairs, applauds the court’s decision. But what really strikes him is the leadership qualities these students are bringing to campus: Black students now hold positions as student government association president, chair of its student activities committee and vice president for legislative affairs. James says the University’s black student association is the most active group of its kind in the region. A university’s ability to bring in bright students from differing backgrounds is important to expose them to today’s more global environment, he says.

“And it enhances the classroom experience when you’re dealing with people who can speak from different perspectives.”

The downside, he says, is that the numbers of black men enrolling are overshadowed by the women. Of the 274 black full-time undergraduate students on campus last year, only 69 were men.

“Lyndon Johnson was trying to right some wrongs [by creating affirmative action] because America has a past that hasn’t been favorable to large numbers of people,” he says. “The key now is access to a better way of life.”

A life that Prince Johnson’s grandfather would be proud to know.

the Changing Face of Campus

From his new office in Schott Hall, Marc Camille watched as the destruction started. Like a huge, mechanized, prehistoric carnivore, the red and white hydraulic shovel ripped into Dana Lodge, Walker Hall and Buschmann Hall with brutal efficiency, cracking beams, crushing brick and mortar, and shattering the summer air with the sounds of structural collapse.

In less than three hours, it was over. And when the dust and din drifted away, Camille, the University’s dean of admission, had an even clearer view of the University’s future—a future he says looks both impressive and inviting.

To advance that future, the three houses—once home to the University’s admission and financial aid offices—gave way this summer to what Camille calls “a new entrance to the campus.” In their place will be a parking lot, landscaped courtyard, fountain and wrought-iron gateway arch replete with the University crest.

The entrance will lead to a striking new home for the office of admission in the onetime cafeteria and chapel in Schott Hall. The office of financial aid also now resides in a renovated suite one floor down—the first time in recent memory that these two offices have been housed in the same building.

Aside from the pure practicality of that arrangement, Camille says the admission office’s granite-tiled entranceway, wood-paneled reception desk and waiting room—complete with comfortable furnishings, fireplace and plasma-screen television—provide a strong first impression for prospective students and their parents.

The rest of the facility reinforces this initial impact, as well. The former chapel has been converted into a presentation room with a surround-sound audio/visual system, theater seating, projection screen and suspended ceiling in the shape of an X.

“I’ve been on lots of college campuses and seen a lot of admission offices,” he says. “This will put us on par with anyone.”

Across Victory Parkway, the home of Xavier’s soccer teams received a facelift. The grass field was replaced with a new state-of-the-art artificial turf and the seating area expanded. The project, though, wasn’t done just for kicks. The worn playing surface was too delicate for anything but actual games, leaving the men’s and women’s teams to rent fields off campus for daily practice. The uneven grass and mud also made for slow drainage and expensive maintenance, not to mention dangerous playing, so given the choice between extensive reseeding and starting from scratch, the latter proved more economical. Also, students, intramural and club sports will have use of the new facility, which will be named for whomever funds the project.

Through the stone gateway into the main entrance of the University, guests are now greeted by a black, steel-and-glass guard house topped with a chrome spire. Beyond that, University Drive has been widened six feet to allow for improved parking. This change necessitated a new stone retaining wall facing Victory Parkway, changing what is perhaps the best-known view of the University. According to Bob Sheeran, associate vice president for facility management, this also will help eradicate the erosion and drainage problems that have plagued the hillside for years. In concert with this modification, workers installed an unbroken stretch of sidewalk, complete with new lighting, from the gateway to the Gallagher Center.

Standing at the top of the parking lot steps, just above the St. Francis Xavier statue, Sheeran, too, sees the future, and for the moment at least, it doesn’t include orange construction barrels. “I don’t expect we’ll see as many bricks and sticks these next several years,” he says. “But there will always be something going on.”

 

New Alumni Center in Historic Old Building

 

With it’s graceful, curving stairways, terrazzo-tile floors and two-story mural, the lobby of the University’s newly purchased alumni center creates a striking first impression. And that’s exactly what brothers J. Cromer and Willam O. Mashburn Jr. were after in 1937 when they enlisted Cincinnati architect John Henri Deeken to design the building, home to their new Coca-Cola bottling plant. The facility opened in 1938, and for the next 44 years it not only provided the region with Coca-Cola, but was a popular tourist destination and social center. Through the glass behind the receptionist’s desk, visitors watched ranks of Coke bottles pass in review as they wound their way through the assembly line.

The bottles are long gone, however, and today the art deco-style building is home to the University’s national alumni association, community building institute, physical plant and division of university relations.

The building has a storied history, though. It once boasted an employee barbershop on the second floor, showers for the labored Coke delivery drivers and a cafeteria. The original plans called for a revolving weather beacon in the building’s tower. But any use of the lights ended with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, for fear of providing a beacon for enemy attacks on the mainland, says J. Cromer Mashburn Jr., who eventually became chairman and CEO of the bottling company.

World events also left their mark on the lobby mural. When artist John F. Holmer painted the scene of events at Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park, he gave all the men in the mural Hitler-style moustaches.

The horrified Mashburns demanded the moustaches be removed. Holmer refused. Eventually, another artist did the cover-up, but the shadowy moustaches remain visible on close inspection.

The building changed hands in the early 1980s, and sank into disrepair. When Richard Rosenthal, then owner of F&W Publications, bought it and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, it took an 18-month restoration—at twice the purchase price—before his company could move in. The University bought the building from F&W in 2001 and began yet another extensive renovation that was completed this summer.

Extra Credit: Tom Merrill

Tom Merrill joined the University’s music faculty in 2002 and stepped comfortably into the service mission. This summer, from June 10-16, he’s leading the Xavier Mission Choir on a trip to Mission Honduras, an orphanage for Honduran children and a home for single mothers. Along with its work at the mission, the choir is performing three concerts, including one in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

Why did you choose a life in music? When I went to college, I really had no plans. I kept doing other things, but I kept coming back to the music. I couldn’t let it go. It’s a powerful thing for me—a powerful medium. It’s one of the best ways I know to express human emotion and human thought.

What’s the connection between music and service? When you sing, you unite voices, and when you do mission work, you unite minds and hearts and hands. When a choir performs, it ought to affect an audience on several levels. On the immediate level, they should get the pure beauty of the sound. On an intellectual level, they should understand the relationship between the text and the music. And for me, there’s a third level, a spiritual level where their souls are touched by the music.

What’s the goal of this summer’s mission? Firstly, I hope that we are genuinely helpful to the children in Honduras. That’s our primary reason for going. Each of us is going to take an extra duffel bag full of children’s clothes, because they just have nothing. They have very basic needs. And of course, we’ll be doing whatever duties they assign to us. And I can only think that when we sing, it will add another dimension to the whole mission aspect.

Wanza L. Jackson

Wanza L. Jackson Bachelor of Science in business administration, University of Cincinnati, 1985; Master of Science in criminal justice, 1992 | Warden, Warren Correctional Institution.

 

On the Inside | Jackson’s entry into corrections began in 1989 when she got a job in the personnel office at the Lebanon Correctional Institution, north of Cincinnati, where her husband was a corrections officer. She had no contact with inmates and never considered a career in corrections, but the seeds of her future were planted.

Life-Changing Event | The death of her husband in a boating accident in 1991 caused her to reevaluate her life and work. “I had not seriously thought of running a prison, but I knew I wanted to do something more challenging than personnel. I started setting goals, and I thought with my business degree I could become an administrator handling budget issues, or a deputy warden.”

The Big House | She earned her master’s degree in criminal justice, and in 1993, Anthony Brigano, a 1975 graduate and warden of the Warren (Ohio) Correctional Institution, appointed her deputy warden. She was responsible for eight major prison operations.

On Top | “It’s like a little city and you’re the city manager. You have to make sure it operates efficiently. Becoming deputy warden was the toughest transition I ever made. I felt I had to really prove myself, being a female and with only three years with the state.”

In Charge | Seven years later, she was appointed warden of the Dayton Correctional Institution—although she initially hesitated because by then she was remarried and had two children. She became warden at Warren in July 2002 when Brigano moved to Lebanon.

On Guard | Jackson is responsible for the welfare of 1,056 inmates and the safety of 420 employees. The inmates are all men and all felons.

Full House | Among the inmates: Donald Harvey, the nurse convicted of poisoning more than 30 patients at a Cincinnati hospital.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T | Jackson requires inmates to address her as Warden Jackson. On her weekly rounds, she meets face-to-face with inmates. Though unaccompanied, she remains in radio contact with guards in observation rooms.

Turn Around | She avoids reading the inmates’ files because knowing their heinous crimes might cloud her ability to treat each fairly. Her hope: They are rehabilitated while incarcerated.

Balancing Act | “That’s the balance we have to stay focused on—providing security and rehabilitation. When they leave, they will have had the chance to do something to change the way they think about things and maybe change their behavior.”

Suzanne Lunsford

Suzanne Lunsford Bachelor of Science in chemistry, 1990; Ph.D. in analytical chemistry, University of Cincinnati, 1995 | Ohio baton twirling champion, U.S. Twirling Association, age 11; Xavier pep band twirler, 1986-1990; Assistant professor of chemistry, Wright State University.

Seeds of Perfection | Lunsford began baton twirling at age 4. At age 7, she joined a drum and bugle corps that won national competitions. She twirled her way through high school near Cincinnati, where she performed in a blue and gold sequined suit.

Hazards of the Twirl | “On a windy day you can break your fingers. I haven’t actually broken them, but I’ve had them so blue it hurt.”

Peppy Performance | As a pep band member, she entertained Xavier basketball crowds with her twirling, flinging her baton to the rafters and catching it blind, or tossing it to the rhythm of the band. She became a favorite of many fans who admired her skills.

Performing Science | Little did her fans know that behind the scenes, Lunsford was conducting another performance—in the chemistry lab. It turns out the blonde-haired, blue-eyed twirler was not a “dumb blonde,” as she puts it, but one of only two chemistry majors who graduated in 1990. “People don’t realize when you take a shower or drink a Coke or brush your teeth, it’s all chemistry.”

Perfecting Science | Not the type to do anything halfway, Lunsford took her interest in chemistry to the highest level by pursuing her doctorate. For her dissertation research, she delved into the detection of neurotransmitters in the brain with an electrode she perfected made of glassy carbon and platinum.

Detective Work | The purpose of the electrode was to predict the onset of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases and to allow for preventive treatment. By the time she completed her doctorate, the electrode was being tested in rats.

Pay Back Time | Now she concentrates on teaching the next generation of scientists. At Wright State University, near Dayton, Ohio, she helped put together the Master of Science program with a grant she wrote. Her focus is helping high school teachers earn their master’s degrees to generate greater interest in science among high school students. “The rate of people becoming scientists has really declined, and how do we get people excited about it if we don’t teach it?”

Jack “Jake” Ruppert

Jack “Jake” Ruppert Bachelor of Arts in English, 1956 | Senior Partner, Ruppert Associates, Cincinnati.

Gridiron Glories | Ruppert played guard and linebacker on the University football team from 1953-1955. “We had a pretty good team the last year we were there,” he says. “We went 7-2. We beat UC, 37-0. We had some great players: Steve Junker who played for the Detroit Lions, Frank Sweeney, who’s on the Supreme Court of Ohio, Don St. John and James “Dutch” Schwartz. I was a so-so player. For a kid from Norwood, Ohio, though, I did OK.”

Semper Fi | While at the University, Ruppert was part of a U.S. Marine Corps officer candidate school that also produced, among others, future success stories Michael Conaton, vice chairman of the Midland Co. and chairman of Xavier’s board of trustees, and Simon Leis, crusading sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio. Following graduation, Ruppert was commissioned a lieutenant in the Marines and headed for basic training at Quantico, Va. After eight grueling months of training, he became a platoon leader.

Awash in Soap | When his military obligation ended in 1958, Ruppert joined Procter & Gamble in sales management. “I sold a lot of soap, whether they needed it or not,” he says. After 33 years managing various sales divisions, Ruppert retired in 1991. “I figured that one-third of a century doing anything is enough,” he says.

A Writer’s Life | With time on his hands after retiring, Ruppert turned his attention to writing. He wrote a commentary and humor column for a local community newspaper for five years, and in 1998 decided to write a book about the Marines. “It occurred to me that I am who I am basically because of the solid middle-class family that I had and the Marine Corps.”

Order of the Day | Ruppert’s book, “One of Us,” was released in June to glowing reviews. The book offers an insider’s look at the selection and training of officers in the Marine Corps, and compares the attitudes of Ruppert’s 1956 basic officers’ school class with those of a 2000 class.

The Rigors of Research | Ruppert researched “One of Us” by following a Marine officer-selection officer on recruiting trips to colleges, observing new candidates during their first several days at Quantico and making 10 visits to the base over an 18-month period to interview staff and candidates. He also conducted market research surveys to compare the attitudes, opinions and backgrounds of the two generations.

Apples to Apples | Ruppert expected widely varying differences in the attitudes of the two generations. But he was in for a shock. “They’re so close in attitude it’s scary,” he says. “Their backgrounds are remarkably close, and there are lots of similar opinions and value judgments. Something about the Marine Corps just attracts people who want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”

Brian McInerney

Brian McInerney Bachelor of Arts in international affairs, 1998; law degree from DePaul University, 2001 | Consular officer at the American Embassy in Dublin, Ireland.

Testing, Testing | While working for the attorney general in Illinois, McInerney took a series of tests to qualify as a government official. “I got a letter that said if I changed my specialty to consul that I would get an immediate appointment. So I switched from political to consul work and was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Dublin.”

Yes or No Man | McInerney’s job is to interview people requesting visas to the United States and decide whether or not they get one. “I ask them questions to determine if they’re coming back to Ireland. Someone came in recently who has only lived here two months and doesn’t have any ties. She didn’t get a visa.”

Out of Africa | For some types of visas, the embassy charges people what their country charges Americans for the same visa. “An African girl came in not too long after I started. I explained that a six-month visa cost $100 and a 24-month visa was $300. She said she did not have the money, and I told her that as soon as the cost in her country went down, ours would go down. Then she said, ‘My father is the president and I’m going to make sure that cost changes.’ ”

Nice Seeing U2 | When Secretary for Health and Human Resources Tommy Thompson came to Dublin, McInerney was assigned as his site officer to handle any contingency that might arise. “Before his meeting, he had an informal meeting with [U2 lead singer] Bono. I didn’t get to say anything to Bono, but I did get to see him.”

Passing the Bar | “My family is from western Ireland, from a town called Liscannor. I’ve been there to see the grave sites. I’ve gone to the town where one of my great-great-grandmothers had a bar next to St. Brigid’s well, which is supposed to have healing qualities. We drank from the well since the bars were closed for a holiday.”

Family Affair | His wife, Jessica Hansberry, earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications at Xavier in 2000.

Small World | “I listen to the Xavier basketball games on the Internet.”

Up Next | He’s stationed in Ireland for two years, after which he’ll be assigned to another two-year post elsewhere.