Putting a Face on Xavier

Beth Bowman and her husband, Ted, were all set to help their son, Charlie, with his college search when they realized they had a daunting task in front of them. Not only were they searching for a perfect match to Charlie’s thirst for Latin and Greek languages and history, but they were struggling to find any firsthand insight about the schools they looked at. “We didn’t hear anything from parents or alumni of other schools,” says Beth. Except, she says, from one school: Xavier.

Last fall, the University created the parent and alumni recruitment team, better known as PART. The interdisciplinary organization spawned from a collaborative effort between the office of admission and the national alumni association as an effort to generate alumni and parent involvement and to help ease the burden from the University’s nine admission counselors. PART’s goal is to train parents and alumni on how to help recruit students to Xavier.

PART volunteers represent Xavier at college fairs, deliver materials to high schools, place phone calls to parents of prospective students and participate in other admission events. Those who know the University are always the best sources of advertising. Charlie Bowman—now a sophomore in the honors bachelor of arts program—is a good example.

Eager to share the positive influence they had with helping Charlie, Beth contacted Lisa Burns, PART director, to see what she and her husband could do. After receiving a list of area high schools in the Toledo, Ohio, area where they live, they agreed to host a luncheon for guidance counselors. Everyone who was invited showed up—plus some extras.

Counselors and parents approached Beth and Ted, chatting with them about the Xavier experience, eventually asking them if they worked for Xavier. “When I would say, ‘No, I’m a parent,’ they’d be blown away,” says Beth. “There was a human face attached and not just an admission viewbook. Parents enjoy talking to other parents.”

Next on the Bowman’s agenda is a send-off party in honor of the 30 newly accepted freshmen from Toledo, giving them a chance to connect with each other before heading off to the University in August. As for the Bowmans, they have never been more proud to spread the word about Xavier.

“I can unabashedly say to parents that it is a wonderful place,” says Beth.

Parents and alumni are already natural recruiters because of their interest in and enthusiasm about the University, says Burns. When combined with some training, they have the potential to become some of the most powerful and effective ambassadors for recruiting students.

Just ask Charlie Bowman.

Patriotic Pitch

In a dusty Internet tent constructed on an Army base about 60 miles north of Baghdad and several thousand miles from Cincinnati, Jeff Brown, a 1997 graduate and 1st Lt. in the Kentucky Army National Guard, checks his e-mail. He finds a new message from fellow classmate Bryan Kirby saying that he’s arranged for a special event when Brown returns home on leave in July. He’s going to throw out the first pitch at a Cincinnati Reds game.

For Brown, it’s a true honor. Brown loves the Reds. He regularly reads up on the team via the Web. Friends mail him game programs. His wife, Suzi, sends him Cracker Jacks to commemorate Opening Day. His mother clips and mails daily sports columns. And when he’s on a convoy, he always travels with a ball he got at batting practice before a Reds game.

Knowing his dedication to the team, Kirby connected with Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty and made a pitch to the Reds: Let Brown throw out the first pitch at a Reds game on July 4. It doesn’t get more patriotic than that. The Reds agreed, so Brown found himself on the pitcher’s mound prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians making the ceremonial first pitch. It was a strike—at least with Brown.

“It’s nice to share that moment with my wife and my best friend and our city,” Brown says.

Membership Privileges

There are a number of benefits to alumni status besides discounted basketball tickets and networking opportunities, one being the chance to take classes without ever having to sweat through a final again. At this year’s reunion weekend, 272 members signed up for the “classes without quizzes” seminars, which ranged in topics from tai chi and Jesuit history to wine-tasting and gender communication.

The entire weekend celebration honored Xavier and Edgecliff classes with years that ended in a 4 or a 9, with approximately 1,000 alumni coming back to campus for the celebration. Events throughout the weekend included a golf scramble, lectures and cocktail parties. Those attending also had the option of staying at one of the on-campus residence halls in order to help relive their college days—this time without the resident assistant hounding them to keep it down.

Look Mom, No Wires

Xavier students can now go online without going indoors. This summer, the University installed wireless technology in the academic mall, making that area the fourth wireless computer environment on campus, along with the Gallagher Student Center, the Cohen Center and the McDonald Library.

Wireless technology allows users to access the University’s computer network or the Internet without plugging into a wall jack. JoAnne Young, associate vice president for library services, says going wireless reflects the changing face of education.

“It allows us to respond to the way students learn today,” she says. “They’re much more flexible. They’re not used to sitting in a fixed, rigid environment.”

And this isn’t the end, says Dorinda Giles, associate vice president for information systems and services: “There are plans to expand our capabilities every year.”

Liberal Artist

In hindsight, Elizabeth Shortt says, the signs were clear. There was the fateful day a third grade teacher in Nottawa, Canada, took her aside and said, in no uncertain terms, that she must become an artist. Then there was the high school aptitude test. “Everybody else got a profession,” Shortt says. “Mine came back ‘Adventurer.’ ”

Talent and an adventurous spirit are, at the least, prerequisites for life as a successful artist. And Shortt, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drawing and painting, seems to have plenty of both. In the past year, her installations and large-scale figurative paintings have appeared in six shows. This spring, for the third consecutive year, she received a grant from the Three Arts Scholarship Fund. And this fall, she begins a new adventure—working on a master’s degree at the Edinburgh College of Art and Design in Scotland.

Pretty encouraging stuff, not that Shortt needs much encouragement. She’s painted and drawn since kindergarten. And being an artist suits her temperament. “I am not meant to be a doctor or anything like that,” she says. “I think it’s almost more of a personality trait than anything.”

But anyone looking to put an easy, otherworldly artist stereotype on Shortt should think again. “I’m really competitive,” she says. “If you aren’t competitive or have imagination about future goals, you won’t improve.”

The fuel that fires Shortt’s imagination can come from anywhere. Most recently, she’s been fascinated with the idea of energy, tempered with a bit of Eastern philosophy. “That’s why I’m glad I didn’t wind up at an art school—I really learned to appreciate all of the other classes I had to take at Xavier,” she says. “In the case of energy, I’m interested in the science of it—how entropy works on the level of basic science and how you can relate that to communities of people. Societies with the most energy are often the least stable. Things in nature are apt to become more chaotic the more energy they have. And I also relate it to balance and harmony, which is a lot of what Buddhists and Confucianists believe.”

Shortt’s own energies aren’t focused entirely on the visual arts. She’s also a classical pianist, graduating two hours short of a minor in music, and her most recent installation combined drawings and sound. “I think there are more connections between not only painting and music but between all disciplines that people don’t often think about,” she says. “I think that’s also what a liberal arts education is supposed to do: focus on the relationship between the different disciplines.”

Where all this will lead, not even Shortt can imagine, at least not yet. Planning too much, after all, would spoil the adventure. “That’s what I’m doing,” she says. “I’m adventuring.”

Hot Shots

Jay Kletecka has a degree in finance and makes his living as a math teacher, but his real future may lie in the numbers he adds up on the Pop-A-Shot arcade game. The 2001 graduate is a master of the game in which players compete to see how many baskets they can make in a minute. And his skill is decidedly big time—earlier this year it landed him television spots on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Fox Sports’ “The Best Damn Sports Show Ever.”

The seeds of Kletecka’s success were sown at age 12 when he won the first of two Pop-A-Shot machines in shooting competitions sponsored by the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. Last September, when some of his fellow teachers saw him in action, they spread the word. Kimmel flew him to Hollywood for a May 6 appearance. On the Fox show on June 16, he faced 2003 NBA rookie of the year Amare Stoudemire. Kletecka outgunned Stoudemire 106-38.

With these triumphs behind him, Kletecka is looking for new worlds to conquer, and he’s ready to take on all comers. “I’ve been waiting for this for 12 years,” he says.

Home at Last

Xavier alumni will soon have a place to call their own. This summer, the University began remodeling a portion of the Alumni Center to create a reception and banquet facility for visiting graduates and dignitaries. The area’s creation came as a result of a gift from 1968 graduate Phil Gasiewicz and his wife, 1974 graduate Mary-Beth (Surkamp) Gasiewicz.

Plans include a lobby and welcome area, a conference room, bar and banquet hall that seats 200 people. The banquet hall is outfitted with the latest technology for use in seminars, workshops, meetings and informal business events, as well as alumni gatherings.

“Phil’s vision is to make a positive impact upon the University,” says Fred Sansone, director for planned giving for the Eastern region. “His donation represents a very structured and well-thought-out planned gift that will help with all alumni who come through.”

The idea of a central gathering place for Xavier alumni has been a long-term goal, says Joe Ventura, executive director for the national alumni association. “This has been in talks for many years and now, finally, it’s like a dream come true,” he says.

The Gasiewicz family also set up a scholarship and donated funds for the Brueggeman center for dialogue.

Helping Your Child Succeed at Xavier

You may be wondering how your student can achieve academic success. You, as the parent, are an important resource for your child’s support and success. Therefore, it is important for you to know what tools are available on campus to help your student succeed.

At Xavier, the learning assistance center (LAC) is committed to helping your child succeed and provides several services with this goal in mind. If your child needs extra help developing study skills, such as note taking, time management or test taking strategies, the LAC has certified peer tutors who offer individual and group workshops to help your student improve these skills.If your child needs assistance understanding the content of a course, he or she can sign up for an appointment for one-on-one tutoring through the LAC.

For students who need occasional help in a class, the LAC offers drop-in tutoring in economics, French, Spanish, music theory, philosophy and others. No appointment is necessary; the student needs only to stop by during the designated time.

The LAC also organizes study groups in general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and college physics. These groups are facilitated by a trained peer tutor, meet once a week and foster community learning.

The LAC also provides disability services. If your child has a disability, please remind him or her to send documentation to the LAC. At the beginning of each semester, your student needs to fill out the form to request faculty letters. If you think your child may have a learning disability, encourage him or her to make an appointment with Ann Dinan, the director of the LAC. She can refer students to psychological services for testing.

Coaching is the most recent service that has been added to our office. Coaching is an ongoing partnership between the coach and the student to help the student set and achieve goals in his or her academic live. Both the director and assistant director can provide this service. We invite your child to visit our office to discuss his or her academic needs. We can then suggest which services would best fit these needs. Our services are free to Xavier students, and we are here to help at all levels in their academic careers.

Learning Assistance Center 3800 Victory Parkway Cincinnati, Ohio 45207-2612 Phone 513 745-3214 Fax 513 745-3387

Office hours: M-F 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

(Stephanie Mosier is the assistant director of the learning assistance center.)

Extra Credit: Amos Yong

On the surface, Amos Yong would seem a study in contradictions—an inclusivist Pentecostal minister who teaches at a Baptist college and embraces Buddhism. But that’s not the case. Yong is a native of West Malaysia, but his family moved to the United States where his parents worked as missionaries among the Chinese people of California. Yong has lived and worked on both coasts, is now on the faculty of Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., and this fall serves as the Edward B. Brueggeman chair in theology and dialogue.

Explain a bit about the Christian Pentecostal tradition.

Pentecostals came out of the Fundamentalist and Holiness movement at the turn of the 20th century in reaction to two things: liberalism and an intra-fundamentalist struggle. Both Pentecostals and Fundamentalists are fairly literalist in how they look at scripture. But Fundamentalists think certain gifts of Holy Spirit and miracles are limited to the apostolic age. Pentecostals are experientialist insofar as they think that these things continue. Fundamentalists say Pentecostals are liberal.

How do you tie together the various theological elements in your background?

I’m not sure I do. A good Pentecostal analogy is that on the day of Pentecost there was a diversity of languages, but a kind of unity. I sort of blame the Holy Spirit for all this. My interest in Buddhism is part of a lifelong interest in Asian religious traditions. As I’m getting older, I want to learn more about my cultural history. So it’s partly a self-journey for me, but because I’m a theologian, it raises those issues as well.

What led you to accept the Brueggeman chair?

My interest is in the theology of religions, and I was familiar with the work of [professor emeritus] Paul Knitter. I saw this as an opportunity for someone who’s not only Pentecostal but moves in Evangelical circles to build some bridges with the broader Christian communities, in particular the Catholic, Jesuit community.

Education:

Bachelor of Arts in ministry from Bethany College, Santa Cruz, Calif., 1987

Master of Arts in historical theology from Western Evangelical Seminary, Portland, 1993

Master of Arts in history of philosophy from Portland State University, Portland, 1995

Doctorate in religion and theology from Boston University, Boston, 1999

Easy Rider

“I hung up my long distance spurs today,” says Fred Evans, an hour after walking through the door of his Sunapee, N.H., home. In June, the 73-year-old Evans rode his 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle more than 3,000 miles to Xavier to attend reunion weekend. The 1954 graduate left on May 28 and arrived in Cincinnati on June 2 after a short stop in Washington, D.C., to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“Not everybody gets to go to their reunion, but hardly anyone arrives on a Harley,” Evans says.

This isn’t the first time Evans has made such an arduous journey. A graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Evans often attends its reunions via his hog as well. As a Xavier student, he regularly rode a motorcycle to school and went on long-distance rides with fellow classmate Don Hills. In fact, he’s ridden through every U.S. state—minus Utah and Hawaii—and six Canadian provinces.

During the alumni brunch, the University inducted Evans and his classmates into the half-century club and presented them with a “doctor of durability” award. And Evans certainly earned it.