Counting on a New Study

Most bird biologists go into forests to estimate the number of birds for major population counts. Last winter, associate professor of biology George Farnsworth tested whether birds can count for themselves.

Farnsworth, who earned his Ph.D. at North Carolina State University, spent the winter filming birds landing at his homemade feeder. Farnsworth had studied wood thrush populations in the Smoky Mountains before joining Xavier’s biology faculty in 2003 and spent his first year studying whether birds can distinguish between different amounts of food.

It’s a logical question, considering studies of monkeys, pigeons and even salamanders found that animals know the difference.

In Farnsworth’s tests, a wild mockingbird who visited his wooden feeder in January was offered roasted mealworms in two plastic tubes. Each tube had matchsticks inserted in the sides, preventing the worms from falling out. The bird would remove the matchsticks to get the worms.

Farnsworth varied the tests by changing the number of mealworms in each tube or the number of matchsticks that had to be removed. His theory was the bird would figure out the least effort necessary to obtain the most food. It didn’t work out quite that way. The bird he filmed went randomly from one tube to the next, regardless of the number of worms or matchsticks.

But the third test was the kicker: eight mealworms in one tube versus zero in the other, and one matchstick in each. Ten of 12 times, the bird went first for the tube stuffed with tasty mealworms.

“It means he understands there was no food in the other,” Farnsworth says.

But it still doesn’t prove that birds can count. Farnsworth plans to change his experiment, repeat the study this winter and hope for a flock of results. He, for one, is counting on it.

Cookin’ with Elvis

What began as an auction item at a neighborhood church festival—a barbecue dinner to the highest bidder—has turned into a very delectable hobby for three alumni. The trio—1982 graduate Steve Donnellon, his daughter and 2003 graduate Kate, and former Xavier student Tom Brinkman—turned their one-time barbecuing-for-God effort into a full-blown serious hobby that consumes entire weekends and up to $750 a pop.

The group hitched up a smoker the size of a small locomotive that was created by a welder friend and took their show on the road, wheeling the giant grill into Nelsonville, Ohio, for the Ohio Smoked Meat & Barbeque Festival. They entered every category they could—brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ribs, fish and dessert—and fired up the coals. They didn’t win anything, but the experience was so great they were hooked.

That was in 1998. They’ve been back every year since except once, staying up all Friday night smoking tough beef and pork into melt-in-your mouth delicacies laced with sweet, spicy sauce. They have notched some wins along the way, too, including two first places for ribs and dessert and a second place for smoked salmon. They expanded their smokin’ to contests in the barbeque capital of the nation, Kansas City, as well as Blue Ash, Ohio, and Madison, Ind., their favorite site on the Ohio River.

They’ve also picked up a nickname for the team—the Smokin’ Elvises—and are now accompanied by a life-sized Elvis cardboard cutout and an occasional visit from a friend dressed up like the King.

“It kind of took on a life of its own,” Donnellon says. “We like to barbeque, and we thought of the name because we all like Elvis. Memphis is like a barbeque mecca, and I’m a real Elvis fan. Isn’t everybody?”

Chapter Spotlight: New York City

In a city famous for its pizza, bagels and cheesecake, it’s comforting to know that alumni living in New York City haven’t forgotten Cincinnati specialties. This summer, members of the New York chapter—including a few Long Island imports—gathered in Central Park for “Taste of Cincinnati.” The event included LaRosa’s salad dressing, Montgomery Inn barbecue sauce, Busken cookies and—what else—Skyline chili. The only no-show was Graeter’s ice cream.

“I’d love to bring back Graeter’s, but trying to keep it frozen in Central Park is a little tricky,” says chapter president Terri Daly. Geographically, it’s difficult to attract alumni outside of the metro area. “Typically, people who live in Manhattan don’t go to Long Island and people from Long Island don’t come to Manhattan,” says Daly. However, the event attracted a mix of people, proving that big appetites know no boundaries.

Bilingual Medicine

The first student to go through the nursing department’s Hispanic concentration took her education to the streets of Costa Rica. What better way to practice your profession and your passion at the same time?

That’s what Jessica Montrie was thinking when she signed up for the International Volunteer Program, which sent her to Heredia and San Jose in the Central American country for six weeks this summer. Jessica and fellow nursing graduate Erin McCafferty paid for the chance to live with host families, volunteer in an orphanage and an AIDS clinic, and take Spanish language classes while immersed in the culture. It was cheaper than moving to Spain for the summer to learn the language, and their résumés look all the better for it.

“My great-grandpa was born in Mexico, so I’ve always had an interest in learning Spanish,” says Montrie, who lived in Spain for three weeks after high school. “I fell in love with Spanish culture.”

Both graduates plan to practice bilingual nursing, and while McCafferty is now working at the Cleveland Clinic, Montrie’s first job is at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, where she’ll have plenty of chances to practice her recently honed language skills. The Cincinnati area’s Hispanic population has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, which means more sick Spanish-speaking children will need her translating skills at the hospital.

Eventually armed with a medical translating license, she may find the Spanish culture she’s in love with is right here at home.

Card-carrying Caregivers

The office of student success and retention receives about 6,000 calls from both students and parents each year—a sure sign that everyone needs an occasional arm around the shoulder. To give parents further reassurance that their freshman son or daughter is in the right hands, the office created its parents participation program.

“Including parents in the process is part of the success of retention,” says Adrian Schiess, director for student retention services. Freshman parents not only receive brochures and surveys throughout the year, but a parent’s card that includes a picture of his or her child along with spaces for the student’s phone number, address and I.D. number as well as numbers for contacting pertinent University offices. Cards have gone out every July since 1991, with some parents carrying them long after the first year.

“I know a father of a graduating senior who still carries his parent’s card,” says Schiess. “It helps him remember what his daughter was like four years ago when this was all new.”

Profile: Paul L. Lindsay Jr.

Paul L. Lindsay Jr. | Bachelor of Arts in English literature, 1956 | Volunteer, Office of Development, Xavier University

Campus Career | Lindsay recently retired after a 34-year career at the University. He served as alumni director from 1970-1977, then moved on to be associate vice president for university relations and director of planned giving from 1977-1989. He gave up the reins of planned giving in 1989, but remained until this year. But his roots at Xavier stretch back to his undergraduate days in the early 1950s, when 60 percent of the students commuted and most of the faculty were Jesuits.

A World Away | When Lindsay arrived at Xavier in 1952, the campus had a very different look. “We had one dormitory: Elet Hall,” he says. “Then we had the wooden Army barracks along Herald Avenue, where the academic mall is today. They had pot-bellied stoves and housed eight people.”

A Song of Friendship | At the University, Lindsay joined the Clef Club and uncovered a talent for singing. He now sings in his church choir and in the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick glee club, and does some volunteer performances. “The other great memory is the camraderie of our class,” he says. “We only had about 250. Those friendships have lasted a lifetime.”

Coming Home | After graduation, Lindsay spent two years in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division before starting a career in business. But he kept close to Xavier as a volunteer for the annual fund drives before taking over as head of the fledgling alumni association.

A Grassroots Effort | As alumni director, Lindsay played a key role in the annual fund drives, which then focused largely on Cincinnati. “We would designate one Sunday in spring as Xavier Sunday, announce it by mail and in the University magazine, and have 300-400 volunteers going door-to-door seeking pledges.”

Keep on Giving | Today, Lindsay continues to volunteer at the University. Looking back at past accomplishments, he is particularly proud of helping establish the Downing Scholars Program—the first $1 million scholarship not funded by a bequest—as well as the continued development and strength of the national alumni association, the growth in the generosity of alumni and his 34-year parallel role as volunteer spokesman for the class of 1956. “Then, seeing their sons and daughters come to Xavier—that was great stuff,” he says.

Profile: C. John Stechschulte, M.D.

C. John Stechschulte, M.D. | Attended Xavier University in pre-med, 1948-1951 | Retired pediatrician and former chief of staff at St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio

Chasing an Ideal | Stechschulte entered the University at age 17 as a pre-med student. He participated in student government and was in the band—not as a musician but as a designer of props for the halftime shows. He also took part in a well-publicized freshman revolt against class beanies.

War Intervenes | By 1951, Stechschulte joined the military to fight in the Korean War. “I enlisted in the Navy over Christmas when suddenly my medical school acceptance came through from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine—along with a military deferment,” he says. “So with three years of pre-med, including two summer sessions—and without my degree—I went to med school.”

Shifting Priorities | In medical school, Stechschulte’s primary interest was in becoming a surgeon. But after his internship at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, he was called into the United States Air Force and assigned to pediatric care, ironically his poorest subject in medical school. “It wasn’t long until I decided that I liked pediatrics better then surgery,” he says.

Making an Impact | Stechschulte began his practice in 1960. In those days, he recalls, it was common to make house calls at 6:00 a.m., visit the hospital to see sick children and newborns, then start office hours at 8:00 a.m. In 1962, Stechschulte successfully cared for a premature baby who weighed 1 pound, 1 ounce. Several years later he was the attending physician at the birth of quadruplets—a rarity in those days. “They did well, grew and were perfectly normal,” he says. “Needless to say, this did no harm to my practice.”

Rabid Publicity | In 1970, he was a major player in the first recognized case of rabies survival. He was called to treat a 5-year-old boy who had been bitten by a rabid bat. Stechschulte and his associate, Dr. Tom Weis, treated the child with assistance from the Centers for Disease Control. The success landed them in Time and Newsweek magazines.

The Half-Century Club | Active in the pro-life movement, Stechschulte and his wife, Susan, received the Mercy Club Award from St. Rita’s Medical Center for their humanitarian efforts in 1987. Stechschulte retired in 1994, and the couple now lives in Ocala, Fla., where they recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, an event attended by their seven children and the majority of their 16 grandchildren.

Profile: Fannie Ernestine Motley

Fannie Ernestine Motley | Master of Arts in education, 1969 | Retired teacher, Cincinnati

Making History | Seven years before George Wallace tried to block integration of the University of Alabama, Motley was preparing to become the first black student to graduate from Spring Hill College, the Jesuit university in Mobile, Ala. She had enrolled shortly after the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision—the first black student to attend Spring Hill.

Making News | Her graduation in 1956 with a degree in history caused a stir. Stories and photos appeared in the New York Times and Jet and Timemagazines.

Making Sense | “Rosa Parks and I had the same philosophy,” Motley says. “She was just tired and wasn’t trying to integrate the buses. Me, I went to Spring Hill not to break any records or the color line. It was just convenient for me to go to college and take care of my children and get my degree from a reputable school.”

Honors | In May, Spring Hill celebrated 50 years of integration by awarding Motley the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Though somber during the ceremony, she was masking her elation inside. “I felt real good and thankful to the Lord that I lived 48 years past the time to be able to see and participate in it.”

The Rest of the Story | It was Motley’s late husband, the Rev. Douglas L. Motley Sr., who pushed her to apply. “When the Brown decision came through, I’d finished junior college [at Alabama State] and he said, ‘You can go to Spring Hill now and finish your college work,’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to go be with those white folks. I don’t know nothing about white folks.’ ”

The Resistance | “I resisted because of myths I’d heard that all these white folks had all these fine schools and were so smart and they would push me in the back. I didn’t know how I’d be accepted. I don’t even know if I’d met any white people except the Watkins man selling products door to door.”

Campus Life | Motley says the welcome she received at Spring Hill surprised and encouraged her. She carried more than a full load and graduated with honors.

Up North | Motley came to Cincinnati in 1963 when her husband became pastor of Peace Baptist Church. She taught for 24 years in the Cincinnati Public Schools. In 1969 she earned a master’s degree in guidance counseling from Xavier. When her husband died in January, she moved to Jeffersonville, Ind., to be near her son.

The Chair | There is a chair she has kept commemorating the night Martin Luther King Jr., a friend of her brother, joined her family for dinner. A sign on the chair reads: “Martin Luther King Jr. sat in this chair at our house on Oct. 10, 1964.”

JAA Accolades

Movies have their Oscars, music has its Grammys and Jesuits have the JAA awards. At the 2004 Jesuit Advancement Administrators national conference at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Xavier took home three awards in alumni relations, development and multi-media. The University received special recognition for the Crosstown Helpout, annual fund and Xavier magazine online.

And with sunny California weather and sandy beaches, who needs a red carpet?

Honoring a Friend

Janice Meyer arrived at Edgecliff College in 1969 to study art. But she left in 1973 with more than a degree—she found a mentor and lifetime friend in Sr. Ann Beiersdorfer. So when Beiersdorfer retired in 2002 after 42 years, Meyer decided to honor her by establishing a scholarship in her name.

“No one deserves to be remembered more than Sr. Ann,” Meyer says. “Hundreds of students benefited from her inexhaustible source of inspiration. She sees the best in everyone, and therefore brings out the best in everyone. Her love, her patience and her undying devotion to her students are things I know I will never forget and for which I am forever grateful.”

The scholarship goes to a student in need of financial assistance, demonstrates a love of learning and gives witness to the values of Xavier University. The first preference is to someone who lost a parent and is related to an Edgecliff graduate. The scholarship provides $1,200 annually to one student for four years. For her part, Beiersdorfer says she’s humbled. But the students, not her, are the real focus.

“If a student wants a Xavier education, this will help them get it,” she says. “That means a lot to me.”