Neighborhood Vision

The University was awarded a $50,000 3M Foundation Vision Grant that is being used to create a collaborative with the neighboring Evanston Business Association to revitalize the Montgomery Road business corridor.

The effort is part of a community revitalization partnership between Xavier and Evanston that is being funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under the program, M.B.A. students collect data and business assessments to create plans for existing and start-up businesses in the area. “Rather than working through case studies,” says Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business, “students engage with actual consumers and business owners as they address the issues facing urban markets.”

Remembering Rebecca

On April 10, 1992, Rebecca Sewell-Cummings made history. The junior accounting major “crossed the line” and became the first member inducted into the University’s first black sorority. Although she was the shortest of the 10 inductees, her petite stature belied her abilities. She was a mighty dynamo committed to starting the Delta Sigma Theta chapter on campus, and she lived her life with the same intensity—always giving, always finding time for others.

Following graduation in 1993, Sewell worked her way up the career ladder in the accounting field. She volunteered in her community, served in the U.S. Army Reserves, married her college sweetheart and started a family with him.

Earlier this year, though, the intensity came to an end. Her life was cut short during the birth of her second child. With her husband, Christopher Cummings, at her side, she delivered baby Pilar, but doctors couldn’t stop the hemorrhaging. She died Feb. 13, leaving a host of grieving family members, friends and sorority sisters.

Now, Xavier’s chapter is honoring her by establishing a scholarship in her name to help other outstanding African-American students at Xavier.

“The sorority is sponsoring this scholarship because she was very influential and very vocal in establishing the chapter,” says Kelley Webb, a senior finance major and chapter member. “She had a beautiful spirit,” says sorority sister Kim Hull, a 1992 graduate who was inducted into the chapter with Sewell. “She was sincerely a people person. OShe always kept in touch. Everyone that knew Becky loved her.”

Membership in the sorority does that to people. They share so much—time, service, friendship—that they create a sisterhood. It lasts long after the young women graduate from college and helps them network socially, professionally and politically. It builds strength, confidence and character. Through the sorority’s five-pronged mission statement, it helps bolster the strengths of the nation’s African-American communities.

Founded in 1913 at Howard University, Delta Sigma Theta’s focus was scholastic and political activism for black women. Members participated in the 1913 Women’s Suffragette March. They fought injustice by pushing for anti-lynching laws and fought illiteracy by sending bookmobiles into isolated southern communities. And they paid the legal expenses of students arrested during the civil rights movement.

Today, the sorority concentrates on social issues such as women’s rights, the needs of single parents and the welfare of black children. Famous Deltas include former Congress-woman Barbara Jordan, activist Mary McLeod Bethune, Olympian Wilma Rudolph, president of the National Council of Negro Women Dorothy Height, actress Ruby Dee, singer Aretha Franklin and author Nikki Giovanni.

The sorority’s mission of public service is based on five values: economic development, educational development, international awareness and involvement, health, and political awareness and involvement. Xavier’s chapter holds annual health fairs and financial aid seminars. New members are chosen each year based on academic achievement, character and community service.

The scholarship fund is taking applications in September from African-American sophomores, juniors and seniors. The winner is being announced at a scholarship brunch in October.

The first scholarship is $500 for books and supplies for the spring 2006 semester. Future awards are expected to be larger, eventually full tuition, and may be given to a male and female student each year, Webb says. The organization is raising money now for the scholarship by holding fundraisers and appealing to chapter alumnae.

One surely touched by the scholarship is Sewell’s mother, Anna Sewell, who recently had her daughter’s two children for a summer visit.

“It’s a beautiful tribute to her,” she says. “She was always a giver. She always had this smile, and anything she could do, she’d do it for you. It’s just hitting me now because she was always here with the kids, and she’d call every weekend. I think I’m still waiting for that call.”

Leading the League

University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., was elected president of the Atlantic 10 Conference Presidents’ Council, which is the conference’s ultimate governing body. The president of the council provides direction to the presidents as they assist the commissioner with the overall management of the conference.

Diamond Days

Jay Johnson, a senior outfielder on the Xavier baseball team, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 13th round of the Major League Baseball Draft, becoming the 19th Musketeer to move into the professional ranks. Johnson posted a .349 batting average this season and led the team in 14 offensive categories. He ended his career as the all-time leader for hits with 256 and a .338 career batting average.

Johnson was the 408th overall pick, making him the fourth-highest player drafted in Xavier history, and is the first Musketeer to be picked since 2001 when the Florida Marlins selected Kevin Cave in the 17th round. The only other players drafted higher than Johnson were Richard Donnelly (158th pick in 1967), Michael Scuglik (375th pick in 1999) and Lou Witte (381st pick in 1999). Former Xavier outfielder Matt Watson, who was the 480th pick in the 1999 draft, is the only Musketeer to reach the majors. He now plays for the Oakland A’s.

Coach’s Corner

Scott Googins became the University’s head baseball coach in June, replacing Dan Simonds, who returned to Miami University to take over that school’s head coaching duties. Googins was an assistant with Simonds at Miami and came with him to Xavier last year. Before that he was an assistant for eight years at Indiana University. The Granville, Ohio, native was a catcher at Ohio Wesleyan University and is married to Jody Dascoli, a former Xavier volleyball standout.

Clearly Clary

Tennis player Lauren Clary graduated in June, but she didn’t leave empty-handed. Clary was one of just 29 female athletes nationally awarded an NCAA postgraduate scholarship, which she’s using to pursue her doctorate of psychology at Saint Louis University.

She was also one of just six athletes nationally to earn the NCAA Sportsmanship Award. Her 3.88 grade point average helped her earn several more awards, as well, including: Atlantic 10 Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year; ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-America Team; District IV All-Academic Team for the second consecutive year; and A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year for women’s tennis for the third consecutive year.

Her skills on the court earned her the University’s record for career wins with a 115-25 mark in singles and 103-27 in doubles. She was also named All-Conference for the fourth time last year after going 31-5 in singles play and 30-8 in doubles.

On The Verge

Tara Boothe is in full rehab- ilitation mode, emerging from the weight room in the bowels of the Cintas Center on crutches, still flushed from a workout. She is two days removed from surgery on her right knee, her second surgery of the off-season, and is determined to overcome its effects. She doesn’t have much choice. This is it, her senior season, her last chance. She is being marketed as an All-America candidate and stands to become the University’s all-time leading scorer—if she can stand.

Boothe’s 1,680 career points currently place her at fifth among all-time leading scorers among Xavier’s women players—a number easily within reach of Jo Ann Osterkamp’s record of 2,036 points set back in 1984. Last year, Boothe set a new single-season scoring record with 659 points. She also reached and passed the 500-rebound mark for her career. At the moment, though, playing seems distant and even the prospect of walking seems a bit out of reach.

Pry a little, though, and Boothe swears she will be ready. Her knee will be just fine, she says, maybe even a little better than it was last year. Pry a little more and she admits that, yeah, being the school’s all-time leading scorer is a record she wants. And it takes a little prying to get her to own up to the notion. Shy and quiet among all but her teammates, Boothe is a bit of a throwback—she isn’t one to boast about herself to reporters off the court or talk trash to opponents on it. She just plays. And always has.

Boothe’s love affair with basketball began early in life. She and a friend became the only female players on an otherwise all-boys’ team in the second grade, and continued in those roles through the sixth grade. Basketball fever had set in.

“I just got hooked on it,” she says.

From there the love affair blossomed. She played Amateur Athletic Union basketball and was a four-year starter at Highlands High School in her hometown of Fort Thomas, Ky., which sits about seven miles south of campus. Living so close, she became so familiar with Xavier that she committed to attending the University during her junior year in high school. Pry, and she’ll tell you she really likes the smaller class sizes and living close enough to home that her family can see her play. Family is important, she says, and in her family, so are sports. Her father, Richard, played baseball at Ohio State and Northern Kentucky universities. Her brother, Dickie, played baseball for Eastern Kentucky University.

Tara broke the family mold by choosing basketball, and it’s quite possible she may break it again by being the first in her family to play professionally. Former Xavier star Nicole Levandusky spent a year with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks after graduating, and Boothe’s talent level is on par with Levandusky’s.

Boothe, though, shrugs off the notion. It would be nice, she says, but this season is her first priority.

“It’s the last go-around. The clock is ticking,” she says. “The NCAA tournament is just a totally different experience. I want to get back there.”

During her three seasons with Xavier, the team’s advanced to the post-season each year—once to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament and twice to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Last year the team advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT for the first time in school history, before losing to Kentucky, 67-62.

“We were close last year,” says guard Kristy Wallner, Boothe’s roommate for three years and the team’s only other senior. “Hopefully, we’ll learn from our mistakes and get back to the big dance.”

Wallner and Boothe have played together long enough to know where the other will be on the court.

“I just throw the ball in the air, because I know she’ll go get it,” Wallner says. “She saves me from turnovers sometimes. When I drive into the lane, she knows I’ll probably throw it to her, so she’s ready.”

But Boothe faces a special challenge, beyond the off-season conditioning and preparation required of every player: the knee. She played much of last season wearing a metal brace to stabilize it—managing through it all to be among four Xavier players to start all 32 games. But the questions remain. At least for some.

Ask head coach Kevin McGuff, and he just says she has the work ethic, tenacity and endurance to build on what she has accomplished. “She’s so tough to defend, because she can score inside and outside,” McGuff says. “If you look at how she finished last year, she has put herself in position to have a very special year.”

Pry a little bit and ask Boothe how she wants Musketeer fans to remember her after this year, and she smiles shyly. “I want them to think I was one of the best players to play here and to wear the Xavier uniform,” she says.

They already do.

Leadership Lessons

It’s one thing to form an opinion about a politician from media accounts. But it’s another to get to know them firsthand. That’s why the 33 students in professor Art Shriberg’s graduate Principles of Leadership class brought in the candidates for Cincinnati mayor.

The students quizzed the candidates and then voted on who they thought should be the next mayor. Their choice? State Sen. Mark Mallory with 26 votes. David Pepper got four votes and Alicia Reese three.

Leadership style is such a subjective quality that the students had trouble explaining why Mallory stood head-and-shoulders above the others. But how important is leadership? Wayne Davis, the leader of the group, noted that the mayor who takes office in December will be the first never to serve under the “weak mayor” system.

“This is really the first opportunity for a mayor to really shape the way the city develops,” he says.

Golden Years

Philosophy professor Frank Oppenheim, S.J., and associate chemistry professor emeritus Theodore Thepe, S.J., were honored by the University and the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus for 50 years of service. The two, who each began teaching at Xavier in 1961, were given a special day of prayer and thanksgiving this summer in celebration of their dedication and service to the Jesuit order. The priests were among 25 members of the class that was ordained on June 25, 1955, at West Baden College, a Jesuit seminary in Indiana. Some members left the order and others have died, leaving Thepe, Oppenheim and five others, who were also honored.

Thepe remains active at the University, teaching a photography class. Oppenheim is a research professor in the department of philosophy.

Business Profession

Paul Coloma has an impressive résumé. The international business major speaks four languages, serves as a student senator, is an honors student, Williams scholar, Brueggeman fellow, resident assistant and retreat leader. He also spent the past few months honing his skills in the Netherlands through a summer study-abroad program.

Of course, you may never know this—especially if you’re a prospective employer. “It was very hard for me to get used to the idea that we are selling ourselves through a résumé,” says Coloma, a 22-year-old native of Ecuador. “In my country’s culture, being humble is a greatly respected quality. So for me, bragging about my achievements seemed very arrogant.”

Coloma has learned, however, that to land the right job after graduation, you have to show them what you’ve got. This lesson didn’t come naturally. It took a new program in the Williams College of Business to help him learn the difference between arrogance and achievement—as well as other building blocks that support the delicate social structure of the business world that aren’t usually covered in a classroom.

The Business Profession Program is a mandatory, four-year undergraduate program that comprises seminars, lectures and special events that address topics such as how to dress professionally, business etiquette, time management, how to work a job fair and even the importance of arts in business.

“There is nothing like this anywhere else in the country,” says Thomas Clark, professor of management and entrepreneurship and the program’s director. “Some colleges offer some business professional preparation at the senior level, but at Xavier the work begins when the students walk through the door their freshman year.”

Five years ago Clark led a team of faculty, executives and staff to develop the program after employers indicated that many Xavier students were ill-prepared for interviews, internships, co-ops and work. They had the knowledge but lacked the polish. During the first year of the program, students learn the finer points of time management, ethics and diversity, and career assessment. “We work to get students thinking about the importance of choices they make in their initial years at Xavier that will affect their careers,” Clark says. “Research shows that students who plan their academic careers land better jobs out of college and show greater job satisfaction over the long term.”

They also meet with one of six executives-in-residence to discuss career goals. Clark says students rank this interview as their most valuable first-year experience. The three remaining years of the program cover résumés, interviewing, career issues, the co-op experience and how to evaluate a job offer.

Students also attend a number of mandatory events as well as several optional ones, such as a four-course meal to learn proper dining etiquette, a fashion show and seminar at Saks Fifth Avenue to learn the finer points of attire, and performances by the opera, symphony and ballet to learn the importance of art to business and business to art.

“One thing that has really changed in respect to the program,” Coloma says, “is that at the beginning I didn’t like to go to the meetings because, in my freshman mind, I would rather be doing something else. “Now, through actually going to all the meetings, I realized the value of each and every one and I look forward to the next one. It gives me the opportunity to enhance my business knowledge.”

In the end, Clark says, students gain a confidence that they may not have gotten elsewhere and can seamlessly transition into the professional world.

“At the beginning, I was worried that I was not going to be prepared to face the challenges of an everyday life at a working place,” Coloma says. “But now my attitude is more like, ‘Bring it on.’ ”