Whole New Game

In his first year as Xavier’s head baseball coach, Scott Googins’ recruiting pitch went something like this:  “Come to Xavier and you have a chance to play right away.”

Four years later, it’s changed to: “Come to Xavier and be part of a winning program.”

“Even if you’re playing every day and getting your tail kicked, it’s no fun,” Googins says. “Players want to be part of a championship team.”

That’s the offer now. Xavier’s baseball program is coming off the best season in its history, finishing 39-21 and setting a school record for most victories. The team won its first Atlantic 10 Conference tournament title and earned its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

“In any sport, it’s easy to be good for a day or two or have a real good year,” Googins says. “The big step for us now is to be consistent.”

They’re on their way, due in large part to Googins. The 43-year-old first-time head coach inherited a program that had not finished with an overall winning record since 1998. He turned that around in a hurry, going 54-27 in Atlantic 10 play over the last three years, winning 17, 19 and 18 games respectively and advancing to the six-team conference tourney each year. He was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year in 2008 after leading the Musketeers to a share of the regular-season championship. And he’s done all this while purposefully putting together a more demanding non-conference schedule.

“I remember standing in front of the team that first year saying we could have something special,” Googins says. “But we would invent ways to lose. Now we’re finding ways to win. Our confidence level is so different. It’s a whole different mindset.”

Googins’ secret: Hard work and enthusiasm. The coaches require only two days of weightlifting a week. Some players, though, started lifting four times a week—and experiencing success. That led to others doing the same. “It’s that type of stuff that is contagious,” says Googins. “Now all of a sudden out of 32 guys, we have 19 guys lifting four days a week. It’s really snowballed. I still think we have a ways to go, but the buy-in is getting better.”

It all paid off in May when Xavier competed in the NCAA Tournament. Although they were eventually eliminated by perennial power and host Rice University, the players were not intimidated. Instead they were relaxed, energized, confident. “We felt we were going to surprise some people and maybe win that regional,” Googins says.

Now, he adds, “The guys are hungrier to get back to that level again.”

The success has also helped the program gain credibility—and recognition. The Musketeers had three players sign professional contracts this year—junior pitcher Danny Rosenbaum was picked by the Washington Nationals in the 22nd round of the Major League Baseball draft in June, and senior catcher Billy O’Conner and senior pitcher Jordan Conley signed as free agents.

As Googins sits in his office recounting the season, he sounds excited, like he can’t wait to start the 2010 season. And it’s only late July, less than two months since the NCAA loss to Rice.

“I haven’t taken a day off since the tournament ended,” Googins says. “I’ve been doing something every day for the program, and it doesn’t even feel like work right now. When things are going well, you just want to keep that momentum going and stay with it.”

Telly Time

Mike Nelson is psyched. The chair of the Department of Psychology won a Telly Award for his child-focused video series featuring the character Captain Judgment. The interactive series of multimedia video vignettes is designed to be used in counseling sessions to teach children and their parents how to handle aggression.

Nelson’s entry was among 11,000 entries from around the world. The animated vignettes are based on a story line of a superhero, Captain Judgment, who comes from the planet Good Judgment to teach children how to manage problematic situations where they may typically respond in an aggressive fashion. The videos emphasize how to become better problem solvers and how to enter into and develop positive peer relationships, all of which can lead to better success in school.

OT Abroad

One day during a whirlwind week in Guatemala, 11 occupational therapy students trekked to the local dump in Antigua to witness a cultural phenomenon of poverty. As the dump trucks drove in, adults and children swarmed around, pawing through the smelly filth, looking for bits and pieces to salvage and sell. “The garbage reeks, and they live in this environment,” says Carol Scheerer, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “They have a high incidence of respiratory ailments, and their kids have a high incidence of mental retardation from the toxic environment.”

It was the kids that drew Scheerer and her students to the country, where they spent a week working with caregivers of children living in four orphanages. The children benefited from the extra care they received from Xavier’s students, who benefited by being able to practice case assessments and therapy plans.

The trip is symbolic of how far Xavier’s youngest program has come. It now has a waiting list as freshman enrollment topped its 40-student capacity. Xavier requires OT students to complete a service learning project during the five-and-a-half year program that awards both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. “We’re helping give a voice to those who are voiceless, fighting for social justice and standing up for marginalized populations,” Scheerer says.

Life Long Fan

Joe McDevitt began following Xavier basketball back before the war. Umm, the big war. World War II. As a kid living in Evanston, McDevitt and a group of friends would walk to Schmidt Fieldhouse and get into the game for a dime—or free if they knew the referee.

He continued going through high school except during the war years when the season was put on hold, but picked up again in 1945 when Ed Burns was head coach. “He was my cousin,” says McDevitt, adding they never knew each other, nor did he realize they were related. It wasn’t until later his mother mentioned a first cousin by the name of Eddie who she heard was once a good athlete at Xavier.

After enrolling at Xavier, McDevitt became friends with some of the players and even gave advice to coach Ned Wulk. He recalls sitting in the cafeteria when Wulk approached his table.

“He asked our group who we thought was the best basketball player in Cincinnati. We told him Duke Schneider.” Richard “Duke” Schneider played ball in CYO leagues but never on a high school team. Even so, Wulk gave him a tryout, and he became a part of the team. Which reminds McDevitt of another favorite memory—one he almost missed, when Xavier won the NIT Championship in New York in 1858. He was stuck at work and only made it to Dana Gardens in time to see the second half.

Since those early days, McDevitt has become a season ticket holder with a group of friends. And at age 78, McDevitt isn’t planning on giving up his seat yet. His group will be there for the season opener. “We like to get there an hour early and greet fans as they walk in.”

Growing Family

Stan the Man is no longer a bachelor. The high-tech patriarch of the School of Nursing—originally called Stan for “standard man” and affectionately renamed Al—has been joined by a whole family of life-sized, computer-driven mannequins that help train nursing students. And two more are on order.

Now the growing family includes a high-tech child called Little Al (or Allison depending on the lesson of the day), as well as two lower-tech adults and a lower-tech child. A low-tech adult and baby are on the way.

The entire family has been acquired with grant money, and now another grant application is in the works. If the department wins that grant, it will buy two more high-fidelity simulators—a premature baby and an adult—for a total of nine. The high-tech mannequins blink, speak, breathe and mirror authentic human reactions to typical medical procedures such as CPR, ventilation, catheterization, intubation, blood pressure readings and administration of intravenous medications. Their lower-tech brethren produce sounds but do not have movement or automatic responses.

All are highly valuable training tools, says Mary Sizemore, director for health arts and simulation. Performing medical procedures on patients without risk of harming them is priceless practice for nursing students. And as the number of nursing students continues to grow at Xavier, so does the need for patient simulators.

“Our plan is to knock out a wall to expand the lab for the premature baby and adult,” Sizemore says. “The amazing thing about nursing is [School Director] Sue Schmidt applies for and wins grants so we can keep buying things and move the department forward.”

Garden Gift

In a neighborhood near Xavier, a group of elementary school children at Pleasant Ridge Montessori began summer school in June by getting really dirty—planting marigolds, cucumbers and squash in rich black soil. And the result was the fulfillment of a dream by 1955 graduate Dr. Robert McDonald to help Xavier students learn about hunger and poverty. Through a gift to the Center for Mission and Identity, three professors were given money to create projects with their students.

Ginger McKenzie, associate professor of education, applied her share to bring the summer garden project to life. The grant paid for the fruit, for construction of the garden’s elevated beds behind the school, and for garden tools, plants and seeds. McKenzie said her students learned as much as the children. “Dr. McDonald’s goal was to have Xavier students understand those who are hungry and less fortunate than ourselves.”

One of the other two professors who received grants is focusing on children who suffer from war and sexual slavery, and the other took students to Guatemala to learn about non-profit marketing. “A relatively small amount of money has helped faculty be really creative with their students and do an important part of the Jesuit mission—helping the poor and marginalized,” says Debra Mooney, assistant to the president for mission and identity.

Case in Point

Tom Hayes holds up five Wiffle balls, each representing some aspect of a college that is marketed to prospective students. He tosses the five balls to an audience member. “Catch.” The balls bounce to the floor. He takes out another ball and tosses it to the audience member who catches it.

“Unless you’re marketing one concept, one consistent message over time, you won’t be successful,” says Hayes.

The concept was part of his book Marketing Colleges and Universities: A Service Approach that earned him the Alice L. Beeman Award for Outstanding Research in Communications and Marketing for Educational Advancement from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) this year. “When your peers recognize you, it’s very exciting,” Hayes says.

Wild Weekend

It’s 7:50 a.m. on a brisk fall Saturday and campus, believe it or not, is abuzz with activity. Students are scurrying around, eyes half open, coffee in hand, making their way to class.

While the nearby dorms are starkly quiet with traditional students sleeping in after a Friday night of socializing, every Saturday a wide range of other students have driven in from throughout the region to keep the campus awake and alive. Single moms. Recently discharged veterans. People looking to switch careers. Those who would be considered “non-traditional students”—older than age 22 who aren’t straight out of high school—pack Xavier’s classrooms each weekend, giving the University a different look and feel than most days and creating what has become one of Xavier’s most popular and important educational investments, the Weekend Degree Program.

Marking its 15th anniversary this year, the program has not only grown to become the largest part of the University’s Center for Adult and Part-time Students (CAPS), but it’s also proven to be exactly what the University needed, both in terms of boosting lagging enrollment and meeting the needs of the community.

When enrollment of part-time students began declining in the early 1990s, former University President James Hoff, S.J., pushed for a new and creative way to meet the needs of those who wanted an education but had jobs and couldn’t make it to campus during the day or had families and couldn’t make it to campus in the evenings. Duquesne University in Pittsburgh had a program that held classes on the weekend, so Xavier used that as a model.

“It was a highly popular idea and very successful from the beginning,” says Mary Kay Meyer, who just stepped down as interim dean of the program and now serves as its director for advising services. “It was presented to [former academic vice president Jim] Bundshuh, and he was so impressed he put it in place right away. The program was started within six months when it should have taken 12 months to get going. We had five classes at first, two in the morning and three in the afternoon, and all of them were full. We had 80 students within the first year, and our headcount doubled for each of the first three years. We met our four-year enrollment goal within two years.”

Looking back, says Meyer, a number of reasons can be found for why the program was such a hit from the beginning—and why it’s still so popular today. One, it’s accelerated. Unlike traditional classes that meet for two hours a week for 16 weeks, the weekend classes meet for four hours a week for eight weeks. Thus, by taking two classes per eight-week term, that’s the same as a typical traditional student takes per semester. That means a weekend student who enrolls with no credits can graduate in four years. By taking classes just during the evening, a degree would take 11 years to complete.

“Plus, the students feel like coming on the weekends simply extends their work weeks instead of taking classes in the evenings, which makes their days a lot longer,” says Tricia Meyer, who took over as director for the program in June. “For them, it’s not as draining.”

Two, the program is highly accommodating to transfer credit, especially from two-year colleges. Students who start at two-year colleges can earn a Xavier degree through the program in two years. Three, it’s cheaper. The weekend program has the lowest rate of any part-time program in the region.

And, arguably the biggest reason, is that it meets a huge need in the area. Weekend program students are typically older, with an average age of 37. They work and have supervisory experience. And they want or need a degree for job security—or family security. Approximately 70 percent of weekend students are female, with many being single moms.

And, says Mary Kay Meyer, interest in the program is probably going to grow. In a bad economy there’s a surge in people who go back to school, some of whom want to switch careers and get into teaching. Due to the ongoing wars, the program has seen an increase in the number of veterans enrolling. And as the need for a college degree increases, more and more adults are overcoming their fear of going back to school.

“We used to have T-shirts printed up for the students that said, ‘I can survive anything for eight weeks,’ ” says Meyer. And many have.

The Sound of Music

 Philip Enzweiler grew up listening to his mother’s advice: Give yourself career options, learn to do more than one thing well. The 1976 graduate took the message to heart. A German major during his Xavier days, Enzweiler has been a professional violinist for 30 years—most of those years a member of the Dayton Symphony Orchestra.

“I always wanted to be a musician,” he says. “I started studying when I was about 7 years old.”

With that goal in mind, Enzweiler spent a year at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music before switching to Xavier. “I knew some German, and I wanted to study it some more,” he says. “It turned out the German program was very good.”

 

After receiving his degree, Enzweiler attended UC for two years of graduate study. But a life in academia didn’t really appeal to him, and the lure of music remained strong. When the Dayton Symphony had an opening, he auditioned and got the job. With the exception of one year with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a short period in Europe, he’s been there ever since.

In his spare time, he has played “hundreds” of weddings, served as a member of the Cincinnati Ballet Orchestra, subbed with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and worked in the pit orchestra for Broadway productions in Cincinnati theaters.

In the competitive world of classical music, Enzweiler’s longevity with one orchestra is somewhat remarkable. He still finds “playing the music” to be the most rewarding part of his job. And though he has played much of the standard classical repertoire multiple times, Enzweiler finds ways to keep things fresh.

“To a great extent, it’s routine,” he says. “You know what’s going to happen. But it’s never easy. Especially if it’s a new piece or a difficult piece, you have to come prepared. There’s always something new—so that keeps you on your toes.”

Take Two

We last pictured James Buchanan with quite an armful of prayers. Over the summer, the director for the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue, along with Rabbi Abie Ingber and former Department of Theology chair Bill Madges, traveled to Israel to personally deliver these and more than 31,000 others to the Western Wall.

The prayer cards came from the exhibit, “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, which opened at Xavier in 2005 and has since traveled to various universities and museums across the country. Chronicling the late pope’s life, the exhibit includes a replica of the Western Wall. Visitors are encouraged to write a prayer and place it in the wall, emulating the pope during his

historic visit to Israel.

The prayers brought to the actual Wall in July were from visitors who saw the exhibit in Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Rapid City, Iowa, Kansas City, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Los Angeles. Nearly 4,000 prayers were placed into the Wall by hand. The rest were placed in the Western Wall tunnels at a spot close to the Temple of Jerusalem.