Profile: Kathrine Tepas

KATHERINE TEPAS

Bachelor of Science in social work, 1991

Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Response Coordinator,

State of Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

Road Trip | After graduating from Xavier, TePas completed a year as a volunteer in the Jesuit Volunteer Service and then moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, “sight unseen.”

Northbound | “I remember talking to my father and saying I want a placement that will feel like a job, a year where I can use my degree and really be working. A shelter in Fairbanks for domestic violence came up as one of the top places. I interviewed for that and hung up the phone and thought, ‘I think I’m moving to Alaska,’ and 20 minutes later they called back and offered me the job.”

The Mother Lode | “I had worked at a YMCA camp in Michigan and loved being outdoors all day and night. I grew up across from Lake Michigan and feel most at peace in the outdoors, and Alaska was moving to the mother lode.”

Real Trooper | She thrived at the Fairbanks shelter and stayed for three years then spent two years at graduate school in Chicago. She returned to Alaska to manage a federal grant providing training to Alaska State Troopers on how to manage domestic violence and sexual assault cases for the Department of Public Safety.

Promoted | After traveling the vast state for 11 years training troopers, she was encouraged to apply for a new position created by Gov. Sean Parnell. He wanted a coordinator for a new initiative to tackle the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault cases across the state. She applied and was hired in June.

Epidemic | “As he puts it, it’s worse than other states. We’re doing a survey and will have for the first time a concrete study on the rates of victimization. We have known that Alaska has led the Uniform Crime Report numbers for the last 20 years in figures for forcible rape and sexual violence. We just don’t know the true root cause.”

Nitty Gritty | TePas’ work involves digging into the reality of the crisis, deciphering why it happens, and implementing solutions. The four areas the initiative targets are: victims services, management and treatment of offenders, prevention and education, and law enforcement and prosecution.

Social Change | “We have to have a social norm change within the state that this behavior is not acceptable. We need to do more to speak out against it and teach our children well and raise them to be respectful of all diverse populations including women and children and minorities. It will involve working with men and boys. The changing of social norms is not an easy task. It takes time.”

No Fear | “We all have or should have a collective common goal which is a safe, healthy community for all Alaskans so they can live lives absent of fear.”

Alaska | When she’s not working, TePas and her husband like to enjoy the great outdoors. They are childless and dogless so are free to spend summer hours in their ocean boat in Prince William Sound fishing, hiking and spending nights under the stars. In the winter’s long darkness, they cross country ski throughout Anchorage. “There’s nothing more peaceful than skiing in the dark under the lights.”

Profile: Karen Meyers

KAREN MEYERS

Master of Business Administration, 1977; Master of Education, 1978

Partner, Little, Meyers & Associates

Cincinnati

National Recognition | Meyers recently received the President’s Award from the National Structured Settlements Trade Association—the equivalent of a lifetime achievement honor from the trade group in her legal specialty. Structured settlements are financial awards granted by courts or as part of a negotiated settlement to victims and families of victims of catastrophic or personal injuries.

Major Cases | Meyers is best known in legal circles for the key roles she played in structuring the payout terms for families of victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy and the 2001 race riots in Cincinnati. She also was settlement master—the court-appointed representative who allocates money awarded to victims—in the morgue case in Cincinnati involving the photography of corpses.

The Biggest Win | Meyers considers the morgue case to be her greatest legal accomplishment because the case was highly emotional, complex and involved almost 1,600 victims.

Stuffed Duck | The case also demonstrates the intense personal relationships Meyers often develops with clients. “I have a stuffed duck on my desk that belonged to one of the plaintiffs. The husband gave it to me after his wife died of cancer. It was her therapy duck.” The couple’s adult son was one of the photographed corpses. The mother lived to see the verdict and upon her death, her husband gave Meyers the stuffed animal in appreciation for her work on the case.

Favorite Memory | Meyers represented 74 families in the government’s Sept. 11 victim compensation case. She recalls one of the victim’s wives, a stay-at-home mother of five raising her children in Harlem. At the time, the mother didn’t have a college degree, but Meyers noticed she had an aptitude for math. “We structured the settlement so she could go to school. She’s a CPA now.”

Volunteer Work | Meyers learned the importance of serving those less fortunate from her mother, who still volunteers at Little Sisters for the Poor. “We started volunteering in kindergarten. We used to work at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving.” Today, Meyers serves on the board of Christ Hospital’s Family Centered Care Council, which helps integrate families into patient care programs.

Inspiration | Meyers’ mother and her maternal grandfather inspired her early in life. “My father was killed in a construction accident when I was 2. My mom was pregnant with my brother, so we moved in with our grandparents. My mom and grandfather taught us that we could do anything we wanted.”

Family Affair | Meyers’ 85-year-old mother lives with Meyers and her husband. Meyers also remains close to her attorney brother, with whom she went through law school. “My mom used to pray that sibling rivalry wouldn’t end the family.”

Xavier wins Golf Meet

Xavier golf standout Sebastian MacLean defeated Danny Lewis 5 and 4 to win the 2010 Cincinnati Metropolitan Amateur Championship in June, becoming the best amateur player in Cincinnati. In the final match, MacLean birdied holes 9-12 before cruising to victory. He was one of 64 golfers to qualify for the match play portion of the event. The Santa Cruz, Bolivia, native recently completed his sophomore season at Xavier and earned A-10 Rookie of the Year honors after setting a new freshman scoring record (72.88) during the 2008-2009 season. MacLean led the squad with a 73.60 scoring mark in 2009-2010.

New Coaches

This season Xavier volleyball will have a new face net-side. Hawaii-native Mike Johnson starts his first season at Xavier this fall.

Last year Johnson led the Austin Peay State University volleyball team to a 22-9 record in his first season as head coach. Austin Peay also finished second in league standings, sent three players to the Ohio Valley All-Conference First and Second Teams, and produced the league’s Player of the Year in Stephanie Champine.

“I feel both inspired and humbled to join the Musketeer family,” Johnson said. “I have long admired Xavier for its esteemed academics and great athletic support. I’m thrilled to get started.”

This summer, Xavier also named a new head coach for men’s and women’s cross country and track. Dan Flaute, the former cross country head coach at Wyoming High School in Cincinnati, begins his coaching at Xavier this fall, and he has high hopes for his athletes.

“I am grateful to Xavier for giving me this great opportunity to lead the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field program,” Flaute said. “I am excited to begin working with our athletes this fall and building a winning program here at Xavier.”

Field of Dreams

Chalk up another victory for Xavier pitcher Tommy Shirley, who was drafted by the Houston Astros as the 273rd pick in the ninth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. Shirley’s selection is the second-highest draft pick in Xavier history, and he is the fifth Musketeer to be drafted in the last six years.

In 2010, the left-hander led the Musketeers with a 4.03 ERA in 15 starts, and he finished his junior campaign with a 4-3 record. In 96 innings of work last season, the North Huntingdon, Pa., native posted a team-best 98 strikeouts—the second-highest single season tally in Xavier history—and held the opposing batting average to .275.

“Tommy put himself in a great position for the draft this season with how hard he worked,” said Xavier’s assistant coach, Nick Otte. “It’s great that he’s one step closer to fulfilling his dream of being a Major League Baseball player.”

Home Sweet Home

Former men’s basketball coach Skip Prosser used to tell the story about trying to recruit players to Xavier before the Cintas Center was built. The Cincinnati Gardens was the team’s home court at the time, so he’d drive them over to the Gardens, show them the team’s locker room and then walk them out into the arena—where there would be a rodeo going on. Or a tractor pull. Or a circus.

“Just imagine a basketball court over there where the elephants are,” he’d say.

The Gardens was a step up from Schmidt Fieldhouse, and the team still managed to sign some top-flight players—Byron Larkin, Derek Strong, Brian Grant, Tyrone Hill, James Posey, Aaron Williams, David West. But it was a tough sell. And, being five miles away from campus, it was hard to truly call it home.

All of that changed 10 years ago, though, with the opening of the Cintas Center. The 10,250-seat arena put Xavier on an even recruiting plane with the best basketball programs in the country and ahead of most of its competition.

“The Gardens was a great home, but it wasn’t our home,” says Xavier’s director for athletics Mike Bobinski. “We only used it for men’s basketball—volleyball and women’s basketball were still in Schmidt Fieldhouse—and we couldn’t really use it for recruiting. Today, when we bring in recruits, we don’t hide anything. Players want to go to a place that they can see is committed to the program, and there are very few, if any, on-campus arenas that I would put ahead of the Cintas Center.”

Watch a timelapse video of the new Cintas Center scoreboard being erected.

In today’s world, attracting student-athletes—especially highly recruited, national caliber players—is a whole new game compared to years past. Colleges begin recruiting certain players when they’re still freshmen in high school. The athletes are wined and dined to the extent that the National Collegiate Athletic Association will allow. And since many programs make many of the same offers—playing time, dynamic coach, games on TV—what used to be nothing more than materialistic extras like how fancy the arenas and locker rooms are or whose shoes you wear are now big selling points.

“It makes a huge difference to them, rightly or wrongly,” says Bobinski. “Those are the kinds of things that get the attention of young people today. You’re bringing them here when they’re 17, 16, heck sometimes even 15 years old, and a facility is part of the equation. Whether it should or shouldn’t be is open for debate.”

Which is why Xavier has updated the locker rooms, weight rooms, the scoreboard and various other parts of the building over the last 10 years. “You’re hard pressed to say it’s a 10-year-old building,” says Bobinski.

And it’s also why both Xavier and the Cintas Center have become benchmarks for other colleges. Officials from numerous universities—Saint Louis, Fordham, Duquesne, St. Joseph’s—have cited the building as one of the main reasons for Xavier’s athletic success and claimed that the only way they can keep pace with the Musketeers is to have a Cintas Center-like facility of their own.

And many have done just that. In the decade since its opening, there’s been a steady stream of people from other universities around the country who have toured the building, examining its operations and structure, and using it as a standard for how they could afford to build one of their own.

“People from the University of Virginia came three times,” says Bobinski. “Saint Louis more than that. Notre Dame was here.”

The reality is, says Bobinski, that Xavier’s overall athletic success has been part of a long-term plan and years in the making. But the opening of the Cintas Center 10 years ago was one of—if not the—major turning point.

“To say that we’re where we are today because of it is a very fair statement,” says Bobinski. “Having the right people in place is the biggest reason, but having a great facility for them to recruit in and compete in is a very close second.”

Theology and Ecology

In an act as simple as driving to a food pantry to drop off some food, Elizabeth Groppe sees a tension: She is helping to feed the hungry, but at the same time she is contributing to environmental degradation through the use of fossil fuels. “It’s an inherently good thing,” says the associate professor of theology, “but by using a car that’s powered by oil, I’m participating in a system that by the sources of extraction is harmful. Plus the emissions that come from the car contribute to global warming, which makes life difficult for future generations, including my children.”

So what’s a theologian to do? Dig deeper, of course. Groppe was awarded a $40,000 grant from the Louisville Institute for a research sabbatical to explore the incongruities between her faith commitments and the daily tasks of her life as a teacher, mother and member of a Christian community. Her research will form the basis of a book titled Guarding the Flame of the Grandeur of God: Christian Life and Practice in an Era of Ecological Crisis.

Her work will explore the sources of her food, clothing and energy, and highlight Christian churches and organizations that are finding ways to reconcile their mission with ecological concerns. For them, as well as for Groppe, the goal is to do good for people and the planet at the same time.

Pool Life

The swimming pool you spent your summer in is probably safe from the bad effects of bacteria, but just when you thought it was safe to get back into the baby pool or hot tub, well, think again. They’re probably going to need more than just a dose of chlorine to kill all the bacteria swimming around in them.

That’s the conclusion, anyway, of a study led by assistant professor of health services administration Edmond Hooker in conjunction with the Cincinnati Health Department. Hooker, along with four students, spent the academic year analyzing hundreds of water samples and then published their findings in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

“What we found is the current standards are totally inadequate,” says Hooker. “For spas and baby pools, it’s just not high enough.” The students presented the data to state officials, who may revise standards to increase the required levels of chlorine in the smaller pools. “You want a lot of chlorine in the pool,” says Hooker. “Chlorine is our friend.”

Business Booster

Sometimes a great idea is enough, but often entrepreneurs need a little help to keep the lightbulb lit. They need a business plan, financing, advice and encouragement, which is why the Williams College of Business created Xavier-Launch-a-Business—or X-LAB for cleverness.

Designed as a competition, entrepreneurs compete to convince X-LAB judges that they have an idea worthy of winning. The five winning ideas receive as their prizes guidance and the brainpower of the college’s 65 faculty members, 1,000 MBA students, 500 executive mentors and 14 members of the executive advisory board. In less than a month, more than 150 entrepreneurs applied for the five slots. Xavier, meanwhile, gets to help boost the local economy. The ultimate goal: make the business succeed. When that happens, everybody wins.

Lessons Learned

Jayma George was nervous. It was her first week of college, and as she stared at her schedule of classes, there, in big, bold letters, was the one word that sent fear scurrying through her body: Biology. Even though she graduated from high school with a 4.0 grade point average, the school was small and didn’t offer advanced placement classes. As a result, she felt like she was already behind most of her classmates.

And it showed.

Recognizing her nervousness, her professor suggested she try Supplemental Instruction, or SI, a specialized student-to-student tutoring program that Xavier has in place for four areas: general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, and anatomy and physiology. A trained peer tutor attends each class and then conducts study sessions open to all students afterward. While students can still get personalized attention from the professor or graduate assistant, sometimes having a fellow student explain something makes all the difference.

“I was nervous about it enough,” says George, a sophomore natural sciences major from Pandora, Ohio. “I thought, ‘Free help? Great.’ It’s not worth failing first before getting help.”

SI is an internationally recognized academic support model developed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Xavier began its formal SI program in 2007 for general biology, general and organic chemistry, and then added anatomy and physiology last spring. Math, accounting and modern languages may soon be next. The reason it’s growing so fast? It works.

Before SI, these über-hard classes averaged drop-fail-withdrawal rates as high as 30 percent. Now the average is in the single digits. In organic chemistry, the rate has dropped to zero.

Stephanie Mosier, assistant director of Xavier’s Learning Assistance Center, which oversees the program, also measures the program’s effectiveness individually by dividing students into three groups—students who attend regularly, student who attend at least once and students who do not attend—and then recording their grades. In one course Mosier surveyed, students who attended SI sessions regularly scored an average 3.02 versus 1.6 for those who never attended.

Mosier works with the professors to create the framework for the study sessions, but gives student leaders a lot of latitude in how they get their tutoring lessons across. Some use online videos, memory games, even skits to help get the material across to their less-experienced counterparts. The positives can also translate into more than just As and Bs, though.

“My SI leader is now one of my best friends,” George says. “She’s going to be a senior in the same major. She helped me figure out what classes to take and how to budget my time. She also helped me with a lot of other things. She’s been a really good mentor.”

Student leaders benefit as well. Not only are they paid for their time, tutoring helps reinforce the material for their own sakes and shows well on résumés and grad school applications.

Mosier says the program has been very well received by everyone involved. There’s only one problem: She now has more prospective student leaders than she has positions available. That, of course, is a good problem to have. And, one of the prospective student leaders is George. “I did well enough that I’m going to be an SI leader for an incoming general biology class,” she says.

For Mosier, that’s what makes all of the work worth it. “The biggest compliment for me is to see a student who wants to be a tutor, who says, ‘I want to be as inspiring to future students who take this course.’”