The University nearly doubled its collection of music CDs this year thanks to a gift from 1951 graduate Robert Seifert. Most of the 350 CDs were of the classical, jazz and blues genres. Seifert dedicated his donation to the memory of Brother Francis W. Schneider and Hubert Buschle, who were both involved in music studies at Purcell High School in Cincinnati when Seifert attended school there. He credits them with nurturing his love of music.
History remembers Francis J. Finn, S.J., as an author, University trustee and the man who coined the nickname “Musketeers.” Today, he’s also recognized for his namesake, the Father Finn Society, which recognizes those who arrange planned gifts to the University.
But Finn was also a violinist. And thanks to a gift from Richard and Alice Dooley, Finn’s violin has a permanent home at the University. “When Father Finn died in 1928, his family gave the instrument to his close friend, Dr. Joseph Topmoeller,” Richard Dooley says. “Dr. Topmoeller and his brother, Father Bernard Topmoeller, were German immigrants instrumental in starting the parochial school system in Cincinnati.” Dr. Topmoeller had four sons and two grandsons who attended the University, and the violin eventually passed to his third son, attorney Joseph Topmoeller, father of Alice Dooley. Alice used it for violin lessons when she was a child, and it has been carefully preserved since. The Dooleys arranged the gift in memory of the Topmoeller family’s long association with Xavier.
The Stradivarius copy bears the name “R. Wurlitzer” on its label, suggesting it was originally sold at the old Wurlitzer Music store in Cincinnati. “Father Finn’s impact is still being felt at Xavier,” says Mark McLaughlin, executive director for the office of gift and estate planning. “Having his violin allows us to tell a little bit more of his story.”
On a wet, chilly Thursday morning in January, about 500 Catholic school teachers, principals and administrators gather on campus to take part in an unprecedented effort to elevate teaching and learning in Cincinnati’s Catholic elementary schools. They’ve come to hear David O’Brien, an authority in Catholic education from College of the Holy Cross, speak on the future of Catholic education. His focus is on the elementary schools, which are, for the most part, the beginnings of the Jesuit university system.
“We stand at a crossroads in American Catholic history,” he says. “Your voice has to be heard. We need to get back to a strong sense that everyone has responsibility for our schools.”
His talk is a small part of a unique program created by a $2 million gift from the Clement and Ann Buenger Foundation that focuses on building better Catholic schools in southwest Ohio. The core of the five-year program is offering free continuing education to Catholic elementary school teachers and administrators in the region.
So far, 110 educators from 21 area schools are taking the courses that go well beyond the typical professional development programs that generally last a semester or, in some cases, a day. The year-long graduate-level courses are carefully prepared and tailored to meet the unique characteristics of Catholic school environments. Education courses in math, science and executive leadership are the primary focus, although teachers who want to be principals can earn a master’s degree in Catholic school administration.
The response to the program is—as it is with O’Brien—enthusiastic. “He made me proud to be part of it and to be responsible for carrying on,” says Alma Joesting, principal of St. Lawrence School in Cincinnati. “Even with the declining numbers of priests, declining enrollment and rising costs, I’ve got a sense we’re on the right track because our parish schools meet regularly about what can be done.”
The program is expected to provide Catholic school teachers and administrators the additional education they need to improve the quality of their teaching skills and prepare them to be the next generation of Catholic school leaders.
“The members of the Buenger Foundation are very much interested in making it possible for Catholic schools to continue to enrich their educational programs,” says Ann Buenger, director of the foundation. “We believe that together, Xavier and the Archdiocesan school office can make a powerful impact.”
Those studying math, science or executive leadership attend class on campus monthly and during summer sessions, taking a new course each of their three years. Those studying toward a Master of Education degree spend two years on campus. During the initiative’s final two years, selected master teachers go into the schools to work with and mentor the teachers and administrators who attended class at Xavier. They, in turn, can mentor other teachers in their schools.
The schools selected for the program were eager to participate because the opportunity for professional development eludes most Catholic school teachers, whose modest salaries are usually below their public school counterparts. Participating teachers and principals taking professional development courses earn three credit hours and a $1,000 to $1,300 stipend each year. Those in the master’s degree program earn 15 credit hours and $1,000 per year. Each participating school also receives $1,000 a year for math and science materials.
“From what I’ve seen, this is probably the most significant effort to improve Catholic education that has ever occurred in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati,” says Mike Flick, director for the Xavier center for educational excellence. Known as X-CEED, the professional development office for educators is coordinating the initiative.
Those expected to gain the most from the investment, however, are the students in the region’s Catholic schools.
“The principals and teachers selected to participate in the Initiative for Catholic Schools will bring what they learn back to their schools and classrooms, directly benefiting the 53,500 students who attend our schools,” says Brother Joe Kamis, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Cincinnati Archdiocese.
As parents, you want to provide the best education possible for your child. Your children have a world of potential, and Xavier University is devoted to helping them succeed. Whether students are called to a career in business, education, the arts or the sciences, the Xavier experience encourages them to reach beyond themselves to become women and men for others.
Xavier is able to achieve its mission of forming students intellectually, morally and spiritually, thanks to the support of the parents fund. The parents fund, an integral component of Xavier’s annual fund, raises unrestricted annual gifts to support initiatives that strengthen undergraduate teaching and student formation, including service opportunities, spiritual development and leadership programs.
Last year, the 2003-2004 parents fund campaign was our most successful yet. Thanks to the generous support of both current and past parents, the parents fund realized a 12-percent increase in parent participation and a 6-percent increase in dollars raised. Parents also joined The 1831 Society in record numbers, with a 34-percent increase in membership. The 1831 Society is a special group of parents, alumni and friends who choose to invest $1,000 or more each year in Xavier and its programs, resources and people. The critical contributions of The 1831 Society affirm the value of a Xavier education and inspire other potential donors.
These campaign results could not have been achieved without the efforts of the 2003-2004 parents development council: Barb and Ken Heil (chairs), Jim and Nancy Crawford, Matt and Diane Habash, Emerson and Peggy Knowles, Don and Marcy Schade, and Louis and Debe Terhar.
The parents development council meets throughout the year to determine how best to attract participation in the parents fund. There are many ways to give—gifts of cash, matching gifts though your employer, gifts of appreciated securities, life income plans and gifts of real estate and/or insurance. The cumulative effect of every gift makes a significant impact. No matter what size gift you make, your participation is what counts.
Norah Mock is the assistant director for the annual fund.
The Indianapolis chapter is taking a little of the burden off the office of admission. The chapter established a scholarship fund to act as a recruiting tool to help the University attract future students and, in turn, future alumni from Indianapolis. Scholarships benefit Indiana high school students, and the chapter has raised more than $100,000 since the fund’s inception in 1995.
With declining numbers at its annual golf outing, however, members had to find a new way to raise money. This year they hosted an annual dinner in the atrium of the Eli Lilly Corporate Center in Indianapolis, which drew about 85 attendees.
The evening included guided tours of the Lilly archives, a raffle and an address from Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business. And even before diners tucked into their chocolate mousse cake, the chapter had raised more than $3,500.
“The dinner was a huge success,” says chapter president, Jim Pike. “I would say this was the best function the Indy club has ever hosted.”
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?
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.”
One day last January, a Japanese businessman walked into Kathy Hammett’s office in the Gallagher Student Center and, after a brief conversation, pledged a contribution of $500.
When the check arrived a few days later, Hammett, director for international student services, was floored. She said the donation was “a fabulous opportunity.” But she didn’t know this man. He was not a Xavier graduate. And she hadn’t asked him for money. But to Scott Hayashi, his gesture was perfectly logical. He wanted to help an American student studying at Sophia University, a Jesuit school in Tokyo. You see, he explained, he’d been a student at Sophia many years ago and was forever changed by the black-robed Jesuits whose spirituality had touched him. Besides, it made up for his past behavior when as a college student he used to pester American servicemen and tourists in Tokyo by practicing his English on them until they became angry.
“When I was young, I thought Americans had an obligation to help me,” Hayashi says. “But now I think it’s far more important to help Americans go to Japan and learn the language and come back to the U.S. and help build stronger friendships.”
Now a sales director for an auto parts supplier in Detroit, he’s been in the U.S. about 25 years. He often stops by Xavier on his trips to the Toyota plant in Northern Kentucky to walk the quiet campus and meditate in Bellarmine Chapel. He’s since written a second $500 check and plans to continue the donations, which have been placed in a fund that supports Xavier students studying at Sophia.
Whether discussing ethics during a spirited game of handball, demystifying cell structure in his biology lab or dispensing career advice in his office, Joseph J. Peters, S.J., was always teaching. And Dr. J. Joseph Marr, for one, counts himself all the richer for it. That’s why Marr, a 1959 graduate, has made it his personal mission to set up the Joseph J. Peters, S.J., Endowed Scholarship Fund—and encourage contributions from each and every student who benefited from Peters’ teaching.
“Joe was a remarkably influential person in my life, and I think in the lives of just about every person he came in contact with,” Marr says. “He was a mentor to anyone who would pay attention. He taught by example in a way that was very consistent with his religious and ethical principles. He showed us that education isn’t just a matter of knowledge—it carries ethical implications.
“He had a requirement that you used what you learned not just for the benefit of yourself, but for the benefit of others as well. I think that resolves itself into the Jesuit mission. And in the course of that experience, I became a very serious believer in Jesuit education.”
If Marr sounds grateful, he is. The Hamilton, Ohio, native earned his biology degree from Xavier and studied internal medicine at Saint Louis University and Johns Hopkins University. After a detour into the U.S. Army Special Forces, he earned a master’s degree in microbial biochemistry at Saint Louis University, then continued his education at Washington University where he eventually became a professor of medicine and biochemistry. He then moved to consecutive assignments as head of infectious diseases at both Saint Louis University and the University of Colorado.
In 1989 Marr left academia to become vice president for new drug discovery at Monsanto/Searle. He later founded a biotech company, RPI, in Boulder, Colo., and took it public after three years. Next, he headed to Boston to become CEO of Immulogic Pharmaceutical Co., where he stayed three years before arriving at his current position as a partner in a venture capital firm called Pacific Rim Ventures.
All of it, he says, can be traced to Peters, who died in 1998.
“I went to college at age 16,” Marr says. “I also had an appointment to Annapolis, but I was too young. So I had to decide whether to leave Xavier and take the appointment. Fr. Peters allowed me to make the decision—he gave me ways to think about the decision. As a result, I stayed in pre-med, which was exactly the right thing for me to do. He also taught us how to do research. I’ve had a research career in medicine for 25 years, parallel with everything else. I probably would not have done that if not for him.”
And Marr says his personal experience wasn’t anything unusual—Peters’ deft touch at guiding students in the right direction carried many others to rewarding careers.
“He could tell some people were just not cut out to do what they wanted to do,” Marr recalls. “He had a way of perceiving that, and he would steer people in different directions. He did it in a private way that made everyone realize he was doing it in their own best interest.”
Now Marr is hoping to provide for the best interests of others in his mentor’s name. He actually began his one-man fundraising campaign in 2001. But the events of Sept. 11 and the resulting economic uncertainty made it a bad time to raise money. Marr sent letters to several hundred of Peters’ former students, raising about $60,000 of the $350,000 needed, but the responses from those who chose not to give at that time convinced Marr that he’d find success if he waited for an economic upturn.
This year, as the Dow began to rise, he sensed the time was right.
The end goal is to create a lasting memorial that will benefit one student annually in the biology department. “If we can pull this off, some student will have a chance at an education every year forevermore,” Marr says. “That’s a legacy that Fr. Peters would have liked.”
Steven Durkee has a sense of history, so he’s looking to the future. Even though the 1996 graduate still has a few years left before retirement, he and his wife Kathy decided to plan ahead by arranging to leave a percentage of their estate to the various institutions and organizations—including the University—that have touched their lives.
After 25 years as a businessman, Durkee got a master’s degree in religion from the Athenaeum of Ohio in 1988 and two years later began teaching at Covington Catholic High School in Northern Kentucky. He soon discovered teaching religion involved more than lesson plans and lecturing—students actively sought him out to talk over all kinds of things. “That was a great ego boost and inspiring, but at the same time kind of scary,” he says.
At the time, there was no counseling law in Kentucky, but Durkee decided he needed some practical and theoretical training. So he applied to the University to work on a master’s degree. “It was exciting,” he says. “We were blessed with some excellent full-time faculty members, and the adjuncts were wonderful. I got my M.Ed. in counseling in 1996. Then I did my clinical endorsement in 2000.”
The University gave Durkee, now 55 years old and a partner in the Northern Ky.-based Summit Behavioral Health Group, one of the biggest highlights of his career: In 1997, he was asked to come back to campus as an adjunct professor.
“To be accepted as an adjunct at Xavier was quite an honor,” he says. “I’ve been blessed to be teaching on the adjunct faculty ever since.”
Feelings like Durkee’s are common among those who give to Xavier, says Mark McLaughlin, the University’s director for estate and planning services. All share both a strong conviction that the University had a positive impact on their lives and the desire to ensure that future generations will be able to share that experience. They give, McLaughlin says, in a variety of ways, according to their ability.
Some, like graduate Stuart J. Kelley, leave property. Kelley, a 1953 graduate who died this past February, left a home and property in the Cincinnati suburb of Amberley Village and a two-bedroom condominium in Ocala, Fla., with a total value of $200,000. Others, like Robert Borcer, choose to give monetary gifts. The 1968 graduate, a longtime annual fund contributor who died last July, left the University a bequest of $2.5 million earmarked for the sciences.
And still others, like 1940 graduate Paul C. Beckman, make it a family affair. Along with his brother Vincent H. Beckman, a 1938 graduate, and sister Irene Leverone, Beckman, who passed away last October, pledged a total of about $1 million to establish the University’s Beckman Chair in Theology in honor of their brothers John J. Beckman, S.J., and Robert E. Beckman, S.J.
“Xavier was one of my father’s favorite places, partly because of his experiences there, and because it’s a Jesuit institution and his brothers were Jesuits,” says Beckman’s daughter, Mary Kay Rottner. “The impact the University had on him must have been very profound for him to keep up his love and support for 64 years.”
Rottner recalls that her father, a former captain of the Musketeer basketball team, was a longtime season-ticket holder and in recent years served as a member of a lay academic board put together by University Chancellor James E. Hoff, S.J. In addition, his law firm, Beckman, Weil, Shepardson & Faller, provides legal counsel for the University.
While it’s true large gifts often grab the headlines, McLaughlin says it takes gifts of all types and sizes to help the University realize its dreams. Perhaps Durkee, as much as anyone, personifies that idea. “I want to make sure Xavier’s counseling program will be there for people I don’t even know,” he says. “Someone did that for me before I got there. You’ve got to provide for the future. And at $400 or so a credit hour, if I can help pay for somebody who otherwise may not go to school—hey, that’ll work.”