Terror On Campus

A packet from the U.S. Immigra-tion and Naturalization Service (INS) landed on the desk of Kathy Hammett, director of international student services, in early February—six months after the start of classes.

Inside were the names of the foreign students allowed into the country to study at the University this year, including one who never showed up. She hadn’t heard a word about this student, begging the question: Did he stay home or go to another school? Or is he possibly a terrorist?

It’s a question because one of the Sept. 11 terrorists was in the United States on a student visa. Hammett notified the INS, even though the agency stopped requiring universities to report on their international students due to a paperwork backlog. The agency didn’t respond, so the student’s whereabouts remain unknown.

That may soon change, however. Congress ordered a crackdown on students, and a proposed computerized tracking system at the INS will more easily keep up with students and identify those missing. While the effort is good in principle, it has problems, says Hammett. Foreign students account for only 2 percent of all temporary visas, and a proposed $95 fee to pay for the system is too high and unfair to students without credit cards or computers.

It’s an “unfunded mandate,” says Ron Slepitza, vice president for student development, and creates an unwelcome process. “It’s very uncertain if any of the alleged terrorists had any connections to universities, yet the focus is on tightening up on universities. We’re creating a climate where we don’t encourage students to study abroad.”

Telling a Dead Man’s Tale

Dead men tell no tales, so Don Douthit speaks on their behalf. Armed with two degrees from the University—a bachelor’s in mortuary science in 1986 and a master’s in criminal justice in 1989—Douthit presents himself as an expert witness in mortuary science lawsuits nationwide.

The stories are sometimes gruesome, too. Take, for instance, the two families in Hawaii who each had an elderly male family member die at the same time. Both men went to the same funeral home, one to be cremated, the other buried with a full Mass. Guess what? The toe tags got crossed and the wrong guy was cremated. Douthit was called in to point out where the funeral home could have caught its mistake: one man wore glasses; one had a tattoo; one man’s clothing didn’t fit.

Or the case where a body went missing at the medical examiner’s office for three days. By the time it was found, it was a malodorous affair. The funeral director tried to cover his mistake by spraying air freshener around the casket. No surprise – the case was settled out of court.

“My profession is a mixture of science and law,” says Douthit, who is a licensed funeral director but works at the Ohio Valley Tissue & Skin Center in Cincinnati.

Sports Centered

Most people would find Jon Bon Jovi singing “It’s My Life” for a commercial being filmed at their workplace a little distracting. For Tom DeCorte, however, it was just another day on the job at ESPN.

“Working here, you learn to be around people you see all the time,” says the 1998 graduate. “You lose the star-gazed mindset.”

DeCorte has certainly seen his share of stars covering everything from college basketball to the Super Bowl. As a production assistant at ESPN, he was at the Superdome when the underdog Patriots beat the favored Rams this year.

“It really pumped me up,” says DeCorte. “It was a great experience to be at the biggest sports event in the U.S. and to see what goes into producing it.”

Producing things is key to DeCorte’s position. It’s his job to come up with ideas for feature stories on all the sports ESPN covers.

“I can be doing anything one day, like soccer, baseball or hockey, and be doing something completely different the next day, like a story on the best slam dunkers in college basketball,” he says. “You never know what you’re going to be doing so you have to be ready to do anything at any time.”

To that end, DeCorte spends a lot of time in the TV room where ESPN has over 100 televisions covering different sporting events, shows and press conferences. All this saturation hasn’t dulled DeCorte’s love of sports.

“I find I watch less sports when I’m off now,” he admits, “but if there’s something I want to watch I’ll still watch it. Once you lose your love of sports, you lose your edge for the job.”

Room to Roam

Here we grow again. Immediately after the May commencement, construction begins on a new green space between the Gallagher Student Center and Husman Residence Hall. The green includes a pavilion, tables, a statue and lush landscaping. In order to build the green, five houses—Walsh Hall, Bellarmine Parish Center, mission and ministry and two alumni association offices—are being torn down. The space should be ready when students return in the fall.

Music Man

Jack was 7 years old when he sat down for his first piano lesson. His feet barely reached the pedals and the 88 ebony and ivory keys before him were intimidating. His mother, Eleanor, was the church organist in Springfield, Ohio, as well as the local piano teacher, and she was hopeful her son would learn how to play. She took his hands and positioned his fingers upon the keys.

“She was never very successful in teaching me a lot about it,” admits Jack, better known today as John Heim, S.J. “So she handed me over to the sisters. They weren’t successful, and after several years they allowed me to quit.” The nuns and Mrs. Heim’s efforts weren’t in vain, however. Even though young Jack never mastered piano playing, a love of classical music was fostered in him during those lessons. Today, Heim shares that love with the community through the Xavier Music Series, which is returning to campus for the first time in two years.

“Before coming to Xavier, I had been stationed in the Chicago area,” says Heim, who was ordained in 1965. “I always attended the artist series there. When I moved here, I was missing the music. At the time, I was living in Brockman Hall, and I realized I was living 50 feet from a stage in the former University Center. So I got the people and money together and started the music series.”

Xavier’s classical piano series began in 1976 with six classical pianists and a budget of $3,000. Since then, the program has grown to a budget close to $30,000 and now features 20 artists a year. The series expanded to include classical guitarists. A jazz program was added in 1980. Over the years, Heim has had the opportunity to showcase both established musicians and young, up-and-coming artists in the series. Heim says having young talent is part of what the program is about. “It helps them get a reputation and maybe a good review in the newspaper,” he says. “That then helps them get on the concert stage. That’s what universities are for. Musicians have to prove themselves solo in recitals before they’re a featured performer with a group in a concert.”

Some of the young artists Heim remembers include Doug Montgomery and Manuel Barrueco. Montgomery was one of the first classical pianists who played for the series. He’s now a very successful musician who’s won awards and toured abroad. Barrueco was an unknown guitarist when he came to the University. He later became one of the best classical guitarists in the world. Heim also managed to bring jazz great Teddy Wilson to campus twice before the musician’s death in 1986. Wilson, who worked with Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday, was one of the most influential pianists of the jazz movement.

“Every day he said he would practice his jazz, but before that he would practice Chopin études,” says Heim of Wilson. “Chopin wrote 24 of these for every key on the piano. If you can play all of these etudes, you can play anything on piano, literally. A lot of people don’t realize there’s a close affinity of jazz music to classical music.”

For the past two years, the programs had to find new homes at the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Bethesda Foundation Auditorium while the new Gallagher Student Center was being built. So the fall 2002 season finds the series returning to campus in a new facility. It also brings with it a change in the jazz program.

“We thought we would make it more interesting by having groups and not just a soloist on piano or guitar,” says Heim. This year, the jazz series is featuring soloists on swing sax, trumpet and clarinet, as well as piano and guitar. Plus local jazz musicians are serving as the side men for the soloists. “If it doesn’t work out in two years, we’ll just drop it all together,” Heim says. He hopes moving back to the University’s campus encourages more people to attend both the jazz and the classical events.

“I wish we had a bigger audience, but we are a mirror of what’s happening to classical music in the United States and Canada,” says Heim. “There used to be hundreds of musical recitals, and now it’s dwindled down to a handful.” The Xavier recital series, he says, is one of only a handful in the United States.

“It’s impossible to make any money off of this, so it’s a labor of love,” says Heim. “At heart, I’m a preservationist. Once things are dead, it’s hard to resurrect them. People have been predicting the death of classical music, but it never quite dies. So, hopefully, things will turn around again and people will become interested in this kind of music. And when they do we’ll be here.”

SERIES INFORMATION:

Classical Piano (Reserved Seating)

All shows are at the Gallagher Student Center theater on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Season subscriptions are $120 for keyboard side seating; $110 for right side seating. Single tickets are $19 and $17. Students in grade school through undergraduate college are admitted free with ID. There is a $3 discount for senior citizens on single tickets.

Featured classical pianists for 2002-2003: • Sept. 29—Stephen Hough • Oct. 13—Richard Raymond • Oct. 27—Brian Ganz • Nov. 17—Kemal Gekic • Jan. 19—Jeffrey Biegel • Jan. 26—Antonio Pompa-Baldi • March 9—Jean-Philippe Collard • March 23—Esther Budiardjo • April 13—Bryan Wallick

Classical Guitar (No Reserved Seating)

All shows are at the Gallagher Student Center theater on Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Season subscriptions are $36. Single tickets are $12. Students in grade school through undergraduate college are admitted free with ID. There is a $3 discount for senior citizens on single tickets.

Featured guitarists for 2002-2003: • Oct. 20—Randall Avers • Nov. 10—William Kanengiser • Jan. 5—Antigoni Goni • Feb. 9—Martha Masters

Jazz Performances (Reserved Seating)

All shows are at the Gallagher Student Center theater on Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Season subscriptions are $50. Single tickets are $14. Students in grade school through undergraduate college are admitted free with ID. There is a $3 discount for senior citizens on single tickets.

Featured jazz performers: • Sept. 15—James Willaims (piano) and group • Nov. 3—Marl Elf (guitar) and group • Jan. 12—Bill Marley (trumpet) and group • Feb. 23—Randy Reinhard (swing sax) and group • April 6—Ken Peplowski (clarinet) and group

For more information about the music series, call 513 745-3161.

Letters to the Editor

Forming a Military Conscience
I was in ROTC as an undergraduate student here at Xavier during World War II. I was in Patton’s Third Army in Europe and also in the Philippine Islands. I have a Combat Infantry Medal from the 86th Black Hawk Infantry Division.

Recently, some students from ROTC dialogued with students from Dorothy Day House. In the 1990s, Scott Jackson got the highest award in ROTC and also the Peace Studies Scholarship.

My vision is for a world in which law replaces war. In the meantime, we need international peacekeeping forces in areas such as Israel-Palestine to help replace violence with democratic international law. Even in areas of violence, we need to observe the Hague Convention, the 4th Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international and moral law.

In the Challenge of Peace, the U.S. Catholic Bishops clearly spell out moral standards for a just war. I would hope that Xavier ROTC students would be selective conscientious objectors to service they decided was contrary to their conscience. Recently, 350 Israeli Army Reservists decided in conscience that they could no longer serve in the occupied Palestinian Territory.

Hopefully, Xavier will help all students to form their conscience on war and peace issues.
—Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J., Director, Xavier Peace and Justice Programs

 

Poor Representation
As an Edgecliff alumna, Class of ’59, I have long felt little or no connection with Xavier and have for some time objected to the use of slick publications to market the University. The current issue, Spring 2002, was particularly objectionable. The cover, depicting a battle ready young woman, was certainly not “reflective of the entire Xavier community” and most certainly not representative of the Edgecliff values that were so formative in my life. Glamorizing combat troops stands in opposition to our Christian mission of peace. I cannot imagine Christ depicted in such a way and fail to see the power behind the image as anything more than sensationalism capitalizing on current marketing trends that use patriotism for monetary gains.

Since I consider this magazine a waste of resources, ecologically as well as financially, and now, more than ever, a matter of conscience, I ask that you please remove my name from your mailing list.
—Janet Claire Frank

Missing the Issues
I have read the different articles regarding the ROTC program and four alumni’s role in our nation’s response [Spring 2002]. I have a few comments.

First, to limit those “fighting terrorism” to those involved in military combat is naive and ignores the root causes of terrorism. Secondly, there are numerous alumni who are working for peace and justice throughout the world, including the Middle East, whose contribtutions are lacking in this issue, and almost all of your alumni profiles.

Third, we are Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher learning in which conversation regarding appropriate responses, including the just war theory, passificism, conscientious objection. These are the issues which should be discussed in this magazine, not the pro-military stance it seems to have taken (see photos). I am not anti-military, nor am I making a comment on the appropriateness of the U.S. response. But this is the issue which should be at the center of a university magazine.

Fourth, the issue you missed was the relationship between the Peace and Justice programs and ROTC. Father Klein’s quote spoke to the heart of the issue, which you ignored for, dare I say, a fluff piece.

Fifth, and finally. It is shame that this is still called Xavier magazine. It is no longer a magazine and has not reflected any substantive thought in several years. This has become an alumni newsletter.
—Brian Doyle BAU ’94

Mission Betrayal
Like the insubstantial, glossy alumni magazine itself, the “Leap of Faith” cover story about Xavier’s ROTC program was all glitter and no gold. I searched in vain for some acknowledgementas to the androgynous-looking photo of the collegiate soldier in warpaint on the cover. Who was/is s/he? If it is a woman, she is all dressed up with nowhere to go. She will not be permitted to fight alongside the Xavier boys who seem so anxious about the possibility of combat.

Not to worry, guys. In today’s military, only the tiniest percentage of you will ever see combat. And, as indicated by the statements of the grads serving in Afghanistan, they will more likely be killed by massive “friendly” overkill, than by engagement with the armies of “the axis of evil.”

The article’s title suggests these student-warriors are faith driven. Yet, there is not a single mention from any of these students of their being guided by faith in opting for the military.

And what of the faith and morals of the University’s president? In a Mr. Rogers-like admonition, Father [Leo] Klein cautions, “They should be very responsible army people.” May I humbly suggest that the president’s primary responsibility should be to the Gospel?

If there was no defending the fact that all of us undergraduates were forced to do ROTC in the 60’s, the sin is compounded in the present day, when Xavier is among only a handful of Jesuit colleges still taking money from the same institution that helped kill Jesuits in Latin America in the 80s.

There may be some rationale for a modest post-Cold War military establishment, but a Catholic university betrays its mission and its God by underwriting it.
—Jim Luken ’66
(Editor’s Note: The woman on the cover is Joanna Brown, who is mentioned in the story. Also, Leo Klein, S.J., is vice president for mission and ministry, not the University president.)

War & Peace
Having read the “War & Peace” article in the Winter 2002 issue of Xavier, I felt compelled to respond. While I believe [Father Kenneth] Overberg’s statement is far more relevant than that of [Adrian] Scheiss, even the former’s analysis has the major flaw of not addressing the primary cause of terrorism against the U.S.: the policies of our nation, in the interest of multinational corporations, which attempt to control other nations.

This problem in our foreign policy has probably also been true of many other nations which have been superior econmically and militarily to their neighbors. But now the stakes are much higher, since the world is a virtual neighborhood, and our nation seeks to use its awesome power to control the labor and natural resources of the rest of the globe.

But this is more than a matter of American power; it is also a problem of people all over the world suffering, as is partially illustrated by the deaths of thousands of people in Central America and over one million people in Iraq due to U.S. policies. An unending cycle of violence lies ahead unless cooler heads prevail. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “We must develop a world perspective.”
—James A. Lucas

Parking Point
While I certainly appreciate the benefits brought forth by the $81,000 generated in parking ticket revenues last year [“The Boot and the Booty,” Spring 2002], the article fails to address the real underlying issue—the need for more student parking on (or at least near) campus.
—Erin Doyle

Service and Pride
I would like to thank you for the well written article regarding the ROTC program [Leap of Faith, Spring 2002]. In today’s increasingly violent world, where the ideals of America are under attack, it is comfortable to know that the University is still providing leaders for our military. The ROTC program has always been a point of pride for Xavier, and its graduates have served our nation well. Thanks to them for all they do to protect our freedom.
—Mark Denney

 

Defending Rights
I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the recent article in Xavier Magazine [Leap of Faith, Spring 2002]. Having read the letters to the editor, I’m sure this piece has raised some emotions both for and against ROTC and the military service. I am also sure there have been many not printed. One such letter I recently received was from the parents of Bob Rice, an alumni and 2Lt. of XU who was killed serving his country in Viet Nam 14 months after graduation. Their letter to me and the Corps of Cadets stated, “We would deeply appreciate you telling the Corps of Cadets and your staff that there were many who appreciated their choice and service prior to 11 September.” People like that know what sacrifice and service to this nation truly means, and their words of encouragement do nothing but increase the cadets commitment to service.

I, too, think it is important to listen and understand everyone’s views and let people make their own decisions. I am always amazed how “close minded” people can be on certain issues. Bottom line, we live in a country that allows everyone to have their own opinion. I’m just glad there are those who are willing to defend this right and the many other rights many people tend to take for granted.

Again, thanks for your time and efforts developing this piece. I know the cadets appreciated it.
—Timothy R. Gobin, LTC, FA, Professor of Military Science, Xavier University

 

Called Up
As a proud parent of Oliver Olson, senior as of Sept. 11, I still gladly receive Xavier magazine. This latest copy, Vol. 9 No. 2, features the ROTC on the cover. Oliver has been in the U.S. Army Reserves since he graduated from Marmion Academy in 1997, and transferred to Xavier from Illinois Benedictine two years ago. After receiving his private pilot’s license in Cincinnati almost three years ago, he liked it so much there in Cincy, he looked into the school, transferred, and has the intention to graduate from Xavier, hopefully.

However, Sept. 11 changed some things and his original timing when he was called up on active duty with the U.S. Army Reserves the day after Sept. 11. The magazine does a great job describing and honoring the ROTC people, but does fail to mention full time active, honor students called up for active service, like Oliver. I hope out of sight does not mean out of mind for those Xavier students now in the midst of serving our country, and carrying guns with live ammo. Not that that is his mother’s dream, but it is a mission taken in the midst of education due to circumstances of war.

As Oliver was excelling at Xavier on the Dean’s list, he is also applying the same behavioral traits in his Military Police Squad 6015 MP, where he is stationed at Fort McCoy, Wisc. The Army Reserves has held a little elected contest for Soldier of the Year Award, and Oliver was nominated by his unit, elected by his squad, then elected by all of Fort McCoy, won a six-state regional election by a regional board of Army judges and leaders, and now will be receiving a national award. He is traveling to Washington, D.C., with his post Commander May 1-3 to receive an award.

You may want to follow up with him and his commanding officers on the details, or watch CNN.
—Nancy Olson, Inverness, Ill.

Filling the Gap
As parents of a Xavier student [Ryan Mulvenon ’03], we want to congratulate you for a consistently outstanding magazine. We have encouraged our children to attend a university away from home in order to foster their personal growth and independence. Of course, there’s a price to pay for the separation. Since our home is in Nevada, it’s tough for us to visit. Weekend trips are out of the question and Ryan gets home only on major holidays. But Xavier magazine helps fill the gap. It brings the school to our doorstep and gives us a sense of involvement. It’s well-written, beautifully designed, wonderfully illustrated and informative. Thanks.
—Steve & Janelle Mulvenon

Dejected
I am a 39-year-old Xavier undergraduate student. I am taking 16 hours in the summer to graduate this summer. I was appalled to find out that I cannot purchase a cap and gown. I have worked very hard for my degree. I have maintained a full-time job, as well as maintained a marriage and raised three children. This is a big accomplishment for me, and I would like to announce this to the world, to have pictures taken in my cap and gown and send out announcements. However, that is not possible since I am not on “the list.” And since Xavier only has one commencement ceremony, I am forced to come back in 2003 just to hear my name called. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am truly dejected. Maybe this is not important to the adminstration at Xavier but it is important to me.
—Angela McCowan

 

 

Early Days
Read your article [Leap of Faith, Spring 2002]. That’s nothing. Look what happened to me.

I’m class of ’42. Graduated in May. By February ’43, I’m in North Africa. It was the mismatch of the century—us against the elite German Afrika Corps. Rommel and Germany’s finest. No one writes about those early days. I see a field of wreckage, tanks smashed, burning, piles of them. And the shock—they’re all OURS.

Our first battle and over half of our guys are in German prisoner of war camps. All 12 howitzers are gone. We’re a “laughing stock.”

The most arrogant people in the world were those Afrikan Corps. I didn’t know I could hate. But as I wrote, the Brits laughed at us, too. They didn’t think we could hold an ant hill. How do you think I felt? Ernie Pyle didn’t dare write about any of this, but he saw it too.

Also, what is never written was over-aged command. Our FA regiment soon got rid of almost all rank beyond majors. We got a new CO, a West Pointer, age 27.

We went on, learned, and learned to fight without British help. The 17th went on and on without me. I was wounded near Cassimo.

OK, read my story. I wrote a book of them. I call them “Crazy War Stories.”

Bye.
—Jim Smith ’42, Framingham, Maine

 

Learning Life Skills
I would like to thank you for your article on Xavier’s ROTC program. As a 1995 graduate of both the university and the ROTC department, I feel a great pride after reading an article like that. I know that the Jesuit Mission is to promote peace, however, until every other country decides to live in peace we need soldiers to defend us. One thing that I think a lot of people don’t understand is that the ROTC department does not only teach about war and violence. They also teach life skills like discipline. I hope that all the Cadre and cadets in Xavier’s ROTC program keep up the good work.
—Chris Martin ’95

Christian Soldiers
After reading several of the letters to the editor about the feature story on ROTC at Xavier, I felt compelled to say my piece on the subject. First of all, the sentiments that were expressed were very one-sided and based on little knowledge. It seems as though people cannot make the connection between being a soldier and being a Christian. Xavier goes to great lengths to convince its students to accept far-left stances on many issues, the military is exactly such an issue. At Xavier, the military is presented in a very negative manner by many professors, specifically within the theology department. I am both a Christian and a soldier. I am firm in my beliefs and I will never become a conscientious objector. I read my Bible and understand the lessons it contains. My faith is at the heart of my existence.

However, what I don’t buy into is all of the “theory” out there that serves only to condemn and ridicule the military. Based on my classes here, the only perspective I have been taught is that the military is an instrument of evil. Personally, I find this stance both ludicrous and weak. The problem stems from people not knowing anything about what they are taking a stance on. To top it all off, the basis of their arguments come from human sources or from inventing doctrine on small sections of Scripture.

ROTC is a big part of life at Xavier. Cadets represent one of the largest groups of students at the school. Why shouldn’t a “pro-military” appear in this magazine? ROTC students are not the majority on campus, but we still have the right to be heard. People do not have to agree with us on all subjects, however, they do owe us the chance to present our beliefs and to be taken seriously. Not every story has to focus on Catholic social teaching as some people seem to desire. This approach would be similiar to a state-controlled media source. I applaud the magazine for having the courage to write and publish the story.
—Matt Raymond

Iron Man

Dan Casey has had many memorable moments during his athletic career. None, though, compares to the one that occurred when he was just 8 years old.

“My brother and I used to set up the Casey family triathlon,” he says. “It was 30 laps in the pool, 10 times around the block on a bike and one time around the block running. My brother is two years older and he beat me every time except once. One time he had a flat tire and I ended up beating him. My mom always made homemade ribbons for us. I’ve got a picture from that time and I’m all smiles and my brother has the biggest frown on his face.”

Sibling rivalry apparently has its rewards. It also helped create Casey’s current passion—competing in real triathlons, those grueling endurance races that involve swimming, biking and running a full marathon.

“I think it requires a certain type of athlete to do all three disciplines,” says the 1998 graduate. “When you put all three together, it’s a lot different than each discipline by itself. When I compete, I’m able to push my body and mind to see what I’m made of. It shows what kind of heart you have. To be able to compete and finish at a high level is rewarding.”

And he’s doing quite well. Last year, he finished second overall in the Rock & Roll Triathlon in Cleveland and first in the 25-29 age bracket. That level of competition is something he’s familiar with, though. Casey swam for the University’s swim team, and still owns four school records. He won two bronze medals in the South American Games swimming for his native Ecuador and placed sixth in the medley relay in the Pan-Am Games. He returned to the States, though, and now does Internet marketing for the Cintas Corp.

But he couldn’t get the need to compete out of his blood, so he followed in the tracks of his dad, who finished the Hawaiian Ironman triathlon in 1991, 1992 and 2000.

“I’m not a sit-on-the-couch kind of person,” he says. “If I could go pro, I’d do it in a second. But I’m happy to compete as an amateur and do the best I can.”

Globe Trotter

Paul Knitter almost didn’t make it to the conference he was scheduled to attend two years ago. It was in Indonesia, and just before leaving he realized he had a serious passport problem. It’s not that he didn’t own one. Quite the contrary. It’s that the one he did own was so filled with stamps and visas from his travels over the years that there wasn’t any more room. India, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, England, Israel, Mexico. He had so many stamps that he had sent it to the U.S. Passport Agency in Chicago to have 10 additional pages inserted.

“I almost didn’t get it back in time,” says Knitter, a professor emeritus of theology. “The morning I was supposed to leave for Indonesia, I stopped by the post office to see if it had come in yet. They told me it had, but that the driver already had it. We had to call the driver to find out where he was, and I drove out to meet him.”

Fortunately, his most recent trip went a little more smoothly. Knitter was traveling to Macedonia as a member of the Trialogue Group of International Scholars, a group comprised of Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars. Formed 15 years ago by Leonard Swidler, a professor of theology at Temple University, the group originally met annually to talk about theological issues amongst themselves. A few years ago, however, they began to use their yearly meetings as a chance to provide dialogue in parts of the world experiencing interreligious conflict, such as Israel and Indonesia.

The president of Macedonia, Boris Trajkovski, heard about their work and invited them to come to his country to try to alleviate the religious tensions present there. Located in the West Balkans, Macedonia used to be a part of the former Yugoslavia. After the fall of communism, however, it assumed its own identity. Here Slavs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Serbs, Turks and Greeks all live side by side.

Even though the population is evenly divided between the two major religious groups—Greek Orthodox and Muslim—the government representation is 90 percent Greek Orthodox. Recently, the country has been experiencing religious/political struggles and violence between the two groups. Leaders from the two religious groups met with members of Trialogue during the five-day conference.

“We talked about the need to dialogue, the value of dialogue and how to dialogue,” says Knitter. “We talked about how to genuinely listen to someone, and to understand that they have something to learn from him or her. How to enter into the experience of the other person and see things from his or her perspective, and the danger of absolute claims.”

During the gathering, there were presentations made by the Greek Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and United Methodists.

“It was then that things started to flare,” says Knitter. “The Muslims talked about how they were angry there were crosses on the city’s watchtowers. The Orthodox Greeks were telling how they were angry because Muslims had beaten up some Orthodox Greek workers. Others came in and reminded them that everything done in the name of a certain community is not in the name of that certain community.”

Knitter led a group on conflict resolution. One speaker was an American Mennonite who had worked in Bosnia and talked about nonviolent solutions. “They really started to listen to each other,” says Knitter. “I saw them come to a better understanding of the fears the other had and the pain.”

One day during the conference the group visited the Orthodox Theological University. It was the first time this university had ever entertained Muslims. The next day, the group went to the Muslim Theological University. That was the first time that university entertained Greek Orthodox.

While they were at the Orthodox Theological University, the deans of both universities stood up to talk. When the Muslim dean finished, he reached across the moderator and shook the hand of the Orthodox dean.

“There was a hush in the room because everybody knew that this was something historical,” says Knitter.

Knitter feels that they made progress in getting the two groups to open up to one another and created a basis for future dialogues.

“I’m surprised we were able to accomplish what we did,” he says. “Now they know each, and they’ve got a better understanding of each other. It was a big accomplishment.”

Full Circle

In his book Strike Songs of the Depression, Timothy Lynch mentions folk singer Pete Seeger. So it seemed only natural to send the songwriter a copy of the book. Lynch never imagined the response he would receive. “He sent me back a postcard with his phone number on it,” says Lynch. “So I gave him a call. He talked to me over the phone and gave me a quote for my book. This book has brought me to places I never dreamt I’d be at.”

One of those places is full circle. Lynch first became interested in history as an undergraduate at the University. He graduated in 1976 with a double major in history and philosophy and later earned a master’s degree in humanities in 1988. While a graduate student, he wrote a paper for the course Images in History. The paper looked at the history of Depression-era labor strikes through music.

Later, Lynch used that idea to write his doctoral dissertation at Miami University. Then he turned it into a book that is now being used in the course Sounds of History: American History Through American Music. The course is being taught by Richard Gruber, associate professor of history, the same professor who taught Lynch in Images of History.

Now a professor of humanities at the College of Mount St. Joseph, Lynch returned to Gruber’s classroom as a guest speaker this spring. “I’ve been using music as a historical resource for a long time,” says Gruber. “I knew I had a good source with Tim and his book.”

Fortin Moves to Head of Class

The University’s academic future is in the hands of an historian. In March, the University hired history professor Roger Fortin as its new academic vice president. Fortin stepped into the position as acting vice president last May and will lead the University into a new era.

“When you look at Xavier 10 years from now, you’ll see dramatic changes in the way we conduct scholarly activity,” Fortin says. “Those scholarly changes will equate with the change we’ve seen physically over the last 10 years.”

The hiring of Fortin was as difficult as it was easy, says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. Graham previously worked with Fortin in the history department, and the two worked well together during the past year. The search committee, though, brought in four other highly qualified finalists, which made the decision arduous.

“The committee did a tremendous job of galvanizing a conversation on the future of the University, and in bringing in national-caliber candidates who presented us with some very real choices,” Graham says. What nudged Fortin ahead of the others, though, wasn’t their history, but their chemistry—that one intangible that was known with Fortin but not with the others.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with Roger, dating back to our time together in the history department,” says Graham. “He is a remarkably talented individual, shrewd, insightful, creative and well-spoken, and he will allow us to continue our seamless leadership transition and enhance our remarkable momentum.”