Lessons Learned

Challenging Viewpoints: Trudelle Thomas, English

When I signed up for the class, I remember hearing from friends that the professor, Trudelle Thomas, had a slight reputation as a “feminist.” That term might have been passé then; it’s certainly archaic now. Whether Thomas would dispute that label, I do not know. But I was a 19-year-old male student, and this idle talk convinced me that I would not like her or her course, and that I would hardly learn anything I needed to know. I never even entertained the idea that she might have any lasting influence on my life.

I was emphatically wrong. She did not teach by pushing ideologies down the throats of impressionable underclassmen, nor did she spout off riffs from her own personal manifesto on how things in the world should be. What she did do was challenge me more than any teacher I had, not only to excel in communicating my viewpoints effectively, but also to understand why I thought what I thought in the first place, and to have confidence in my own voice.

But Thomas did something else for me that I value even more. She helped me to identify and pursue what I consider to be my vocation: writing. As a direct consequence of her course, I became interested in writing, expressing my thoughts and ideas on paper. And, because she insisted we keep a journal, I also discovered my creative impulses in a new light. I went into the military following graduation, but I never forgot her course or her influence.

Seven years after taking her course, and with her help, I hasten to add, I enrolled in graduate school to study creative writing. Today I have a Master of Fine Arts degree, and writing is a daily part of my life. I still think of her when I think about why I bother trying to write, and I have a feeling she would be disappointed if I ever gave up the craft I love.

I am now 33 years old with a wife and daughter. I have published an essay in a national magazine, and I am very grateful to Thomas for her faith in me. Perhaps the best tribute to her influence lies in the fact that today, more than 12 years later, I still think about her energy, spirit, intelligence and compassion. I remember her class; I remember her voice, her gestures and her assignments. I doubt I will ever forget her as a teacher or person-and I can think of no better tribute to an educator.
Jude Joseph Lovell ’92 BA, writer

Going For It: Carol Tatham, Management

I was a senior at Xavier doing some interviews for my potential career in retail management, and one of the interviews was with Toys R Us. Prior to the interview I felt sick, but I was told that it was just butterflies and I should go on in and show them what I was made of. Well, evidently I wasn’t made of much. I went into the interview and proceeded to vomit.

About a week later, I was preparing to give a speech and was feeling really nervous. My professor, Carol Tatham, called on me to be the first presenter. What luck. I explained that I would rather not go first, and she said to me, “Chelle, you have thrown up all over someone who was interviewing you not just for a job, but for your potential career. What could be more embarrassing than that? Now that you have your life’s most embarrassing moment out of the way, go for it.”

I hadn’t told her of my interviewing mishap, so obviously I was a laughingstock and topic of gossip on campus. I can’t remember what my grade was, but I did go for it and did fine.

I have gone for it every day since and until recently was the vice president of operations at a local marketing research firm. I am now an independent marketing research coordinator. Tatham was in marketing research and in a later discussion shared her excitement for her field, another piece of advice that shaped my life.
Chelle Precht ’85 BSBA, marketing research coordinator

Commitment: John LaRocca, S.J., History

The person I am today is due to John LaRocca, S.J., and his penchant for pasta. Each Friday he would open his Kuhlman Hall apartment to students and cook a pasta dinner for whoever arrived with a fork and plate in hand. Well into the first semester of my sophomore year, I had yet to declare a major. While leaning toward history, I wanted to take the Western Civilization class without actually declaring history as my major. The only catch was that I needed the professor’s permission to enroll in the class, because it was reserved for history majors only. The professor was LaRocca, and he scared the beejeebers out of me.

Eventually, on a fall Friday in 1997, I found myself sitting on the couch in LaRocca’s living room, eating pasta and building up my courage to ask for his permission. I remember his large brown eyes reflecting an odd combination of weariness and humor staring back at me as he very succinctly stated that if I wanted to take his honors history class, I had to commit to a decision and declare the major.

I am defined by the number of professors at Xavier who taught me to think, to analyze, to question and to listen. Professors I met because of a two-minute conversation over pasta, and professors who taught me to take a chance.
Joan M. French ’99 BAU, Assistant Counsel for the Department of the U.S. Navy, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command

Self-worth and Balance: Kent Anger, Psychology

I didn’t attend college immediately after high school. No one in my family ever had, and it seemed to be an out-of-reach option for one of 10 kids of a steel mill worker living on a small farm in Indiana. So, in 1973 I went to a technical school for a year and a half to learn some marketable skills, then got married and settled into a routine as a housewife with a preschooler and a part-time job.

My husband, however, was college-educated with a graduate degree, and as the years began to pass, I thought more and more about going back to school and having a meaningful career of my own. I enrolled part time as a non-traditional student at Edgecliff College, which merged with Xavier just before I graduated. I didn’t really fit in with the younger student population very well, but I was determined to be there and did well in my classes. My son, who was 2 years old when I began, tagged along with me, spending many happy hours playing in the dorm with his student babysitters. I took a few classes each semester and made steady progress.

Eventually, to meet my social science requirement I enrolled in an experimental psychology class led by an adjunct faculty member, Kent Anger. I loved it-I couldn’t get enough of the class or the topic. Anger recognized and encouraged my enthusiasm, supplying me with journal readings, discussing his research efforts and inviting me to attend local research seminars. I decided to double-major in psychology and biology, and increased my course load so that I could take every available offering and still progress on a reasonable time schedule.

Anger continued to provide career guidance and mentoring long after I completed his class. As I neared graduation, he surprised me with an offer of a part-time job helping his staff conduct neurobehavioral research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health. I jumped at the chance. Working in his lab became the springboard to my career as a behavioral scientist. His recommendations and mentoring opened doors for me, leading to promotion opportunities, my pursuit of a master’s degree in experimental psychology at Xavier and, eventually, selection for a highly competitive long-term training program that led to my doctorate in social psychology.

Anger has long since left Cincinnati and now directs research programs at the Oregon Health & Sciences University.

While, at best, we may only exchange Christmas letters now, I will always hold him in high esteem and credit him with influencing some of my most significant life decisions. How amazing when you think about it: A part-time faculty member had a dramatic impact on a young mother struggling to find her self-worth while balancing home, work and school. Now, I teach psychology classes part time at Xavier. Every so often, I find myself putting a little extra effort into advising and encouraging a promising student or one who is struggling to balance work, home and school. It’s a small thing for me to do, but I hope it makes a difference for them.
Carol Merry Stephenson,’EC81 BS, ’91 MA, NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Second Chances: Richard Deters, S.J., Dean of Evening Studies

I arrived in Cincinnati as a 15-year-old refugee from Cuba and, while my command of the English language had grown to conversational, it was still far below the requirements of college work. I tried studying at Villa Madonna College in Covington, Ky., but in an era before English as a second language classes or remedial language tutoring, it was a great struggle. My grades were below passing and the Villa Madonna registrar suspended me and suggested I get acquainted with a leaf blower.

One balmy September evening, I found myself in front of Richard Deters, S.J., who was dean of Xavier’s evening studies program, making a heartfelt appeal for a second chance. This would be the first of many meetings with Deters as he tried to untangle some salvageable grade to transfer from my Villa Madonna transcript. Fortunately for me, he found enough there to allow me to enroll.

Not without struggles and setbacks, I completed my Bachelor of Science four years later and found meaningful and fulfilling work that progressively led to a position as director of business development for Lockheed Martin Corp. In some indirect way, Deters also led to the opportunity, 20 years later, for my daughter also to graduate from Xavier and to become a practicing attorney.

The memory of Deters’ patience and charity-allowing me that second chance-has colored my whole life and will influence generations to come. I, in turn, have had the opportunity to assist others, so that his gift continues to flower.
Luis A. Sastre ’69 BS, director of business development, Lockheed Martin Corp.

Looking Within: Tyrone Williams, English

“But will you be happy?” he asked.

I hadn’t even considered the question. I had merely considered myself incredibly fortunate to have a job after graduation. Taking a job at an insurance company was perfectly logical. I had connections there. I had experience, stability and a reasonable salary. But I hadn’t stopped to ask myself if it was what I wanted. It took Tyrone Williams to challenge me to consider that.

It really should have come as no surprise. Without exception, Williams’ courses were the most challenging and difficult in my Xavier career. He incessantly pushed me to more complex levels of thinking and writing, and he certainly had no trouble bursting my bubble on any number of papers or exams.

So here he was, pushing me again-being the thorn in my side. Being a nagging voice in my head. Being, in fact, a true friend and mentor.

I did take the job with the insurance company, but I also started working toward my master’s degree in education at Xavier. Eventually, I chose to leave both fields to build my family, and I have never regretted it. And, although I haven’t spoken with Williams in years, I often think of him asking me, “But are you happy?” And I smile back and say, “Yes! And thank you so much for asking.”
Toni Otto Alander ’94 BAU, homemaker

Another Second Chance: Richard Deters, S.J.

I graduated in 1966 and like Luis Sastre, I too am one of Fr. Deters’ reclamation projects. He allowed me to transfer into Xavier from University of Kentucky-Extension, Covington 60 credits and the now longtime defunct Chase College of Commerce about 15 credits. Additionally, my life was really a mess by the time I was a teenager, and the only good thing I had done was join the Army when I was 18. I really needed a chance, and Fr. Deters cut me a fantastic break.

At the dinner for evening college graduates, Fr. Deters handed my an envelope and told me to read it the next day. The short letter began with the words, “We are happy to tell you that you have been accepted into the MBA program…” and so forth. Please note I had never applied because it was beyond my budget. Moreover, I had never discussed graduate school with anyone. Attached were my completed application for the graduate school and eligibility and application for VA benefits. I was completely unaware, I had recently become eligible for VA benefits. On top was a hand written note from Fr. Deters, “Sign all this stuff and get it back to me ASAP.” I did and received my M.B.A. several years later. While in graduate school, I also became a C.P.A. and am now retired after seven years in public accounting and 30 years with Internal Revenue Service.

If it had not been for Fr. Deters’ kindness and faith in me, I certainly would not have done as well as I have both in my professional life and personal life. I am happily married for 41 years and I am a father and grandfather.
Clyde Denney Foster ’66BBA/’73MBA

Early Times

The westbound road into the Northwest Territory was no more than a trail worn smooth by the Indians when Col. Ebenezer Zane began slashing trees in 1796. He cleared a path from Wheeling, W.Va., southwest to Kentucky, creating the only road in the region when Ohio became a state in 1803. Just wide enough for hunters on horseback, Zane’s Trace, as it was known, was the path followed when the farmers and land breakers from Germany and Ireland began streaming in with their wagons and wives and children, looking for a fresh start.

One was Jacob Dittoe, a German Catholic who settled in 1802 at Somerset in southeast Ohio, about two miles off the road. On a fall day in 1808, he took an axe into the forest and began chopping at the oak and hickory trees dotting his fertile land. The sound of the blade biting into the trunks echoed through the woods until it caught the ear of a lone man on horseback plodding on the road to Baltimore. His white robe draped over the back of his saddle, and a crucifix hung on his chest.

The man was Edward Dominic Fenwick, a Dominican priest recently sent from Maryland to Bardstown, Ky., and the only Catholic parish serving the settlers of Kentucky and the Northwest Territories of the Great Lakes. This was Fenwick’s first trip into Ohio, and at the request of the U.S. bishop, John Carroll of Baltimore, he was looking for Dittoe.

Fenwick turned his horse toward the sound of the axe and found the farmer hard at work. His arrival became a celebration for the three families that had settled there—and a pivotal event for the eventual establishment of the Catholic church in Ohio. It led to construction of the state’s first churches, appointment of Fenwick as Ohio’s first bishop and erection of the territory’s first Catholic university, which would become Xavier.

Fenwick’s encounter with Dittoe and the Somerset settlement also marked the beginning of his life as a missionary to the growing number of Catholics in Ohio and the Northwest Territory. Dittoe had made several appeals to the bishop to send a priest and help his little settlement build a church. They had young people who wanted to marry and babies who needed baptizing. It had been years since the Catholic settlers had had the ministrations of a priest.

With Dittoe’s people that day in 1808, Fenwick said the first official Mass in Ohio. By 1818, the Somerset families had built Ohio’s first church on land Dittoe donated. The little log chapel had a dirt floor and a rough-hewn table of unpolished wood for an altar. A brazier of small coals at Fenwick’s elbow helped keep the wine from freezing in winter.

Fenwick’s life as a missionary suited him, but it bore little resemblance to his original plan schemed after graduating from the Dominican college and seminary in Bornhem, Belgium. Son of a wealthy Maryland plantation family, Fenwick was taught early by the Jesuits and completed his education in Belgium. He wanted to bring the order home to the New World by establishing a Dominican community and college in Maryland.

Fenwick would eventually get his college, but it wouldn’t be in Maryland, and it wouldn’t be Dominican.

Assigned instead in 1805 to tend to the needier Catholics on the Kentucky frontier, Fenwick happily adopted the life of a missionary. He called himself “the itinerant preacher” and wrote about his solo travels to visit the settlers, when he often had to bed down for the night in the forest with his horse tied to a tree, his saddle for a pillow and “bears on all sides.” After 1808, he visited many budding settlements in Ohio, including Chillicothe and Gallipolis.

He also began visiting Cincinnati, where in 1811 he most likely offered the first known Mass in the city to about 12 Catholic families gathered at the home of Michael Scott, an Irish Catholic architect and builder. “Scott was a generous supporter of Catholic activities. In his home he provided hospitality to missionaries on their visits to Cincinnati,” writes Roger Fortin, Xavier’s vice president for academic affairs, in his book Faith and Action: A History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati 1821-1996.

The group’s enthusiasm for Catholic life led to construction of the first Catholic church in Cincinnati, and the third in Ohio, on a lot at Liberty and Vine streets just outside the city. The simple plank frame church—55 feet by 30 feet—was completed in 1819, just in time for its first Mass on Easter Sunday, attended by 100 worshipers.

At the time, 250 to 300 Catholic families lived in the state, totaling about 3,000 people, all served by Fenwick and his Dominican nephew, Nicholas Young. The bishop of Bardstown began appealing to Rome to establish a diocese in Cincinnati, and on June 19, 1821, Fenwick was appointed bishop of Ohio. When the news arrived he tried to reject the assignment, Fortin writes. “Though Fenwick never became convinced that he had the qualifications for such an exalted position, he finally reconciled himself to the burden of the office.” He once described himself as “the least worthy of men,” Fortin writes. “This low opinion of himself was a consistent part of Fenwick’s character throughout his tenure.”

Fenwick’s new diocese was widely scattered, rapidly growing and extremely poor. He raised scarcely enough money from his German and Irish congregation to pay his rent. Regardless, Fenwick decided the church had to be closer to its parishioners near the river, so he reconstructed the frame church on a lot he bought on credit and renamed it St. Peter in Chains Cathedral. Its basement served as a home to Fenwick and his clergy. The lot on Sycamore Street would serve the diocese until 1845 when a new cathedral was built nearby. The lot also would become Xavier University’s first home in 1831.

But before Fenwick could build the college of his dreams, he had to find money. In October 1823, he met with the new pope, Leo XII, in Rome. Leo gave him two new priests, $1,200 and religious supplies. Fenwick netted another $10,000 and long-term financial support from wealthy European donors. Upon his return in 1825 he began building a new cathedral at the Sycamore site to replace the little frame church. The new Gothic-style church, completed in June 1826, included a seminary inside the original frame structure. But it lacked a professor, and Fenwick had to wait again for his college and seminary.

Fenwick’s health suffered in the late 1820s, but the scarcity of priests meant he had to continue traveling. In 1826, he had nine priests in Ohio and four in Michigan. But the immigrants kept coming. Desperate, he opened a seminary in 1829 in the old frame church behind the cathedral. Named for St. Francis Xavier, one of the earliest Jesuits, it had 10 seminary students in its first class. In time, Catholic laymen began attending as well. Almost immediately, Fenwick began planning new buildings for the college and seminary. Donations helped him buy an adjacent lot and, on Oct. 17, 1831, the two-and-half story Athenaeum opened.

“Catholic secondary and higher education had their beginning in Cincinnati with the founding of the Athenaeum,” Fortin writes. “It became the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the Northwest Territory.”

Fenwick was pleased with the progress of his flourishing diocese, which now had 24 priests, 22 churches, a seminary, a college, a Catholic newspaper and upward of 25,000 Catholics—8,000 of them in Cincinnati. Just 14 years earlier, there were no churches and only himself to serve the state.

Death became a daily event in Cincinnati the following summer as the cholera epidemic took hold. Still, Fenwick headed for the territories, first touring Ohio, no doubt via Zane’s Trace. On July 14 at Sault Sainte Marie, the cholera found Bishop Fenwick. Ignoring the chills and fever, he continued his travels, covering more than 2,000 miles. Weak and sick, he headed home with a companion and stopped at a Wooster, Ohio, inn on Sept. 25. As the sun reached its zenith on Sept. 27, 1832, Fenwick died. He was 64. There was no priest to attend him, and he was quickly buried for fear of the cholera spreading.

Despite his unheralded death, the college and seminary he founded remain permanent fixtures in Cincinnati. But the financial troubles dogged the diocese for years. In 1840, Fenwick’s successor, Bishop John Baptist Purcell, frustrated by the lack of funds, offered the Athenaeum to the Jesuits who renamed it St. Xavier College. It remained downtown until it moved to the suburbs in 1919 and became Xavier University.

But the itinerant preacher who had ministered to thousands, who achieved so many of his goals, but who gave himself no credit, could not lie still for long. Five months after dying in Wooster, he was on the road again as his remains were placed in a vault under the cathedral in Cincinnati. He was moved again 15 years later when the new cathedral was built. Finally, in 1916, his remains came to rest in a mausoleum on Cincinnati’s west side. Surrounded by no less than six Catholic churches in a neighborhood of Irish Catholics, the work of Ohio’s first Catholic missionary was at last complete.

A Course in Religion

The course catalogs of Xavier’s early days, when it was known as The Athenaeum and St. Xavier College, reflected the thinking of the times. Latin and Greek, poetry and rhetoric, chemistry, botany, mathematics, physics, geography, history and “mental and moral philosophy,” plus all the European languages, were studied to great depth beginning in the 1830s.

But not religion. Though founded by a Catholic bishop and run since its earliest days by the Jesuits, Xavier didn’t have a department of religion throughout the 19th century. In the 1830s, when the city’s Catholic population was still small and most of the students were Protestant, the college’s administration offered chapel and Mass for its Catholic students and a religion-free curriculum for everyone. It wanted to attract the non-Catholic students who were needed to raise the educational level on the frontier as well as to pay the bills. It was hoped, however, that some of the school’s Catholic influences would wear favorably on them.

The first religion class didn’t appear until the time of the Civil War, specifically right after Charles Darwin published his Origin of the Species in 1859. The name of that first class was Evidences of Religion. It’s listed in the 1863-1864 catalog.

The course name, says William Madges, chair of the department of theology, likely grew out of the reaction to Darwin’s research, which, to some, was an affront to long-held religious beliefs.

“Darwin’s views not only challenged the traditional view of humanity, that we were different from animals, they also challenged the Bible, which was understood literally, and the Christian idea of providence rather than natural selection,” Madges says. “Where’s the guiding hand of God in all this? This is the college’s response.”

Religion continued to be taught throughout the century. The course catalog from 1885-1886 lists religion in the philosophy curriculum. By 1905, mandated religion courses had crept onto the downtown campus. All Catholic students were required to take a Christian doctrine class, attend chapel and make an annual retreat. By 1920, the college had moved to the Avondale campus and evidences of religion had grown into a separate department offering eight courses. In 1930, it was called the department of religious evidences and offered 13 classes. In 1938, it was renamed the religion department, and all students, including non-Catholics, had to take religion. The banner year was 1952, when the catalog listed for the first time a theology department, though the curriculum didn’t change. But the University emphasized that every course address the topic of religion.

The department’s curriculum and staff have undergone many changes since then, but the discipline of theological studies has remained a major focus of the University. All students still take a specific number of theology courses, though they have a wider range of choices today.

For God’s Sake

It’s a cruel riddle. Virtually all religions teach tolerance and love. And yet, for centuries men of all religious backgrounds have committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of God. If Sept. 11, 2001, underscored the dangers of extremist views, it also revealed a deep, complex web of historical, political and economic factors that forces us to reexamine not only the world outside our own borders, but the uncharted territories of our own hearts as well, and to address once again an old question: Will we ever stop killing one another in the name of religion?

In search of perspectives on this question, we approached eight faculty members from four faith traditions—Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu.

Joseph Bracken, S.J., Jesuit priest, professor of theology and former director of the Brueggeman Center for Interreligious Dialogue

My only answer would be we’ve got to change our concept of God. If the prevailing concept of God allows us to, commit violence to one another in God’s name, there’s something wrong with our concept of God. The Christian understanding of God is that of a God of love. We find the self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Christ was explicitly non-violent. He refused to use violence to save his own life, and many theologians would argue that the most important revelation of the nature of God given to us by Jesus was his suffering on the cross, his self-giving love for others. Rather than exerting violence to overpower people, he was going to persuade them by total self-giving both to the will of his father as he understood it, and to assist his fellow human beings to overcome their passion for domination and control.

If you read the Gospel narrative, you’ve got the very best portrayal of a man of peace. And it is interesting, in the early Christian centuries, Christians did not serve in the armed forces of the Roman Empire. Some of that seems to have been pacifism, or something very close to it. Then when Christianity became an officially recognized religion, all of a sudden the bishops said, “Well, we’ve got to defend ourselves.” That’s not to say that they endorsed every kind of violence, but the just-war theory came out of a kind of linkage of church and state.

Now I should also add that I’m not a pure pacifist in the sense that, at least right now, I don’t think you can just disarm the police, disband the military and expect things to suddenly get better. Right now I think we have to use the ideal of pacifism to control the violence. It’s an admission that you can’t have the best, and you might have to settle just simply for the good, which is a real effort to restrain violence, even in the name of something good and worthwhile.

I also think we should start critiquing our own media and their preoccupation with stories of violence. Prime-time television, movies, even newspapers are certainly glorifying violence, or at least rendering it routine so that it’s no longer an exceptional reality or an outrage. I think that clearly has to be addressed, that we are living in a culture of violence, which in some ways is media-inspired, and which desensitizes us to violence. It has to be the extraordinary act of violence that catches our attention anymore.
Yaffa Eliach, Jewish scholar from Lithuania and 2003 Brueggeman Chair

Yes. I’m a great believer in human beings. God gave us a choice. I said it years ago—that we would never have a terrible event in America if we would teach properly about togetherness and about life. I didn’t know it would be Sept. 11, but I was afraid that something would happen because I felt that we are not properly presenting important material. In my research I’m always looking for the positive elements that existed between Jews an non-Jews, because people always focus only on the negative elements.

For instance, when they teach about Jews in Europe, mostly it’s centered on the confrontations that existed between Jews and non-Jews. And in my book (There Once Was a World) and in my teaching, I show just the opposite. I show how they were also together. And it’s extremely important to see that for hundreds and hundreds of years, people were together. Of course there were problems, but we also must teach about the positive elements, how even there were laws in Judaism, that when Christians were poor in your vicinity, make sure to give them money for a wedding so their daughter can get married, just like it was for the Jewish people. And people don’t know about that; it’s not presented.

I was a small child during the Holocaust, and saw the murder of most of my family and so many other people—even after liberation my mother was murdered with my baby brother. My father had a tremendous affect on me. He was an exceptional person. Even in the most difficult times, he always focused on positive elements. When my mother was killed, my father helped the Russians find the White Poles who killed her so that they could be brought to trial. Then he was arrested by the Russians because he was a Zionist and Jewish. I was going to be 7 years old, and a Russian Cardinal we took me to the jail to say goodbye to my father. And my father said to me, “My child, you must remember the terrible murder that you saw. But my child, you should know that in Judaism, life is the center. You must focus on life, you must learn, and you must love good people.” And in the most difficult times, my father’s statement about life would always come to my mind, that indeed, you must always focus on life. We must focus on togetherness, not only on the confrontations and death.

In 1979 we were in Krakow, and we were in the synagogue. A man stood up and he said. “God is responsible for the suffering of the Holocaust, not people.” I said, “No, God gave us human beings the possibility of choices. That is why this is wonderful that God made us human beings different from anything else—that we have a choice.”

Paul Knitter, professor emeritus of theology and internationally known Catholic author, lecturer and peace advocate

I don’t know if we’ll ever come to a full halt, but I sure as hell hope that there can be less of such killing. I have reason to hope because I think at the heart of every religion is the message that we are called to and capable of higher things, that the state that we are in doesn’t have to stay the way it is. It can be different. But if it’s going to be so, it’s going to require my cooperation.

While religion has been a source of violence and hatred and a source of war, I think it has a greater potential to be a source of unity and compassion and concern for each other. And I’d say that even if you could prove to me—I don’t think you can do this—that the amount of hatred or the amount of killing religions have justified is greater than the amount love, I would still believe that it’s because we haven’t listened to the message of Buddha and Mohammed and Jesus.

And when you say, “Why should we expect that people will listen to them more than they have in the past?” I say, “Because we’re in such a mess.” I mean, we’re threatening the ecosystem. We’re dealing with terrorists now who can maybe carry around nuclear weapons in briefcases. I think maybe the kind mess we’re in might be an occasion to listen a bit more carefully to what these very wise people have told us.

We’ve got recognize that while in the past our religious traditions have invoked and justified violence, we now have to ask whether we can continue, whether that is still God’s will. It calls for a new way of interpreting our scriptures. In other words to say what was said in the Bible at one time may have, in some way which we can’t understand, been justifiable. But we can’t justify it today, and it’s no longer what God wants us to do. It calls for a new way of interpreting the Bible.

I believe that despite our horrible record, we human beings have the capacity to find our true happiness in caring about each other, that we are called to and we are oriented toward love rather than hatred. We’re happier loving other people than hating them. There’s a psychological side too, you don’t have to be religious: When you’re loving people, you’re better off. You sleep better.

Hans Kung, a Catholic professor who has done much for interreligious dialogue, has said “There will be no peace among nations without peace among religions. And there will be no peace among religions without a greater dialogue among religions.” Dialogue: That’s what we need today. That’s my hope. More than ever, we need the religions to come together to work for peace. And we work together to stop the people in our own religious traditions who are violating the message of Mohammed and the message of Jesus and using them for violence.

Farid Esack, Muslim scholar from South Africa and Besl Family Chair in ethics/religion and society

Sadly, no. I’d like to believe that we would get to a point where we’d stop killing each other in the name of religion. And as a Muslim it is certainly my responsibility to work toward such an end. But as an actual human being, as a realistic human being, I don’t think we will ever get to that point.

The problem is that religion is just far too powerful an emotive force to not invoke for one’s deepest angers, whether these angers are personal or whether they are ideological. It’s like this whole thing about “I was an atheist until I started drowning.” When you are at the cutting edge of your deepest anxieties, it is often then that people find religious language very, very powerful. So religious rhetoric is far too powerful for it to not be invoked, and for the lowest depths that you can actually go to, which is the killing of other people. It is far too attractive a force for it to never be used.

The texts also lend themselves to be used as pretext. If it was, as in the case of the Jains, where non-violence is the absolute principle—there’s no possibility of interpreting any Jain scriptures in a violent sense—then it is different. But whether it is the just-war theory or the jihad story or the survival of the Jewish people, the difference is that all of our religions do lend themselves to being used as pretexts for violence. Until it’s too easy, I think for religious people to just walk away and think that, “Oh it’s not Islam; it’s not Christianity; it’s just the way it’s being used.” That’s too easy an option. Our texts are far too messy, far too problematic.

Hem Raj Joshi, a Hindu from Napal and an assistant professor in the department of mathematics and computer science

Why not? But it’ll take time. I don’t think any of the religions preach violence or killing each other. They teach tolerance, regardless of whether people are rich or poor, or whether they’re from the same religion or not. You are born on this earth, not to up bring only yourself, but others also. So whoever is in need, provide some help to your best level. For example, if you are eating and somebody comes, you try to share whatever you have. Nobody knows when the god is going to come in front of you.

If you talk with Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, it doesn’t matter. We all share the same things. We were not born with violence in our mind. When a child is born, he doesn’t come with a religion or anything, you know? He comes as he comes. When I was born, I had no idea what Hinduism is. So it is with you. You didn’t know what Christianity was. Later on, your parents took you to church, and my parents said “Well, let’s go to temple.” That’s how we become this.

For example, if I give you two pounds of wheat flour, you’ll try to make bread. But if you give me two pounds of the same thing, I’ll try to make chapatti. It’s the same thing, right? Your taste is bread; my taste is chapatti. Both are used to calm your hunger.

But it’s my view that people interpret things the way it best suits their interests. And that’s creating the problem. Some people take advantage of that for their own benefit. If you think back, those people who are killed are not leaders. They are very simple people who have no clue what’s happening. But somehow these leaders will put some fuel on them and they will make them very hot, you know? Then the leaders are sleeping in a five-star hotel or some very safe place, and those people are out in the street, and they get killed. Have you any seen or heard of any big leader who got killed in any of these religious riots? No. I haven’t heard. Only the very simple people, only people who have not too much political interest. I think it happens everywhere. If you got killed they say, “Oh you are a martyr, you did a great job.” But for what?

The difficult thing is how to stop it. The idea is reduce the crowd who will follow this stream. If you look at wherever religious wars are going on, there’s often a lot of illiteracy and poverty. More educational and economic opportunities would definitely help. If people see some light at the end of tunnel, then they believe that, “OK, I’m going to go that way.” But if they have dark everywhere, then they say, “Well, head in any direction.”

Elizabeth Groppe, a Christian and assistant professor of theology

I would like to rephrase the question if I might, so that it’s not “Will we ever” but rather “How can we stop killing each other in the name of religion?” I think Martin Luther King was right when he said our choice today is nonviolence or nonexistence. We have to make a concerted effort to work for an end to violence in the name of religion or in any other name, and make the decision that that’s what we are going to do.

Religions—Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism—all have historically proven that they can foster compassion, empathy and ego-transcending, pro-social behaviors. It was this inspiration that was at the heart of people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Marc Gopin, a Jewish scholar and a senior associate in the preventive diplomacy department at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington, D.C., says that we need to analyze our traditions and identify what it is that makes them violent, then identify how they can be a source of nonviolence and how we can cultivate that capacity.

There are ways of doing that specific to particular traditions. For example, if you look at the historical records that have survived concerning the first 300 years of Christianity, those Christians were adamantly opposed to participation in violence in any form. Their reasons were fidelity to the teaching and example of Christ and a commitment to the Christian conviction that Jesus Christ was in fact the promised Messiah. According to Isaiah, the Messianic era was going to be a time when nations would no longer make war with one another. So if we believe in this Messianic vision, then we have to do something to make that vision happen. We have to ask, “What can Christians do to make that more credible by the way that we ourselves live?”

Gopin also says that one of the functions of every religion is to give us a meaning system that makes sense of the world and our place in it. And when someone challenges your sense of that unified, meaningful whole because they’re not part of your religion, you feel threatened, which in turn can generate violence. It’s been argued that religions need to consciously counter this tendency by making a place for the person who is not part of their tradition. That person then becomes part of your universe of meaning and is not as likely to be a spark for violence.

The other thing that I think is important is to recognize the religious attraction violence has. René Girard, who teaches at Stanford University, has a theory—based on his study of anthropology, literature and the history of human civilization—that religion originated through violence. He says that human society is structured in such a way that there is a desire for things simply because another person has them. Inevitably that’s going to lead to classes, conflict and social dysfunction. And the way that is resolved in primitive cultures is by scapegoating one person, who in some cases is actually literally physically sacrificed.

Girard finds similar dynamics in more modern religions. And he argues, I think rightly, that what we have to do is recognize the fallacy of that and hear the innocence of the victim of our sacrificial action. But beyond that, we must also work constructively to have religious experiences that bind us in the terms of religion in a way that’s not pitting us against another, a way that’s inclusive and doesn’t victimize anyone.

Bob Rethy, a Jew and the chair of the department of philosophy

My simple answer is I reject the premise. People certainly use religion as a pretext for their actions. But there is the kind of subsidiary idea that if they didn’t have religion, they wouldn’t be doing this. And I think that history—not to mention our experience as human beings—is teaching us otherwise. In other words, perhaps people would be more virulently murderous without religion.

I think the 20th century is a wonderful, horrible example. The ideologies of the 20th century were more or less explicitly atheistic, or certainly hostile to the traditional religions, Communism, very explicitly, and Nazism, to a great degree. And I think that those were deeply murderous. I think that the 20h century is perhaps the most quantitatively murderous century. And all of these murders were done not in the name of religion, but to a large degree of secular ideology.

People use religion as a rationale for violence, and one can understand how that happens because the absoluteness of the claim leaves no alternative: You’re either with us or not with us. You’re either one of the saved or the damned, and the damned don’t deserve to live anyway. And I do think if you look at it historically, we would see that a lot of the anti-religious rhetoric comes out of kind of the enlightened hostility to religion. Writers like Voltaire in the 18th century who point to the crimes that are committed in the name of religion—they use that to try to undermine religion. But I think that it’s very easy for religion to say, “The crimes committed in my name are not acts that I, myself, approve. They are simply acts committed in my name that for the most part religions refuse to associate themselves with.”

I think that religion is essential to the process of humanization, and that the question is a true response to the limitations of religion. Religion can only humanize us so far sometimes. So I think those people will use religion as an excuse for violence. However, I don’t, myself, feel that it makes sense to blame religion for violence at all.

There are a couple of other things that I think are kind of interesting from a Jewish perspective. In Judaism, peace stands at the end—the Messianic age is the end of time. So what that means is that peace is an accomplishment. We have to work toward peace. Peace is not a state that we can expect to have within the usual life of labor. And in fact, an example of that is in the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath, which is a day of peace, comes at the end of the week. After you’ve worked, you rest. There’s peace after you work.

Peace has to work itself out. To attain to the proper kind of fullness and completeness, things have to come to their proper place. And what that sometimes means is that you have to take things out of their improper place, right? Disorder has to be transformed into an order, and the incompleteness has to be made complete. And that’s sometimes a violent process. There’s the idea that a bad peace is not necessarily better than a good war. That’s because a bad peace has not allowed for the proper kind of completion. I think that’s often a religious view—not only the Jewish religion but religions as a whole—that after we admit our problems, we have to fight through our problems in order to come to our own individual salvation, our own individual perfection or peace with ourselves.

Anas Malik, a Muslim and an assistant professor of political science

I‘d like to think that’s possible. But as a world community and as local communities in many places, I think there’s significant evolution that’s needed before we arrive at the time where we can stop killing people in the name of religion. Enlightened understanding of what religion is and what roles it can and should play in people’s lives is a necessary piece of the picture, a necessary step that’s needed. And so is education.

But there’s a second issue, which is that frequently religion just provides a convenient language or an appropriate idiom that acts as a vehicle for other kinds of grievances. And so what might be political violence often takes a religious cloak because of the religious context that it happened in. That’s where, I think, a greater ethic of critical thinking about what religion is about and what it should be about will help prevent that kind of activity.

I see that happening in great measure on the Internet. There’s been a good deal of soul searching, especially after 9/11—which was a catastrophic event for Muslims—about how to understand the events, how not to deny that they were done by Muslims, and how to evaluate the credibility of religious justifications for violence. And that process of soul searching, I think, has at least has raised in the public consciousness a good deal of that kind of process.

The kind of thing I’m talking about is more the development of a personal and social and community ethic of not only searching out constructive ways of dealing with problems, but also evaluating whether and how something is credible form a religious point of view. I think this has been a problem for Muslims in many contexts for several reasons. One of them is that the state of education in the Muslim world is terrible. It’s just extremely behind where it should be, especially as compared to much of the more developed world. Much of the Muslim world happens to be in the Third World. And the consequence is that people become easy fodder for recruitment.

That’s one aspect. And I think that there’s also the fact that there’s a kind of anarchy of religious law and the sources of what should constitute a legitimate religious argument have become obscured. One of the problems right now is that in many people’s minds it’s not entirely clear who or which arguments they should privilege. This is not just with Muslims—it is a universal issue.

I also think one of the critical areas that needs more attention everywhere is working out mechanisms for resolving, addressing or at least hearing political grievances in some sort of effective manner, both inside countries and in the international community. Because I think it’s the absence of those mechanisms that produce the suppression of what many people see as their legitimate political aspirations. And the consequence of this over time is either silencing or some sort of violent outburst or a strategy of violence. I think that’s a layer of development that could really influence things in terms of whether violent options are pursued.

Finally, I think that generally somebody who’s willing to try to use religion as a justification for violence usually cannot do it on their own. They need recruits and they need followers. That’s why I’m emphasizing this thing about the ability of other people generally to think critically and hold others to account for their thoughts. Because I think it’s the equivalent of—I don’t want to sound like I’m a Beatles fan or anything—but John Lennon said this thing about what if they had a war and nobody came. That’s what I’m talking about.

Profile: Wilson Willard III

Wilson Willard III | Bachelor of Science in education, 1993; Master’s of Education, 2003 | Founder, superintendent, W.E.B. DuBois Academy charter school, Cincinnati

Major Decision | As a business major at the University of Cincinnati, Willard didn’t feel challenged enough. So remembering how much he enjoyed teaching Sunday school for his father, an Episcopal priest, he tried an education class and was sold. He switched his major—and his university.

The Boss of Me | Willard loved his first job teaching in a public school but missed being in charge. So he started a tutoring program for minority students with a grant from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio. His students went from failing grades to mostly As. He ran it for three years.

Good Idea | “I saw the success with that tutoring program and realized I could do it on a larger scale,” Willard says. “My goal was to design a school that met the needs of the kids, not the adults. I designed a school where there’s no reason to fail. The school can make you successful.”

On a Limb | In 2000, Willard quit teaching and started planning. With financial backing from the diocese, he appointed a board of like-minded leaders and won approval from the State Board of Education to open a charter school for low-income minority students from Cincinnati’s urban core. Willard receives about $5,000 in tax dollars for every student enrolled.

Not Same Old, Same Old | His 255 students put in 10- to 12-hour days, do all homework at school, and come on weekends for special activities. They attend year-round—240 days compared to the state’s 185 days. They wear uniforms supplied by the school. No one pays any fees. And everyone takes martial arts, step dance, ballet, piano, Spanish and music. Advanced students receive extra instruction.

The Incentives | All teachers at DuBois start at $35,000. Those whose students surpass the Cincinnati Public Schools’ proficiency test scores jump to $60,000. Those who don’t raise their students’ scores significantly are not asked back. The test score charts for each teacher, including those who left, are posted for all to see.

The Payoff | After three years, DuBois’ fourth and sixth grade proficiency test scores are the best of all Cincinnati area charter schools and many local school districts, including the Cincinnati Public Schools.

No Excuses | “The excuse for why kids fail is not doing their homework. So why give them homework? It’s your job to make them not fail. You don’t just throw them away,” Willard says.

Profile: Terry Malone

Terry Malone | Bachelor of Science in history, 1957; Master of Education, 1960 | Former head football coach at Hamilton Catholic/ Stephen T. Badin High School, Hamilton, Ohio.

Marathon Man | Malone recently retired after 45 years as head football coach at Badin. His career record of 360 wins, 117 losses and eight ties makes him the winningest football coach in Ohio prep football history and ranks 10th all-time nationally. Still active as a part-time history teacher, Malone served as Badin’s athletic director for 25 years and was dean of boys for 28 years.

Official Response | In honor of his record, Malone was recognized with a proclamation in the Ohio House of Representatives on Dec. 2, 2003.

Gridiron Glory | During his University days, Malone played linebacker and fullback for the Musketeer football team. “My fondest memory is returning a kickoff for 97 yards against the University of Cincinnati my senior year,” he says. “In fact, that’s my most thrilling sports moment. We won 34-14.”

Completing the Circle | Following graduation from the University, Malone was hired as a coach at North College Hill High School. But after he signed a contract, an assistant coaching position came open at his alma mater, Hamilton Catholic High School, which later became Badin. North College Hill administrators graciously let Malone out of his contract so that he could coach at his home school. In a fitting irony, Malone’s last game 46 years later was a 45-7 win over North College Hill. A Shaky Start | Malone became Badin’s head football coach after only one year as an assistant. “The first two games I coached, we got killed,” he recalls. “The third game we were losing, and the mother of one of the players yelled out, ‘Malone, you’ll never be around next year.’ I always remember that. But we went on to win the game. My first season we were 5-4. The next season we were undefeated.”

A Legacy of Excellence | Badin’s football team was also undefeated in 1964, 1965 and 1966. Its 32-game regular-season winning streak was broken in 1967 by Purcell Marian, coached by Art Del Conte, one of Malone’s Xavier teammates. Malone’s team won the Ohio Division III championship in 1990 and was runner-up in 1978 and 1980.

Lifetime Achievement | Malone says his proudest moments have come from seeing what his players become as adults. “I’ve had guys who are now doctors and lawyers,” he says. “I have one who’s a professor at Princeton University. There are a couple of guys who are in politics and hold government office.” He’s also produced numerous football coaches, including four Badin assistants who worked with him for 31, 30, 17 and 16 years. “The other thing I’m proud of is not getting fired,” he says. “That’s a pretty big thing for a coach, to say you went your whole career and never got fired.”

Profile: Jodi Allen

Jodi Allen | Bachelor of Science in business administration, 1987 | Director of Information Technology, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, for Procter & Gamble

World Traveler | A 16-year Procter & Gamble employee, Allen was transferred in June to Geneva, Switzerland, where she, her husband, nanny and four children are living for three years.

The Great Communicator | As director of information technology for P&G’s operations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Allen is responsible for company communications in 104 countries.

No Accident | She once held a conference call from the scene of an accident she was in, asking the police officer if he could wait to fill out the report until she was finished. Another time she made a conference call at 3:00 a.m. to a client in Asia from her car, which was parked in the garage, so she wouldn’t wake up her family.

Definitely Type A | Allen jets around Europe, Africa, the Middle East and back and forth to the United States for business, working 50-70 hours a week.

The Optimist | Allen says she’s not a whip-cracker but a collaborator. “I would never call myself an aggressive person. I think of myself as a curious optimistic to a fault. I always think there’s got to be a way to make something work. Understanding people and what motivates them is the way to develop things that make a difference.”

Time Out | She says no job is worth neglecting her family for, so she makes time to spend with her son, 12, and three daughters, ages 10, 8 and 7. Weekend outings, such as a skating trip at Lake Geneva, are common. Dinners are taken together at least three times a week.

Priorities | “I’m clear about what I can and can’t do, and I don’t worry about it. What I don’t get done, oh well. Does it really matter if the house isn’t perfectly decorated? Do the kids really care if I made the dinner or not? I don’t think so. I’m a firm believer in shortcuts on things that aren’t important.”

Duty Calls | Sometimes, though, work intervenes on weekends when she’s with her kids. So rather than leave them behind, she’s been known to pile them all in the car and head to the office where they play while she works. They don’t seem to mind.

Perfect Blend | “I like to think the kids are pretty business astute. They understand what profit is. I do think my home life and work life are merged together. I have a fantastic husband, and he likes the fact I work. We have found a way to be successful. It’s not mine versus his, but as a family. It’s working for us.”

Profile: Anthony Martino

Anthony Martino | Bachelor of Science in physics, 1983 | Electronics engineer with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Old Models | As a child, Martino’s boyhood hobbies were in the realm of electronics, radios and photography. “I took apart scrap things and made them into other things. I’d put together electronic kits like radios and model airplanes.”

New Models | He still puts things together, but the results are more difficult to pronounce—like composite infrared spectrometer and laser altimeter—and are likely to get loaded onto spaceships and shot into the heavens.

Up on the Roof | His time at Xavier helped hone his interest in physics and space, which he explored through holography, photography and astronomy courses. He has fond memories of using the telescopes of the first pseudo observatory—a fenced-off space on the roof of Hinkle Hall—where he produced his first photograph of a crudely blurry Saturn.

No Optical Illusion | Realizing his interest in telescopes, photography and astronomy spelled optics, he went to the University of Rochester’s optics institute for his Ph.D, which he earned in 1990, and quickly landed a position at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Tough Stuff | “What attracted me and still keeps me here is we do the hard stuff,” he says. “Anything that’s really routine at most we’ll be watching contractors do it, but what we do is the stuff that’s cutting edge.”

Modern Marvels | Martino is the lead engineer on a team that designs, builds and tests optical instruments—high-tech telescopes that act like cameras—for scientific use. Optics is the science of light and its interaction with matter. Is it reflected, refracted, absorbed or transmitted? His job is to make an instrument that manipulates those effects to get a desired scientific result.

Make It Better | Martino’s team designed a new infrared spectrometer that does a better job of collecting infrared light than the one on the Voyager spacecraft. The team was responsible for increasing the distance of the spectrometer’s mirror as it moves back and forth so it could collect the light waves at a higher resolution—thus a better picture, allowing for more scientific data can be gathered.

Long Day’s Journey | The instrument was placed on the Cassini spacecraft and launched from Cape Canaveral in 1997. The spacecraft, named after the 17th century astronomer who differentiated Saturn’s rings, has passed by Venus and Jupiter—its instruments sending back information with each flyby—and will go into orbit around Saturn in July. It will be 72 million miles from earth.

The Reward | “It was very gratifying to see it was working the way it was designed and the scientists were making discoveries with it,” says Martino, who has participated in 10 space missions. “I’m looking forward to seeing the instrument start doing the job we built it to do.”

Tyrone Hill Scores With Gift

Dan Cloran couldn’t believe his eyes. Diamonds—lots of diamonds, shining, shooting light in all directions. Cloran, director for the University’s annual fund and athletic giving, got a call from former Xavier and National Basketball Association player Tyrone Hill, who expressed a desire to give to the University. “He said, ‘I’m going to have my jeweler call you,’ ” Cloran says.

Cloran spoke with the jeweler, but didn’t ask for particulars. Hence his shock when he opened the box to find three pendants: a “32” (one of Hill’s uniform numbers) with 5.5 carats worth of diamonds set in 18-karat gold, a “42” (another number) featuring 9.25 carats worth of diamonds set in 18-karat gold, and a large “T” boasting 14.6 carats worth of diamonds set in platinum.

“The diamonds in the ‘T’ are rated next to flawless,” Cloran says. “In terms of jewelry, I don’t know whether we’ve ever received something of this magnitude.”

The University is still deciding what to do with the gift. Hill spent 13 years in the N.B.A.

The Gift of Science

Robert Borcer understood what it meant to fulfill a dream. Borcer, who died in July at age 90, delayed his own dream of being a teacher until an age when most are looking toward retirement. He fulfilled that dream, though, and now, through a $2.5 million bequest to the University, he is helping ensure that others reach their dreams as well.

Borcer wanted to go into education after graduating from Maryville College in Tennessee in 1936, but the reality of low teacher salaries caused him to detour into business. He got in on the ground floor of the television boom as a partner in a repair shop known as Always Call Charlie, but old dreams die hard, and in the 1960s he came to the University and earned a master’s degree in English. He taught English at two area Catholic high schools and history at a third before retiring in the 1970s.

“He loved to teach,” says Mark Kalb, a close friend. “He was always trying to educate people. If somebody used an English phrase incorrectly, he would correct them.”

Borcer’s gift reflects a longtime affection for Xavier—he was a regular contributor to the annual fund—and also honors the wishes of his mother, Theresa, from whom he inherited much of his estate. But his choice of earmarking the gift to the sciences stems from discussions with Kalb, a self-described “science nut.” Administrators are examining best uses of the bequest in accordance with ongoing strategic planning and program reviews.

Raising the Bar

Each spring the University recognizes an outstanding African-American student at the Antonio Johnson Banquet. What started out as a casual get-together 28 years ago has become a black-tie event. And what started as a small scholarship in his name has been elevated this year to full funding.

“This is the most prestigious award given to an African-American student, and we wanted the amount to indicate just how highly we value the award,” says Thomas Kennealy, S.J., chair of the award committee.

This year’s winner is the first to receive the full scholarship for tuition, housing, books, fees and meals. The award is based on academics, service, social leadership and commitment to the elevation of African-American students—all of the qualities Antonio Johnson had, says Paul James, director for multicultural affairs.