The Builder of an Empire

Charles Geschke, who co-founded one of the nation’s largest and most prominent technology firms, Adobe Systems, returned to campus in February as the featured speaker at the Distinguished Speakers Series event hosted by the Williams College of Business.

Geschke recounted his efforts in building the software giant, which began in 1982 and is named after the creek that ran behind the home of his partner, John Warnock.

The company now has annual revenues of $2 billion and has been voted by various publications as one of the best companies in America to work for, the second most-admired software company in the nation and one of the most generous companies in the country for its charitable donations.

Geschke retired from his position as president of Adobe in 2000 and continues to share the chairmanship of the board with Warnock. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Latin in 1962 and his master’s degree in mathematics in 1963 from Xavier before earning a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Securing the Environment

Growing up on a 140-acre dairy farm in Ashtabula, Ohio, Jonathan Herrmann developed a healthy respect for the environment. “Our farm was just off Lake Erie,” he says. He helped milk the cows and spent a lot of time tromping the grounds.

 

So it wasn’t a surprise when Herrmann joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1975, working on projects like land reclamation and pollution prevention. Nor was it a surprise when he combined his respect for the land with his 1987 M.B.A. and his engineering degree to become director of the EPA’s National Homeland Security Research Center in September.

Herrmann, based in Cincinnati, now supervises 45 people—chemists, microbiologists, researchers—who collect, research and develop information about how the nation prevents and responds to terrorist attacks on, primarily, the water systems. Their research focuses on protection, decontamination and disposal of hazardous materials, and assessing potential threats. They also test methods of detecting, responding to and eliminating biological weapons such as anthrax or pesticides in water or parasites like Cryptosporidium.

And one of their findings has already helped. His researchers tested the use of autoclave steaming to kill anthrax spores. It worked well in the lab, but when imported goat skins used by a man to make drums were found to be contaminated with natural anthrax spores, it was put to test in the field. And it worked. The autoclave method successfully eliminated the spores.

For Herrmann, it not only prevented a danger, but helped the environment. “Remember, those of us who grew up with the agency are environmentalists at heart,” he says. “Homeland security is another extension of the environmental mission of the agency.”

Role Model

Bob Herzog is a man of many roles, including husband, father, lawyer, TV reporter, wish-granting genie and Greek fable writer—some of which require a little more makeup than others. Herzog, who works for WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, also moonlights at the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and has appeared in shows such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” and “Aesop’s Fables.” “There’s something about that theater experience—the audience is right there so you can see and feel the reaction,” Herzog says. “It’s a little bit different than being in front of the camera.” Herzog initially toured for more than a year with ArtReach—now part of the Children’s Theatre—after he graduated from Xavier in 1996 with a degree in communications. But the road wasn’t suitable for family life. “It got to the point where I was getting married,” Herzog says. “It was a fun job, but I needed to start making money to support a family.” So, Herzog got a law degree and began doing probate work. However, he found that his heart was still in entertainment. Now Herzog’s day begins at 3:00 a.m. By 5:00 a.m., he’s delivering the morning traffic report. Afterward, he anchors an online news segment titled “The Cooler” and heads home around noon for a much-deserved nap and some playtime with his three children. At night, when most morning newscasters are heading to bed, he heads to rehearsal. His theater life, however, is starting to wind down again. “There’s too much going on,” he admits. Soon he’ll reprise a more familiar role—family man.

Beyond the Schoolhouse Door

The way Bob Herring sees it, a child’s classroom doesn’t end at the schoolhouse door. In fact, for Herring, principal of Nativity Elementary School in Cincinnati, education is nothing if not global. It’s that philosophy that set him apart, earning him the title of 2006 Distinguished Principal of the Year from the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the U.S. Department of Education.

 

Such recognition isn’t new to Herring. He was also named Distinguished Principal by the National Catholic Educational Association last year, and his school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education. But it’s fitting, considering he was fired three years ago in a philosophical dispute with the parish priest that triggered a massive response from parents, who successfully lobbied for his reinstatement.

A 1973 and 1977 graduate, Herring became principal at Nativity in 1984 and has since given the school’s 378 students multiple opportunities for cultural and educational experiences abroad or with foreign visitors at home.

“As they go out into the world, they’ve got to be players in the global economy,” Herring says. “We’re just an elementary school, but we’re laying a foundation of experience, and the ability to integrate events and the opportunity to interact with kids from abroad gives them the opportunity to view life differently.”

Some of the school’s programs include student exchanges with schools in Finland and Germany, partnerships with schools around the world, the International School- to-School Experience—this year with Costa Rica—and an International Projects Week program that organizes a weeklong gathering every three years with schools from six or more countries. Nativity hosted the event last year.

“We’ve tried offering here something you can’t get anyplace else, that combination of solid academics, arts, technology and a global experience,” he says.

Classic Services

Classics professor Edmund Cueva wanted to expand the college experience for his honors students and look for a way they could give back to their community. His answer to both issues was found less than a mile away at Alliance Academy, a charter public school that serves mostly disadvantaged children. Now, about 30 of these young students get tutoring two to three times a week from eight Xavier students on everything from reading and math to Latin.

Roots of Evil

To see the slideshow relating to this story,click here.

As the first soft light of dawn sneaks over the horizon, John Kruthaupt grabs his M-4 assault rifle and Kevlar vest and climbs aboard a Blackhawk helicopter idling at the Kabul International Airport. He straps himself in while the whirring blades kick whirlwinds of dust through the open doors. The helicopter lifts effortlessly into the sky like a dragonfly on a summer day, followed by another Blackhawk, two Soviet Mi8s and a handful of Apache attack helicopters. With military precision, the flock buzzes low over the rugged mountains in eastern Afghanistan by the Pakistani border, searching for its target.

 

While the war against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden takes place throughout the country below, this mission is different. This isn’t about that war.

Kruthaupt, a 1989 cum laude graduate with an ROTC commission, is an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that is fighting an invisible war in Afghanistan-the drug war.

In 2005, the DEA, already part of a 19-nation anti-drug coalition known as Operation Containment, announced it would send in teams of special agents-including Kruthaupt-to train Afghan counter-narcotics officers in the complexities of information-gathering and drug interdiction. Not only is OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfghanistan one of the world’s largest producers of illicit drugs-in 2004 it produced 87 percent of the world’s opium supply and 92 percent of the world’s heroin-but the money it generates helps fund some of the world’s most notorious terrorists.

The work is perilous and painstaking-conducting raids, destroying storage labs and processing sites, arresting the traffickers who finance the trade-all in an effort to stop the flow of drugs and chemicals into and out of the country. It’s risky and often frustrating. But for guys like Kruthaupt, the work is rewarding.

After 45 minutes in the air, Kruthaupt gazes out the open door of the sleek, purring Blackhawk. What he sees sets his adrenaline flowing. Dozens of men, their long shirts flapping around them, scatter like ants across the dry, rocky landscape and vanish into the steep-sided hills, leaving behind the stone huts and sooty metal vats, still boiling, that make up their drug production laboratory. He smiles. It’s just as the informants said.

In a roaring cloud, the helicopters drop down onto a small, flat surface carved between the vertical mountain cliffs. The army of 10 DEA agents and 30 Afghan trainees leaps out and rushes toward the buildings, looking first for stragglers.

The pungent odor of acetic anhydride and soda ash-chemicals used in the conversion of poppy seed gum to heroin-assaults their eyes and sinuses as they scurry across the hardscrabble ground. Kruthaupt bursts into one of the huts. All he sees are some plastic containers for chemicals, bags of sticky black opium and a small amount of brown, low quality heroin powder left behind by the lab workers. There isn’t a soul in sight.

Kruthaupt relaxes and, with his team members, begins looking for items to confiscate-ledgers, cell phones, pictures, weapons, anything written that might lead to someone’s identity. Finding nothing worth keeping, they photograph everything, then set about destroying it all. They knock down the huts of stone, straw and mud, chop up a large wooden heroin press on the grounds outside and pour the chemicals into a nearby stream. They shoot holes in the metal bathtub-sized vats set above wood fires dug into the ground. The steaming opium stew spills out onto the dirt. Then they make a pillar of everything-drugs, wood, buckets, bags-and set fire to the whole thing. About 300 kilos of heroin and 1,000 kilos of opium go up in smoke.

As it burns, Kruthaupt and his team stay alert to any signs of activity. But the only excitement is a train of donkeys clopping up the road, each loaded with bundles of firewood and shepherded by Afghan farmers who, when questioned, deny any knowledge of the drug lab. They say the wood they’re carrying is for sale to villagers. The agents know better, but it’s the big fish they’re after
here. The poor farmers are just trying to scratch out a living, even if it means selling firewood to those who make opium and heroin.

Wiping the sweat from his face, Kruthaupt steps back and watches the fire. A longtime resident of Las Vegas, the 90-degree heat and dusty, dry conditions of the mountain climate don’t faze him at all. In fact, he thrives on it, and today he’s feeling pretty good: There’s one more heroin operation out of business-at least for now.

But the day has just begun. The 40-man army fans out among the hills and plays out the same scene at 20 more sites. By the end of the day, they’ve walked seven or eight miles, much of it up and down some of the most difficult, steep terrain on the planet. As the helicopters return and carry them back to Kabul and the safety of the U.S. Embassy, only then does Kruthaupt feel he can safely set down his weapon.

Kruthaupt wouldn’t be in Afghanistan if not for Sept. 11. A former Army lieutenant with a degree in international affairs, he joined the DEA in 1995 to fight the drug trade in the U.S., mostly in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas. But after America was attacked, he wanted to do his part to fight back. A National Guard assignment to guard the Defense Language Institute in southern California was useful, but that was not the kind of participation he was seeking. So when the DEA sought volunteers for a special drug interdiction task force in Afghanistan, Kruthaupt’s hand was among the first to shoot up.

“When 9/11 happened, it had a profound effect on me and the way I felt about our country,” he says. “We didn’t deserve what went on that day. It made me extremely angry, and I wanted to participate in some way.”

That way revealed itself in March 2005 when the DEA announced its plan to create special teams of anti-drug agents to tackle the country’s drug trade that had increased dramatically on the heels of a resurgence of Taliban activity. The Taliban’s hard-line Islamic fundamentalist government, believed to be harboring Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorists, was overthrown by the U.S. in 2002 in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11.

Though opium production had nearly vanished in the year prior to the Taliban’s ouster, both Taliban insurgency and opium cultivation revived in its aftermath. One reason for the spike, says Xavier political science professor Tim White, who teaches international affairs, is that the POLICE OFFICERgeography, climate and culture restrict the kinds of agricultural products that can be grown. Another is the U.S. left without finishing the job, essentially without helping President Hamid Karzai’s new government build a new economy.

“Their inability to get their economy booming has resulted in people resorting to the traditional poppy crop,” White says. “The anti-drug efforts of the DEA in Afghanistan are tied to our first occupation in 2002, because if the initial occupation had gone well, we wouldn’t five years later still be trying to get rid of the drug lords.”

So even though there is a democratically elected government in place, schools have reopened and judges are sending suspected traffickers to jail, drug trafficking is booming as more farmers grow poppy and government officials are compromised by their ties with the drug lords and former Taliban members. One Afghan official says in a recently published report that the only support they have in their efforts to stop the drug trade is from the international community.

Kruthaupt knows this all too well. A week after the raids, the labs are up and running again, churning out kilos of heroin that eventually will find their way into Western Europe and even the U.S. while fattening the pockets of Afghan drug lords. It’s frustrating.

“It’s not comfortable over there,” he says, “but I believe in the mission or I wouldn’t have volunteered. It’s important that even though you fight an uphill battle that you fight against something you believe is not right for society.”

Late one night in May, the phone rings in Kruthaupt’s room at the air base in Jalalabad, east of Kabul. It’s an informant on the phone. Haji Aziz, a suspected trafficker who recently escaped capture during a raid by another team, has returned home, the informant says. An Afghan court has issued a warrant and now, Aziz is just an hour away.

Kruthaupt grabs his weapons, assembles his team and slips behind the wheel of an armored Land Cruiser. They head into the night, bouncing along on rough dirt roads and detouring past a construction zone, wary of Taliban insurgents who are known to snatch road construction workers and cut off their heads.

The convoy of seven vehicles arrives at the compound. They send one vehicle ahead, a pickup truck that revs up its engine and blasts through the gate into the drug trafficker’s walled estate. The rest of the team follows on foot. There are no wooden doors or glass-paned windows, just openings in the mud brick walls. The Afghan agents accompanying the DEA team trudge ahead into the men’s sleeping quarters where they rouse Aziz, handcuff him and haul him outside. The women, sleeping together on cots in the open courtyard with their children, are wailing and crying, trying to distract the raiders’ attention. But the arrest ends peacefully with no shooting or violence. Aziz is taken away.

“We caught them off guard, which was good,” Kruthaupt says.

Yet once again, someone with ties to the government intercedes with $12,000 cash, and a month later Aziz is on the run again. “It proves he’s a pretty powerful guy, powerful enough to get out of jail,” Kruthaupt says.

His capture also proves how important informants are. They come along on every mission as much for insurance as to help identify suspects. They wear head coverings to conceal their identities, because it’s certain death for them if they’re ever revealed. It’s a risky game of trust. The DEA pays them for their information, and they go in knowing if it’s a trap, they pay the price first. But, says Kruthaupt, the DEA teams couldn’t do their work without them.

The agents are trained to stay detached from their informants, although sometimes that proves difficult after working so closely with someone. Kruthaupt actually befriended one of his informants, learning about his family, sharing jokes, learning to trust each other.

“We’re not supposed to allow these guys to become friends,” he says. “But it’s hard because you see them all the time and you empathize with them. He worked really hard for us, and I really liked this guy. I saw him almost every day my first four months over there, sometimes many times a day. He was my best informant hands down. He had an amazing network of sub-sources, and he made what would be considered a small fortune in Afghanistan just from me, and he had other handlers.”

But being an informant is dangerous work, and one day when Kruthaupt was on leave, the informant-his friend-was beaten, strangled and locked in the trunk of his own car. News of the murder made Kruthaupt sick to his stomach. He had just received a gift from the man, a green silk robe, as a symbol of their friendship. He says the man appreciated the way the DEA agents treated him. Kruthaupt takes some comfort knowing the DEA made a substantial payment to the man’s widow.

“The DEA really needs these informants,” he says. “If we have a reputation that we just use them and spit them out, who’s going to work for us? They are our life blood.”

Kruthaupt returned to Afghanistan in February. It’s his third and last trip for the DEA. He expects to add to his missions, which now number 12, and to increase the number of traffickers he’s helped to arrest. But this time, he also hopes changes in the Afghanistan government will keep more of their arrestees in jail. At the same time, he hopes changes at the Pentagon free up the Army to provide more support for their raids on heroin labs and drug traffickers’ lairs and, ultimately, the whole effort to fight the Taliban’s drug war.

“I’ve been there on the ground, and it’s like walking through quicksand. It’s slow going,” he says. “You just try to win as many battles as you can and, in the end, hopefully you win the war.”

Setting the Course

Stephen Smith found his moral compass as an undergrad at Xavier. And in an era when American business was busy earning one black eye after another, the 1968 graduate used that compass to chart a path to business success. It brought him back to the University in the 1990s, ultimately leading him to accept a spot on Xavier’s board of trustees. And now, as the University sets the course for its future with To See Great Wonders: The Campaign for Xavier, the desire to share that compass with future generations led Smith and his wife, Delores, to make a significant gift for construction of a new home for the Williams College of Business and the graduate program in health services administration.

 

If your goal in business is money, I don’t think that’s the ultimate happiness,” Smith says. “The ultimate happiness is to be in business, be successful and have a moral compass. That’s what I really like about what the University is doing-the idea of forming the whole person who gives back to society. It isn’t just the education: It’s the commitment to the whole person I see there.”

Like many alumni, Smith’s involvement with his alma mater grew by degrees. For the first decade after graduation, he returned each year for homecoming. Then, as often happens, he became more involved in his career and building a successful business-he was an early partner in Brandywine Global Investment Strategies, now part of Legg Mason-and he drifted away from the University. But Smith’s course changed in 1994 when another alumnus invited him to attend a basketball game. Eventually, he met James E. Hoff, S.J., then president of Xavier.

“I was looking at what Fr. Hoff had done, and I felt that maybe once in a generation you have somebody come along with an enormous vision,” he says. “And then came Mike Graham, and one of his goals was to carry that torch. What they were doing was something that deserved my support. I thought what Mike wanted to do happens once in a generation-moving the University from being Cincinnati-centric to more global. I could see the growth.”

Those who can see growth are critical at this early stage of a campaign-particularly one with a vision as sweeping as the To See Great Wonders campaign. In many ways, at this early stage, seeing the growth means sharing the overall vision as set forth in the master plan. Actual design and construction, of course, are dependent on funding. But preliminary plans for the new college of business-and the rest of the James E. Hoff, S.J. Academic Quad-are slowly clarifying themselves. And bit by bit, the initial vision is moving closer to reality.

Early gifts like Smith’s are critical in providing the momentum necessary to speed that movement, says Gary Massa, vice president for University relations. “The first building is always key in an effort like this,” Massa says. “It unlocks the door for everything-more construction and renovation and the necessary elocations of various programs and departments across the campus.”

From his large office windows in Hailstones Hall, Ali Malekzadeh has a clear view of the proposed building site on Ledgewood Avenue. But when he looks out in that direction, Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business, envisions not so much a building as a seamless melding of academic, hands-on, practical and professional development-a non-stop, all-day epicenter of learning infused with ethics and guided by faculty, alumni and members of the business community.

The facility he sees achieves things great and small, but all of them are important. For example, it William_0261brings faculty together-many now have offices spread over three floors of Schott Hall. And it provides the means for students to take what they’ve just learned in class, walk to another area and immediately put it to work operating a student-run business or investing money for the University. It includes study pods to allow students to work independently or in groups of two or three, as well as larger study rooms to accommodate larger collaboration. And the overall environment bespeaks professionalism. But the overarching vision, Malekzadeh says, is that all of the college’s stakeholders-students, faculty and staff, and members of the business community, including alumni-will feel welcome and comfortable in ways currently impossible.

“We have to have a place where alumni, advisory board members, mentors and all of these business people we know and interact with feel comfortable to stop by on their way to work, pick up The Wall Street Journal in our building and talk to our student organizations or maybe lecture in a class,” he says. “And then on the way home, there’s ample parking so they can park, get some food in the building, go talk to some classes, to student organizations, and interact with the faculty about research and teaching. So the three constituencies can come together very comfortably in a very comfortable environment.”

Seated at a round, gray conference table in his Alumni Center office, associate vice president for facility management Bob Sheeran pores over a bubble chart representing the most recent draft of the spaces and square footage that will one day make up the new college of business. There’s an atrium, instructional space, offices, space for the graduate program in health services administration and room for an auditorium. The auditorium, Sheeran says, was originally planned for the Learning Commons across the quad, but will likely end up in whichever building is constructed first. The circles and squares are arranged in proximity to one another, but they represent needs, not a floor plan.

Getting beyond that point and into the world of engaging an architect and construction requires cash flow. And time is literally money. Sheeran says projected construction costs are likely to increase by 5 percent each year construction is delayed.

Which is where Smith comes in. “I wanted to give it a kick,” he says. “I thought if we could just go do this building, make a commitment and start it early so they could get some cash flow to do it, that would get things moving.”

University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., says that for the campaign to be successful, Xavier’s development efforts must be sophisticated enough to reach out nationally to alumni and friends like Smith. “Steve became engaged with our students and faculty in the Williams College of Business and recognized he could enhance in a grand way the great things that are happening over there,” Graham says.

While the exact layout of the new building has yet to be set in stone, Sheeran says the facility as envisioned will be about 90,000 square feet, carry a price tag of about $28.5 million and feature a lot of glass while retaining a collegiate, gothic feel. General plans include state-of-the-art flexible multimedia and classrooms as well as individual and collaborative study areas. Classrooms are currently being projected at about 32 square feet per student, up from the current 22-square-foot average, which makes the rooms more comfortable and increases their flexibility.

With the new facility will come physical homes for the Xavier entrepreneurial center, the institute for business ethics and social responsibility, and the center for investment research, which will be a repository for high-tech equipment, including computer terminals with Bloomberg financial database and Reuters Station capabilities. The main floor will feature 40 workstations-large enough to accommodate M.B.A. classes. There will also be an office for the center’s director and an overflow room or corporate suite with 15 additional machines. This second room will be home to the students overseeing the student investment fund, which is charged each year with overseeing a $1 million portion of the University’s investments.

James Pawlukiewicz, chair for the department of finance, envisions the center as “a centerpiece for the new building. It will be in a very prominent space; it will be very visible to anyone that enters the building. There will be stock tickers and LCD information boards.”

Pawlukiewicz says the center will provide services to the University, the community and the business community, provide applications for students in a number of business research areas, and aid immensely in raising the college’s profile even more.

“The facility as planned would make us the envy of the schools in the Midwest,” he says. “No other school has a facility as ambitious as this one. This will be one of the places in which the real world will enter the college of business building.”

Paul Fiorelli, director for the center for business ethics and social responsibility, says the centers will likely be located in close proximity to one another, which could promote synergy between the three. To some extent, that’s already happening-two years ago, the center for business ethics teamed with the center for entrepreneurship to produce an ethics institute targeted to small businesses.

In the case of entrepreneurship, the creation of a physical center will promote interaction with other disciplines across campus. Thomas Clark, director for the entrepreneurial center, says the new space will not only provide an office for students involved in the six student-run businesses on campus, but will also serve as a central point of access for any student in another field who wants to launch his or her own business.

Malekzadeh says the three centers will be showcased because each of them plays a key role in bringing together the college’s students and faculty with the business community through mentoring, advisory and consultative relationships. Beyond their educational importance, Malekzadeh says, they also will be important tools in recruiting students.

“When we bring in a prospective student, right now, I really don’t have anything to show them,” he says. “‘Here’s a classroom. It’s a square classroom. There are some tables in there.’ But when they enter the new facility, we showcase the centers: ‘We want you to start and run businesses. We want you to practice everything in an ethical way. And we want you to know the latest in technology. So when we present you to the market, we present you as a graduate of this University, and you have great practical experience.'”

Although the building’s actual design phase is some time in the future, Malekzadeh’s message is clear: The quality of the construction is very important, but the goal is to provide a facility that allows students to be educated in “the right way,” so that they embody the best of Xavier’s ideals.

It is this overall vision-and the substance behind it-that holds Smith’s attention. “When you’re in business, having some sense of morality to the whole thing is important,” he says. “That’s a theme the college doesn’t just pay lip service to. I had meetings with the kids, and you do see that they’re trying to form the whole person.

“It’s very holistic, and to me it’s a great commitment to make. If you want to take this project to phase two, some people really have to step up to do it. It’s my first major commitment to anything like this, and I thought it was well worth it because the Jesuits gave me one hell of an education.

“It’s wonderful to look back and say my business career was a success. But what’s more important is a value system, and I know the University is seeding that in the next generation of students. I want to make sure it continues.”

Profile: Michael Fortin

Michael Fortin Bachelor of Science in computer science, 1985 Distinguished engineer, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.

 

Windows of Opportunity | Fortin began working in Microsoft’s Windows division 10 years ago and currently leads the development team responsible for Windows’ overall performance. Last summer, his efforts were recognized with a new title: distinguished engineer, the second-ranking title in Microsoft’s engineering pantheon.

Fetching the Future | Most recently, Fortin’s algorithmic crystal ball contributed to Microsoft’s new Windows Vista SuperFetch, ReadyDrive and ReadyBoost technologies. These have been in the news for several years but were released for manufacturing in November and became available to consumers in January.

Applied History | Fortin and his team formulated the ideas and did the bulk of the engineering for these technologies, which among other things optimize a computer’s performance by combing though historical use patterns to predict what the user might want the machine to do next, then preloading those applications.

Typed | Fortin became interested in computers while a student at Turpin High School in Cincinnati. “The school started a programming class using some of the early personal computers,” he says. “I could type quickly and there were more students than computers, so I was generally used to input our programs. Since I was doing all the ‘hands-and-fingers’ work, my skills grew faster than the others in the class.”

Life Lesson | During his Xavier years, Fortin learned a timeless lesson from the father of one of his roommates: “You get out what you put in.” “His son went to the library for at least three hours every day and got As in every class that semester while I got Bs and Cs. I decided to apply myself, to see if I’d get out what I put in. I did. I have ever since.”

North to Southwest | After leaving Xavier, Fortin went to the Ohio State University where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science. He then took a position designing operating systems and platforms with IBM in Austin, Texas.

Family Affair | Michael isn’t the only Fortin at Microsoft. His brother David is the company’s senior director of product management for Windows Live and MSN Communication Services.

Forward Thinking | As part of a company used to being ahead of the game, it isn’t surprising that Fortin remains focused on the future. “I believe a big part of what I’ll be doing over the next few years is working to develop more and more innovations that allow systems to automatically detect issues and self- correct for them,” he says. Greg Schaber

Profile: Dr. Brian Lahman

Dr. Brian Lahman Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences, 1994 Staff Surgeon, Silver Cross Hospital, Joliet, Illinois

 

Quick Learner | Lahmann was one of the youngest students to ever attend Xavier. He graduated from high school on his 14th birthday and entered the University in the fall, commuting to campus with his 18-year-old twin sisters. He moved into the dorms his sophomore year at 15. “I was lucky because I was always tall. You wouldn’t single me out as the youngest person in the class. Socialization wasn’t a problem.”

Head Start | Lahmann only spent six weeks in kindergarten. “The other kids were learning their colors, and I was already reading and writing.” Lahmann progressed so quickly through grade school that he entered an accelerated high school in Covington, Ky., at age 10.

Early Ideas | At a young age, he had inklings that he wanted to go into medicine. “I saw it as one of the greatest challenges you could put yourself through. If you have a gift or a talent, what better use could it be put to than taking care of people?”

Smooth Operator | Lahmann graduated from Xavier at age 17 and started at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine at age 18, where he exhibited a talent for surgery. “The operating room was the coolest place in the world to spend your day because there was always something different going on. It’s constantly challenging and an invigorating experience to operate.”

New Medicine | Lahmann completed his five-year surgical residency at the University of Kentucky under world famous laparoscopic surgeon Adrian Park. It’s there that he began perfecting his skills in laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions. “One of the things that drew me to it was the amazing technology of it all. The patient has less pain and the recovery is so much faster.”

Hospital to the Stars | Later Lahmann landed a top laparoscopic/bariatric surgery fellowship at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills, Calif., that caters to A-List celebrities.

Homesick | In fall 2003, Cedar-Sinai offered him a permanent position, which he almost accepted, but he and his wife missed their families in the Midwest. “We took a map of the U. S. and laid it on the living room floor, and we started putting red Xs through the states that we didn’t want to live in. What was left at the end was Hawaii, California, Illinois, Ohio and Florida.”

New Beginning | A few months later, Lahmann took a job at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Ill., near his wife’s family. “So many things in my life have come down to a gut feeling, and this was no exception. I have a very satisfying job. Bariatric surgery, gastric bypass and lap bands for morbid obesity are a very redeeming profession. The impact we make on morbidly obese patients’ health and happiness is profound.”

Profile: Rudy McClinon Jr.

Rudy McClinon Jr. Bachelor of Science, physical educations and health science, 1974 Founder of R-U-A Pro Fitness, Denver

Good Sports | McClinon came to the University on an academic scholarship, but was determined to play football. He walked on, became a star defensive back and was eventually moved to an athletic scholarship. He also played junior varsity basketball during his junior year.

Going Pro | Following graduation, McClinon was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and ultimately played three seasons in the Canadian Football League. During the off-season he worked as a substitute teacher in the Cincinnati Public Schools. He also served as director of the old Schwarz Recreation Center in Walnut Hills.

Heading West | In 1979, McClinon moved to Denver and began a 20-year career as a successful agent with a national insurance company. Then, in 2001, corporate cutbacks cost him his job. He was unable to find a suitable job, and a bout with alcohol followed. “I went into a deep depression and asked God to reach out and help me,” he says. “I had a great education and a great work ethic. I had to find something else to do.”

Full Circle | Falling back on his Xavier degree in physical education, McClinon became a personal trainer, working with individual clients and creating programs for businesses, non-profits and senior citizen’s organizations, doing motivational speaking, and visiting hospitals to talk about alcohol and drug recovery.

Helping Hand | McClinon formed his own fitness company aimed at helping people of all ages become more fit and more accepting of themselves. His special interest lies in helping Baby Boomers cope with the realities of arthritis, diabetes and joint replacement.

Voice of Experience | McClinon knows of what he speaks. He had both hips replaced several years ago and suffers from arthritis. The secret, he says, is to “figure out what you can do and stop talking about what you can’t do.”

Good Messages | McClinon says societal physical ideals cause a great deal of unhappiness. The key is to be in the best possible shape—and appreciate yourself. “We have all these different body types. Let me feel good about who I am.”

Choose to Change | McClinon’s latest projects include two exercise videos: “Let’s Get Moving,” a low-impact workout for those just starting an exercise regimen, and the “R-U-A Pro Fitness Arthritis and Hip Replacement Exercise Program,” for those who have had joints replaced. They’re available through his web site, ruapro-fitness.com. “It really comes down to how you feel about yourself,” he says. “A lot of men and women look in the mirror and go, ‘Oh, I don’t like what I see.’ Well, change it.”