All in Good Faith

Sean O’Dwyer slowly walked out into the parking lot of Ursuline Academy, an exclusive, all-girls school in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash. The well-wishes and congratulations from colleagues were still ringing in his ears as he made his way toward his car, drowning out the sounds of his footsteps on the blacktop. For the last 20 years, O’Dwyer worked at the academy as a guidance director, and today was the end. He was retiring. Calling it a career.

As he reached his car and pulled out his keys, he turned and took one last look at the building. Two decades of his life were spent there, and they were about to become just memories. But retirement would be good—time spent on the golf course or visiting relatives in his native Ireland. It was a phase he was looking forward to, and as soon as he got home he would immediately begin celebrating that new beginning with his wife, Mary.

Except something happened. O’Dwyer never made it home that day.

As O’Dwyer drove, he began feeling ill. Light-headed. Granted, it was an emotional day, and anybody would feel a little uneasy. But this was different. It felt…dangerous. Rather than taking any chances, he detoured into his doctor’s office. The doctor sent him straight to the emergency room. After a battery of tests, O’Dwyer was diagnosed with blocked arteries and cardiomyopathy, a disorder of the heart muscle. A week later, he found himself lying on an operating table undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. But that was just the beginning.

Over the next four years, the O’Dwyers were hit with a series of major health problems. Sean developed kidney failure and bone cancer; Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since both lived healthy lives—didn’t smoke or drink, no family history of these diseases, exercised regularly—the first question in their minds was “Why us?”

It’s a common question for anyone with a serious illness to ask. But the medical industry is taking a greater interest in how patients answer that question. Studies show that hospitalized people who believe and trust in God show greater rates of recovery and improved health. Those who aren’t religious not only struggle with their illness, but are at an increased risk for death—as much as a 28 percent greater mortality rate during the two-year period following their medical discharge.

The results are so conclusive, in fact, that more than half of all medical schools in the United States have started offering courses on spirituality.

“The first thing people do when they’re diagnosed is ask ‘Why me?’ or ‘Why me, God?’ ” says Dr. Harold Koenig, director of the Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health at Duke University. “Some turn away from their religion, or feel they’re being punished by God or that God doesn’t love them. When that happens, they don’t do well.”

For the O’Dwyers, their answer may have saved their lives.

The O’Dwyers are spiritual souls: he’s a former priest; she’s a former nun. They make weekly pilgrimages from their Hyde Park home to Bellarmine Chapel on the University campus for Mass. When their health problems hit, they turned to their faith. They received support from their parish community, which provided food, transportation and companionship. Letters from friends and family poured in. They’ve also made it a practice to meditate both together and alone.

“Sometimes when I’m depressed or overwhelmed with anxiety, I’ll wash my face with the Lord’s water and ask for help,” says Mary. “I then begin to release the stress, and after that I might sit down and pray or meditate.”

While the mental rewards of such practices are well-known, studies now show that they also convert into physical healing. Dr. Gail Barker, a 1976 graduate who earned her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati, says prayer and meditation actually trigger a physical healing reaction in the body.

“It lends itself to a great relaxation response, and that response is a stress reliever,” Barker says. “Everything just works better in your body. Your breathing slows down. Your blood pressure lowers. You take in more oxygen. Your immune system kicks in, and that allows your body to move toward healing in a better way. It pushes you in the direction of health. It’s only been in the last 10 to 15 years that there has been more informative data to support prayer with patients. It’s really made doctors take a second look. The mind-body connection is big.”

At the forefront of much of that research is the Duke center, where its studies show that people who attend church frequently may have more stable immune systems than less frequent attendees. It also found that levels of private religious activity—meditation, prayer, Bible study—are a significant predictor of mortality in healthy, nondisabled adults. Those who have little to no activity face a 47 percent greater risk of dying.

What’s also proving vitally important to the healing process is extending that spiritual component into the relationship with the physician. Many patients want to discuss spiritual issues with their physician, says Dr. Dale Matthews, an instructor at Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of “The Faith Factor: Proof of the Healing Power of Prayer.” He cites polls that show that 80 percent of all patients believe in the healing power of prayer, and two-thirds want their doctors to address spiritual issues with them.

“We as doctors need to pay attention to what a patient thinks is important,” says Matthews. “Many patients turn to religion to make important decisions in their lives.”

The biggest reason physicians don’t incorporate spiritual components into their practice, according to a study by the American Academy of Family Physicians, is expertise. They feel they lack the training to approach patients on faith-based matters, or to even identify those patients who desire spiritual discussions.

“It was very verboten a few years ago for doctors to mix religion and medicine,” says Barker. “Doctors turning to their faith were at risk for looking like they were trying to convert patients. Because of that, I’ve seen doctors who have a deep faith keep it out of any treatment. Patients can sense that.”

Medical schools are now working to bridge that gap. In 1992, only three out of the nation’s 126 accredited medical schools offered courses on incorporating spirituality into clinical care, says Dr. Christina Puchalski, director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health. By 2000, however, that number grew to 72 out of 125 schools.

“Patients are saying, ‘We want our spiritual issues addressed‚’ ” says Puchalski.

Sean and Mary O’Dwyer say their faith and spirituality have enriched their lives and helped them on their path toward healing. Sean’s cancer is stable and his heart condition improved, while Mary is recovering from her cancer.

“One of the things we’ve discovered is that through spirituality, we’ve gotten more in touch with each other,” says Mary. “Listening to our hearts and being sensitive to each other’s needs. Just by holding hands, it’s a whole different way of praying. We’re on a path to healing.”

After the Fall

Psychology professor David Hellkamp was shivering. It was October on his first trip to Lithuania. Snow had fallen, and the Baltic state was settling into winter. The living quarters of the 350-year-old school where he was staying had no heat, and his room in a wing where the Jesuits had lived for centuries was 54 stair steps from the bathroom. Cold showers were the rule. 

Hellkamp learned to wash quickly and dress warmly. But the significance of experiencing the medieval remnants of Cold War Europe didn’t escape him. That was in 1997, six years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It was also five years after the University began a relationship with the country’s two Jesuit high schools. In 1992, University vice president for mission and ministry Leo Klein, S.J., first traveled to the Baltic country, which sits just west of the Russian border along the Baltic Sea, at the request of a close friend from the Jesuits’ Chicago province. While that first visit was just an informational session, in the intervening years, the University has taken a proactive role in laying the foundation for the rebuilding of the country’s religious schools and educating its students to become its future leaders.

“The progress they’ve made has been phenomenal,” says Hellkamp, who has made three more trips to the schools. “They are a Second World country, no doubt, but their energy and aggressiveness to develop their infrastructure and other issues is really developing.”
What kept Klein interested and led him back four times since was twofold: The effort, first of all, is a natural sideline to the University’s mission of education and service to others, no matter where the need. “From the beginning of the Society of Jesus,” says Klein, “our whole scope is to go anywhere in the world where the need is expressed, where the greater glory of God calls us to go. That’s significantly different from the orders before us who had monasteries and prayer. And Ignatius wanted us to go at the sound of the bell.”

But his interest was more than just the desire to serve. It was also the implausible revival of the schools in spite of the sad political history of the country itself. Both schools were among the first created by the Jesuits-Vilnius in the nation’s capital in 1570 and Kaunas in the country’s center in 1649-not long after the founding of the order 450 years ago. But in the last two centuries, the country has enjoyed only a brief 22-year period of freedom between Russian domination that ended in 1918 and the Soviet occupation that began in 1940, interrupted by Hitler’s brief invasion. The Soviets took the Baltics after World War II, and Lithuania-along with its Jesuits -disappeared behind the Iron Curtain for nearly 50 years. Reviving that history would be a major challenge.

The Soviet domination of Lithuania meant immediate suppression of the Jesuit order. Religion went underground. The schools were taken over. The Vilnius school was closed and used for storage, falling into ruins by 1990. Its neighboring church, St. Casimir, became a Soviet museum of atheism. The Kaunas school became a state school. Over the decades, Jesuits were exiled to Siberia for conducting banned activities, such as teaching the catechism to children. Some never returned.

But when Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, and the Soviet regime collapsed in 1991, the Jesuits reclaimed their schools and churches. The Kaunas Jesuit High School reopened quickly in 1991 and now has about 600 students. The Vilnius Jesuit High School reopened in 1995, after many costly repairs, for 400 students. Both schools are coeducational and serve students in grades five through 12. With applications already outpacing admissions, they’re now considered the country’s best high schools, with more than 95 percent of graduates going on to college.

But the task of remaking these religious schools is gargantuan-and far from over. Just the financial burden of upgrading antiquated buildings and constructing new facilities is daunting enough and can’t be realized without outside assistance. Even more elusive is the ability to harness the hearts and minds of the next generation, educationally and morally, to secure the country’s political and religious future, Jesuit leaders say.

“I think they’re trying to become models for Catholic education in a country that doesn’t know what Catholic education is,” says Tadas Kulbis, executive director of the Baltic Jesuit Advancement Project in Chicago. The project is one of many institutions outside Lithuania-including Germany and the United States-that together have contributed millions of dollars to the Lithuanian Jesuits to help repair and modernize the buildings and grounds. More than $1 million in donations was spent from 1991 to 1997 on vital facility repairs that allowed the schools and churches to reopen. Another $1 million was secured. A goal of yet another $1 million more is set for repairs and improvements to the schools, Jesuit residences and churches. The need, though exceeds $6 million, according to the project’s web site at www.balticjesuits.org.

The revival of Catholic schooling is in itself a phenomenon in a country where, after 50 years of supression, the majority of the people claim to be Catholic, but only about 20 percent attend church regularly. The Soviets were successful in squelching religion and the need for it. Their weapon was fear. Older students, for example, told Hellkamp they remember their first grade teachers asking students whose parents practiced religion. “They knew not to raise their hands,” Hellkamp says, “because it would be disaster for their families. The teachers would turn them in.”

When the schools reopened, there were so few religious teachers available that Jesuit institutions outside Lithuania sent in teachers to educate the Lithuanian Jesuits about Catholic schooling. The Kaunas school had to purge itself of Soviet-era teachers who resented the new Catholic curriculum and moral instruction, while the Vilnius school was starting new and so was able to hire fresh teachers.

Xavier’s contribution has been primarily in the form of Hellkamp and Klein, plus several graduate students, who have provided support and education in their visits to the schools. Klein has found himself re-educating Jesuit leaders in basic religious doctrine, including Vatican II, which was held in 1964 during Soviet occupation. Hellkamp first lectured teachers, parents and students about the dangers of drugs and sexual freedom that arrived with the new Western culture. Now he’s working directly with Kaunas school officials to develop a long-range strategic plan for the school, which needs upgraded facilities including gymnasiums, cafeterias, libraries and laboratories. Just learning how to plan has been a hurdle, Hellkamp says.

“For 50 years they were occupied by the Soviets,” Hellkamp says, “so personal initiative would be ignored or punished, and here we were encouraging them to show initiative in planning. People over age 40 are very suspicious and are struggling now with breaking the walls down and learning to trust.”

Now that the Soviets are gone, the new enemy in the eyes of some conservative Catholics is consumerism. Vytautas Bielauskas, retired chair of Xavier’s department of psychology, says it’s important for the Jesuit school administrators to come out of Lithuania to see how the capitalist world really lives. The notion of sharing wealth, for example, is one that has eluded Lithuanians so far. To that end,the University is bringing eight administrators from the two schools to campus next summer to take graduate level educational administration courses for a month. Klein began raising funds to pay for the program. Not only will that help with the schools’ planning and their future, but it will be very important for the social education of the visitors, says Bielauskas. “They have to get away from the Soviet system, which was characterized by tremendous bureaucracy and prohibited creativity.”

Bielauskas, a native of Lithuania, is a vital link for the University’s efforts there. In 1940, he left Lithuania for Germany the day after the Soviet army marched into his home town. He was 19 and had just returned home from college, but he would not see his family again for 37 years. The 81-year-old Roman Catholic educator visits family now while lecturing at universities in Vilnius and Kaunas and makes contacts that help Klein and Hellkamp.

“We are helping to develop an organization that has no experience in administration,” says Bielauskas. “This is where Xavier has an impact.” He believes this kind of outreach is vital to the country, which suffered an almost complete purge of religious leadership. What the schools are doing, he says, is preparing the country’s future intelligentsia and the next leaders of the Catholic church, which is in the process of regeneration. “What we need in Lithuania is to educate our young clergy. Until they take over, the church will not make progress.”

Klein says the progress he’s seen in 10 years is mind-boggling. “The Jesuit institutions in these countries are coming back to life, and we’re going to help them. They need all sorts of updating because they’ve been living under a blanket all these years.”

Hellkamp says he could still use that blanket when he visits. On his last trip in October, hot water had been hooked up in the schools, though it was only tepid-which shows how far they’ve come, yet how far they have to go. Klein says the University will stick by the Jesuits as their schools mature, hopefully establishing some type of student exchange program and continuing education for administrators.

Obviously, it won’t be easy, says Kulbis. “The problem in Lithuania is that freedom came, and they accepted it with open arms, but very few accepted the responsibility that comes with it.”

UNIVERSITY TO HONOR LITHUANIAN PRIEST

As a Jesuit priest, Sigitas Tamkevicius was familiar with the persecutions that early Christians faced for spreading the word. In the mid-1980s, though, he got a firsthand account of such treatment when he was sentenced to 10 years in a Soviet prison in Siberia. His crime: editing an underground newspaper, The Chronicle of the Catholic Church, that documented human rights violations, oppression of religious practices and other atrocities during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania.

Tamkevicius survived the ordeal and was released five years early, in 1988, three years before the Soviet Union’s collapse. In December, Tamkevicius, who is now the archbishop of Kaunas, will receive the St. Francis Xavier medal for his heroism in defending and preserving the Catholic church through personal sacrifice.

“I nominated him because I think he is an outstanding example of modern Jesuit heroism,” says Leo Klein, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry. “He really risked his life and freedom to do something he felt was very important for the Roman Catholic Church and the people of Lithuania. He really put his life on the line.”

The medal is awarded to people who exemplify the virtues of St. Francis Xavier. The medal will be presented on Dec. 5 by retired psychology professor Vytautas Bieliauskas, a Lithuania native, in the presence of Antanas Saulaitis, S.J., provincial superior of the Jesuit province of Lithuania and Latvia.

Clerical Error

Paul Knitter says he feels fine, thank you. So would someone please inform Amazon.com? The online bookseller seems to think he’s taking his last breaths. Knitter, professor emeritus of theology, just released a new edition of his book, Introducing Theologies of Religion. When he checked on its availability on Amazon.com, he found someone at the online company added a subtitle: “Lessons in Living From a Dying Priest.” A dying priest? “I was more tickled than concerned,” he says. “Now that I’m retiring, are they trying to ship me out?”

Bitten by the Rug Bug

Jim Banks sells rugs for kids. No, no. Not pint-size toupees. Area carpets, with designs in them that kids would like, such as sports, jungle safaris and the ABCs. Banks runs www.kidcarpet.com from his home office, which is decorated with a rain forest rug.

The 1991 graduate, who lives just a few miles from campus in neighboring Norwood, got into the carpet business selling dorm room rugs to college students. While visiting carpet mills in Dalton, Ga., however, he stopped by one mill that designed and produced carpets especially for kids. When he returned home, he looked through the samples.

“It was a lightbulb kind of moment,” he says. “I realized this was the way I wanted to go.”

One of his first decisions was to scrap the traditional retail methods and just set up his shop online.

“By working on the Internet instead of out of a showroom, I can sell anywhere,” he says.

And he has. Although most of his business is national, he has clients as far away as Singapore, Taiwan and Turkey. After all, when it comes to decorations—even rugs—kids will be kids, no matter where they live.

Starting Over

It took more than 16 years for Gary Brown, a corporate pilot, to figure out what he wanted to do for a living. Finally, at age 40, he made a decision: he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life staring through the windshield of an airplane.

Never mind the fact that he’s flying a Cessna corporate jet that luxuriously seats seven and cost its owner about $5 million. Or that he lives a jet-setter lifestyle, zooming from one big city to the next-Cincinnati to New York to Los Angeles to Dallas. That would be a dream job for most pilots who caught the flying bug in their youth. But for Brown, the dream became routine, and he began to feel something was missing. One day he decided to do something about it.

“Around 1994, I really started to question,” he says. “I said, ‘I just don’t want to do this the rest of my life.’ It was a soul-searching thing. In 1995, I got into the masters program at Xavier. It was about helping people. I had made up my mind I wanted to start working toward another career.”

Brown, who completed his master’s degree in education counseling in 2000 as a commuter student, is in good company. Here, and on campuses nationwide, the number of graduate students is increasing, and many of the newcomers are middle-aged people looking for a change. They are lawyers becoming teachers, corporate professionals becoming coaches, line workers becoming personnel trainers. They are people willing to give up, in some cases, high-powered positions with high-priced salaries in exchange for lower pay and better-though sometimes odd-hours. The reason, they say, is the reward.

Brown, for example, made several changes. After getting his masters, he moved from Indiana to Cincinnati to fly part-time for Clear Channel Communications and enroll in the University’s post master’s clinical endorsement program for counselors. Once licensed as a clinical counselor this summer, he plans to treat adolescents with a variety of unique therapies-including the use of horses. Equine therapy for treatment of behavioral and mental disorders, he says, is a method growing in popularity because of a horse’s natural reaction to a person’s behavior. People must adjust their actions to get calm and trusting reactions from the horse. Brown believes in the method, but whether he can make it work as a career is still unknown. But he is willing to give up flying-what he calls his security blanket-to find out.

The number of graduate students across the country rose 2 percent from 1999 to 2000, says Peter Syverson, vice president for research at the Council of Graduate Schools. All told, there were about 2 million students enrolled in graduate schools nationally last year, including those studying medicine and law. The number is expected to keep rising this year, he says, caused mostly by the softened economy fueled by downsizing, layoffs and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. In fact some teacher education programs reported a flurry of calls in the weeks after Sept. 11 from people suddenly wanting to become teachers after reevaluating their lives, according to reports in The New York Times.

Syverson says many are streaming into graduate school for all the normal reasons-young undergraduates continuing their studies and older workers wanting to upgrade their career credentials. “The third group are the people who want to change careers, and that’s the group that’s very hard to measure,” he says. “Over half of all grad students are over age 30, and 30 percent are over age 40. Graduate students are getting older but at a fairly slow rate. It’s indicative that students later in their careers are coming back to school, and may indicate there is career-switching going on.”

Many students are simply finding the business environment has lost its lure, says Jim Boothe, chair of the department of education. “The appeal of the private sector business industry is not as optimistic as it used to be, and there is a general feeling about what one wants to do with one’s life, especially in light of Sept. 11. It causes people to reassess what they want to do.”

There are 2,684 graduate students this year at the University, and half of them are studying for their masters in education. John Cooper, director for graduate services, says more than a fifth of this year’s 1,366 graduate education students are working toward their initial teacher’s licenses-meaning, they’re changing their careers. “They’re saying, ‘I really want to make a change.’ When they went through undergraduate school, they felt the key was getting into a career that would make good money. What they’ve found is money isn’t everything,” Cooper says.

Bruce Kozerski, former Cincinnati Bengal football player who spent 12 years getting paid to pound on others as an offensive lineman, found that out, too, although by accident. But Kozerski knew his football career wouldn’t last forever.

“I envisioned retiring and working in my contracting business and doing what I wanted,” he says, “but I got involved in coaching, and a friend asked me to teach a couple of classes. I did it and fell in love with the job. It’s the kids. They’re good for me.”

Wanting to continue teaching, he went back to school, completed his licensure requirements and is finishing up his masters in education at Xavier. Now he teaches physics and runs the football program at Holy Cross High School in Covington, Ky., a tiny school whose football program he helped found a few years ago. But the irony of value for pay hasn’t escaped him.

“I made more in one game than I do teaching one year, but I don’t know if the reward was as high,” he says. “At the point I retired, I could have played in golf tournaments all over the country four days a week. But how boring would that have been?”

While most people don’t have to face such extreme choices as Kozerski, many do make the decision to leave what they know so they can do what they want. And the University does what it can to accommodate those who want to change careers by holding many masters level courses in the evenings and on weekends, or offering business courses at GE Aircraft Engines in nearby Evendale.

The convenience helped Greg Grove, an Air Force brat who became a Marine and retired a Lt. Col. last year. He began building a house in Wilmington, Ohio, but then Clinton-Massey High School asked him to be an assistant principal. They liked the idea of a former Marine handling discipline at the school, and they didn’t care that he didn’t have a teaching license. Grove couldn’t resist. “This was too much of a golden opportunity,” he says. So he got a temporary administrative certificate, began his new job at the high school last August, and signed up for the University’s master of education administration program in January.

Being around the students, Grove says, reminds him of working with young Marines. They’re like moldable clay. “It’s wonderful to have someone look up and respect you and see you as an authority figure. And the migration into a secondary career in America has to do with career burnout. You find yourself just looking for a change of pace.”

Anne Marie Mielech was looking for more than a change of pace when she decided to leave her job as a high-salaried attorney bored by insurance defense law. After five years, she switched to juvenile law but found herself searching again after a year of dealing with negative issues of custody, divorce and parental rights. Five years ago, she married and decided to try teaching. She calls it her epiphany.

“My undergraduate [degree] is in English and secondary education, and I never stopped thinking about it,” says Mielech, who is now studying for her master’s degree in English while teaching English at Holy Cross High School. “It is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. Instead of dealing with the negativity of custody and taking children away from bad parents, I’ve flipped it, and now I get to promote positive relationships between families. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel.”

George Rathman also left corporate law after five years as an attorney in the international tax accounting department at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. By age 30, he realized it was “too corporate” for him. Plus, he missed coaching high school and summer swim teams, which he dropped because of his busy schedule. To get back into high school coaching, however, he needed a teaching license, so he started looking at area colleges. Coincidentally, the University needed a new swim coach at the same time and offered him an irresistible package-coach of the men’s and women’s swim teams, a job as the University’s National Collegiate Athletic Association compliance coordinator, and tuition reimbursement for his education courses. He said yes, and will complete his master’s degree in elementary education this summer.

“I make less now than when I started at P&G, but what I’m doing is very rewarding and very challenging in a different way,” Rathman says. “I don’t go out to dinner as much, and I used to go to the Aronoff Center [for Performing Arts] often, and I had season tickets to the Reds and Bengals, and all those things went away. You realize you don’t need as much materially.”

Such changes don’t always go so well, though. One graduate student, Sandra Parks, took early retirement from P&G after 28 years with the company in the product delivery division. Older, divorced and a single mom, she returned to the University to complete her bachelors in communications in 1998, graduating cum laude, and jumped right into the Master of Human Resource Development program in 1999. Seeing no room for advancement, she left P&G in October 2000, hoping to turn her new skills into a new career as a personnel trainer. But since she completed the exhaustive program with a 4.0 grade point average last May, she has yet to find a job. Most employers, she’s finding, are looking for trainers with management experience. She also wonders if her age-52-is working against her.

“I’m not going to give up and I would not take this experience back for anything,” she says. “Getting my master’s was for me, and I didn’t know what the future holds.” While she hunts for a job, Parks is working as a substitute teacher in the Cincinnati Public Schools and is enjoying it so much she’s wondering if she should now look into teaching.

To help facilitate such decisions, Boothe and Cooper are investigating more creative options for graduate level study-summer block courses in short concentrated weeks, more basic courses offered at nights and on weekends, and true distance learning online.

For Brown, the chance to face teens and horses every day instead of bug-splattered windshields was worth the wait. He’s just happy he figured out what he wanted to do and had the nerve to try. “It has taken a lot longer than I thought, and I wish I had figured all this out 10 years ago,” he says. “I’m changing my identity, and the money will be different, but it’s important I do what I feel I was put here to do. That’s the gold ring. I feel I’ve gotten to my mission in life and it’s a good feeling.”

Profile: Steven J. Banes

Steven J. Baines

Bachelor of Arts in communications/ marketing, 1988

Baines just finished a three-year assignment with Catholic Relief Services in Africa.

Day Job | Baines, 36, served as a program manager of a food security project aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS virus in Malawi. The nation of 11 million people is one of the poorest in the world and has one of the highest HIV/AIDS infection rates at 16.4 percent. Life expectancy is 41 years.

Disbelief | “I was amazed at the epidemic there. Funerals were common. People were aware of the disease and how it spread, but change is slow.”

Night Time | There were no movie theaters. Few people had televisions or electricity. News came from radio. Leisure time was spent having dinner parties and swimming in Lake Malawi.

Good Eating | The staple food was a bread called “nsimi,” which was made from ground corn. It was eaten with a “relish” Baines discovered isn’t made from pickles, but meat and vegetables.

Living conditions | Not as bad as Americans might think. Baines paid $750 a month for a two-bedroom house that came with a gardener and housekeeper, Patrick, who cooked and did the laundry.

Thoughts | “I felt guilty having a house staff at first. When I thought of not having a staff, I was told I would be denying Malawians a job.”

Continuing Education | He’s pursuing his master’s degree in human resource development online and will graduate this fall from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vt. He also earned his scuba certification in Malawi.

Passport Stamps | While at Xavier, he did a summer abroad in Colombia. He also spent a year with the Peace Corps in Bolivia when he was 29.

Up Next | Baines returned home in June and hopes to be assigned to a Peace Corps mission.

Profile: Khary Kimani Turner

Khary Kimani Turner

Bachelor of Arts in communication arts, 1992.

Writer/editor for United Way Community Services in Detroit; freelance writer published in national hip-hop magazines.

Poetic Sounds | Turner writes poetry then performs it with his band, Black Bottom Collective. “It’s a mix of poetry, hip-hop and funk. We take the poetry of my book and set it to music. I’m a performance poet who came out of the hip-hop tradition, so most of my poetry is written in a certain meter.”

The Book | In 2000, he self-published a book of poetry, Outta You: Early Selfloveactivism.

Spider Man | “I wrote my first poem when I was 13 about a spider. I did it to beat my fear of spiders. I made myself stare at a spider. I realized ‘I’m bigger than you,’ then I wrote about it. I wasn’t scared of them anymore.”

Philosophy 101 | “Even at Xavier I was known for promoting the African-American perspective, but I was never one to do it in a separatist fashion. My philosophy is, ‘This is my view, and you are welcome to discuss it.’ Our music takes the same approach.”

Spare Time | He’s a former board member of the NAACP’s Detroit branch, and helped organize hip-hop summits. “We would get hundreds of young people together for workshops on things like voter registration, technology and entrepreneurship. Then at the end of the day we would have a hip-hop concert.”

Muses | Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Jill Scott, a singer whose poetry is set to a rhythm and blues beat. “She came out of nowhere and sold 3 million records. She made our work acceptable.”

No Wonder | Turner met Stevie Wonder when his band opened for one of Wonder’s concerts. “I’ve got a picture of me with him. It was great. He wanted me to send him some of our music, but the battery in my Palm Pilot died and I lost his address.”

TV Time | He won the Detroit competition for the Def Poetry Jam and is slated to do the Def Poetry Jam on HBO. “I’m a semi-finalist, which means at some point I’ll be on the show.”

Profile: Julia Meister

Julia Meister

Bachelor of Arts in English, 1991; law degree from University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., 1995

Former director of student services at Notre Dame and assistant to the dean of the law school.

Duties |She oversees law students, handles all the law school disciplinary issues and academic good standing issues, runs law school orientation and graduation, and provides academic support. “I do a lot of personal counseling and that’s really fulfilling. I think I have a lot to offer. I’ve been to this law school. I’ve been at a big firm [Taft, Stettinius & Hollister in Cincinnati from 1995-2001]. I know the importance of seeking out a mentor and developing a good relationship. I had some strong mentoring experiences at Taft that are still with me.”

Office Decorations | While she was at law school her parents drove up to bring her Skyline Chili. They also brought her a Crosstown Shootout basketball. She’s been collecting them ever since the 1992 game.

To Be or Not To Be | Her senior year she was torn between careers in law and English literature. Though she chose law, her love of Shakespeare still abounds: She’s on the board of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival. “Even with me being up here I’ve made it back for all the performances.”

Dog Days of College | While she was a resident advisor at the University, Meister caught a student keeping a dog in her dorm room. “I remember when the hall director opened the door I saw this adorable puppy with big brown eyes and my first instinct was to pick him up and take him to my room.”

Type A | Meister’s other college activities included Habitat for Humanity, jazz ensemble, Big Sisters, choral ensemble and helping at the Dorothy Day House. “I was one of those people whose every waking hour was spent at class, a meeting or at practice. I was also working at Taft.”

License to Learn | As a high school junior she participated in a program that allowed her to take summer classes for credit at Xavier. “That was exciting for me. I was 16 and I had just gotten my driver’s license and here I was in class with all these college kids. That was the one thing that made me get a taste for Xavier.”

Cost Cutters

When David Tobias was awarded a service fellowship, it was like hitting the college lottery. The fellowship is given to students with a proven record of service for others and who are willing to spend at least 10 hours a week volunteering. Their reward: everything’s paid for—tuition, room, board. It’s an annual package worth more than $23,500.

The University awards five freshmen service fellowships annually. From the financial side, that’s more than $117,000 in lost income per class, or nearly $500,000 per year. The Univ-ersity also hands out 10 full-tuition St. Francis Xavier scholarships worth nearly $17,000 apiece, 100 Trustee scholarships worth $8,000 apiece, 100 Presidential scholarships worth $5,500 apiece and 100 Honor scholarships worth $4,000 apiece. Annually.

So where does the money come from to finance these scholarships? Much of it comes from alumni, parents, staff, faculty, businesses. In short, who gives to the annual fund.

“If it wasn’t for those people giving to the University, tuition would naturally go up,” says Dan Cloran, director for the annual fund. “Measures would be put in place, and we would probably lose faculty, students, programs. Right now, tuition is at a reasonable level for a private, Catholic education.”

Xavier is one of the least expensive of the 28 Jesuit universities. With 90 percent of students receiving financial aid, the annual fund’s contributions only cover a fraction of those costs.

“The annual fund brings in nearly $5 million to offset those costs, and raising more is possible, Cloran says. Currently, 29 percent of Xavier’s constituency base gives to the annual fund. “Imagine the impact if half of the people who don’t give to the annual fund participated,” he says.

Balancing Act

A college education has never been so readily attainable. More than 3,300 schools currently offer a variety of routes to a diploma, helping more students than ever make their way onto some campus somewhere, somehow. Last year, more than 12 million undergraduates were enrolled in public and private schools across the country.

Yet college has never been more costly. Tuition has risen 107 percent since 1980—more than twice the rate of inflation in the last decade—and is the fastest growing source of revenue for public colleges and universities, according to a report released in May by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

So why does college cost so much? The answer is a mixture of factors, driven by the need to compete for the best students while maintaining the highest academic quality the college can afford. It’s influenced by the economy, student aid and state appropriations. And for private schools, by the level of donations. A study released this year by the National Association of College and University Business Offices shows that colleges spend a majority of their budgets on instruction and student services. Salaries and benefits, plus student-related costs like counseling and cafeterias, make up about 70 percent of private school expenses.

These costs rise at a steady rate. But other costs are rising much faster, reports the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education. Technology needs—laptops and upgraded classrooms—are a primary factor. So are new construction projects to accommodate rising enrollments, complying with federal regulations, and meeting the expectations of students, who want well-equipped gymnasiums and fully wired dormitories.

There are also more part-time and older students, the report says, and more students needing remedial help—all of which cost money. The price of all this is actually greater than the price of tuition, says Richard Hirté, the University’s vice president for financial administration.

At Xavier, where tuition contributes more than 60 percent of all revenue, it costs $19,775 a year to educate a student. But net tuition—tuition minus all financial aid received—is just $13,500. With the University returning about 25 percent of its tuition dollars in financial aid, and spending about 75 percent of its $103 million operating budget on instruction and student services this year, it’s a financial tightrope.

Meanwhile, the prices of other big-ticket items—technology, health care, facilities—keep going up, Hirté says. To pay for them on top of steadily rising faculty salaries and benefits, there’s only one alternative if financial disaster is to be avoided: The price of admission must increase. Setting tuition each year is a precarious walk between an institution’s financial needs and families’ ability to pay. How much to charge depends on a college’s other sources of income, such as endowment revenue and contributions from alumni and friends. It also explains the wide range of tuition that schools charge, which float from $7,000 at four-year public universities, to more than $40,000 at private schools.

“There’s a price-quality relationship in the higher education marketplace, and a high correlation between students with high SAT scores and family income,” Hirté says. “We’re walking on a balance beam here. We also want to keep Xavier accessible.”

Tuition hikes at some of Ohio’s state-supported schools this year climbed into double digits, triggering threats of tuition caps. Xavier raised its tuition by 7.5 percent to $17,780 for this fall, the largest increase in 10 years. The price hike is primarily to hire 33 more full-time faculty, Hirté says.

Hirté’s dream, and the University’s great challenge, is to quadruple the school’s endowment, the fund in which the University draws annual income off interest payments, to about $400 million. That could bring in more than $15 million a year in unrestricted income.

“Unfortunately, college presidents have to operate in the real world, balancing tuition against operating costs, while remaining sensitive to the challenges families face in sending their children to college,” says David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. Still, he says, “A private college education is one of the best investments a student will ever make.”