Time Passages

In the fall of 1930, James M. Sweeney Jr. went down to the local drugstore and purchased a scrapbook. For the next four years, he chronicled his collegiate days at Xavier by pasting photos and clippings in the book. He put in football schedules, pictures of friends and campus, a memorial card for former University President Hubert F. Brockman, S.J., who passed away in 1931. There’s even his old ID card.

This book of memories became a miniature time capsule of sorts. This spring, it was discovered in the basement of the national alumni association offices, which were being torn down to make way for a new campus green space. A student worker discovered it while helping with the move.

“People who come into the office gravitate toward it and immediately start flipping through the pages,” says staff assistant Joan Thompson.

That’s Entertainment

Usually a $3 movie buys you a seat inside a cramped, sticky movie theater showing last year’s releases. In Fairfield, Conn., it buys much more.

Leo Redgate, a 1990 graduate, established the Community Theatre Foundation, a nonprofit organization located inside a renovated 80-year-old theater that shows a wide variety of current, independent, classic and foreign films for $3, and then gives the profits to charity.

Spurred by the closing of the 1920s-era theater as a result of the overwhelming presence of a nearby multiplex, Redgate put together a plan that not only saved the building but helped others at the same time.

“I thought the theater closing was a shame,” says Redgate. “I was always saying, ‘What they really need to do is this.’ ”

Rather than leave it to someone else, though, Redgate decided he was the one who should do it. And his idea is a hit in the area. Not only does the community get movies and the profits, but he’s staffing it with high school students from Fairfield and neighboring Bridgeport, so they can gain some business experience.

“The kids work five-hour shifts without pay and they love every minute of it,” he says. “It’s extremely rewarding. It’s about seeing kids have the opportunity to shine and show what they are really made of.”

Some of the area’s better-known residents are also actively supporting the theater. Among them: Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, singer Michael Bolton, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and Miramax Films co-chair Harvey Weinstein.

Teen Drama

[one_third]Nothing could seem more mismatched than an old radio drama and teenage students. But on a Friday afternoon in April, there they were: eight teenagers in the WVXU studio, putting on an old-time radio show with its entertaining, light story line, comical voices and collection of odd noises—a door opening and closing, a phone ringing, water being poured, clopping hooves and footsteps.[/one_third]

While the eighth-graders had a good time, they got much more out of it than fun. McKinley Elementary principal Melody Dacey says the play gave students a reason to come to school every day, brought them together, boosted their self-esteem and improved their reading.

WVXU director Vickie Jones says the project was prompted by a $50,000 grant from the Dater Foundation. WVXU came up with the idea. Each student received a copy of the recording, and WVXU gave the school $500 for student activities as well.

Tee Time

Bob Goldsmith is living the dream—each morning he rolls out of bed, walks downstairs, out the patio door and goes golfing. Of course, that’s pretty easy for him to do since the course is in his yard.

Last year, the 1960 M.B.A. graduate decided to convert part of his four-acre homestead into a four-hole golf course. And it was no small feat. His home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., just north of San Diego, was built in the middle of a large orange grove, and creating the course required the removal of more than 300 orange trees, most of which were at least 40 years old and still being harvested.

Tons of rocks were removed and replaced with magnolia trees, waterfalls, ponds and sand traps. He constructed four target greens and nine tee boxes, giving the course 36 different hole options. The longest hole is just 132 yards to an elevated green, meaning pitching wedges are the club of choice. Still, Goldsmith, an engineer and retired chairman of Rohr Industries, knew that even the simplest shots can sometimes go astray. So he situated the course so wayward shots don’t head toward the neighbor’s yard but toward his own house.

“I haven’t broken any windows yet,” he says, “but I’ve hit the roof a few times.”

Taking a Bow

The national alumni association handed out several awards this spring, including the following:

Honor: The Father Finn Award for graduating seniors who exemplify the qualities of Francis J. Finn, S.J., who wrote about spiritual values, leadership and breadth of interest in his books.

Recipient: David Endres, whose activities on campus included St. Vincent de Paul Society, Alpha Sigma Nu honor society, eucharistic minister and Students for Life.

Honor: The Distinguished Alumnus Award for alumni who have given outstanding service to the University and/or society and whose life reflects Jesuit morals and ethical values.

Recipient: Donald P. Klekamp, Class of 1954, who earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1957 and is a senior partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Keating, Muething & Klekamp. Organizations he’s served include the Cincinnati Citizens Police Association, the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, and Citizens for Community Values.

Honor: The Sister Mary Virginia Sullivan Award for Edgecliff College alumni for outstanding service to the college, the church, family, the arts, politics or charitable organizations.

Recipient: Adele Gratsch Lippert, Edgecliff Class of 1954, who served as assistant campus minister for Ursuline Academy from 1987-1992, was a docent for the Cincinnati Art Museum, served on the board of Working in Neighborhoods and volunteered at Birthright of Cincinnati.

River Men

June 30, 2002—A retrofitted pontoon boat left Cincinnati’s public landing on the last day of June carrying four men down the Ohio River for a month-long journey in search of history, a little adventure and their own solitude, peace and companionship. The raft carrying Bob Herring, a 1973 and 1977 graduate, and his three friends will end when they reach New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Equipped with a solar-powered generator on the roof of their hand-made hutch, a laptop computer and digital phone and camera, the pontoon crew, who call themselves the River Men, will file daily web dispatches that curious readers can follow throughout the trip.

“We’re just four guys looking for a good time on the river and seeing what’s there,” Herring says. “Certainly it’s a break. I’m 52 years old, and I’ve never been down the river before. I really believe we are connected to those who have gone before us, and I wondered what was that like for them?”

Granted, there are no Indians to watch for, and their boat is no wooden raft lashed together with rope. And the high-tech equipment, including a refrigerated cooler fueled by the solar-powered generator, are modern conveniences that will make the trip a lot more enjoyable than those trips experienced by the early flatboat settlers. But Herring says they can get a taste of what those adventurers experienced as they discover the territory from the vantage point of the river. He plans to stop at Vicksburg, Miss., to visit the famous Civil War battlefield and in Memphis to see the National Civil Rights Museum.

“It’s a leisurely trip, not a race. We’re not out to prove anything,” Herring says.

The idea began when Herring, principal of Nativity School in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati, and Brad Stevenson, the school’s artist-in-residence, were discussing with students what happens to rain that falls at the school. A simple conversation about where the water goes grew into a plan to follow the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico. Stevenson’s friends, Bob Gray and Mick Michaelson, owner of Sugar ‘N Spice Restaurant, helped build the hut on the pontoon boat bought for the trip and they, too, decided to join the journey.

The men prepared for the trip by talking to the U.S. Coast Guard and doing a trial run at one of the locks on the Ohio. They found they got through faster than the barges. The guard told them to be wary at night in the river’s rural stretches where country boys pass the time by shooting at the buoy lights in the river. Herring said they plan to tie up every night. They were also warned to be careful of bugs and snakes, so they have plenty of mosquito repellant and a snake bite kit.

Each man took his own food, mostly items like cereal, dried fruit, peanut butter and crackers. Water, Gatorade and a little beer will quench their thirst, but they are not planning to cook any prepared meals. They will tie up periodically to refuel the boat and their food supplies. Equipped with a small outboard motor, the crew expects to travel up to 70 miles a day, aided by the rivers’ southbound current.

Herring will use his laptop and cell phone to file daily briefings to a link on the school’s web site. Readers can keep up with the River Men by calling up www.nativity-cincinnati.org/river/river_trip.htm, or going to the school site at www.nativity-cincinnati.org. The site is prepared for 28 days of dispatches, though Herring said they could get to New Orleans in as little as 20 days.

Passing Knowledge

Greek philosopher Socrates taught Greek philosopher Plato, who in turn taught Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Xavier has a similar brain chain amid its professors. It starts with Ted Thepe, S.J., professor of chemistry. Back when he was teaching physics at Loyola Academy in Chicago, one of his students was Bill Larkin. Larkin, a retired professor of mathematics, taught Dick Gruber. Gruber, a professor of history, later taught Bill Madges, who is chair of the department of theology.

“It’s amazing to have that kind of longevity,” says Madges. “I think it says something of the depth of feeling Xavier alumni have for this institution. It’s a special bond to come back and try to do for future generations what had been done for us: to be a formative influence both professionally and personally.”

New World

The University adjusted its hiring practices this spring when it began looking to fill 33 faculty openings. The results are making a world of difference. So far, 45 percent of the new hires are minorities. Seven are from abroad—Iran, Syria, Spain, Germany, China, Malaysia and India. Six are African American, pushing the number of black faculty from eight to 14. In changing its hiring strategies, the University targeted historically black colleges, aimed job advertisements at broader audiences and contacted universities that produce sizable numbers of minority doctorates. Though the number of African-American faculty is still less than 5 percent, the results are a giant leap from when Napoleon Adebola Bryant Jr. became the University’s first black tenured professor in 1976. “I applaud Mike Graham,” Bryant says. “It sounds like Xavier is getting in line with its creed and spirit. I went there in 1970 and had a hell of a time getting full professorship.” “I think people are sensing an attitude that’s very welcoming,” says executive director for diversity development Ken Durgans. “We are just trying to catch up to the 21st century. We’re a little behind, but I think we’re expecting another good year.” Janice Walker, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, says students must be exposed to differing viewpoints and cultural thinking to become well-rounded citizens. What better way than from those who hail from such cultures?

Making Connections

April 20, 2002—I am about to complete my 10th year of teaching at Xavier, and I am frequently asked by colleagues at other universities, “What is special about Xavier?” There are qualities of the university that come to my mind—I think of the competence and collegiality of the faculty, the support of administrators and staff and the warm and caring environment. Yet, without hesitation, I always answer, “It’s the students.” I truly believe that I am fortunate to have the opportunity to meet, to know, to learn with and from such good people. I am gratified when I see your enthusiasm for learning, your camaraderie and concern for each other, and your compassion for those less fortunate. I have the opportunity to work with accountant students in a service learning course where the students serve the local community by preparing tax returns for elderly and low-income taxpayers. This semester, our class assisted more than 180 people through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). When our tax preparation site was visited by the IRS, the visitor complimented us for having such a professional operation. The students deserve the compliments; their actions display professionalism beyond their years. This is evidenced in the way they greet and interact with our tax clients, as well as the manner in which they prepare and deliver the returns. They are professional and compassionate. Many of the taxpayers who come to us appreciate the conversations with the students as well as the technical services. Thus, I have had the opportunity to first-hand observe this goodness, this ability “to connect” that I will be discussing.

The theme I would like to pursue is, “What are the benefits of a liberal arts education to a student of business?” The ethics of business professionals has certainly been called to question, especially most recently within the accounting profession. How does a liberal education, particularly a Jesuit liberal education, contribute to creating business professionals who are ethical human beings, whose actions reflect an educated solidarity? What is a liberally educated person? To answer these questions I would like to share comments by William Cronon published in The American Scholar. Dr. Cronon, professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggests that the components of a liberal education are not a listing of required courses or core curriculum, but rather the qualities or characteristics that a liberally educated person will possess. Although Dr. Cronon lists 10 qualities, I would like to share some of his comments and my own observations regarding a few, without diminishing the importance of all.

They listen and they hear. I know it sounds too simple, but it means they know how to pay attention, to follow an argument, track logical reasoning, hear the emotions that lie behind the argument and empathize with the person feeling the emotion.

They read, and they understand. Again, this sounds simple, but it is so very difficult and all encompassing. This quality implies the ability to gain insight from not only The New York Times, but also Scientific American, the Economist, The Wall Street Journal, the sports page; to enjoy the classics as well as current best sellers; to be moved by what one reads; to appreciate great art and beautiful music; to be able to surf the World Wide Web. Their eyes and ears are attuned to the wonders that make up the world. What is said for reading can also apply to writing; the ability to write in a manner that moves another.

They can talk with anyone. Dr. Cronon describes a liberally educated person as one who is at ease in conversation with a high school dropout or a Nobel laureate, with a child, or a nursing home resident, a factory worker or a corporate leader. They engage in such conversations not to talk about themselves but because of a genuine interest in others. I have had the pleasure to observe our students conversing with business leaders, as well as the elderly and those less fortunate that we serve through VITA. I am impressed by their genuine interest in others.

The liberally educated person can solve a wide variety of puzzles and problems. This requires many skills—a basic comfort with numbers, familiarity with computers; skills of the analyst, the manager, the engineer, the critic. In effect, it encompasses the ability to accomplish practical goals. I believe all of my tax students would agree the tax law is a puzzle and that tax planning and compliance can be challenging problem solving exercises.

They understand how to get things done in the world. Learning how to get things done in order to leave the world a better place is one of the most practical and important lessons we can take from our education. We study power and struggle. The goal of Cecil Rhodes when establishing the Rhodes Scholarship was to identify young people who would spend their lives engaged in the struggle to leave the world a better place than they had found it.

Jesuit education aspires to educate the “whole person.” The Rev. [Peter-Hans] Kolvenbach [Superior General of the Society of Jesus] in his speech to Jesuit educators indicated that, in today’s environment, a person “cannot be whole without an educated awareness of society and culture with which to contribute socially, generously in the real world…that solidarity is learned through contact and not concepts.” In other words, through connecting.

And that is the final quality mentioned by Cronon.They follow E.M.Forster’s injunction from Howard’s End: “Only connect…” All of the qualities described—listening, reading, talking, writing, puzzle solving, truth seeking, seeing through other people’s eyes—all are about connecting. Each of these qualities makes us more aware of the connections we have with other people and with the rest of creation. They remind us of our obligation to use knowledge and power responsibly; to exercise our freedom to make a difference in the world and to make a difference for more than just ourselves.

For years, the accounting profession has struggled to find competent personnel who can understand the complexities of the changing business world. In England, accounting firms seek to hire the best students from the liberal arts colleges, and then spend one to two years providing an accounting education. While the U.S. has not followed that model, students who graduate with an accounting degree from a liberal arts college are often highly recruited and highly successful in their careers.

Let me relate what we frequently hear from those who recruit and employ graduates of our business disciplines. Business graduates from other universities—particularly those universities without a liberal arts orientation—may enter the work force with a high degree of technical competence, but three or four years into their careers, our graduates typically surpass those initial hires from other universities. The success of our graduates is attributed to their liberal arts background. The benefits, the qualities, the characteristics that I just mentioned contribute to successful careers in the business world as well as in life.

Given the recent headlines revealing fraud, misrepresentations and managers who are solely self interest motivated—and particularly the negative repercussions that have befallen the accounting profession—the need for future manager leaders in the community who exhibit the qualities of a liberally educated person could hardly be greater. You, ladies and gentlemen, are challenged to fill that need. You are being asked to “only connect,” to manifest educated solidarity. Education is an ongoing, dynamic process—a means of enriching not only our own lives, but the lives of all those with whom we “connect.”

Legal Advise

Rudolph Hasl is on a mission. Has been for almost 40 years. The 1964 graduate, who’s spent much of his career teaching law, has sought to develop attorneys not only with a knowledge of the law, but also with a desire for community service. He’s exposed hundreds of law school students to the world of pro bono legal work for the poor. And for that, he was honored.

Hasl was named the 2001 Outstanding Law School Dean of the Year. The award is issued annually by the National Association for Public Interest Law to the lawyer who has done the most to promote public service and improve access to legal representation for the poor.

Hasl’s accomplishments at Seattle University’s School of Law, where he became dean in 2000, are substantial. In his first year there, he founded the new student-edited Seattle Journal of Social Justice, which publishes commentary on current social issues. He increas-ed support for a summer grant program for students doing public interest work. And he developed the Access to Justice Institute and a law clinic. Both programs support the law school curriculum by providing students with pro bono legal work. More than two-thirds of the first-year class participated voluntarily.

“This gives them personal experience with poverty,” says Hasl, who also served as law school dean at St. John’s University in New York and St. Louis University, “and many may seek employment in a different direction. But I hope this kind of exposure will give them a sense of obligation to address those unmet needs.”