Brush with Cancer

By the time Richard Toohey got to know the radium dial painters, many were old and suffering from cancer. Others were already dead.

The women were casualties of World Wars I and II—at least indirectly. During the wars, women were hired to paint the dials of watches, clocks and airplane gauges with a glow-in-the-dark paint made of zinc sulphide and radium. To ease the difficulty of painting the tiny details, the women often sharpened the points of their paint brushes with their lips. What no one knew at the time was the paint they were using was radioactive.

Toohey, a 1968 physics graduate, became familiar with the women when he joined a research team at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago that was doing a long-term study of the painters. Toohey spent 22 years on the project, digging up the living and the dead to document radiation exposure levels, which eventually led to modern radiation safety standards.

“Because of them and the Japanese, we know more about the health risks of radiation than any other hazard to which people are exposed.” Today, Toohey uses his radiation knowledge at the Oak Ridge Associated Universities in Tennessee, where he’s director of Dose Reconstruction Projects. Instead of women painters, though, he deals with people who developed cancer after working at various atomic and nuclear weapons facilities.

Each one is seeking the $150,000 payments authorized by Congress. To date, Toohey’s team has processed more than 14,000 claims, of which 2,500 totaling $373 million have been awarded. The young women who tipped their brushes to their lips should have been so lucky.

Book Drive

Betty Porter simply wanted to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. She had no idea her effort would involve several months, hundreds of people, thousands of books and a semi-truck driven by a guy named Chuck.

Porter, an assistant director in Xavier’s McDonald Library, is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Library Consortium. The day after the hurricane hit, the group’s executive director, 1980 graduate Anne Abate, put out a call for children’s book donations. Porter, in turn, put out a call around campus. She also combined her efforts with a local Catholic elementary school, and together they netted 5,400 books, all of which were donated to St. Clement of Rome Catholic School in Metairie, La., which suffered devastating flood damage. “Their principal and librarian were thrilled because they lost all these books,” Porter says.

The books were shipped along with 450 additional boxes Abate collected. Abate also snared a truck donated by Southern State Community College, a driver named Chuck Morris, and volunteers who loaded the truck in the rain on Friday, March 31.

Porter says the experience was “certainly rewarding,” and Abate is amazed that so many stepped up to help out “when we had absolutely no clue where these books were going.”

Alumni in Action

The Cincinnati chapter has often planned its fall event at a local winery but decided that a change of venue was in order to attract a wider audience. So the chapter abandoned wine and opted for its frothy distant cousin. After some discussion, organizers tapped the Hofbräuhaus, a German beer garden in Newport, Ky., that resembles the Munich original. “The Hofbräuhaus fit well with Cincinnati’s German heritage, and based upon the round of applause, it appeared to be a good selection,” says 1982 graduate Doug Subotnik, one of the event’s organizers.

In a private room, approximately 90 attendees snacked on German pretzels followed by two types of schnitzel, brats, metts, sauerkraut and Bavarian cream puffs, washing it down with—what else—an assortment of brews. After dinner, the chapter raffled off Xavier memorabilia and most stayed for the entire four-hour event, although it’s hard to say how many straggled over to the bar area afterward.

A Tale of Three Statues

Everyone coming to the Cintas Center is greeted by the statue of D’Artagnan, the most famous musketeer in 17th-century France immortalized by Alexander Dumas in The Three Musketeers. D’Artagnan has been Xavier’s mascot since 1925 when Francis Finn, S.J., proposed the musketeer as the University’s mascot to the board of trustees. He proposed the musketeer for two reasons: to preserve the strong ties between Xavier’s French origins and to promote the musketeer’s cultural ideals of devotion and bravery. Yet for almost 40 years, no large representation of the musketeer was present on campus.

The First Musketeer In 1931, the town of Auch in southwestern France, birthplace of D’Artagnan, decided to erect a bronze statue of D’Artagnan in his memory to rekindle the public’s interest in this hero and to attract tourists. It has been a great success because it educates everyone about D’Artagnan, the historical figure known to most only as an almost mythical hero created through literature.

The Second Musketeer Following an article in The New York Times about the statue in Auch, Xavier began exploring the possibility of obtaining a reproduction of the French musketeer for Xavier.

In 1964, after extensive correspondence between Xavier’s musketeer committee and the city of Auch, as well as a personal visit made to Auch by Joseph Bourgeois, chair of the department of modern languages, the mayor of Auch wrote, “Following my recommendations, the City Council of Auch has decided to offer to your university a reproduction, smaller in size, of the statue of D’Artagnan, which stands at the top of the monumental stairway.” Thus, a one-third size of the original D’Artagnan, created by the sculptor M. Tauziède out of reinforced concrete, arrived at Xavier.

Paul O’Connor, S.J., then president of Xavier, responded to the mayor of Auch to thank the city for the gift of Xavier’s musketeer statue: “Please understand that this gesture of friendship will be received with great enthusiasm on the part of the different departments of the University as well as by the student body. We are very proud to be the first and only American university to have adopted the name ‘musketeer’ for our athletic teams. As a symbol of honor and courage, it knows no equal. It will certainly be a source of inspiration to all our young students in all their activities, athletic and otherwise.”

The statue outside on the Academic Mall for 35 years before being placed in storage while the campus was renovated.

The Third Musketeer Since 2000, it is the third musketeer by sculptor Tom Tsuchiya that stands in front of the Cintas Center. This musketeer is better suited to withstand the elements and stands for a long tradition at Xavier.

Margaret McDiarmid is the director for the office of study abroad.

Profile: Michael Lundy

Michael Lundy
Master of Public Administration, 1987 | Executive Director for the Huntsville (Ala.) Housing Authority

Early Years | Lundy spent part of his childhood in Findlater Gardens, a public housing development in Cincinnati, before his parents were able to save enough money to buy a home in the suburb of College Hill. “Many of the people around me were on fixed incomes, whether it was welfare or disability. When I looked around me and thought about my life at the time, I saw myself with fewer options, although my parents were always good examples, mentors and role models.”

New Attitude | “When we moved to College Hill, I had a significant new awareness of who I was and what my options were because I saw other African-American families, much like my family, doing very well. I realized later that moving to a community that was more integrated and had a lot of home ownership and the traditional family structure provided a lot more opportunities for me.”

The Advantage | After graduating from Knoxville College with a degree in psychology, Lundy worked with the Cincinnati Public Housing Authority as a social worker then moved into admission and property management. “I feel like I’ve had the best of both worlds because I can certainly identify with people who are in a situation in which they feel trapped in public housing. And I think that’s one of the reasons I ended up in this business because I felt like I had a duty to try and do something to change this in a positive way.”

A Different Approach | Lundy worked in housing authorities in Maryland and Pennsylvania before moving to Huntsville in 2004. “When I came on board, the housing authority was in the process of buying 24 houses in the same neighborhood. Typically, these would become part of a housing authority’s rental portfolio. Usually people stay there 10-20 years, so they’re actually no better off because they’re just renting.” Now that he’s in charge, Lundy has changed the process so families can eventually buy the home and participate in a pre-ownership program that teaches them how to read a credit score, reduce their debt, enrich their job opportunities and dress for success.

A Satisfying Position | “This career has been good for me. I want to impact the community so residents will see new opportunities and realize they can be self-sufficient. I want to work with them to become home owners and be successful in their own businesses.”

Profile: Tim Burke

Tim Burke
Bachelor of Arts in political science, 1970 | Chairman, Hamilton County Democratic Party; chairman, Hamilton County Board of Elections; partner, Manley Burke LPA, Cincinnati

Political Junkie | When he was 12 years old, Burke was smitten by presidential candidate John F. Kennedy and knew then he would become a lawyer. “Here was this Catholic candidate for president, and an exciting one, and the whole ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’ thing. He was someone who asked you to become involved as he did and that was real motivation.”

Springboard | While at the University of Cincinnati law school, Burke began working for Jerry Springer, then running for Cincinnati City Council. They met at Xavier when Springer was pushing to lower Ohio’s voting age. When Springer was elected to council in 1971, Burke became his legislative assistant.

Sidetracked | That led to a job on Congressman Tom Luken’s re-election campaign in 1974, which he lost to Bill Gradison. Burke worked again for Luken in his successful campaign against Don Clancy in 1976 but then decided he ought to put his law degree to work. His only bid for public office was in 1978, but he lost to Gradison and has never run again.

Meeting the Man | Burke, the young Democratic lawyer, joined Manley and Associates, a law firm started by Robert Manley, a 1956 Xavier graduate and strong Republican. Burke met Manley at Xavier when Manley was invited for casual talks with pre-law students.

The Odd Couple | It was an incongruous combination, and over the years they were on opposite sides of many issues politically. The most recent was the eminent domain issue dominating local and national headlines. Burke represents cities’ rights, and Manley advocated for the rights of property owners. But they also learned to look beyond their differences and often found themselves in agreement.

This I Believe | “What we did have was a strong belief in this community and that we could make it better. Both of us believed strongly in the obligation of attorneys in particular to be involved in their communities.”

Sad Farewell | Manley was 70 years old when he died in March of a heart attack. “Like with any longtime partnership, we obviously got along well enough to survive more than 30 years together. As I said in the eulogy, I’m convinced we gave him heartburn, but I deny what got to his big heart was me having John Kerry to the office for lunch 10 days before.”

Trail Blazer | Burke rides bikes and tinkers in environmental issues. As executive director of Little Miami Inc., he spearheaded the acquisition of the railroad right-of-way and its conversion into the Little Miami Bike Trail, now 50 miles long.

Good Government | His specialty is local government law. “I do believe that government has an enormous amount to contribute to making people’s lives better, particularly local government. It’s the one that has responsibility for making the overall community better.”

Profile: Dianne M. Runk, M.D.

Dianne M. Runk, M.D.
Bachelor of Science in chemistry, 1989 | General surgeon, breast cancer specialist; Cincinnati

Visionary |Runk told her parents when she was in fifth grade she wanted to go to medical school.

Nova Knowledge | “My pediatrician was a great guy and it seemed like an interesting field. And I loved to watch the ‘Nova’ series and ‘Body Human.’ I was so interested and so intrigued. I knew I would prefer to do medicine more than anything else.”

Footsteps | Runk followed her father, Fred, to Xavier, thinking she’d only stay a year before moving on. But she joined the tennis team and played—and stayed—for four years.

Good Chemistry | Runk majored in chemistry figuring if she did not make it into med school she’d have something science-related to fall back on. But she easily got into the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and earned her M.D. in 1993.

Resident | After completing residencies at UC and in Philadelphia, she returned to Cincinnati to be near her family and to take a job at an all-female medical group, Donna Stahl & Associates, that specializes in treating diseases of the breast.

Team Med | “We’re an all-female surgical practice, which is fairly unusual. We are dealing with all female patients because we found that over time, many women were more comfortable with a female physician for dealing with these problems.”

Serious Medicine | Runk and her colleagues treat patients with breast lumps, abnormal mammograms, cancer diagnoses and the surgeries—biopsies and lumpectomies to full mastectomies—that are part of a patient’s overall treatment.

Single Life | Because she’s not married and doesn’t have children, Runk is able to dedicate all her time to her career. She typically puts in 12-hour days at the clinic plus additional time at home. She breaks up the routine with workouts at the gym, running, reading and spending time with her family, including her 22-month-old niece, whom she sees at least once a week.

Cutting Edge | Runk was the first surgeon in Cincinnati to use a new device called a Mammosite catheter, which is able to deliver doses of radiation directly to the cancer site, reducing the number of days a patient must undergo radiation therapy. The device is now used nationwide.

Passionate | “I love what I do. I love the ability to help treat these women and find the disease early and actually save their lives. You do have to separate yourself from it, step back and realize you’re doing everything you possibly can for this person, and every once in a while, you go home at night and have a good cry. When I was young, I watched two close family friends die from the disease, but they received wonderful care, and I realized I could be one of those physicians who provide that kind of care.”

Profile: Robert E. Manley

Robert E. Manley
Bachelor of Science in economics, 1956 Partner, Manley Burke LPA, Cincinnati Deceased March 2006, age 70

Latin Roots | A sixth-grade course in Latin American geography triggered Manley’s lifelong fascination with South American culture that was later accelerated by his favorite professor, Eugene Shiels, S.J., chair of Xavier’s history department and an expert in Latin American studies. Manley asked him if he could alter the reading list of his Latin American studies course so he could study the economics of Latin American countries. He never looked back.

Amazon Man | Manley completed a master’s in economics at the University of Cincinnati, a law degree at Harvard University, postgraduate study at the London School of Economics and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and military service. Then he started his law career. But in 1976, already specializing in law and economics, he followed his childhood interest and headed south to survey the Amazon Valley.

Explorer | “I went from the headwaters near Cusco in Peru to the mouth at Belem in Brazil. The river there is 250 miles wide and there is an island in the river that is as large as Switzerland. We traveled by plane and then by boat or by foot or by car. My focus was on towns and I studied towns in Columbia, Peru and Brazil. What I was looking for was the socioeconomic effectiveness of these towns. Do they make a place for people to live and work in a successful way, and the answer is mixed.”

Lifelong Learner | Manley used the knowledge he gained from his annual month-long trips to Amazon territory to augment his teaching as an adjunct professor of city planning at the University of Cincinnati and in his law profession.

Lifelong Teacher | “It’s important for students to see similarities between what we do in the U.S. and what happens in developing countries. It improves my credentials for my work as a lawyer solving problems in cities, and it improves my ability to teach students in city planning. I look at everything as an economist first and as a lawyer second.”

Renowned | He also presented papers nationwide and recently in Brazil and Columbia about his research of the evolution of cities and towns in the developing regions of South America. “The Amazon research is related to what I do in North America,” he said. “The planning problems in both places have a lot of common properties. The institutional methods of dealing with them are different, but the principles are the same.”

Founding Father | Manley, a staunch Republican, founded his law firm in downtown Cincinnati in the early 1970s. Manley Burke LPA includes his longtime colleague and partner, Tim Burke, also profiled in this issue of Xavier magazine. Manley got started on his law career about 10 years earlier when he stumbled into his area of expertise–government regulation of property–while lecturing a Xavier M.B.A. class.

Direction | “I made a passing reference to the stupidity of the city’s use of eminent domain and someone repeated it to George Joseph who owned Columbia Oldsmobile. The city was taking his business at 5th and Sycamore streets for the Chiquita building. I was working in a law firm, and after a year and a half we were effective in stopping the city from taking his real estate. Then he leased his land to Prudential which built the Chiquita tower, and P&G was built across the street, and the family is still getting a check from it. That made me the local guy to go to when there’s a problem with government regulation with the use of land. I put my whole career in that direction.”

Living the Life | Manley believed so strongly in the value of strong cities that he moved into a building in downtown Cincinnati next to his office building and lived there for the last 20 years. He was excited about the apparent revival of interest among residents to live downtown and was a living ambassador for the city. “I walk around day and night and say hi to everybody,” he said.

End of an Era | In March, Manley suffered a heart attack and died, surprising Burke, who said Manley appeared to be in great shape and was vigilant about his health since experiencing a first heart attack about 30 years ago. “He took a leave for six months, walking himself back a to health, and never had a problem with his heart again until the day he died.”

Farewell | The funeral service was held at St. Peter In Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati where former presidents of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick served as honorary pallbearers and the congregation sang an Irish blessing. Burke says at lunchtime, he still catches himself looking for Manley walking back to the office from his downtown condo. “He was Mr. Manley to most in the office, but he was Bob to me. He was an intellectual giant.”

Profile: Cliff Kersker

Cliff Kersker
Master of Business Administration, 2001 | President, Graphel Corp., West Chester, Ohio

Upward Bound | In 1980, Kersker began working as a machine operator at Graphel Corp., which provides electrodes and machining services to the electric discharge machine industry. He was promoted to foreman in 1985 and shop manager in 1989. When the company changed hands in 1999, he asked about opportunities for growth. The new owner encouraged him to round out his education by taking some master’s-level business courses.

Critical Discovery | The new owner didn’t stipulate that Kersker get an M.B.A., but “when I began to investigate my options, the opportunity to earn an M.B.A. as my first college degree was too great to pass up.” Even though he didn’t have a bachelor’s degree, Xavier’s executive M.B.A. program accepts individuals with significant work experience and specific scores on the entrance test.

Back to School | Kersker was both nervous and excited to return to school. He originally enrolled in Edgecliff College after high school, but dropped out to become a full-time musician. “I always did pretty well in school and had been taking work-related classes off and on over the years, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. I began to use things I learned immediately.”

Practical Application | As part of his international business class, Kersker went to Singapore where he was able to meet with a Graphel supplier. His class-project paper—ultimately presented to Graphel’s owner—evaluated the company’s relationship with that supplier.

Instant Benefits | Kersker was promoted from manufacturing manager to vice president of manufacturing after one year in the program. “I believe it reflected my efforts to expand my value to the company, and my improved performance in analysis as the result of utilizing new skills I picked up.”

Long-term Benefits | In 2004—24 years after joining Graphel—he was named president.

Planning Success | As president, Kersker led the Graphel team in the creation of a five-year plan “to grow our business to $25 million—more than double our 2003 level. In 2005, we completed a merger/acquisition that added a key component to making our growth plans a reality. I have several other projects in the works—plenty to keep me fully engaged for a few years.”

Bonding Experience | In spite of the impact of an M.B.A. on his career, Kersker says learning was only part of his University experience. “I started the program at age 45, and I never would have guessed that I would have made new lifelong friends at that age. The bond I developed with ‘team uno’ is the best thing I took away from this experience.”

Last Word | “On many levels, the Xavier experience was one of the best of my adult life. I learned a lot about business, about people and about myself. I developed a new sense of self-confidence that has allowed me to take on challenges I may not have attempted before.”

Raising the Bar

The 1831 Society enjoyed a fourth-straight record-shattering year. This year, society members contributed more than $2 million to the University’s annual fund, up 40 percent over last year, says Leigh Ann Fibbe, assistant director for the annual fund. And membership soared above 1,000 for the first time in history.

For perspective, Fibbe says membership has almost doubled in five years. “Their gifts account for more than half of all money given to the annual fund.”