Entrepreneurial Gift

Even when he was earning his business degree, Tom Sedler worked in the family business. “It’s just what we did back then,” he says. “I went to class then zipped off to work.”

Sedler graduated in 1958 but began his career in 1951 at Home City Ice, the Cincinnati company started by his father in 1924. Now, Tom and his wife Genny are giving back to Xavier in a way that will help others fulfill their entrepreneurial spirit. The Sedlers made a leading gift to the Williams College of Business’ center for entrepreneurial studies.

“This tremendous gift from the Sedlers will allow us to create a physical space that is much more interactive and dynamic for our students,” says Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business. “It will also directly impact the program and the types of outreach opportunities that are so critical to enriching the academic experiences. The Sedlers are literally helping these students’ entrepreneurial dreams come true.”

A Winning Team

When Cincinnati’s Clark Montessori High School plays its first-ever varsity football game this fall, sport management students in Kristi Sweeney’s Facility and Event Management class will have something to cheer about. Through Xavier’s philanthropy program, they donated $4,000 to the Rudi Johnson Foundation to help fund the program.

The association with Johnson makes the Clark grant perhaps the most visible in the history of the five-year-old philanthropy program, which is fully funded by Cincinnati businessman Roger Grein. The program has provided more than $100,000 in grants to local charities and foundations since 2002.

Shaping the Future of Healthcare

Much has been written about the Baby Boomers’ projected impact on health care. But, says Ida Schick, chair of Xavier’s graduate program in health services administration, the population born during World War II—directly in advance of the Baby Boom—is already providing important clues as to the future of health care.

“They are far healthier than their parents,” she says. “And as they age, they will have multiple chronic illnesses. You’ll find a lot of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. What we need to understand is how are we going to take care of people who have these multiple chronic diseases and are going to live until they are 85, 90 or possibly 100? How are we going to pay for that?”

Part of the answer lies in the strategic application of health care informatics, a digital medical universe in which many services—from records and billing to certain types of medical tests, diagnosis and the filling of prescriptions—can be handled via computer.

This streamlined, cost-effective system will soon have a physical presence on campus in the center for health care informatics, which will be one of four new centers located in the new Williams College of Business building. The center will play a key role in training leaders who will effectively shape the future of health care.

“Informatics is really important because you’ll be able to transmit clinical information about the patients and get it to the right providers at the right time so the right kind of diagnosis and treatment can be applied,” Schick says. “It will make it quicker, more efficient, probably more effective.” All of which means large care facilities will have to adapt. “What’s decreasing is the hospital and the skilled nursing,” says Schick. “What’s increasing is the home health care. It’s going in that direction.”

“So we’ve made our tag line ‘Health care is changing; watch it or lead it.’ We hope we will be able to educate and train leaders for health care who will work to change it.”

Academic Recognition

The NCAA recognized eight Xavier athletic programs this spring with awards for the academic excellence of their student- athletes.

The awards were given to the top 10 percent of teams in each sport based on the NCAA’s new Academic Progress Rate, which tracks the academic progress for every student-athlete in Division I athletics.

Xavier programs receiving acknowledgment include: men’s basketball, baseball, men’s indoor track, men’s swimming, women’s cross country, women’s indoor track, women’s outdoor track and women’s tennis.

On the Fringe

When Matt Dudash gets ready for a game, he sometimes pulls pajama pants on over his soccer cleats. The white or navy T-shirt he wears has no name or number on the back. And some days, he doesn’t even wear socks. But he always remembers to grab his equipment bag—a sack of flying discs—as he heads out the door.

 

Hardly traditional preparation for a typical sport. But the sport Dudash plays is anything but typical. Ultimate Frisbee has no referees, no physical contact and practically no recognition among mainstream sports fans. Yet Ultimate, as it’s now officially called, is one of the fastest growing club sports on Xavier’s campus, gaining visibility as it gains in membership. Despite its reputation as a fringe sport, it’s got a roster of about 30 players this year, making it one of the largest of the lesser-known clubs.

Though obscure, clubs like Ultimate are attracting the kind of students who want an alternative competitive outlet that keeps them healthy and connected to the University. So they shoot rifles, carry swords, ride horses, toss Frisbees. They dance, do gymnastics and practice taekwondo. They toss balls in swimming pools. What’s the lure?

“Club sports allow students to be active in their own sport of interest,” says Jim Ray, director for recreational sports. “If we only offered typical sports like flag football and volleyball, other students would have no ability to participate in a sport they love. We give them that ability. It’s a great recruiting tool.”

A little more than 10 years ago, when recreational sports took over management of the club sports program, there were only seven club sports at Xavier. But then the number of clubs grew, reaching a total of 21 last year. Three more were added this year, including football, which got a lot of fanfare as it was the first sign of the sport since the varsity program was canceled in 1973. The other two, rifle and tennis, have also been longtime varsity sports until rifle was canceled last year. (See list below, right.)

Now there are 500 students participating in a collection of club sports that includes everything you’d expect on a college campus today. But the lesser-known clubs that fly under the radar are proving to have staying power as they attract more and more students to their ranks.

They include those that are small but tightly knit, like the four-member gymnastics and rifle teams and the nine who compete with the martial arts club. Others, like Ultimate, keep growing. The equestrian club, complete with a riding stable, horses and several blue ribbons, had eight members its first two years but expects to double its ranks this year. And water polo, which features men in swimming caps treading water for hours, has six active players.

Then there’s fencing. The club has 20 members, and they’re close friends as well as teammates, says club president and junior fencer Nicholas Losekamp, who had never fenced before joining the club as a freshman three years ago. He’s fallen in love with the sport and says fencing is the most traditional and historic.

“That’s what they used to do to practice for battle,” he says. “It has a lot of history behind it, and it’s amazingly fun to watch.”

A club’s budget reflects its competitiveness and equipment needs. Crew and football receive the most money from the club sports council because they need expensive equipment or have extensive schedules. Smaller clubs like Ultimate, with few equipment needs, receive the least.

Some clubs compete against Division I teams. Crew, for instance, often out-paddles the competition and could someday become a varsity sport, Ray says. That’s the kind of reputation that Dudash and his fellow Ultimate players hope their team can achieve some day. The club is only four years old, but it’s already able to send two teams to college tournaments. And its fan base is growing.

“It’s a weird sport, but it’s very fun to watch,” says Patty Bohn, assistant director for recreational sports. “It’s fast and has strategy and good teamwork. And I like the sportsmanship aspect. They’re very social and friendly with the other team.”

Whole Question

Leave it to the young to solve problems for their elders. Stuck with one red laser unsuitable for teaching the science of holography—and short on cash to purchase the expensive equipment—physics chair Steve Herbert turned to senior Jeremy Swearingen for help. So Swearingen did the nerdy thing: He joined a holography forum online, where members talk about the science of holography and its equipment. Through the forum, he was able to track down two lasers—a $20,000 green laser for about $2,000 and a $30,000 blue laser for $6,500.

Funded by a Cottrell Foundation grant, Swearingen and two fellow physics students set up a new holography lab within the department. Herbert hasn’t figured out the most practical application for them yet—although Swearingen did: He created several full-color, three-dimensional pictures, including a Valentine for his girlfriend. Ain’t love grand?

Universal Question

Laying out the facts about deforestation, climate change, species extinction and water depletion just wasn’t cutting it for Amy Frohlich, a visiting assistant professor of physics. Talking about those topics wasn’t complete without the human factor injected into the equation.

“It always led me to some ethical questions, and until now I have stopped short of addressing that in class because it’s a science course,” says Frohlich. So she made a proposal and her course, Our Universe the Earth: Ethics and Environmental Geology, became the one physics course chosen to meet the University’s ethics/religion and society (E/RS) core curriculum requirement.

The University is increasing its E/RS offerings, and, for Frohlich, it happened very quickly. Her proposal last September was approved in two weeks, so she rewrote the curriculum to fold ethical questions into the science topics in time for the start of the spring semester. She found the students more engaged in the topics when the discussions included issues of ethics and responsibility.

“We now talk about water scarcity, food resources and how larger populations affect the environment more than small populations do,” she says. “We look at a city like Las Vegas in the desert, and they use such a preponderance of fresh water to make it look like the tropics. It’s wasteful, and the question is why do we do this, and do we have the right to squander such a vital resource and such a large amount?”

Inside Out

Christine Shimrock kept trying to reconcile theory with reality, but they didn’t always line up. As a graduate student in the criminal justice program, Shimrock got a solid theoretical picture of the justice system. But as a chaplain at the Lebanon Correctional Institution near Lebanon, Ohio, she found her perceptions could be quite different.

 

So early in her coursework, the 2006 graduate took her concerns to assistant professor of criminal justice Jeff Monroe. Several years of planning ensued, and this spring the pair launched Inside Out: Prison Exchange Program, a class held inside the Lebanon facility that brings together 10 Xavier undergraduate students and 10 inmates to explore issues of social justice. Shimrock taught the class, which is based on a program started at Temple University in 1997.

The immediate goal is to create better understanding between future police and judges and the inmates. The long-term goal is to translate that understanding to the street.

“You have to have a textbook foundation, then there’s a human aspect, and that’s where this class comes in,” Shimrock says. “Here are the human beings we actually need to have discussions with. We as a public unfortunately like black and white. This really introduces gray in a really productive way.”

In all, 19 University students applied and interviewed to be part of the class. “I was looking for students I thought would be open to new ideas but who were grounded in their own ideas,” Monroe says. “Christine wanted a mix of ideas and backgrounds—as many different ideas as we could get on the table.”

A similar interview process took place at Lebanon. At the insistence of prison officials, the inmates were chosen from the honors camp, a section of the prison reserved for those convicted of lesser crimes or those who have worked to gain minimum-security ratings, Shimrock says. In general, these are individuals with two years or less remaining on their sentences.

“The inmate group was diverse also in terms of crimes they committed,” Monroe says. “We did make certain there were no sex offenders. And we don’t allow students to establish relationships beyond the classroom.”

As might be expected, the class got off to a tentative start. “The first class together, everyone was paralyzed with discomfort,” Shimrock says. “Neither group knew what to expect.”

But the group ultimately clicked and tackled some tough topics, such as the purpose of prisons, why people commit crimes, domestic violence and victims’ issues. The goal, Shimrock says, was not to reach a conclusion, but to air a variety of opinions.

Monroe says greater understanding is an important quality for those going into criminal jusrtice work. “Offenders might make decisions different than you do,” he says. “But they have many similar core concerns. We don’t want students to leave Xavier thinking there’s an‘us-and-them’ mentality.”

Shimrock says the class is valuable for all involved. “It puts a face to crime,” she says. “The outside students can now look under the numbers and see people. And the inside students have also been shown some of their own responsibility in where they are.”

The final class project, presented to prison officials at a closing ceremony in May, included some of the class goals in document form, outlining a bridge between programming at the correctional facility and programming outside.

In spite of the logistical problems associated with launching a class such as this, both Shimrock and Monroe were pleased with the initial semester. The course will be offered again in spring 2008. Monroe, who attended Temple and was aware of the program there, says it’s a natural fit for Xavier.

“Although it had never been pitched this way, it really exemplified the Jesuit mission, teaching students about social justice,” he says. “Some students say they really see things differently now, and by seeing things differently, they’ll be better equipped when they walk into the field.”

Xavier Faces

When Ali Malekzadeh took over as dean of the Williams College of Business four years ago, he was, in a sense, closing a large circle. Although Malekzadeh studied and worked at universities across the United States, his educational roots lie in Jesuit schools in his native Iran. And the lessons he learned from the Jesuits continue to permeate and color his life, including his passion for taekwondo, a Korean martial art form similar to karate.

 

An avid student, Malekzadeh is a fourth-degree black belt, a certified instructor and a member of the American Taekwondo Association. But he’s not the only black belt in his family—nor, to hear him tell it, is he the best. “My oldest daughter is a fourth degree, my wife is a fourth degree, any my youngest daughter is a third degree, so this is a family thing,” he says. “It started with my oldest daughter when she was 8 years old. She was pushed around in school. She was a shy girl and I said, Well, maybe we’ll go to the karate place that was next to our home because the owners were two young women who had black belts.”

Soon, all of the family members were regulars: daughters attending classes after school and parents taking classes later in the evening. “We would do our karate and then go home and have dinner afterward,” Malekzadeh says. “And anytime one of us didn’t want to go, the other three were always insistent they should. Pretty soon all of us are black belts. Both of my daughters were in the top 10 in the world. I was ranked in the top 10 just once, and I emphasize just once. My oldest daughter is 20 now. She can rearrange my headgear in an instant.”

Malekzadeh sees a similarity between his day job and teaching martial arts. “I see the 17- and 18-year-old freshmen who show up on campus,” he says. “They are not focused. They have been high school graduates, and then suddenly they come to a university and they have to start over and grow up. We help them grow up. The parallel with martial arts is, when a student comes in, we surround that student with a team of peers and a team of instructors and assess what the needs of that specific person are, and then help that person succeed. Our job is not to fail them; our job is to help them succeed.”

Part of that, he says, is modeling the concept of teamwork, creating the recognition and realization that team members succeed or fail together—and giving students the tools to persevere.

“Jesuit education is personal education,” he says. “My entire first through 12th grade was in Jesuit school, back in Iran. What I learned from the fathers who were running the school was value hard work, the value of personal relationships and of caring about every student—and the value of education. We really grew up with them, and they kind of grew with us. Those were lifetime friendships that we took away. Almost my entire graduating class is in the U.S. somewhere in very professional jobs, many of them in the Los Angeles community because there is a large Persian and Iranian community. They all have very good professions, and it all goes back to high school education and the role models that we had.”

In the past year, increasing day-to-day demands have cut into Malekzadeh’s taekwondo workouts, but he says sparring, breaking boards and handling weapons are all very therapeutic. “Then you come back to the stress of being dean,” he says. “It keeps things in perspective.”

Xavier Faces

Evelyn Brannen is a reluctant interview. For starters, the curriculum/certification specialist in the office of the registrar, isn’t big on self-promotion. And even if she were, she’s awfully busy with more important things.

 

Along with her day-to-day work seeing that Xavier’s undergraduate students make it through graduation, and looking after transfer students, study abroad programs and off-campus activities, Brannen is devoted to service. She coordinates a lunchtime group of Xavier personnel who knit and crochet caps for premature Appalachian infants. She heads a rosary-making group, whose rosaries can be found around the world. She raises funds to support educational efforts in Nigeria. She leads Bible study groups in her home twice a week. She hosts sandwich-making Saturdays once a month to provided food for the St. Francis-St. Joseph Catholic Worker House in Over-the-Rhine. She coordinates the University’s annual clothing drive. She and her husband Stephen provides instruction preparing couples for marriage. And, if all that weren’t enough, she’s also the unofficial mom for her husband’s AAU basketball team as well as for her oldest son Matthew’s Marine buddies.

But wait. Those were just the high points. Somewhere in between all of those activities, in what she calls her spare time, she makes wine. Good wine, too. It’s the perfect gift, she says, for her huge extended family.

Though she may generally shun the spotlight, Brannen isn’t shy diving in wherever she perceives a need or about her belief in the Ignatian way. “I live it every moment of my life,” she says. “My whole life is a life of sacrifice and doing the Lord’s work and everything that I can do touching Him, just being a reflection of Him to everyone that I encounter.”

Six or seven years ago, a friend from Gallipolis, Ohio, told Brannen about the extremely high rate of premature birth rates in Appalachia. The discussion touched her heart, so she decided to help by making caps for the infants. “I said, ‘Well I don’t know how to knit or crochet, but let me run it by some of the girls at work,’ ” Brannen says. “So we started a little group.” They call themselves, punfully, the Happy Hookers.

Brannen also launched a rosary-making group several years ago, hoping to help carry on the work of an aging member of her parish, Larry Traut, whose rosaries have been distributed around the world—Mother Teresa was buried with one. With Traut at its center, the group outgrew Brannen’s home and now includes Xavier students and groups from several Cincinnati-area schools.

One of those who joined in the rosary effort was Xavier alumnae Sister Fidelia Nnenna Chukwu, who spent two years at the University completing her master’s degree. When Sister Fidelia returned to Nigeria, Brannen helped her raise money to buy a car. And the support continues: Last Christmas, the registrar’s office sent boxes of toys to the school where she serves as principal, and Brannen hopes to eventually volunteer in Nigeria.

In all of this, and much more, Brannen feels blessed. The word “awesome” consistently bubbles to the surface of her conversations. She is, she says, surrounded by miracles. Her message is simple: One person can make a difference. “What I want people to say is, ‘If that person can do that, let me do this or let me try that.’ Maybe they’ll want to get involved.”