One Sweet Ride

As a student in Xavier’s entrepreneurial studies program, Tim Glockner vividly saw the relationship between academia and the real world: Glockner’s father, Andy, would send him the financial statements from the family business, and Glockner and his roommates would pore over them as case studies.

Though his father urged the Glockner children to do what they wanted, Tim Glockner knew early on that he’d head back to Portsmouth, Ohio, after graduation to work for the family business, which includes the Toyota and Honda dealerships that Tim runs as well as a General Motors dealership, a motor-oil distributor, a leasing company and an insurance agency.

He’s the sixth generation to work for Glockner Enterprises, which began as a hardware and sundry store in 1846 and later expanded to transportation—first selling the buggies that attached to horses and later automobiles. Tim, a 1998 graduate, had planned on spending six months at each of the family’s businesses to learn them better, but after starting at the Toyota and Honda dealerships, he decided to stay.

“The Japanese companies are just notorious for continuous improvement,” he says. “They drill that into you all the time, and their representatives, when they come in, they’re partners with you instead of telling you what to do. I completely bought into that.”

Glockner takes care to honor the family legacy; he wears the Xavier class ring of his grandfather, Edward “Ebb” Glockner, who graduated from the University in 1948, and he volunteers his time with the Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, Shawnee State University and the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center.

But that legacy has not prevented Glockner from innovating whenever and wherever he can. A few years after taking over the dealerships, he knocked the buildings down and built new ones with an emphasis on family-friendly comfort. Last year the company introduced an iPhone application to let customers browse inventory and schedule service appointments. Glockner Toyota won a 2009 Toyota President’s Award for outstanding customer satisfaction.

“Everyone’s looking for something new and different, and we’re continually trying to stand out,” he says. “This business is so competitive and we’ve got to work to make it easy for people to do business with us.”

One More Time

Jenny Vonasek’s interest in sustainability and the environment goes back further than most: she and her husband spent their honeymoon in 1982 at the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn., where she was intrigued by the exhibits on solar energy. In the ensuing years, Vonasek worked in several different industries, but she always wanted to own her own business and work in a field related to conservation.

Now she’s doing both. As co-owner (with husband John) of Tava Energy, Vonasek is selling products made of recycled and environmentally responsible materials to customers online. The couple launched their web site, www.tavaenergy.com, in 2008 to take advantage of the growing interest consumers have in green goods. Tava Energy’s product line includes cards made out of junk mail, biodegradable dinnerware, recycled rubber doormats, bamboo cutting boards and handbags made from recycled magazines.

And the couple’s business, which they run out of their suburban Cincinnati home, is building thanks to online advertising, social networking and word of mouth. “It really is a big undertaking,” says Vonasek, a 2000 MBA graduate who based her business model on two of her previous employers, Great American Insurance and Frontgate catalog. Next up: Tava Home, with a greater selection of products for the home, as well as an increase in solar items. Trade shows focusing on the green industry are also on the horizon, along with participation in the first Cincinnati Fashion Week. After all, it is fashionable to be environmentally friendly these days.

Office Outfitter

Look at a typical office and you’ll probably see what everyone else sees—a desk, a chair, a computer. Not Jonathan Railey. The 2000 MBA graduate sees collaborative work spaces, ergonomic needs, aesthetic features—and, of course, opportunity. Railey is president of Integrated WorkSpace Solutions, a start-up company that supplies office furniture and related services to companies like Kroger, the American Red Cross, the Fine Arts Fund and others.

His goal, though, isn’t simply selling them furniture. Anyone can do that. He’s interested in creating an environment that is most conducive to work in the 21st century.

“People are spending less time in individual workplaces and more time in collaborative spaces,” Railey says. “And we’re all using more electronic devices. As a result, we’re all spending more time on the move, so there’s less need for the big physical spaces.”

Railey and his business partners—who include fellow Xavier MBA grad J.B. Buse—saw a need for this in their own workplaces. They also saw the demand from cities and industries to do business with more minority-owned businesses. So they set up shop in the emerging Gateway Quarter of Cincinnati’s historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, which sits adjacent to downtown.

Selling office furniture and helping companies set up their spaces is very different from the work Railey’s done in the past—he’s worked as an electrical engineer and last served as vice president of economic inclusion for the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. But he finds the changes a welcome challenge.

“As we get older, it’s always invigorating to do something new and different, to utilize a different skill set,” he says. “It keeps the brain cells active when you have to learn something new.”

Making Products Pop

You may not spend a lot of time thinking about the shelves at your local grocery store, but Ed Wohlwender does. The 1990 MBA graduate is president and CEO of POP Displays, the Yonkers, N.Y.-based firm that designs and produces the cases consumers stop at in stores to choose shampoo, cameras and other sundry goods. POP Displays, which employs 650 people, specializes in cosmetics displays, and its clients include the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, and the world’s largest cosmetics company, L’Oreal.

The recession has hit retailers hard, so stores are constantly looking for upgrades in the way products are displayed, while time-pressed consumers are always on the lookout for solutions. Recent innovations include replicas of color-matched nails that allow consumers to “try on” nail color without opening bottles, and idea centers in food displays that highlight recipes and new-product offers.

“New and innovative are the hallmarks of what consumer packaged-goods companies are trying to sell,” Wohlwender says. “Lighting is becoming bigger, and interaction with the product at the store level is really important. Displays are giving shoppers greater information and insight via interactive screens and LEDs.” As an example, in an era when fewer people are baking, a display case for Betty Crocker offers recipes and coupons along with a crisp, flexible design that encourages multiple purchases—and wraps it all in a celebratory red.

Another big trend in the display-case industry is sustainability. The company uses about 6 million pounds of plastic a year for its display cases, but it’s figured out how to re-use or sell about a million pounds that would otherwise be thrown away. The company also recycles nearly all the 900 gallons of oil it uses to keep its machinery running, buys recycled corrugated materials, uses energy-conserving lighting and voluntarily reduces energy consumption during peak times.

The effort is spurred by consumer preference as well as demand by retailers such as Walmart that have pledged to increase sustainability at every point along the manufacturing and retail chain. “Everything has to be recycled and made with materials that are environmentally friendly,” Wohlwender says, “and we’re keeping up with what we need to do anyway.”

Inside the Game: Enrollment

Shannon Pratt’s career goal is fairly straightforward: the Xavier freshman would like to be general manager of a Major League Baseball team someday. Ambitious, yes. Easy, no. But this semester, she’s completing an internship that may inch her closer to her goal.

Pratt is one of six Xavier students chosen for the Reds Ambassador Program, a partnership between Xavier and the Cincinnati Reds that aims to accomplish two goals: Give budding sports executives some real-life experience with a professional team, and give the Reds insight into capturing the hard-to-reach college audience.

While the Reds have offered internship programs to Xavier students for almost a decade, the Ambassador program was launched just last year. It is the brainchild of Doug Olberding, chairman of Xavier’s Department of Sport Studies, and Reds executives Ryan Niemeyer and John Davis. Niemeyer and Davis are both Xavier alumni—Niemeyer earned a degree in sport administration in 1999 and Davis a degree in sport management in 1999. They knew a stint inside a professional sports team is invaluable for students hoping to break into the industry.

“So many entry-level jobs are in sales and marketing, and having experience that includes measurable results through ticket sales is a valuable thing to have on a résumé,” Olberding says. “It’s a way for them to get their feet wet and see what it’s like on a day-to-day basis to be involved in the sports world.”

Pratt, a Denver native, learned about the internship on a visit to the Xavier campus while she was still in high school. She is a diehard Colorado Rockies fan and scouted schools based on their sport management programs. “I came to Xavier mostly for sport management, because it’s a good program and known throughout the country,” Pratt says. When she arrived on campus, she followed up with Olberding and applied for the 2010 Ambassador program. She is the only freshman chosen as an intern so far.

The group launched its internship in early December by working at Redsfest, the annual offseason event to stoke fan awareness and show appreciation. When classes resumed in January, the students began meeting with Reds executives both on campus and at Great American Ballpark at least once a week, sometimes more often.

They were charged with planning and executing an event to draw the Xavier community to a Reds game in April, but along the way they also learned about accounting, community relations, groundskeeping—everything it takes to run a professional sports team. In planning the April event, the Xavier group had access to Reds mascots, group-ticket sales strategies, a dedicated budget and any other support they needed from the Reds.

“What’s cool about the program is it isn’t a typical entry-level experience where you do the grunt work,” says Chris Butler, a sophomore from Philadelphia who is also in the program this year. “We’re planning it ourselves. We can pitch Ryan Niemeyer any idea and he’ll say, ‘Sure, as long as it works.’ When I graduate in two years, I can put on my résumé that I planned a student-run event with a professional sports franchise. I don’t know many sport management programs that will let you connect with a major-league franchise and let you run the show.”

In turn, the Reds get help figuring out how college-age students decide to attend professional sports events and how teams can entice them to attend more often. It’s a tough market for teams to crack. Games can require advance planning for tickets and transportation, while college students are more likely to choose entertainment at the last minute. And the price of tickets is another barrier to perpetually cash-strapped students.

“A lot of the internship is us trying to pick their brains, explore social networking and digital media on a college campus, an environment they’re in every day,” Niemeyer says.

Last year’s event was a Xavier Night for students in April. The game attracted 30,000 fans to the ballpark, and Chris Mack, who had just been named head coach of the men’s basketball team, threw out the first pitch. This year’s event broadened its target to reach Xavier faculty, staff and alumni as well as students—including six students who will no doubt be drawing on its lessons for years to come.

Helping Hands

Lauren Meisman’s worst day was spent digging tiny bugs from the feet of crying children. All she had were a few razor blades and dirty water, because Kenyan health workers forgot to bring supplies. On her best day, an HIV-positive mother, who had nearly died in childbirth, left the hospital alive, her babies in her arms.

This, Meisman learned, is Africa—an Africa she learned to love, despite its frustrations, its suffering and the randomness of events.

Graduating in 2008 with degrees in radiologic technology and liberal arts, Meisman was an X-ray technician at a Cincinnati hospital. But her mind kept returning to the semester she’d spent in Ghana, Africa, where she felt her medical skills could go much further. She contacted the Catholic Medical Mission Board and was sent to a mission hospital in Karungu, Kenya. For the next year she helped deliver babies, treated wounds and interacted with the villagers. Most devastating was the high death rate—babies of starvation, 20-year-olds of HIV infection. One patient died of a bowel obstruction while she processed his X-rays.

But Meisman also learned a lot about herself and her faith.

“Nothing can prepare you to see a baby die of starvation,” she says. “But I learned to find hope out of all the despair. There were days I thought I wasn’t doing anything, and then to know I’d helped one person made me feel like I’d failed a little less. Our patients are often half dead when they come to the hospital.”

Then there were the miracles, like the young mother whose twins were delivered by C-section. By evening, she was in a coma, and Meisman did something extraordinary: She helped the babies nurse from their unconscious mother. To her surprise, the mother survived the night. Two days later she opened her eyes and the next day was alert and talking.

“I saw her a few months later walking down the street, and she said both babies were still alive and she was doing well,” Meisman says. “That made it all worth it.”

Now home, Meisman is studying for her nursing degree so she can go back to Africa with even better skills. “I feel I can do anything now,” she says.

Read Meisman’s blog at laurenmeisman.blogspot.com.

Fr. Hoff’s Accomplishments

Accomplishments while leading Xavier

• Raising of the endowment from $24 million to $86 million

• Constructing the Cintas Center

• Constructing the Gallagher Student Center

• Constructing the Clement and Ann Buenger residence hall

• Constructing The Commons apartment building

• Closing of Ledgewood Drive and creation of the residential and academic malls

• Renovating of the West Row buildings: Schmidt, Hinkle and Edgecliff halls

• Raising $125 million during the Century Campaign

• Joining the Atlantic 10 Conference for athletics

• Earning recognition and ranking from U.S. News & World Report

• Earning recognition from the John Templeton Honor Roll for Character-Building Colleges

• Creating the academic service learning semesters

• Creating the Brueggeman Center for Dialogue

• Creating the doctoral program in psychology

• Creating the Weekend Degree Program

• Creating the National Alumni Association

• Increasing academic standards for incoming students (SAT scores from 973 to 1134, GPAs from 2.9 to 3.46)

 

 

Quotes

Intellectually

“What I want most of all is that a Xavier education be of such quality that each and every graduate will say: ‘I received an absolutely superb education at Xavier. I could not have received a finer education anywhere in the world.’”

 

Morally

“You can’t tell people what to think. That’s their free pursuit. But, you can make them aware of how people go about resolving these issues, and you can help them become more aware of their own moral convictions in the process. It seems to me that there is no one more dangerous for our American society, for our nation, than a very bright, very well-educated person without moral convictions…Part of our Xavier education is that people become more grounded in their moral convictions, become aware of themselves, where they stand and they become aware of the issues facing us in society.”

 

Spiritually

“I would feel that our students are cheated if they leave here and did not have a chance to reflect on their own relationship with God and to deepen that relationship. My really deep conviction about that comes from a half a dozen years of working with people who were dying of life-threatening illnesses, cancer patients and heart patients…I never heard a dying man or woman talk about their career. But they talked about their loved ones, their family members, their God. Having had this deep experience of listening to this with people who were dying convinced me even more of the importance of urging young people at this point in their lives to reflect on their relationships with their God and to reflect on His revelation on who He says He is and what He says our life should be like.”

Extra Credit: George Traub, S.J.

Once a week, a group of 25 or 30 Xavier faculty and staff come together to listen, learn and reflect on Jesuit history, Ignatian spirituality and the University’s mission. The group is part of AFMIX, (Assuring the Future of Mission and Identity at Xavier), which has guided 123 employees through the two-year process so far. For participants, it’s a way to better understand Xavier’s mission in light of its history and spiritual foundation; for George Traub, S.J., executive director of the Center for Mission and Identity, it’s another step toward understanding, transmitting and living the Jesuit identity.

“The purpose of AFMIX is to get a knowledge and an experience of Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit education such that a person can incorporate that into her own particular work. I couldn’t tell a math professor how to teach math or a development person how to raise money, but if we give them this common fund of knowledge and experience, they can run with it.”

Traub entered the Jesuit novitiate at Milford, Ohio, in 1954, fresh out of high school. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in literature

from Xavier, and then advanced degrees in English and philosophy from West Baden College, Loyola University, Bellarmine School of Theology and Cornell University.

In 1972 Traub returned to Cincinnati to teach at Xavier. “I loved teaching and I was pretty hard on the students, and word was out not to take courses from me. All of that drew the very best students to my class, and it was more a question of moderating the conversation, which was so eagerly entered into by the students.”

In 1980, he was called to help with the education and formation of both young Jesuits and those in middle age and beyond. He enjoyed

the new work, and related responsibilities in spiritual and retreat direction, and when a group of Jesuits wanted to launch an effort to transmit Jesuit spirituality to lay people on Xavier’s campus in the late 1980s, they turned to him.

Around the same time, Traub and two colleagues began collecting definitions of the most commonly used terms in Ignatian and Jesuit circles. It became Do You Speak Ignatian?, which has sold 60,000 copies and is now in its 11th edition.

The effort to transmit the Jesuit legacy to lay employees has evolved in the years since Traub became director of Ignatian programs. Early on there were weekend programs for a few dozen faculty, staff and administrators at Grailville, a retreat center outside Cincinnati, and new employees have their own Manresa program to welcome them.

 

“It gives new people the opportunity to get to know each other across departmental lines, which is very important,” Traub says. “We offer it to everybody who comes to Xavier and we offer further developmental opportunities for anyone who wants them.”

And in 1999, the University created AFMIX, its most ambitious program yet for transmitting the Jesuit vision and legacy.

With the sixth class now halfway through, the program’s popularity shows no signs of abating. Traub’s career has been one of constant

evolution, but with AFMIX it seems best to let a good thing keep going.

“We’ve talked about taking a year off,” Traub says, “but there are always people waiting at the door.”

Comedy Kid

At age 27, Michael Palascak still lives at home, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. It’s a sweet deal. The rent’s only $200 a month. Plus the living arrangement gives him his best material.

“I like living at home,” he says. “My parents have an awesome washer and dryer, like top-of-the-line technology. Here’s how it works. I put my clothes in the washer, they come out folded on my bed. Sometimes they come out ironed and on a hanger with a little sticky note that says, ‘This is the last time!’ ”

Palascak’s folksy, innocent, boyish delivery and clean content about the quirks of everyday life are earning him great laughs—and a lot of recognition as a stand-up comic. In 2007 he won the Taste of Chicago’s stand-up contest. He pocketed the $10,000 first-place prize in

the HBO Lucky 21 contest in Las Vegas. He won Comedy Central’s “Open Mic Fight” and earned a spot on Comedy Central’s “Live At Gotham” show in New York.

And Palascak is as surprised as anyone—especially his parents—about his success. His dad primed him to be a doctor or lawyer, but Palascak wanted none of that. He came to Xavier thinking about playing baseball. When that didn’t work out, he had time to pursue comedy.

He worked on his writing as an English major and his acting as a performance studies minor and Xavier Players theater group member.

In the summers, he took classes at The Second City and started going to open mic nights at local Chicago comedy clubs. His first appearance at Barrel of Laughs was a total bomb. The only thing he remembers is the audience not laughing—except when they weren’t supposed to. He didn’t give up, and the laughs started coming.

His first paid gig was the Thursday after graduating from Xavier in 2004. He rolled into Chicago from Cincinnati and went straight to Riddles Comedy Club for four shows in two nights. He made $40.

Now Palascak is on the college and comedy club circuit. He travels Wednesday through Saturday and spends the rest of his time writing new material. He goes to open mic events around Chicago and auditions for a lot of TV sitcoms.

“I realized the more you talk about your own life, the more original you’ll be, because no one has lived that life except you.” And your parents.

To learn more, visit Palascak’s home page at www.michaelpalascak.com or watch a video of a recent performance at Gotham, from Rooftop Comedy or the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Art: The Common Language

Erica Weitzel believes in the power of art, that it can give everyone—especially the underprivileged—the opportunity to improve their lives. And she recently put her belief to the test in a small, rural village in India.

“My mission is to use art to educate about social issues, empower the community and give people a creative outlet to express themselves,” says Weitzel, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2007 with a double concentration in painting and photography.

Indians who live in rural areas are fortunate to get a basic education in reading, writing and math. Art education, though, is almost non-existent. That’s why an Indian businessman with family ties to the village of Pusla came up with the idea of creating an arts center that would be free and open to the public. Enter Weitzel, who got involved in the project thanks to a connection with Chicago artist and former Cincinnatian Augustina Droze. Weitzel was helping Droze paint murals in Chicago last summer when the two discovered a shared interest in combining art, philanthropy and international development.

Droze is president of the non-profit group funding the Pusla project. Indian businessman Vivek Bhagwatkar started it while living in Chicago as a way to give back to his homeland and honor his artist mother. Weitzel, who says her experiences on alternative breaks as an undergraduate inspired her to pursue art-based international development, volunteered to help Droze and Bhagwatkar conduct a month-long series of art education workshops in Pusla.

“I packed a bag and moved to India,” she says. Since she doesn’t speak Hindi, the language barrier was a challenge, but one she overcame largely by virtue of her artwork.

“During workshops, I had locals translate for me. But luckily with art, it’s a little easier to teach by example.”