Profile: Bob Fullarton

BOB FULLARTON

Bachelor of Science in communication arts, 1973

Senior vice president for partnerships, dunnhumbyUSA

Cincinnati

Claim to Fame | As a basketball player at Xavier, Bob Fullarton helped whip the University of Cincinnati in 1971, hitting two free throws at the end of the game to beat the Bearcats, 66-65. “I was scared to death,” he says. Xavier wouldn’t beat UC again for another nine years.

A Life Abroad | After graduating, he was drafted by Buffalo in the ninth round of the NBA draft, but ended up playing professional basketball in Barcelona instead. “The thing I was famous for in Spain is I was the captain of two different teams, which was a first for an American.” He played in Spain for eight years. “That allowed me to learn Spanish, which eventually allowed me to return home and get a job at Procter & Gamble.”

Corporate Highlights | Starting in the P&G paper division, Fullarton moved to become business sales director in Mexico for three years, working with many aspects of P&G. “It was all brands, really.” Later, he helped supervise international sales in Europe for the consumer products giant.

New Career Path | After 23 years in sales and marketing at P&G, Fullarton “retired,” only to join dunnhumbyUSA. A global retail brand development company with its American headquarters in Cincinnati, dunnhumby serves major U.S. partners including Kroger and P&G. The firm’s focus is on providing information services through customer loyalty cards and client database marketing. Fullarton is responsible for signing up new partners as a member of the partnership group.

Called for Traveling | Fullarton spends quite a bit of time on the road, frequently traveling to England where dunnhumby is headquartered. “I just got back from London,” he says. “I do go there a lot lately. It seems once a month.”

The Next Step | He’s also working on the board of directors for a start up, UGROWU, a website that plans to serve college students seeking internships. “We’re busy in the Beta launch right now.”

Personal | Now age 60, Fullarton lives in the Cincinnati suburb of Anderson Township with his wife, Barb. He has two children and two grandchildren.

Favorite Hobbies | “I really don’t have too much spare time right now,” he says. “I do read a lot.” His favorites lean primarily to historical fiction, centering on the American Revolution and Civil War.

Conversation Starter | Fullarton still likes to talk college basketball. “I grew up in Minnesota, but a basketball scholarship brought me to Xavier. It is a great school to prepare you for life.”

Eye-Opening Experience | He lived through the waning days of the Gen. Francisco Franco era in Spain and saw the country transform from a dictatorship to democracy. “It was interesting going from one form of government to another.”

Safe and Secure

With Xavier located in the middle of three urban neighborhoods, the safety of the 8,000 people living, working or studying on campus can be a challenge. But new policing efforts and safety measures have resulted in a 30-percent drop in campus crimes compared to four years ago. University initiatives to reduce crimes include:

  • Dozens of new lamp posts to improve lighting.
  • 34 new emergency phones that connect directly to the police dispatcher.
  • A video surveillance system.
  • Electronic door access on buildings to replace key locks.
  • Joining the neighboring police departments of Norwood and Cincinnati to create concurrent jurisdictions.

Final Touches

Xavier Way

Visitors to campus will have a new way of driving through campus starting this summer—the Xavier Way. Ledgewood Drive, which was widened and enhanced with a tree-lined median as part of the Hoff Academic Quad construction, is proposed being named Francis Xavier Way. The new road is also being shortened. Instead of continuing down to Bellarmine Chapel, it will turn and go between Smith Hall and the new residence and dining complex. A turnaround will also be created at that spot, with an 11-foot statue of St. Francis Xavier erected atop an 11-foot base. The portion of the road that currently extends down to Bellarmine Chapel will be covered in grass, creating an extension of the Residential Mall and a safe passage for students between the new residential halls and campus. A separate road with limited access will connect Cleaney Avenue in front of the Cintas Center to Bellarmine Chapel to allow vehicles access to the church for weddings, funerals and other special occasions.

The statue is being created by Tom Tsuchiya, a Cincinnati-based artist whose career began with another larger-than-life sculpture of a larger-than-life figure—D’Artagnan. His concept of the 17th-century French Musketeer, who battled his way through Europe and inspired Xavier’s nickname, now stands in front of the Cintas Center. It also stands at the center of a growing portfolio of recognizable art. Tsuchiya (pronounced too-she-a) created the statue of former chancellor James E. Hoff, S.J., that now stands in front of the new dining hall at Xavier, as well as four Cincinnati Reds players in front of Great American Ballpark, the John Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award for the National Football League and a host of other private and public works.

[Watch a video of Tsuchiya as he sculpts the statue.]

Tsuchiya officially has a bachelor’s degree in classical civilizations from the University of Cincinnati, but he got his real education, he says, as an apprentice to master sculptor Richard Miller. He’s taken that knowledge and is expanding it to new materials and new media. The statue of Xavier, however, will be old-school—bronze and larger than life. It will be unveiled Dec. 3, St. Francis Xavier’s feast day.

Altered States

In the sweltering heat of the summer of 1960, Alter Hall became the single-most welcome addition to Xavier’s campus. Yes, because the three-story building was new and fresh and modern. Yes, because it had 32 classrooms and a large lecture hall to accommodate the academic needs. Yes, because it had 32 offices and a large registrar’s space. But, really, Alter was hailed as the place to be because it was the first building on campus with air conditioning. Students could learn in comfort and need only sweat for fear of failing an exam.

Today, five decades later, Alter Hall isn’t held to the same esteem. Fifty years of hard, daily use has left it broken and battered. Technology has passed it by. Student learning styles and faculty teaching needs are no longer met by the blackboards, tiny desk-chairs and pencil sharpeners.

Which is why when the To See Great Wonders campaign was conceived, a new classroom building was among the essential elements. And starting in 2013, that will happen. Alter is slated to be torn down and replaced over a two-year period with a new classroom building that meets modern standards.

The new building will not be built on the exact footprint where Alter now stands, but perpendicular to the current building, stretching from the Academic Mall to the Hoff Academic Quad into the hillside that now exists between Hailstones Hall and the Conaton Learning Commons.

Library Renovation

n 2009, all of the bookshelves on the first floor of the McDonald Library were moved and a prototype of the Conaton Learning Commons was built in their place, complete with overstuffed chairs, footstools, coffee tables, white boards, flat-screen monitors on the wall, movable desks, built-in desks with plenty of outlets for computers and tech toys.

It was designed as a way of seeing how students would react to the non-traditional, high-tech learning environment being built next door. The day the prototype opened, students flocked to it. With the Learning Commons now open, the prototype is no longer needed. So with that space now available, the library is getting a much-needed renovation—one of the final pieces of planned construction in the To See Great Wonders campaign.

As soon as finals were completed in May, the library closed its doors to all but construction crews, who removed all of the books, shelves and desks in order to make way for new paint, carpet, shelving, furniture and some rearranging. With the Connection Center in the Conaton Learning Commons now serving as a high-tech version of the library with its electronic links to research materials, the traditional library is being re-thought to work with the electronic options and better optimize space and resources.

The renovation is expected to be complete by the time students return in August.

MBA Program Southbound

The Williams College of Business is expanding yet again, opening an off-site location in Northern Kentucky. The addition—a 5,700-square-foot space in the Columbia Executive Center in Fort Mitchell, Ky., about 20 minutes south of downtown—is designed to make attending Xavier more accommodating and accessible to those living in the suburbs who would have a challenge getting to the main campus for classes. All of the coursework is the same at off-site locations. Williams also has off-site locations in the northern suburb of West Chester and the northeastern suburb of Deerfield Township, which are also both about 20 miles from Xavier.

For Rent

Last fall the bookstore began offering students the chance to rent their textbooks, as opposed to buying them—with the option of selling them back to the bookstore at a reduced price at the end of the semester. The rental price results in a 50-percent or higher initial savings, which is quite attractive to cash-strapped students who can spend several hundred dollars on books each semester. Attractive enough, in fact, that textbook rentals increased by 116 percent during the spring semester, with nearly a third of all books now available to rent.

 

Brotherly Love of Art

Professor of art Kelly Phelps and his brother, Kyle, like to say that they work together in creating their art like one person in two different bodies. Currently the twins are exhibiting a new collection of their collaborative work, “God…Steel and a Wasted Dream.” The 20-piece exhibit focuses on their speciality: race relations and the blue-collar, Midwest factory life. The two grew up among the factories of New Castle, Ind. Their father was a factory worker, and they both worked in the factories as they earned their undergradute degrees from Ball State University. They collect much of the material used in their art from old factories and then enhance the rusty, greasy, dirt-covered pieces of metal with ceramic pieces. Kelly teaches sculpture and ceramics at Xavier; Kyle teaches ceramics at the University of Dayton. Together their work has appeared in more than 110 regional, national and international exhibitions. They also share more than 130 publications. And they have more than 75 commissioned pieces, including a life-sized statue of jazz great Eric Dolphy at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y.

 

Beyond the Book

In May 1994, Maria Olberding, a 1990 English major, was jogging through the tony Cincinnati neighborhood of Hyde Park, something she—and a lot of people in the area—did on a regular basis. All hours of the day and night, runners could be found plodding along in front of the well-lit, well-manicured lawns.

But then the unexpected happened. In an act of senseless, random violence, a teenager attacked her with a knife. The murder stunned the city.

Her grieving family, wanting to keep her memory alive, established an event that celebrated the 27-year-old and her two loves: Reggae music and running. So just months after her death, they organized a five-kilometer run that ended in a big party with plenty of food, drinks and live reggae. The first Reggae Run drew 3,000 people. Now, 17 years later, more than 8,000 people run the race and party into the night.

The bigger the race grows, of course, the bigger the logistical headaches for its organizer—her brother and professor of sport management Doug Olberding. Fortunately, he knows just where to find help: his classroom.

What could be a more perfect teaching tool than experience? Olberding usually finds 20-30 recruits from his class and around the sport management program who pitch in to help manage crowd control and parking. The participation can be addicting. Some students, like Dan Kaspar, who first volunteered as a freshman, come back year after year, even after graduating.

Long before Kaspar earned his sport management degree in 2002, he had earned the role of Olberding’s go-to guy for parking. Armed with only an orange vest and a walkie-talkie, Kaspar coordinated the efficient placement of thousands of cars. (Parking at slight angles and close together works best.) “We filled up soccer fields and school parking lots and side streets,” he says. “It was organized chaos to say the least.”

So many people showed up for the 5K race—and the legendary party afterward—that by the time all the cars were parked, Kaspar was miles away from the starting line. “I basically ran a 5K just doing the parking,” he says.

Volunteering for the Reggae Runs taught Kaspar about planning, people management and adaptation. He used the skills to land his current job as a district manager for a building supplies company in Dallas.

After months of planning, Olberding’s race day begins at 6:00 a.m. Setting up takes time. The food stalls need tables, the Port-o-Potties need to be situated, the music tent erected. Around midday, Olberding and his students brief the Cincinnati Police Department on their crowd control and parking plans. Runners start arriving in the afternoon, the race is at 6:00 p.m. and the party goes until midnight.

Just as the night winds down, students from Xavier’s Alternative Break program arrive to help pack up. Olberding pays them for their efforts, and the group uses the event as a fundraiser. “We’re exhausted, we’re ready to drop dead,” he says. “And they come in like the cavalry reinforcements.”

Aside from the Reggae Run, Olberding also offers his students the chance to work on an even bigger sporting event—Cincinnati’s annual Flying Pig Marathon. Student interns start in January and work the entire semester until the Marathon itself, in early May. Olberding is chairman of the Flying Pig board, and every year he’s at the finish line, dressed in running shoes and a blazer with a pig logo. The scene is not always pretty, especially when the runners start collapsing. “At some point in the race, it’s literally like Gettysburg,” he says. “I’m shaking hands with sweating, puking runners as they cross the finish line. They look like hell.”

A runner himself, Olberding struggles to find time to jog these days. He has yet to run the Flying Pig, but he always makes a point to hoof the Reggae Run. Just before the race he takes off his utility belt, pins a number to his shirt and waits for the gun. When he’s finished, he grabs a beer and spends half an hour watching the park fill with runners and revelers. The reggae band is setting up, and the sun is going down. And for 30 short minutes, he sits by himself in peace, remembering his sister—and his students.

Slots of Love

To see Sal Mazzeo’s living room—its walls lined with dozens of one-armed bandits, nickel slots and mechanized poker machines—you’d think his home was in the middle of the unrepentant heart of Sin City. No chance.

“I’ve been to Las Vegas,” he says. “Once.”

Mazzeo isn’t a player. He’ll keep his quarters and dollar tokens, thank you very much. Rather, the 1983 MBA graduate is more interested in the mechanics inside the machines than the largess and profit motive that once created them. He’s a collector. And restorer.

What began as mere infatuation, a whimsical garage hobby 35 years ago, has progressed into a lifelong love affair with the machines, not to mention becoming nationally recognized for his collection and restoration work. Twice he’s been on the cover of GameRoom Magazine and is featured in an upcoming article in the trade publication from the Coin Operated Collectors Association.

Lest you cry “vice” or “Al Capone,” it’s legal (in the State of Ohio, at least) to own slot machines, as long as you don’t try to operate your own gambling parlor.

Who knew, way back when, that a hobby like this could one day be in the cards? “There’s only a couple thousand of us in the world,” he says. “This is a pretty specialized interest.” Today, he’s virtually hit the jackpot with his collection. There’s one slot that takes only English sixpences. Another is a rare 1898 Mills Dewey gambling device, with its spinning reels and garish buttons. His collection expands outside of gaming machines into a blinking jukebox as well as a pair of gently used pinball machines.

In another new twist, Mazzeo is now taking on the restoration of machines owned by other collectors, retrofitting archaic turn-of-the-century amusements on a for-hire basis. “I may turn this into a business when I retire.”

Mazzeo, a tax projects manager at GE Aviation who spent two prior decades at Procter & Gamble, is only 54 years old, so retirement is still years down the road. And that’s fine by Mazzeo. He still has plenty in his own growing collection to keep him busy. “I’ve recently added three or four slot machines,” he says. “And my player piano isn’t working well. I need to make a few adjustments.”

Seems there’s always a payoff for those willing to tinker.

Slice of Life

Dan Wenstrup knows his way around a golf course. Exactly 100 of them. Wenstrup long ago promised himself that he was going to play every single course on Golf Digest magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Golf Courses” in America. So he teed up his dream. He drove. And in December he conquered.

Over the course of the last four (fore!) decades, the pilgrimage lured Wenstrup, a 1956 business major, from his suburban Chicago roots to some three dozen states. When he crossed off the final course, a round at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., in December, his ever-patient, practically saintly golf widow Eileen O’Brien, a fellow 1956 Xavier grad, showed up at the Chicago O’Hare Airport in the middle of the night, with family members and a limo in tow, to celebrate his achievement. “I actually sort of broke down” in tears, he says.

Wenstrup found he really had to pump his social and business networks to gain admission to all these exclusive courses, often cajoling visitor privileges from members he’s met over the years.

His son Kevin, the golf pro at Stonebridge Country Club in Aurora, Ill., feared his dad might not be able to gain admission to all 100 and fall short of the accomplishment by an elusive one or two impenetrable courses. But fear not. He even edged into the ultra-private Augusta National Golf Course, home of The Masters tournament.

“Having the opportunity to play Augusta was very special.”

Wenstrup never seriously considered golf until he and some Army buddies started fooling around with it at Fort Bliss, Texas. After leaving military service, he joined Chicago’s Chemcentral Corp. as a salesman and began the career path that would propel him into the CEO and chairman’s office. Along the way, he developed a lifelong passion for The Game.

What’s next? “My wife says, now, we’re going to visit the top 100 malls in the United States,” he says. She suggests he bring a caddy.