Building Boom

As Xavier University approaches the 175th anniversary of its founding in 2006, Xaviermagazine is examining key moments in the University’s history. This is part of a series of stories about the people, places and events that have made Xavier what it is today. 

The warm summer months of 1920 marked a new era for Xavier University. Working monuments—symbolic of a decade characterized by its optimism and prosperity—began appearing on the naked hilltops of North Avondale. While the nation’s urban centers flourished and a jazz crusade raged, Cincinnati’s construction companies profited from Jesuit dollars. For the next 10 years, these companies were charged with the task of transforming a 26-acre suburban refuge into the keystone of Catholic education for the Archdiocese.

Even as far back as 1911, however, the Jesuits had recognized the need to expand their campus from Seventh and Sycamore streets in downtown Cincinnati to more spacious surroundings. Factory noise, dirt, smoke and a restricting metropolitan landscape prompted Archbishop Henry Moeller to approve the purchase of the Bragg Estate—a plot anchoring Victory Parkway, between Winding Way and Dana and Herald avenues—from the Avondale Athletic Club in 1911. The three-story, red-brick, Georgian-style clubhouse, which sat on the site of the present Joseph Building, served as the first school building. The Jesuits divided the ballroom into classrooms and converted part of the banquet hall into the chapel, but, to the student’s delight, left the bowling alley intact.

On Dec. 28, 1911, Archbishop Moeller dedicated and blessed the renovated building, renamed Xavier Hall, and later remarked in a letter to University President Francis Heiermann, S.J., “Hence we congratulate your Society and feel deeply grateful that it has secured the beautiful and suitable site in Avondale, in order to extend the sphere of its educational activity. We fondly cherish the hope that, ere long, the site will be adorned not only by a large and flourishing college, but also graced by a Catholic University.”

While the building was the official start of the expansion to the suburbs, the downtown campus remained Xavier’s hub for another eight years, with the former clubhouse being occupied by high school students from the branch academy. In 1919, though, alumni and Jesuits were anxious to move the rest of the college to the Avondale site.

To show their support, the alumni launched a fund-raising campaign, attempting to raise $75,000 and put together a brochure that included the proposed building plans. Writing in Continuity and Change, Xavier University 1831-1981, Lee J. Bennish, S.J., recounts the ambitious initial drawings: “In the first series, the east side of the campus between Northside Avenue (now Victory Parkway) and Herald Avenue (now the campus mall) would have a modest faculty building, student dormitory and classroom building, and the west campus between Victory Parkway and Dana-Winding Way would include the Club House, a gymnasium and outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, handball courts, two football and a baseball fields, and an oval running track.”

Later plans called for a large chapel, a research laboratory for graduate students, an arboretum and an open-air theater.

Large-scale construction did not begin, however, until April 1919, when the University received its largest gift to date: $100,000 from Mrs. Frederick W. Hinkle, patroness of Hinkle Hall. The three-story Tudor-Gothic structure, modeled after the Xavier family castle in Navarre, Spain, housed administrative offices as well as living quarters for Jesuit faculty, a dining room, chapel, recreation room, roof garden and library.

With an additional $50,000 gift from the alumni to build Alumni Science Hall (now Edgecliff Hall), construction began on June 24, 1919. A little over a year later, the College of Arts and Sciences moved to Avondale, and the Jesuits followed a few months later, enjoying their first meal on campus on Thanksgiving Day 1920.

Once the Jesuits established residency, momentum—and enthusiasm—increased. Subsequent years brought about the additions of Elet Hall, the first dormitory, named after the school’s first president, John A. Elet, S.J.; the library building (Schmidt Hall), which was a gift from 1905 graduate Walter Schmidt and temporarily housed a fledgling Bellarmine Chapel; the Fieldhouse; and the football stadium. The decade closed with the construction of the Biology Building, made possible by William H. Albers, who requested anonymity at the time.

The college had finally established its roots in the suburban community and no further construction took place until after World War II.

Once a small suburban refuge, Avondale has since grown into a center of commercial and residential activity, and the college’s 26-acre foundation has matured into a 140-acre university.

While many in the early 20th century could not have fathomed the outcome, it’s clear that others had always maintained this vision. At the 25th anniversary reception for the alumni association in 1913, William T. Burns, the association’s historian, foreshadowed the school’s progress: “Would it be too much to hope that in the not-too-distant future some alumnus, to take part in a celebration something akin to this one, might take his stand upon one of the nearby hills and gaze with brightening eye and throbbing heart upon the different lecture halls and colleges that dot the spacious acres of St. Xavier University?”

Blessed

On the morning of Oct. 27, a brief rain showered St. Peter’s Square in Rome, but no amount of precipitation could dampen the moment for William Madges, chair of the University’s department of theology; James Buchanan, director for the Edward B. Brueggeman center for dialogue; Rabbi Abie Ingber, executive director for the Hillel Jewish Student Center of Cincinnati; and Yaffa Eliach, former Brueggeman chair and founder of the Shtetl Foundation in New York.

The four had waited almost two hours for an audience with Pope John Paul II, hoping to gain a papal blessing for their proposed landmark exhibition, “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” which documents the pontiff’s lifelong relationship with the Jews.

And now they stood at the papal throne and presented the pontiff with a leather-bound overview of the project. The pope turned the pages, looked carefully at the photos from his early life, nodded approvingly—and smiled.

When “A Blessing to One Another” has its world premiere at the University on May 18, 2005—John Paul II’s 85th birthday—that smile will stand as the pinnacle in a series of defining moments for a project that has gone into overdrive since September. The 1,500-square-foot exhibition—a partnership between the University, Hillel and the Shtetl Foundation—will feature artifacts, photographs and videos.

Visitors will pass through several rooms representing various stages of the Pope’s life—from his childhood in Wadowice, Poland, to his days as a priest and papacy. There will even be an interactive area where visitors can write prayers that will be taken to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The exhibition will stay at the University until July 15, 2005, then move to the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., where a replica of a portion of the display will become a permanent fixture. From there, it will tour Catholic and Jewish colleges and universities around the United States before heading to Europe. The project’s defining moments began early on, when the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati—the project’s lead financial sponsor—and the University declared support. In September, the John Paul II Cultural Center came on board and agreed to provide artifacts for the project.

Former President Jimmy Carter agreed to sit on the project’s advisory board. And then came Rome, where members of the delegation spoke with a dizzying array of Catholic and Jewish leaders, and Ingber had a personal meeting with Jerzy Kluger, a Jew who has been John Paul II’s close friend since both were young boys.

“Our trip to Rome was enormously successful,” says Madges, co-director of the project with Eliach and Ingber. “We were well received by all we met. The spirit of affirmation and support for the goals of this project was palpable.”

“A Blessing to One Another” is the brainchild of Eliach, a Holocaust survivor, former Brueggeman chair at Xavier and professor emeritus of Judaic studies at Brooklyn College in New York. Through her extensive research in Europe, Eliach became fascinated with the pope’s historical ties to the Jews—John Paul II grew up in a largely Jewish apartment building, a Jewish family helped raise him after his mother’s death, he regularly appeared in theater productions with Jewish friends, and his closest childhood friend, Kluger, lives near him today in Rome.

The more Eliach learned, the more she realized the story needed to be told. “I felt it would be wonderful, because I believe so much in togetherness, to make an exhibit,” she says.

University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., says the project is appropriate for Xavier on a number of levels. “It gives us great pride, as a Jesuit and Catholic institution, to begin to celebrate now the legacy and the achievements of Pope John Paul II,” Graham says. “His outreach to the Jewish people is one of the epoch-making accomplishments of his papacy, one which will be remembered long into the future, for it has changed forever the tenor of the relationship between Catholics and Jews. The story there to be told is not only one that involves formal visits and diplomatic relations, but is grounded in the early and deeply moving story of the Holy Father himself, and that very human story is by itself a story worth telling.”

Moreover, Graham says, because Xavier seeks to be known as a champion of interfaith relations and dialogue, it is especially significant for the University to be involved with the project with the Shtetl Foundation and Hillel. “Our hope is that our interfaith collaboration—to tell the wider world the story of the pope’s own interfaith commitment—will itself teach others about the importance of dialogue and collaboration across gulfs that may look as wide and divisive to us today as that gulf between Catholics and Jews may have looked 50 or 150 years ago,” he says.

Ingber, who lost his grandparents and two uncles in the Holocaust, and whose father was all too familiar with Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, sees the exhibition as near-miraculous. “To know that we literally have gone from my grandparents’ understanding of what the church represented in their lives to their grandson meeting with the pope and celebrating in the building of an exhibit that recognizes and honors this incredible, unique and changed relationship between the Catholic church and the Jewish community, I don’t know how to characterize that as anything less than a miracle,” Ingber says. “And I place the positive responsibility for that sea change in the peaceful hands and blessings of John Paul II.”

For the larger Jewish community, Ingber points to the pope’s work in confronting anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and in responding to the reality and integrity of the State of Israel through his pilgrimage to Jerusalem and visits to Jewish communities. “Throughout the world he has built a bridge that we hope will only continue to be strengthened and will carry the foot traffic of people committed to peace and brotherhood for generations to come,” Ingber says. “This exhibition tries to anchor that bridge as firmly as possible.”

Madges points out that the project is significant for a number of reasons: John Paul II is the first pope since the first century to visit a synagogue, as well as being the pope who established diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel, the pope who, more than any of his predecessors, committed the church to work for reconciliation between Jews and Christians. “This exhibit sends a signal that we’re doing the kinds of things a Catholic university and a department of theology should be doing,” Madges says.

The project also fits naturally into the Brueggeman center’s focus on dialogue. “We’re trying to make it more than just an exhibit,” Buchanan says. “Our hope is that it will be an experience that has a spiritual dimension to it and that stimulates people to begin to think more deeply about and engage more actively in interreligious dialogue.”

Graham says the University is committed to raising at least $100,000 from private sources for the project. “The Jewish Foundation has stepped forward to match this amount and has issued an additional challenge to us to raise even more—and this we will energetically do,” he says.

“We hope that the collaboration of Xavier University and the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati will inspire other local individuals and institutions to come forward with additional financial support of this important exhibit,” Madges says. “The premiere will attract national attention, and it would be great to show the world that we are a religiously and ethnically diverse city committed to collaboration and reconciliation.”

Where Are They Now?

Xavier basketball is more popular now than ever, but the program has always attracted a litany of talented and touted players. Some have gone on to the professional ranks; others have simply gone on. As this year’s season gets underway, we tracked down some former players to find out what they’ve been doing in the years since they left campus.

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HANK STEIN ’59

Whatever happened to Hank Stein? Stein was Xavier’s first All-American and the most valuable player on the 1958 glory team that clinched the University’s—and Ohio’s—first college basketball championship by sweeping the National Invitation Tournament at Madison Square Garden. He was selected in the third round of the 1959 NBA draft by the St. Louis Hawks and then disappeared. At least, so it seemed. After being cut by the Hawks before the season started, Stein hung up his Chuck Taylor hightops and went into business. He never played ball again. A native of Louisville, Ky., he married a Cincinnati girl and became an underwriter for the Cincinnati Insurance Co., retiring as a vice president after 31 years.

Though he basked in the glory of the 1958 season as 10,000 fans greeted the champions on their return home, Stein got what he needed from basketball and moved on. “I think anybody that plays sports takes the competitive nature of sports into the business world. That’s the biggest thing I got out of it—how to compete.” He and his wife Nancy had five children, one a Xavier graduate and another, Eileen, a former basketball player at the University of Dayton. Stein dutifully rooted for Eileen’s team, even against Xavier, but he’s a lifelong season ticket-holding Musketeers fan. A mild heart attack two years ago led to a 30-pound weight loss, but he still carries about 200 pounds on his 6-foot 1-inch frame, watches his diet and does laps around Cincinnati’s Sharon Woods Lake. “People ask, ‘Whatever happened to Hank Stein?’ Everyone who sees me wants to know if I still live in Louisville,” he says. “I just kept a low profile.”

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RALPH LEE ’86

A jet roars past Ralph Lee’s office window, partially drowning out his voice. “The Boeing planes are the loudest,” he says. Lee’s office overlooks two runways at the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. For the last nine years he’s been with Comair Inc., and in September became the airline’s vice president for human resources.

“I had a human resources class with Dr. Lawrence Donnelly,” he says, “and that’s when I realized this is what I wanted to do.”

And it’s exactly what he’s done since graduating in 1986, minus a one-year stint as an assistant basketball coach at the University of Maryland and three years as vice president for in-flight services for Comair. He’s also stayed close to Xavier basketball, doing color commentary for locally televised games in the late 1990s.

Work and family commitments forced him to put away the microphone, but he still takes his sons, Cameron and Kyle, to a couple of Musketeer games a year. He also pops in a video on occasion to show them his glory days—he still holds the Xavier record for most career assists.

“They just look and say, ‘That’s not you, Dad.’ When they realize it is me they’ll start telling me what I could have done better. Or they’ll say, ‘Man, you were skinny,’ or ‘How come your shorts were so small?’ ”

Today, he says, his only court time is one-on-one games against his pastor. “When he wins he says, ‘The Lord takes care of me.’ Says, ‘It’s divine intervention.’ ” Lee pauses and smiles. “But he very seldom wins.”

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JIM BOOTHE ’57

Until seven years ago, Jim Boothe, 69, was still playing recreational league basketball games, plying the skills he’d honed when he was team captain in 1957. It was during one of those games that he realized he no longer had what it takes. He wasn’t contributing as much as he was getting in the way. It was time to hang it up. “I cry sometimes I miss it so much,” he says. “It was a big moment when I knew I couldn’t play anymore.”

It was the end of an era that included scoring 1,085 points for the Musketeers—despite being the shortest man on the squad at just 5 feet 7 inches.

After graduating, Boothe taught and coached at the high school level. He returned to Xavier 17 years ago to teach. Six years later he became chair of the department of education, his current position.

Being on campus makes it easy for him to keep up with the Musketeers, both old and new. He and his wife, Marilyn, attend every home game, and he stays close to those with whom he shared so many memories—although the number is slowly dwindling. Recently, he attended the funerals of former coach Ned Wulk and former teammate Dave Piontek. They’re gone, but their memories continue.

“Basketball is a link,” Boothe says. “The relationship with your teammates is something you never outlive.”

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JOE SCHOENFELD ’81

Joe Schoenfeld is the first to point out that he wasn’t the best player during his career at Xavier. He rode the bench his first two years under coach Tay Baker, then earned more playing time his final two seasons with coach Bob Staak, who arrived with an up-tempo style that demanded lots of substitutions. What makes Schoenfeld’s story special is what the 1981 graduate has done with the lessons he learned from Baker, Staak and Paul Frey, his coach at Cincinnati’s Elder High School.

An accounting major at the University, Schoenfeld stayed on campus for a year after graduation, earning his teaching certification while working as a graduate assistant under Staak. The next year, he became a substitute teacher at Elder, eventually moving into a full-time position. He took over as varsity basketball coach in 1991. Since then, his teams have won three league championships, one state title and one state runner-up title.

“If I hadn’t been at XU, I’m not sure I’d have taken this path,” he says. “I always said, ‘If I could make school as enjoyable for my students as my coaches and teachers did for me, that would be great.’ I wake up every morning feeling pretty grateful.”

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STEVE THOMAS ’56

At 2:30 one recent September morning, Steve Thomas sat perfectly still holding his newborn granddaughter. It was an atypical moment for a type A man, and it reminded him of the day he held his daughter, Callie, 26 years earlier. It also provided him with a perspective on life. “The older you get, the faster time goes,” he says.

Thomas was always on the go. After graduating, the 6-foot All-American ran his way up the corporate ladder, sprinting from sales to management at Fifth Third Bank, then to double-bypass surgery in 1995 and retirement two years later. Now 62, he spends his days trying to slow down and keep fit by running on a treadmill and playing golf.

He looks back on his playing days with fondness and just a little remorse. A rising star, he blew out his right knee halfway into his senior year, during which he scored the most single-game points ever at Xavier—50 against the University of Detroit. The record still stands, but the knee didn’t. It failed again, ending his Xavier career and robbing him of a tryout with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. The injury, which led to five surgeries and will soon require a complete knee replacement, nixed his shot at the big time.

“I had a great career,” he says, “and I can say I would have made it in the pros.”

It’s something to tell his granddaughter.

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JERRY HELMERS ’72

For three years, Xavier players knew the drill: Get the ball to Jerry Helmers. The quiet forward provided the Musketeers with a deft scoring touch. Nothing flashy, just a steady hand. By the end of his career, he accumulated a 17-points-per-game average and two most valuable player awards. His 1,275 career points still rank 22nd on the all-time scoring list—a remarkable feat considering freshmen weren’t allowed to play on the varsity in those days.

Today, it’s Helmers who knows the drill, so to speak. The native of Hamilton, Ohio, returned to his hometown and settled into life as a dentist. Nothing flashy, just a steady hand.

“It’s the only place I know,” he says. “People know me here, and it’s close to Cincinnati. I still see some of the players. Doug Alt is a patient. I get to drill on his teeth.”

Helmers followed the Musketeers to Atlanta last year for the NCAA Tournament and makes it to a couple of home games each year, but for the most part the family’s athletic legacy has been passed down—son Ben played basketball at Miami University and daughter Maggie swam at Indiana University—and golf balls have now replaced basketballs.

“Golf’s easier on the knees,” he says. “I played basketball in leagues for 10 years, but when I couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings, I knew it was time to give it up.”

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BOB QUICK ’68

“I’ve always liked to challenge myself,” Bob Quick says. “To me that’s what sets one apart from another.”

In Quick’s case, the love of a good challenge set him apart twice: first as a basketball player, then as a successful entrepreneur. As a Musketeer, he totaled 1,636 points and averaged 21 points per game, stats that in 1968 carried him to the Baltimore Bullets of the NBA. After five years and three professional teams, a knee injury ended his career. Undaunted, he entered the world of marketing and advertising, founding Chromagraphics Inc., ultimately growing the Detroit-based company into a million-dollar enterprise.

In 1996, Quick left advertising and moved to Florida for long-overdue rehabilitation on his knee. For the past three years, he’s been a sales consultant for a Cincinnati auto dealer. But the siren song of advertising remains strong. “I feel like I’ve got one more push in me,” he says. “In marketing, it’s very challenging to get an assignment at 4:00 p.m., spend the night on it and take it in at 9:00 the next morning. I enjoyed that. It gives you that game-time high.”

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DEXTER BAILEY ’84

An impact player during his Musketeer days, Dexter Bailey is now making another kind of impact—helping match workers with companies that need their services. And the journey has taken some unexpected turns. A high school star in suburban Cincinnati, Bailey arrived at the University in 1980 during a rebuilding period. “The first year we didn’t win many games,” he recalls. “The second year I think we won only eight. My junior year we turned it around and went to the NCAA Tournament.”

A small forward, Bailey scored 1,139 points at Xavier and was drafted by the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. But he didn’t make the team and, after a period of reflection, decided to join former teammate Jeff Jenkins playing in South America. For the next 11 seasons, he played for Sunchales in Santa Fe, Argentina. During the off-seasons, he played in Chile.

But by the mid-1990s Bailey was looking for a career change. He started working for a staffing franchise, moving up through the ranks and eventually becoming president. He and his wife now have four offices in Greater Cincinnati and are in the process of breaking away to start their own company, ASD Staffing.

“I embrace the future,” Bailey says. “It’s exciting. We provide jobs for the community and help companies get their products out.”

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MARK POYNTER ’93

Occasionally a patient will walk into Mark Poynter’s office, see the name on his lab coat and make the connection—he used to play basketball at Xavier. “I tell them, ‘If you remember my name, you must have been a big-time fan.’ ”

He laughs. The 1993 graduate played on teams that went to three NCAA Tournaments—including the Sweet 16—during his career, although almost all of his four years were spent playing in the shadows of future NBA stars Tyrone Hill, Derek Strong, Brian Grant and Aaron Williams.

Today, the shadows have shifted and Poynter now stands in his own light as a general surgeon in Cincinnati. He’s the youngest member of the 12-doctor Queen City General and Vascular Surgeon Group, handling everything from lumps and bumps on the skin to colon and breast cancer.

“What I like about it,” he says, “is that each day presents a new challenge.”

The life of a surgeon doesn’t leave much time for hoops, and what little time there was got cut even more last February when he became a first-time father. Now, he says, the most dribbling he sees is from his son, Max. But the love of the game is still there and being passed along. “Yeah, we’ve already got Max some gym shorts and a couple of basketball-shaped rattles.”

A Place in History

Dean Regas lives in a time warp. He’s in touch with the past and can see into the future. The universe, he says, looked the same to the ancients who first mapped the stars as it will to our descendants who bolt into the blue beyond.

“It’s important,” he says, “because in studying astronomy, you’re tapped into the cycles that have interested and fascinated people since the beginning of time.”

Regas discovered his passion when he literally stumbled into it. Unsure about his future, the 1996 history graduate left his high school teaching job and returned to the Cincinnati Parks Department, where he volunteered during college, to be an outdoor education specialist teaching children about nature. One of the parks he was assigned to was Burnet Woods, which has a planetarium. He was given one week to prepare his first astronomy show for Girl Scouts.

“Once I got in there and the lights went out, something happened to me and I transformed from a natural person into a stargazer,” he says.

Space became his vocation. He’s taught himself everything he knows and monitors astronomy web sites and journals daily. His work at Burnet Woods, where he expanded the planetarium program from 20 shows a year to 200, caught the attention of the Cincinnati Observatory, which hired him in 2000 as an outreach astronomer. The observatory is a perfect fit for Regas: He can focus on teaching astronomy to all ages in a unique historical setting. The observatory is the oldest planetarium in the country and houses the oldest professional telescope—a wood and brass model built in 1843—in the Western hemisphere.

“We’re seeing the same stars and the same things people have seen throughout history,” he says, “and it makes me feel a part of everyone else who has wondered about it.”

Profile: Matthew Eisen

Matthew Eisen Bachelor of Arts in international relations, 1995 | Social worker, youth counselor, community organizer and fund-raiser for the Nueva Generación XXI, San Salvador, El Salvador.

Changing Lives | Since 1997, Eisen has worked in one of the poorest sections of San Salvador, trying to help youth—and people of all ages—escape the deadly cycle of poverty, drug abuse and violence. “Salvadoran society is very divisive,” he says. “Youth are extremely affected by this. Unfortunately the gangs, not church groups nor government initiatives, have had the most success in recruiting and organizing youth. Gangs have created a level of violence that has only been fueled by misguided government and societal reactions.”

Fitting In | Eisen came to the University from a self-described sheltered, working-class childhood on Cincinnati’s west side. As a commuter, it took him awhile to feel part of campus life, but he soon found his niche and began to participate in peace and justice programs at the Dorothy Day House.

Taking Action | At Xavier, Eisen took a variety of causes to heart. He participated in shantytown to raise awareness of homeless issues, protested the war in then-Yugoslavia, supported a protest by the black student association, urged the University to recognize a gay and lesbian student group and became involved with the international coffee hour sponsored by the office of international student services.

Finding a Calling | Eisen first traveled to El Salvador in 1994 to monitor elections as part of a group led by Irene Hodgson, a professor of modern languages. The country was just two years removed from a bloody, 12-year civil war that claimed more than 75,000 lives. One year later, Eisen participated in the first service-learning semester in Nicaragua, detouring to El Salvador for the 15th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

Heading South | Following graduation, Eisen spent a year working for the Mid-Atlantic Office of Amnesty International in Washington, D.C. But Central America was calling, and he decided to answer.

Playing a Role | In 2000, Eisen was invited by U.S. South Command of the U.S. military to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to participate as a human rights monitor in a United Nations peacekeeping training/role-playing exercise.

Living the Mission | “I believe the Jesuit principles and values affected me strongly,” he says. “I could have looked for a job with a local Cincinnati transnational company working in Europe, pursuing a career with a great salary. For the last seven years I have received a $500-a-month stipend. I still have $12,000 of student loans to pay off, yet I couldn’t be happier.”

Profile: Megan Van Pelt

Megan Van Pelt Bachelor of Science in management, 1994 | Director of human resources, Lendlease Corp., Chicago; Children’s Heart Foundation President’s Council member

Trump Card |Van Pelt oversees personnel issues for an Australian company that manages large-scale construction projects including Donald Trump’s buildings in New York and Chicago.

Setback | She’s also handled traumatic personal issues, namely, the birth of her son, Jack, seven years ago. Midway through her pregnancy, Jack was diagnosed with transposition of the great arteries. His aortic and pulmonary valves were backward, which meant the blood that normally flows in a figure eight through the heart actually went in two circles, arriving back in the lungs instead of going out to his body. Jack also had five holes in his heart, a mixed blessing because that allowed the blood to mix and provide limited oxygen.

Major Decision | “We met with a geneticist who suggested we end the pregnancy, but I was at 24 weeks and I just said no,” she says. “These defects run in my family. My cousin is 33 and had one of the first procedures for transposition, and he survived.”

Day By Day | Jack was transferred to Children’s Memorial Hospital immediately after delivery and underwent a balloon angioplasty to enlarge one of the holes.

The Big Day | Four weeks later, he had open heart surgery. “He could have gone into congenital heart failure and died,” she says. The surgery lasted 10 hours, but he was home by Christmas.

Pay It Forward | Van Pelt and her husband, Ryan, wanted to give something back in gratitude for all the research that led to the surgery that saved their son’s life. They discovered the Children’s Heart Foundation and became board members. Ryan was treasurer; she chaired an annual fundraising event, which included a 36-hour dance marathon that raised $330,000.

Much Obliged | “You realize if the research hadn’t been done, your child wouldn’t be here, and it’s almost an obligation to give back,” she says. “The foundation raises money for research, and our doctors decide which research projects we will fund.”

Looking Up | Jack visits his heart doctors every six months, and they say his reengineered heart is doing just fine. He’ll need another sur-gery to replace his aortic valve when he’s bigger. “You look at Jack today and you’d have no idea what he went through,” she says. “He’s pretty much a normal first grader. He loves baseball and the Cubs. He loves Nintendo, just like a typical boy.”

Profile: Mary Jean Ryan, F.S.M.

Mary Jean Ryan, F.S.M. Master of Health Administration, 1974 | President and CEO of SSM Health Care, St. Louis

Power Player | Ryan has headed SSM Health Care for 18 years. In August, she was named the seventh most powerful person in the health care field by industry trade publication Modern Health Care. Among women, only Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ranked higher. This is the second year in a row Ryan has appeared in the top 10—she was No. 8 in 2003. In 2002, Ryan led SSM to become the first health care organization to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

An Empire of Caring | Ryan oversees a four-state operation—Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma—that includes 20 acute-care hospitals, three nursing homes and an information center. Offering a full range of health care services, SSM employs more than 23,000 people, works with about 5,000 physicians and in 2003 provided almost $59 million in uncompensated health care.

Making a Difference | Along with continuously improving the quality of care at SSM, Ryan promotes gender and ethnic diversity in her organization as well as preservation of the earth’s resources. Management positions are now split about 50-50 between women and men, and SSM is working to bring more ethnic diversity into those positions as well. And each of SSM’s facilities features a number of ongoing environmentally friendly activities.

Hearing the Call | Ryan’s health care career spans more than 45 years. She started as a nurse but began to hear the call of a broader responsibility, and for that she needed more education. While working as an operating room supervisor in St. Louis, Ryan was advised by a hospital vice president—who was also a Xavier grad—to apply to the University’s Master of Business Administration program.

The View of Time | Ryan has seen lots of changes in health care over the years. But, she says, some things have stayed the same—the dedication, the goodness and the competence of health care workers. “They are the most caring and compassionate people I’ve ever known. People come into health care because they care about people.”

A World of Potential

As parents, you want to provide the best education possible for your child. Your children have a world of potential, and Xavier University is devoted to helping them succeed. Whether students are called to a career in business, education, the arts or the sciences, the Xavier experience encourages them to reach beyond themselves to become women and men for others.

Xavier is able to achieve its mission of forming students intellectually, morally and spiritually, thanks to the support of the parents fund. The parents fund, an integral component of Xavier’s annual fund, raises unrestricted annual gifts to support initiatives that strengthen undergraduate teaching and student formation, including service opportunities, spiritual development and leadership programs.

Last year, the 2003-2004 parents fund campaign was our most successful yet. Thanks to the generous support of both current and past parents, the parents fund realized a 12-percent increase in parent participation and a 6-percent increase in dollars raised. Parents also joined The 1831 Society in record numbers, with a 34-percent increase in membership. The 1831 Society is a special group of parents, alumni and friends who choose to invest $1,000 or more each year in Xavier and its programs, resources and people. The critical contributions of The 1831 Society affirm the value of a Xavier education and inspire other potential donors.

These campaign results could not have been achieved without the efforts of the 2003-2004 parents development council: Barb and Ken Heil (chairs), Jim and Nancy Crawford, Matt and Diane Habash, Emerson and Peggy Knowles, Don and Marcy Schade, and Louis and Debe Terhar.

The parents development council meets throughout the year to determine how best to attract participation in the parents fund. There are many ways to give—gifts of cash, matching gifts though your employer, gifts of appreciated securities, life income plans and gifts of real estate and/or insurance. The cumulative effect of every gift makes a significant impact. No matter what size gift you make, your participation is what counts.

Norah Mock is the assistant director for the annual fund.

The Indianapolis 100,000

The Indianapolis chapter is taking a little of the burden off the office of admission. The chapter established a scholarship fund to act as a recruiting tool to help the University attract future students and, in turn, future alumni from Indianapolis. Scholarships benefit Indiana high school students, and the chapter has raised more than $100,000 since the fund’s inception in 1995.

With declining numbers at its annual golf outing, however, members had to find a new way to raise money. This year they hosted an annual dinner in the atrium of the Eli Lilly Corporate Center in Indianapolis, which drew about 85 attendees.

The evening included guided tours of the Lilly archives, a raffle and an address from Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the Williams College of Business. And even before diners tucked into their chocolate mousse cake, the chapter had raised more than $3,500.

“The dinner was a huge success,” says chapter president, Jim Pike. “I would say this was the best function the Indy club has ever hosted.”

On Track

The University added two new sports—men’s and women’s track—to its slate of athletic programs, bringing the total number of varsity teams to 17. It was the first time the University added a sport since women’s golf in 1992.

The addition of the track programs enhances the cross country program and provides the University the chance to compete for more Atlantic 10 Conference titles. Cross country coach Steve Nester is overseeing the programs. He will begin filling the roster with distance runners, he says, who can compete in cross country during the off-season.