Honor Badge

In honor of former Xavier University president and chancellor, James E. Hoff, S.J., all Xavier athletic teams are wearing a patch inscribed with Hoff’s initials, JEH. Hoff, who died of cancer in July, is widely credited with improving the quality of Xavier athletics.

“Jim raised the bar at Xavier and set a tone that pushed the University, and all of us associated with it, to dream big and strive to be better,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J. “He set the example, academically, spiritually, athletically, in every way, of how to do things right, and we will continue to follow his example.”

Good Sports

Members of the All For One club, a group of friends of the University’s athletic programs, recently found themselves in the ideal place for supporting Xavier sports—twice. On Aug. 30, the group was on the exclusive Kenwood Country Club golf course, slicing its way toward raising more than $40,000 as part of the Horan Associates Inc. All For One Golf Classic. More than 350 golfers participated.

Then, in October, some of the group’s members flew on to the Bahamas, where they basked in the sun, ate with the men’s basketball team in the Atlantis Hotel and watched the Musketeers win two exhibition games.

Forever Famous

Three former Xavier athletes are being inducted into the University’s athletic hall of fame on Jan. 21 during a dinner sponsored by the All For One club. Former men’s basketball star Lenny Brown leads the way, joined by volleyball standout Sally Schulte and soccer star Terrence “Mac” Garrigan.

A New Dawn

It was a minor marathon in Michigan, but, as it turned out, a major event in the life of Dawn Rogers. At the time, she was a functionary in the University of Akron athletic department. Her athletic director had just been fired. She was young, uncertain, worried. She was also leading the race after 25.5 miles.

“One of my friends,” says Rogers, “a guy who had finished, came back out to run with me. He was all excited because I had run what was, for me, a great race. I had a half mile to go, and I said to him, ‘I can’t finish.’ He started laughing. He said, ‘Dawn, you’re winning this race.’

“Well, I finished. I did win the race. And I learned something—that it’s not the totality of the race; it’s every mile. You have to take it one mile at a time. If you look at the totality of what’s in front of you, it can be overwhelming; but if you break it down to day-by-day or project-by-project, you can accomplish it. I really think that’s what has gotten me through the last few months.”

They were supposed to be shimmering, momentum-propelled months. In March, the Musketeers were the darlings of the NCAA basketball tournament. Mike Bobinski—the man who replaced the fired athletic director in Akron and later hired Rogers at Xavier—was thinking of moving on to another administrative position at the University. In June, with the basketball program at a station it had never before attained—the 1958 NIT championship notwithstanding—he figured there would be no better time. Knowing that the job he was vacating would deeply interest the 39-year-old mother of two who had been at his side for 10 years—six at Xavier—he figured there would be no better person.

What he didn’t figure was that, by July, before Rogers could even move into the corner office, men’s basketball coach Thad Matta would cut out on the contract designed to keep him at Xavier until 2013. Bobinski didn’t figure on leaving his protégé—Division I’s fifth female athletic director—with such a quick and colossal decision to make just three weeks into the job.

Under her long-time mentor, the Ithaca, N.Y., native routinely ran coaching searches, overseeing the hiring of women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff. Important as they are, those decisions don’t define Xavier athletics and the University profile as much as men’s basketball. Within athletics, there is no more urgent, loaded decision than selecting the men’s basketball coach.

Rogers had it done in a day.

“I told her in the prelude leading up to hiring a coach,” says Bobinski, now the associate vice president for development, “your name will be forever linked with certain issues and decisions. But one of the things I always valued about Dawn is that, whenever a situation arose, I looked to her for a rational perspective.”

In this case, Rogers found perspective around the corner and down the hall. Every so often since Sean Miller was hired as an assistant basketball coach in 2001, she’d stopped by his office for casual conversation. They would swap stories about their kids or compare notes on running. And before she continued on with her rounds, Rogers, invariably, would drop a gentle reminder: “Sean, we don’t want you to go anyplace.”

When the time finally came, she swiftly saw to it that he didn’t. As a result, she says, “I think we will both kind of walk this walk together.”

The challenges didn’t stop there, though. The status of the year’s highest-rated men’s basketball recruit, Nigeria native Churchill Odia, was complicated by visa issues. Baseball coach John Morrey resigned and Rogers hired Dan Simonds in his stead. She approved two new track programs, the first new teams in a dozen years, and eliminated the rifle program. Calmly, she pressed through the fast-coming complications, understanding all the while that if she takes it a mile at a time, the long road could carry the program back to the heady heights it reached last year.

“That’s where we want to be every year,” she says. “Last year makes us see that it’s attainable, that going to the Final Four is a possibility and that we don’t just have basketball to have basketball.”

Saving a School

Up the street from Xavier, perched impressively above a tree-lined stretch of Victory Parkway, is a school of breathtaking Jacobethan architecture and Rookwood tile that will soon be an extension of campus. Hoffman Elementary School, built in 1922, was slated for closure because of its low-performing public school status until the University agreed to become its partner.

In October, plans for the partnership got a boost when Xavier won a $392,000 federal community improvement grant to help the low-income Evanston neighborhood on the University’s west side, where Hoffman is located. Plans call for Xavier education students to tutor children at the school, occupational therapy students to work with families and education faculty to help Hoffman teachers fine-tune the curriculum. Xavier faculty and staff may even have use of a day care center at Hoffman run by the University.

“There needs to be a safe, vital energized environment around this campus if we want to continue to attract high-caliber students and be the kind of university we want to be,” says Liz Blume, of Xavier’s Community Building Institute.

Partner in Education

The University’s partnership with a low-performing inner-city school paid off when Withrow University High School leapt from a basement- level rating by the State of Ohio to the top tier in only three years.

Xavier became a partner when the school introduced a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that aims all students toward college.

Xavier offered a summer program for ninth graders, helped buy microscopes and calculators, paired Withrow teachers with math and science faculty, and worked on community service projects with Withrow students.

Rated in academic emergency when the new program started, the school leapt four levels to the state’s top level of excellent in 2004. Principal Sharon Johnson, a 2002 M.Ed. graduate, says it was a group effort that helped students meet state standards.

In the Distance

Graduate-level students in far-flung regions of southwest Ohio can now get their Master of Education degree without ever setting foot on campus. The University’s first official distance-learning program started this fall at Wilmington High School, about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The site was approved by Ohio and North Central Association officials. About 30 students, mostly teachers, signed up.

“This represents a significant departure from traditional classroom education for Xavier, but there’s a lot of online education out there and Xavier needs to keep up,” says John Cooper, director for graduate services. The hybrid course includes classroom and web-based instruction and videoconferencing. The idea is gaining speed. A second site in Middletown, between Cincinnati and Dayton, was recently approved. How much further up the road it goes is anyone’s guess.

Election Results

Sara Rowell found herself in the position of a lifetime. A sophomore and a self-described political junkie, Rowell was sitting on the dais a few feet away from Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry during his September swing through Cincinnati. At one point, he was so close she could have touched him.

“It was nice, sort of surreal,” she says. “I was at the Kerry rally to observe, and they were looking for people to fill the risers. They asked me if I wanted to sit up there, and I said, ‘Of course.’ ”

This was education in action. Rowell’s part of a new honors course created just for this year’s presidential race. With Ohio being one of the most-watched battleground states, the course offered her and her classmates unprecedented access to the candidates and their campaigns—educational opportunities that can’t be found in a book.

The two-part course—mass media and politics and constructing the public—was created by professors John Fairfield and Gene Beaupré specifically for the 18 students in the new honors program, Philosophy, Politics and the Public. The first part, in the fall semester, examined the campaigns. The second part, in the spring, examines how politicians legislate.

The PPP program, developed in 2003 and modeled after similar ones at Yale and Oxford, stands apart because of its inclusion of “the public” as a separate discipline. This year, it didn’t take long for Beaupré and Fairfield to realize they had a perfect teaching opportunity. With its prime location in Ohio during the high-stakes presidential election, the University was perched on a wealth of information and activity—from research and polling to mass media frenzies and grassroots speechifying.

“Ohio was the epicenter of the 2004 presidential race,” Beaupré says. “No state received as much attention as Ohio. Our first formal PPP class hit during the presidential election. What an opportunity. You couldn’t pick up a paper and not have stuff to talk to your students about.”

Halfway into the fall semester, the students were using the presidential campaign to understand what it takes to get elected, how to identify voters, what to communicate to them and how.

In addition to voluminous reading assignments, the students volunteered for either candidate’s local campaign to learn each one’s message and how it’s relayed to potential voters. They handed out buttons and flyers during Cincinnati Reds games. They made phone calls to likely voters, keyed in polling data and attended rallies. In short, they did it all.

And they not only did it in Cincinnati, they fanned out statewide to learn how the campaign messages differ in different parts of the state. They spent election night Nov. 2 at WVXU radio helping report election results on the air to the radio audience. The overall goal is to teach them how to participate in public debate by having them experience how a person gets elected in America, Beaupré says. As they studied the campaigns—following the media, volunteering, attending rallies, gathering data and reading deeply about politics—they developed their own campaign plans with a studied message and a method for whom to reach and how to reach them.

During one class in September, the students were shown pictures of the candidates in various poses—Kerry on his motorcycle, George W. Bush as a rancher, Kerry with Lincoln, and the class’ favorite, Bush’s profile against the famous faces of Mt. Rushmore. The discussion was about the messages and at what point do they slip from reality into fiction. It primed the students for the visual ads they would create as part of their campaign plans.

“You can’t understand and do legislative politics without understanding campaign politics,” Beaupré says. “You have to understand how people got to that power.”

Fairfield brings a historical context to the study of American politics and public policy. He doesn’t just ask why decisions are made but asks what other possibilities were considered and discarded. He says he wants his students to believe that politics does matter and they can change things for the better. The experience is tailor-made for Rowell, who expects to go to law school. “I want to make a difference in our government and how it works,” she says.

Class of 2008

A call to Jewel Hopson’s cell phone reveals that she’s taking her new role at Xavier seriously.

“Hey, this is Jewel,” the marketing major answers in a sweet, soft-spoken voice. “I’m not answering my phone, either because I’m sleeping and it’s turned off, I’m in class or I’m studying in my room—trying to be that successful college student.”

The daughter of Keith Thompson, an Army sergeant stationed in Iraq, and Allison Thompson, a postal employee who works the night shift, Hopson plans on becoming the first in her family to graduate from college.

The Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, native is also one of 878 students who make up the current freshman class, the largest in Xavier history. More important, however, is the exponential increase in quality: With a class grade point average of 3.58, these first-year students continue the freshman trend as the “smartest” class of record. In fact, 26 freshmen ranked No. 1 in their graduating high school classes and 29 percent ranked in the top 10 percent. So why the sudden increase? Basketball, for one.

“The run for the Elite Eight was helpful,” says Jim McCoy, vice president for enrollment services. “It put a lot of information out there in March when we needed to.”

McCoy, however, is quick to note that the increase in students primarily owes itself to programs previously set in motion that are now starting to pay off. This includes full-service visits to campus—sitting in on a class, meeting with an admission counselor, spending a night in the dorms—and a better, more aggressive and more strategic use of financial aid to attract more first-generation, minority and specific career-related students.

“We’re beginning to mold the class, to shape the class,” McCoy says. “That’s something we have not been able to do in the past. The number, type and quality of applicants are what drives all this.”

McCoy adds that the University has also appointed a faculty ambassador in every academic area who acts as the eyes and ears within his or her department and works with the office of admission when potential students visit the University. In turn, Xavier has instituted more visitation programs, such as scholarship dinners, to bring more people to campus.

“We are progressively hosting folks,” McCoy says. “In other words, trying to make as much hospitality as we possibly can—what I call ‘academic hospitality.’ Which is to say, ‘How do we meet their needs?’ ”

The result of the hosting efforts: 70 percent of the students who visit campus end up applying for admission, says Marc Camille, dean of admission. “Of those who visit campus and are accepted for admission, 40 percent enroll, versus our normal yield of 25 percent,” he says.

For Hopson, this translates into one of the main reasons she chose Xavier over contenders such as Syracuse, Ohio University, Spelman and LeMoyne. “I came down for an overnight visit after winning a scholarship,” Hopson says. “It was so homey, and they made me feel very comfortable.”

As a member of a record-breaking class, however, Hopson has a lot of expectations to live up to from both her parents and the University. When she’s not in class, studying or sleeping, she sings in the Gospel choir and leads informal line dancing workouts in her dorm. And while she takes time to enjoy herself here, she’s dedicated to trying to be that successful college student.

“Academically, it was very competitive to get in here,” Hopson says. “I felt it an honor to even get the acceptance letter.”

Xavier Faces

Lin GuoHealth Services Administration
Guo is a professor of quality improvement in health care, teaching graduate students how to be successful at managing hospitals and health service organizations. Guo came to Xavier after earning his doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His lesson plans stress the building of critical-thinking skills through homework and class participation. His hobbies include photography and following sports.

Amit Sen
Economics and Human Resources

For most people, becoming rich requires a winning lottery ticket. For Sen, it simply requires having a good grasp of economics. As an economics professor at the undergraduate and M.B.A. levels, Sen gets his students working on that dream, and not by buying them lottery tickets. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Sen, who also teaches statistics, says Xavier is the “right fit” for him because of the focus of the Williams College of Business.

Lifang Wu
Operations and Entrepreneurship

Wu is one of the newest professors at Xavier, starting in 2004 teaching operations management. Wu says he likes Xavier because the student-professor interaction is easy with the small classes. A native of China, Wu says that students here, unlike those in China, have the opportunity to supplement their academics with part-time employment, putting what they learn in the classroom to work. Outside of Xavier, he enjoys spending time with his family.

Haiyin Anna Yu
Application Development

Have you ever become so frustrated with your computer that you were one pop-up ad away from traveling back into the dark ages of pencil and paper? This is not a feeling that Yu gets very often. Yu is in charge of the massive task of maintaining the computer Oracle databases for the University. If that isn’t stressful enough, at home she cares for three children ranging in age from 3 to 11 years.