President’s Residence

Click here to see a video slideshow narrated by the author of this piece.

Beneath a ceiling of stars, a colorful wooden lizard scales the wall while an iron buzzard perched on a high ledge surveys the landscape below. The airy office, which looks more like the work of a museum curator than an interior decorator, exhibits the heavy influence of the American Southwest. Framed photographs of the Arizona desert, horseshoes, wind chimes, painted pottery, woven textiles and the ubiquitous animal skull add to the scene. Meticulously carved Hopi Indian Kachina figures—religious effigies carved from dried cottonwood root—stand watch in this quiet haven where books are read, plans are made and music is played.

As the afternoon light filters through narrow windows and illuminates a collection of decorative crosses overhead, University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., eases into a wood-framed leather chair and props up his legs to relax. Beside him lies a red lectionary, a Bible and a notepad scrawled with thoughts for his next homily. This room, both a source of relaxation and reflection, doesn’t exist in the wing of a museum or a religious sanctuary, but on the fourth floor of the Commons residence hall, where upper-class students live in community and where Graham has made his home for the past five years.

“I call it my ‘Arizona Room,’ ” he says of the Southwest-styled office in his one-bedroom apartment. “It is somewhat of a built-in vacation place where I can relax.” Graham, who once lived in the Honors House (now the Women’s Center) at the edge of Ledgewood Drive and Victory Parkway, always enjoyed living among students. When the University converted the Honors House into the base of operations for campus police, he inquired about moving to the Village apartments. “[Then vice president for student development] Ron Slepitza suggested that since we were building a new dorm, the Commons, they could build a suite for me,” Graham says.

He rides the same elevators as iPod-clad students carrying their laundry from the basement and reads the same notices posted on the bulletin board hanging on the wall across from his front door. “I think there is a benefit to the students seeing me,” he says. “Presidents are generally not very accessible to students, so it is good for them to see me.”

It’s also good for them to talk to him. On Sunday evenings, Graham hosts group dinners for his collegiate neighbors. About 15 students arrive at 5:30 p.m. and Graham offers them a quick tour of the apartment before sitting down to eat. The looks on their faces as they look around the apartment seem to confirm that the space is the most uncommon place in the Commons. He takes them through the large, open living room furnished with dark leather couches that face one another, an inconspicuously large speaker that doubles as an end table and well-polished bamboo floors.

He leads them through his heavily decorated office where he explains the spiritual significance of the Hopi Kachina dolls. “I have a good friend who lives in Arizona whom I visit,” he says. “I discovered what a special place it was and began collecting Hopi Kachina spirit figures that are important to their agricultural cycle. On one of my trips, I became familiar with one particular artist out there who has been creating the Kachinas that I have been collecting one at a time over the course of the last few years.”

In his bedroom muted colors such as beige, burnt orange and gray further illustrate the Southwestern theme. Family pictures surround tiny plastic characters from “The Wizard of Oz” on a nearby table. “The Wizard of Oz has always been an important touchstone for my family,” he says. “The figures were a gift from a parishioner shortly after a homily I gave after my ordination using the Wizard of Oz in the homily. I’ve kept them ever since.”

Afterward, they join in a communal prayer before dishing hot lasagna and salad onto their plates while Graham makes sure everyone has enough to eat. He also occasionally hosts meals for resident assistants or student government association members in his apartment as well.

“These are basically to thank them for all they do,” he says.

As they finish their meal, Graham engages them in casual conversation to get to know them a little. The conversation slowly fades and one by one the students head out the door and back to their rooms, leaving Graham free to relax. He may work on a talk or homily, maybe check his e-mail. But no work. Presidential responsibilities stay in Schmidt Hall. This is home.

Common Ground

Christine Dacey sees her classes connected to a university in Paris. Steven Herbert sees a seamless blending of University services. Kandi Stinson sees revolutionary changes in teaching and learning. Debra Mooney sees opportunities to expand Jesuit spirituality. David Dodd sees a space teeming with students, all working collaboratively. Byron White sees a University more completely integrated with the greater community. As faculty and administrators involved with various University planning committees, the five all see the same thing-Xavier’s future. And the collective picture they paint is of a multi-faceted institution of teaching and learning that’s non-stop, high on flexibility, rich in technology, bursting with possibility and very, very exciting.

With the official kickoff of To See Great Wonders: The Campaign for Xavier on Sept. 29, the University turned the public spotlight on a massive building project that, both in concept and concrete, may well forever change both the way Xavier sees itself and the way the greater world sees Xavier. The James E. Hoff, S.J., Academic Quad is the centerpiece of this vision. An $86 million, state-of-the-art academic complex designed to meet the needs of 21st century students, it features four primary components-a new, multi-faceted Learning Commons, a new building to house the Williams College of Business and the graduate program in health services administration, a renovated University Library, and a fully renovated and modernized Alter Hall.

Beyond the purely academic, there’s also the Campus Village, a mixed-use retail and apartment development at Montgomery Road and Dana Avenue. Each of these components has its own allure, but none is more intriguing than the Learning Commons-the quad’s comprehensive educational focal point. As envisioned, it costs an estimated $28 million to build and encompasses just shy of 80,000 square feet spread over two or three floors, providing Xavier students with a broad range of facilities and technological resources.

Open around the clock, seven days a week, the commons blends services with a social, beyond-the-classroom learning environment reflective of current learning styles. It incorporates-at this stage of planning-the 8,750-square-foot Magis Plaza, which includes a cyber café with a 40-seat computer lab; a 300-seat, 4,500-square-foot auditorium; a 1,000-square-foot art gallery; and four 1,000-square-foot flexible classrooms that can be reconfigured with moveable walls to accommodate demands for larger or smaller class spaces.

“It’s one large learning space,” says Dacey, chair for the department of psychology. “I think it’s going to present a lot of opportunities for students and faculty to start thinking about learning beyond the classroom.”

If there are buzz phrases for the Learning Commons, “flexible spaces” and “learning beyond the classroom” are certainly high on the list. The strategy is deceptively simple: Create the best possible classroom and social environments for learning and teaching, provide wiring and other technological infrastructure that allow students to use today’s-and tomorrow’s-technology, place them all in adaptable spaces that can change with the times, and thus open the door for all kinds of possibilities.

Dodd, the University’s vice president for information resources and chief information officer, says the Commons is designed to reflect recent shifts in the learning paradigm of higher education. “We understand, far more than we ever have, that learning is a very broad activity that occurs within, and to a great extent, beyond the classroom,” he says. “And so what we’re about here is providing the facilities that will really support the learning that occurs beyond the classroom.”

“When you take smart people and you put them in a common space, things come out that you can’t envision,” says Herbert, chair of the department of physics. “And that is one of the primary goals of the Learning Commons. It’s a space where this interaction can take place naturally, without forcing people together.”

With a world of extracurricular commitments, students often begin serious study late in the evening. The Commons addresses these realities by providing around-the-clock access to work areas of varying sizes. Of course, there’s no question that today’s students also expect the best in technology. “They breathe it like air,” Herbert says. And it’s a financial reality that, to compete for the best students, the University must provide the best in technology. Xavier’s solution, however, goes one step further: Instead of merely accumulating computers and other equipment, which quickly become dated, the University plans to provide an infrastructure-including wiring, ports and jacks-that allows the Commons to adapt to changes in technology without requiring renovation.

Specifically, Dodd says, the Commons concept focuses on two types of technology-wireless technology that allows student to use laptops and other devices anytime, anywhere; and space-dependent technologies. The latter technologies include such things as large plasma-screen monitors that interface with student computers and real-time viewing of collaborative work done on several machines at once, rooms equipped with audio/video systems, and video-conferencing equipment that literally brings the world to the University.

Still, impressive as that feat is, it’s human interaction-student-to-student, faculty-to-faculty, student-to-faculty and University-to-community-that is the Commons’ lifeblood.

“I think this really could be a revolutionary change in the way that we teach and interact with our students,” Stinson says. “One of the most interesting aspects of the Learning Commons in my mind is that it brings together those spaces, functions, expertise etc. that support on the one hand faculty development and on the other hand student academic excellence. For the first time on this campus, we’re going to have those things not only in close geographic proximity, but close intellectual proximity as well.”

The proximity Stinson refers to encompasses the Commons’ service components, the first of which, the center for student excellence, provides academic support and services through its own sub-components-the career services center, the learning assistance center and the experiential learning laboratory for math, writing and modern languages.

“The concept is to have kind of a front porch for each of these centers,” Dacey says. “So if a student is wanting to improve himself he might go up to the writing center and then be right next door to perhaps the modern language lab. All of these would all be together instead of like now, where you have to walk across campus to another building.”

Dodd says the center for student excellence is a hallmark of the Commons. When completed, it may well be unique in American higher education: the only university-operated center focused on helping all students-not just those in need of remediation-achieve at their highest levels. The Commons’ second major service component is the center for teaching excellence, which provides professional development for faculty through its sub-components: the collaborative learning studio, the faculty fellows program, the center for interdisciplinary study and several experimental classrooms.

As with the rest of the Commons, its job is to open the door to imagination and innovation.

“I imagine we could be teaching a class and we could be connected with a university in Paris,” Dacey says. “We could connect our class to what’s going on with a speaker in another country. It could really be exciting. In the past we talked about having sister schools. But it’s been a big challenge. Now, as we enhance our technological support systems, we’ll be able to do those kinds of things much more easily.”

Plans call for the center for teaching excellence to be in close physical proximity to two other centers-the center for community-engaged learning and the institute for Jesuit education, a relationship carefully planned to maximize interaction. Dacey got a glimpse of the potential for this type of space during a subcommittee visit to the University of Dayton earlier this year-offices situated around a large commons space that virtually forces personnel from the various centers to come together. “This would bring those three units together in a way to help them kind of capture and enact the vision that we’ve already set for the University,” she says.

For Ignatian programs, this proximity provides the opportunity for an even more thorough integration of Jesuit educational principles into all facets of University life. “We often say we want to braid the mission of the University with people’s day-to-day work,” says Mooney, director for Ignatian programs. “In the new building, we want to expand on that.”

For example, along with broadened versions of Ignatian mentoring and educational programs, Mooney sees an opportunity to expand offerings for spirituality, such as retreats. “There’s an interest there that we haven’t been able to satisfy for faculty and staff,” she says. “We would like to be able to meet that interest, and also meet the interest of the faculty and staff who are desiring to experience the spiritual exercises.”

White, director for the center for community-engaged learning, says the new center, which replaces the old community building collaborative at Xavier, will serve as a coordinating point for a variety of initiatives involving both the University and the surrounding community. “You can see how these three things work together,” he says. “Teaching and learning is the center of what we do. But our values and tradition require us to emphasize two components of teaching and learning.

One of those is Jesuit identity. The other is community engagement. The idea of solidarity that’s mentioned in our mission statement implies that there’s learning that goes on in the mind and there is action that goes on connecting with people. And the combination of those is what shapes us and changes our hearts. This is a physical manifestation of that. It’s saying, ‘You want to come and see what learning looks like at Xavier? Here it is.'”

While some smaller aspects of the Commons’ project may change-and all of it is dependent on securing funding-the concept, focused tightly on student learning, has long been solidly in place. And it’s that very guiding concept that allows so many to see so many possibilities for both the Commons and larger Hoff Quad.

“The scope of the project is one of the things that sets it apart,” Stinson says. “We’re talking about two brand new buildings and major renovations of our central classroom building and the library. And those things are in conjunction with each other. That has allowed us to get more creative in thinking about the relationships between those things. I don’t see how you could not have a major impact when you’re doing that kind of large, really rethinking how we organize learning on campus.”

Dodd, not surprisingly, sees it a little differently. “One of the things that excites me about this is that, if we deliver it as planned, it will literally be a national model of excellence.”

Second Chances

The 51 bus squeaks to a stop at the corner of Dana and Ledgewood. Donna Fambro picks up her bag, grabs the railing and carefully walks down the steps. She moves to the sidewalk in front of the faded wooden bench, crosses the street and starts down Ledgewood into the heart of Xavier’s campus. Dressed in thin blue jeans, a beaded string belt, red platform shoes and a faded red bandanna wrapped around her graying head, she’s an incongruous presence on this traditional Catholic campus shows. But it’s much more than fashion.


At age 56, she’s not only twice the age of the young students sharing the sidewalks with her, she’s lived the hard and torrid life they have only read about in their textbooks. Drug abuse, alcoholism, heroin addiction, a year in state prison. What began as a life of hopes for Fambro was quickly drowned out by a childhood of violence, abuse and neglect. Happiness came at the end of a needle. Home was often in a car.

Rock bottom hit 12 years ago, just after she was released from prison and came to Cincinnati to start a new life. She hadn’t bathed in weeks. Her hair was matted and falling out. She was sick, desperate for a fix but too strung out to work. Finally, she called a drug counselor she knew and began, again, the nightmare of painful heroin withdrawal. Her real goal, she says, was to clean the drugs out of her system so she could get high again. But then she met a woman who changed her life.

The woman was everything Fambro wanted to be-a recovered drug user who “looked so professional, so good, she had her nails and hair done and nice clothes and a nice car, and for her to sit there and tell me she had shot dope, I couldn’t believe it.”

She even pushed up her sleeves and showed Fambro the tracks on her arms. “That she was living in the gutter like I lived in the gutter, and now looked like she did-I wanted to be like that.”

Fambro spent the next year in a halfway house and slowly began recovering pieces of the old self she’d lost long ago and discovering new pieces she never knew she had. She even began thinking about finishing the education she once started. Her daughter, a Xavier student, introduced her to the CAPS program-the Center for Adult and Part-time Students-which handles all students ages 22 and older. Fambro took the plunge and decided to enroll.

Now, twice a week, she sets aside her days to come to Xavier, where she is rebuilding the future she spent a lifetime destroying. And she’s not alone. Fambro is part of a steadily growing group of older adults who are taking advantage of the increasing opportunities for continuing education.

At Xavier, the enrollment of adults has grown at a rate exceeding that of the nation, where adult students make up about 4 percent of all college enrollment. In 1970, there were 2.4 million adult students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. By 2000, there were 5.9 million. Now they number an estimated 6.8 million.

Nearly 600 of them are on Xavier’s campus in any given semester. Some are older than others. All, however, are non-traditional students-people the University has always striven to attract. From the beginning of the Jesuit order, the mission has been to give opportunities to all students no matter their age, their socio-economic status or even, as in the case of Fambro, their torrid past.

Fambro briskly steps along toward her 8:30 a.m. sociology class, greeting others as they pass. “How you doing, sister,” she says. She gets to class early, but that’s by design. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she rises at 5:00 a.m. in the apartment she shares with her 16-year-old granddaughter, and packs herself a sandwich, some popcorn and a bag of carrots to nibble on to stave off the effects of her diabetes. At 7:15 a.m., she gathers her books and boards the bus for the 20-minute ride to campus.

She takes four classes both of those days, finishing around 6:00 p.m.-spending more than 10 hours on campus. Twice she’s stayed all night when the city was snowed in. But she doesn’t mind. When she’s at Xavier, she says, she feels safe. She finds quiet reflection in Bellarmine chapel, and her upbeat spirit is appreciated-she’s been known to dance a jig in class when she’s happy. And she’s not shy about sharing her life stories with classmates.

She could have finished her liberal arts degree a year ago but chose to pursue a degree in social work instead, hoping to help others by drawing on her own experiences. Encouraged by her advisor, she contacted state officials and learned they will consider waiving a ban on licensing ex-convicts if she submits proper documentation.

“I’m not going to let nothing stop me, sister,” she says, drawing on a cigarette. “I’m too old. A lot of people have helped me to get here, and I appreciate every penny I have put here, because what I have here is so worthwhile and valuable to me. As much money as I’ve wasted on drugs and alcohol, this is not going to be hard to pay it back, because I’m thankful to have an education.”

Until 1995, adult students at Xavier were treated much like traditional undergraduates. But when the numbers began to decline, the University realized it needed to change its approach to serve a student body clamoring for better options. It opened the weekend degree program, and the results were swift and rewarding.

“It was wildly popular,” says Mary Kay Meyer, interim director for CAPS. “Students couldn’t get this kind of program on the weekends at other institutions. At the same time, adult evening and day student numbers stayed the same, which told us our model met a previously unmet need in the market.”

The first year, 100 students enrolled, and by 2000, there were 335 weekend students, pushing the total number of degree-seeking adult students to 697. About 20 percent of all adult students have no previous college experience. Most, about 70 percent, are women, and about 20 percent are African American or other minorities-a telling reflection of the community’s workforce.

“It was because of the time frame,” Meyer says. “Saturday is just like another work day, but they have more opportunities for child care. Many say they can’t take more than one class in the evenings. When they choose weekends over nights, it’s because of the way it’s offered.” By attending two eight-week terms each semester, weekend degree students are considered part-time yet may complete 30 credit hours in the same amount of time as a full-timer at a fraction of the cost. And the accelerated format allows students to graduate in about four years. Most people do it in two.

On a balmy friday night in September, William Wyatt sits at the kitchen table cramming his theology and marketing homework. His friends are out having a beer. But Wyatt, 41, is bent on finishing his degree. After all, it’s been 15 years since he started school at a community college, working on a degree that never materialized after he was hired full time. Now he’s an information technology manager at Procter & Gamble.

“With the plant closings and downsizings, I was nervous because I didn’t have a degree,” Wyatt says. “But I also want to increase my business skills.”

By Saturday morning, his papers are written, and Wyatt leaves his wife and three children snug in their beds and drives to Xavier to discuss the merits of Buddhism or global economics. A light breeze outside rustles the drying leaves of an early fall on campus. The sound of a distant lawnmower creeps in. But Wyatt says it’s worth losing his Saturdays because his bachelor’s degree in business management will prepare him better for his job. The fact that P&G is paying for it makes it all the sweeter. And getting up on a Saturday morning is better than his last college program, which held classes two nights a week. He didn’t like missing his daughter’s volleyball games.

“The weekend program helped increase my family time,” he says. He intends on completing his M.B.A. “My company invests in me, and I take advantage of it and grow, and they reap the benefits, too. I think it works out for both of us.”

For the faculty, older, more mature students like Wyatt are a joy. They bring so much to the classroom because these students have lived-some more than others.

“You get dedicated learners,” says professor Art Shriberg, who’s been teaching adult students at Xavier since the mid-1990s. “They’re also verbal, articulate. They challenge me all the time. I teach them differently than I do undergrads. I create settings where learning can happen. They’re more likely to have experienced the world and to be able to integrate real life into the courses I teach. They all have a tale to tell.”

On the last day of his Saturday leadership course, Shriberg invites his graduating seniors to give their own commencement speeches. He invariably gets life stories that are moving: One man giddily told how it had taken him 14 years to finish his degree, while a woman explained how she needed to prove to herself that her brains were more important than her looks. She graduated with a 4.0 GPA.

But as the number of adult students has grown, so has the competition for their enrollment dollars. In addition to other area colleges, about a half dozen newcomers such as the University of Phoenix have moved into the region, offering combinations of on-site and online classrooms.

The effect is telling. Since that peak in 2000, Meyer has seen a slow decline in enrollment of weekend students, now at 277 this fall, and in CAPS students overall, now at 557. The University hired a consultant to study its enrollment picture, particularly those who apply but don’t enroll, and those who leave before completing their degrees. Meyer suspects cost is one cause. Also, the region’s economy may play a role. Many students’ tuition is paid for by their employers, and when the economy dips, so does the number of students.

Lori Stackpole is moving slowly. Very slowly. It’s a wintery Saturday morning, and her stomach is doing flip-flops. She drags herself from bed and tries to stem the feeling with juice and crackers. It doesn’t work, and she heads for the bathroom. Finally, after the queasiness ebbs, she grabs her books and keys and heads for the car.

Still queasy at the start of her 8:30 a.m. class, she checks to be sure she packed the crackers and prays her stomach settles down. Somehow she gets through the day. It’s been the same sequence nearly every Saturday since she learned in January she was pregnant.

Finishing her degree has been a long haul for Stackpole. She attended a community college in Georgia, continued part time when she moved to Florida so her husband could earn a chemical engineering degree and stopped altogether when they moved to Cincinnati for his job. A supervisor at her new job encouraged her to finish her degree. She started Xavier’s weekend program in 2001 and now, at age 31, she’s working full time and entering the final stretch for a bachelor’s degree in business management-a degree eight years in the making.

Then, boom, she learns she’s pregnant and must face the most difficult challenge yet to her long, drawn-out college career-morning sickness.

Such dedication is admirable, but not unusual, says Karol King, a longtime adjunct professor in the weekend program.

“It’s a huge commitment to work all week, and many of my students take morning and afternoon classes. That’s a whole Saturday, and I give homework. Then they have their jobs and their families. It’s not for everybody. I encourage them that once it’s finished, they’ll be glad.”

King’s theological foundations class is known for the intimate, personal discussions that always take place. Students analyze the similarities and differences of the world’s religions. The class is one of Artis Hickman’s favorites.

“Her class did a lot for me. I was so turned off from religion, and it definitely helped me.”

Hickman, like Stackpole, is one of those who might have quit long ago. His education began 20 years ago when he was in the Air Force and stationed in Korea. He always wanted to be an engineer, so he took some prerequisite courses. He took more classes after being reassigned back to the States after his mother’s death, but when Cincinnati Bell needed technicians, he retired from the Air Force and came to Cincinnati.

Yet he couldn’t resist the classroom, so in 2002 he started the weekend program. Though his work schedule disrupted his studies several times, he remains a part-time Saturday student, picking up some evening business courses. The last course to complete his degree is Spanish 102. It starts in January, and he’s dreading it.

“I have a brain freeze-part of my brain refuses to get it. People hate math. I love math. But Spanish is such a struggle.”

When he’s finished, he plans on starting an auto repair business. “It’s bittersweet now because it’s coming to an end, as much as I’d like to finish,” he says. “Maybe I’ll come back for a master’s degree.”

Profile: Kim Nuesse

Kim Nuesse
Bachelor of Liberal Arts, 2001 Police Chief, Sandusky (Ohio) Police Department

Changing Times | While working at the local McDonald’s as a teenager in the late 1970s, Nuesse quickly took note of the female police officer who often stopped by for coffee. At the time, there was still a lot of controversy about women doing traditionally male jobs, she says. “Seeing her and talking with her really inspired me to think, ‘This is something I can do.’ She was always very positive and she was very encouraging.”

Pursuing a Dream | After high school, Nuesse took classes at Xavier but still had an interest in law enforcement. In 1983, she decided to take a break from college to attend the police academy but first had to find a police department to sponsor her. “I went to many departments and was turned down repeatedly. They had one excuse or another, but it was obvious they didn’t like the idea of hiring a woman. I was frustrated.”

Taking a Chance | Xavier’s police department offered to sponsor Nuesse while she completed academy training. “At that time, University law enforcement agencies were more progressive, more diverse, so they were open to the idea and willing to try it.” Nuesse worked in university law enforcement at Xavier and the University of Cincinnati for six years before moving into different community police departments.

A Bright Idea | While working in Loveland, Ohio, Nuesse resumed classes at Xavier. A communications course sparked the idea for a television show called “Cop Talk,” which Nuesse hosted for two years on a cable access channel. “This was after the riots in Cincinnati, and I was hearing from a lot of minorities a lot of misperceptions they had about law enforcement.” She interviewed police officials, FBI agents and even the attorney general about different topics. The show, which attracted about 77,000 viewers a week, also included a segment on crime prevention and missing children.

Moving Up | The one-hour show aired until 2004 when she moved to the police department in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. “What brought me to Reynoldsburg from Loveland was a female police chief. I was very impressed with her. In my field there aren’t many female law enforcement executives, and I wanted to move up and advance in my career. I applied and competed for a lieutenant position so I could be mentored by her.”

Hail to the Chief | On Aug. 7, Nuesse was hired as the first female police chief for the city of Sandusky, where she oversees 56 officers in the heavy tourist area. After 20 years in law enforcement, she was happy to receive the news of her hiring. “It was a big moment of celebration in my house to have achieved a goal. It took a while to get here, but it was well worth it.”

Profile: Sandra Bergeron

Sandra Bergeron
Master of Business Administration, 1989 Chairman of the board, TriCipher; chairman of the board, TraceSecurity, Saratoga, Calif.

The Road West | A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Bergeron grew up in Atlanta and brought a bachelor’s degree in information systems to Cincinnati to work for Burke Marketing Services. While at Burke, she decided to pursue an M.B.A.

Shifting Gears | A software engineer by training, Bergeron spent the last 11 years working in the computer software and network security industry and for the past three years has lived in California’s Silicon Valley. In 1995, she was working for Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee, managing software engineers who were developing computer and network security systems when she was tapped to be the company’s senior vice president for U.S. sales.

M.B.A. Edge | Bergeron says it’s unusual for a software engineer to make a move into sales. “One of the reasons I was able to do that is that I had an M.B.A. So my M.B.A. from Xavier equipped me to broaden my career and not just get labeled a technical person.”

Corporate Planner | In 1997, McAfee merged with another company to become Network Associates, and Bergeron took over the new company’s security business unit as executive vice president of strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions. During that period, the company, which returned to the McAfee name in 2004, bought seven companies and divested four business lines.

Executive Mom | In 2003, Bergeron started a family—she now has three children under 3 years of age. “That’s the most important job I’ll ever have, being a parent,” she says. As a result, she decided to retire in 2005.

Moving On | Retirement in Bergeron’s case doesn’t include slowing down. She’s currently chairman of the board for two information security companies: TriCipher, which is involved with online authentication software, and TraceSecurity, which focuses on corporate security compliance management. For good measure, she also sits on the boards of two other security firms, the ArcSight Co. and Qualys.

Accolades for Excellence | Bergeron is considered one of the most influential women in information security and was named one of Information Security magazine’s “Top 25 Women of Vision” in 2003. She was also selected as the 2005 recipient of the alumni technology leadership award at her undergraduate alma mater, Georgia State University.

X-panding Reputation | Bergeron often encounters people in California “who recognize Xavier when they see I have an M.B.A. from there. The University has more recognition than we give it credit for.”

Profile: Suzanne Abel Burke

Suzanne Abel Burke
Master of Business Administration, 1988 Chief Executive Officer, Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio

I Quit | Burke has held a lot of jobs in her life—many high-powered—but there was only one she quit outright. As an 18-year-old, she worked at a bar in Fairfield, Ohio. On her first day she was told when she was done taking tickets at the door to go clean the bathrooms. She told them that cleaning bathrooms wasn’t in her job description, and she wasn’t coming back.

Horsing Around | She believes she developed her leadership skills from Tony the Pony, Kelly and Spirit. The string of horses she owned beginning at age 11 were fun but also taught her responsibility. Every day before and after school, she had to feed, water and brush them. Oh, and ride them, too.

Old Timers | She also spent a lot of time at her elderly neighbors’ house. “I used to tell the Dendlers when I was 6 years old, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to run a nursing home so I can take care of you.’ I loved hanging around with them.”

Crystal Ball | They must have made a positive impression, because she minored in gerontology while studying marketing at Miami University. Her first two jobs, in fact, were in promotions and administration at retirement communities.

The Business of Money | Wanting to build up her financial experience, Burke took a job as a budget analyst with Hamilton County, Ohio, in 1988—the same year she finished her M.B.A. at Xavier. Once her talents were spotted there, it would be a long time before she would work with the elderly again.

Promoted | She was promoted to assistant deputy director of the Child Support Enforcement Agency in 1990. The first week, the deputy director quit, and Burke was handed the job.

Again | It happened again in 1994 when she was promoted to chief financial officer of the Department of Human Services. Two years later, she was put in charge of managing the transfer of ownership of Riverfront Stadium to the county and the agreements with the Reds and Bengals in their new stadiums.

And Again | Since then, she’s been promoted to county budget director, where she was responsible for a $1.8 billion budget, then to director of the Department of Job and Family Services, and finally, to interim county administrator in 2005.

Full Circle | Burke left in 2005 for the Council on Aging because she wanted to get back to her first love—serving the elderly. The agency helps older people remain in their homes by providing trained employees to prepare meals, help with bathing and housekeeping, offer transportation, and train family caregivers. “Who wants to be in an institution?” Burke says, recalling her elderly friends. “We want to make sure there are many alternative choices for these people.”

Profile: Gretchen Schmidt

Gretchen Schmidt
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1979
President and CEO, Franklin Savings and Loan, Cincinnati

Family Funds | Schmidt is carrying on the family business that began in the German immigrant neighborhoods of Over-the-Rhine and East Walnut Hills with simple transactions to help neighbors buy homes. A loosely organized association of business owners collected savings from residents and offered it to the highest bidder one night a week.

Father of Thrift | Schmidt’s grandfather, 1929 alumnus Henry Siemers, had a hand in selecting the new name, after the father of thrift Ben Franklin, shortly after World War II. Franklin’s origins date back to 1883 with the founding of the Green Street No. 2 Loan and Building Co., which consolidated with the Bremen Street Loan and Building to form Franklin.

Banking on the Future | Henry Siemers entered the building and loan business in 1923 when he was 17. By the time Schmidt was a young girl, he was the company president. She remembers him driving a convertible and smoking cigars. During his tenure, the company became a daytime operation in 1952.

In the Bank | Her father, Thomas Siemers, a 1953 and 1961 Xavier graduate, took over from his dad in 1968. Thomas led the company through its biggest growth period with mergers and buyouts of other building and loans. He remains chairman.

In the Money | Though Schmidt thought about becoming a teacher, she knew her future was pretty much sealed. After all, she’d worked in the family business every summer since she was a sophomore in high school.

Small Change | “We want to be a bank for the community. It’s better for the consumer because we’re smaller, and we pride ourselves on customer service and knowing their names.”

Smart Investment | Schmidt has been involved with Franklin for more than 30 years. She’s worked in every department—as a teller, and in accounting, lending, human resources and benefits—and was the chief operations officer.

Overdrawn | Franklin weathered Ohio’s S&L crisis in the mid-1980s when many S&Ls had to close. It’s always been insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and is one of about 25 remaining local savings and loans.

New Interest | This summer, Schmidt was promoted to president and CEO and is now responsible for a business with $300 million in assets, 65 employees and seven branch locations. “It’s just something I’m familiar and comfortable with and now there are new opportunities.”

Seeing Blue | Schmidt has seen to it that the family’s Xavier legacy continues: Her oldest son is an assistant baseball coach at Xavier, another son is a senior and her youngest son is a freshman baseball recruit. The family’s bread and butter may be green, but, she says, “We bleed blue.”

Schott in the Arm

When the University launched the To See Great Wonders campaign in September, the Learning Commons received an immediate boost from an old-line Cincinnati family with a very familiar name. The Marge and Charles Schott Family Foundation stepped forward to contribute $3 million for the Commons’ construction, and the building’s atrium will be named in their honor. Gary Massa, vice president for University relations, says the gift underscores Xavier’s role as a valued partner in the Greater Cincinnati community and, in particular, builds on Marge’s longstanding belief in and support of Catholic education.

“We are truly honored the Schott foundation chose Xavier University for such a generous gift,” Massa says. “Marge Schott and the Schott family have a long, respected tradition of civic, community and educational support that extends throughout Greater Cincinnati and beyond. We are very appreciative to be included in that tradition.”

Dewy Decimal goes Digital

The times are indeed a changin’—and the move from printed books to electronic volumes is undeniable. Still, the University library registered 270,000 visits last year. So when the library is renovated and attached to the high-tech Learning Commons as part of the planned Hoff Academic Quad, don’t expect the shelves to be empty. Rather, the new library will be a carefully blended mixture of the old and new.

“We aren’t looking to throw away tradition and history and a grounded approach to learning research,” says library director JoAnne Young. “We want to add a dimension that fits today’s environment, brings excitement to learning and brings the historic thing into an environment of usefulness.”

Regarding actual physical library space, Young envisions a facility with a wide array of accommodations—lounge-like areas where small groups of students can gather for focused, collaborative study and discussion; a formal reading room; and, yes, areas where students can sit alone, reading quietly and reflecting.

Computers or computer access points are spread throughout the building, and resources in the library are being blended, Young says. For example, the reference desk is to be staffed both by library services personnel and computer technicians. This means students facing technology issues in the midst of a project can get all of the help they need on-site, without having to contact an office elsewhere on campus. Then there’s the question of student time preferences. “Students like to work in the evening, so we need to have professional staff available at their peak times,” Young says. “We already have a lot of technology-based resources. Our expectation is that these changes we see from our synergy will allow us to add even greater depth and dimension to what we have available.”

Campaigning at a Glance

The To See Great Wonders campaign will enable the University to revolutionize the student learning experience and dramatically enhance the campus environment. Its priorities include:

  • The James E. Hoff, S.J., Academic Quad, a contemporary teaching and learning environment anchored by two facilities, a dramatic stairway leading from the Academic Mall and a gateway to campus.
  • The Learning Commons, an integrated facility that brings together students and faculty in a setting where they can engage in thought-provoking discussions, interact with advisors or leadership specialists, access research on learning and education, and learn team-building skills.
  • The Williams College of Business’ new building, which incorporates teaching and collaborative spaces that enable students, local business leaders, faculty and staff to learn from each other in ways that enrich the Xavier experience.
  • The Campus Village, a college town environment with student housing and retail businesses.
  • Growth of the endowment, which provides the student scholarships and faculty resources necessary for success.
  • Expanded student housing that not only enriches the lives of students but strengthens the living/learning environment.
  • Enhanced recreation and athletic facilities to support students, faculty and staff in developing healthy lifestyles.
  • Adequate and accessible parking to serve the multitude of activities and resources while at the same time protecting the aesthetic beauty of campus.

For news, videos and virtual tours of the campus transformation, visitwww.xavier.edu/greatwonders.