Roger Fortin began teaching at Xavier in 1966 and is an authority on U.S. history and the American Revolution. His newest book, To See Great Wonders: A History of Xavier University 1831-2006, was written in time for the University’s 175th anniversary. Fortin says doing the book “is almost like writing about your family.”
What did you enjoy about writing this book? I got to know some of the people in the earlier years before I was even around, so the timeline is not just knowing people for 35 or 40 years but knowing people going back 70 years. People I talked to made me aware of people they had known, so a lot of the things I learned were the result of oral history. When I started doing the research, I discovered I remembered their names and that person came even more alive.
How does your book differ from earlier Xavier histories? The new book is more substantial. There are some similar facts, but you’ll also see in the new book a fuller account of these facts and more interpretation because a lot more has been written about American higher education in the last 25 years that allows me to put the story of Xavier in a broader context.
What did you learn about Xavier?I learned how the threads of continuity run through the history of Xavier. In the 1840s, the Jesuits were very concerned about educating students intellectually, morally and spiritually, and about the welfare of the community where they lived, and today we’re doing the same thing.
Lehigh University, Ph.D. in History, 1969
University of New Hampshire, Master of Arts in History, 1964
Saint Francis College, Bachelor of Arts in History, 1962
Prior to becoming academic vice president, he was the dean of Edgecliff College from 1980-1984 … has published four books including Faith and Action: A History of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati 1821-1996 in 2002.