Xavier Magazine

Extra Credit: Margaret McDiarmid

Part of the Jesuit mission is giving students a worldly view. One of the ways the University achieves this is through its study abroad program, which places students all over the globe, from the Nether-lands to Australia. We cornered program director Margaret McDiarmid and quizzed her about how study abroad fits into the college experience.

What makes studying abroad so important? “If the liberal arts philosophy is to open your mind, to learn about the world, to come out of your little box, there’s no better way than studying abroad. You learn as much about yourself as you do about the culture you’re visiting. And it enhances any discipline: biology, accounting, it doesn’t matter.”

Isn’t sending a college student halfway around the world a bit much? “Hey, everybody should experience culture shock at sometime in their life. I’ve never had a student come back and say, ‘I regret doing that; it was the worst thing I’ve ever done.’ Every challenging moment that might seem like a catastrophe when they’re over there becomes an adventure and a great story by the time they come home. And everyone benefits by learning that the whole world does not live like I do.”

So why doesn’t everyone do it? “Money. The fundamental challenges is how to encourage study abroad and make it affordable for everyone and not just those who are financially able to take advantage of it. It’s a very difficult question. And some students just don’t want it. You still get the argument from some students: ‘I’m going to live my life perfectly fine living right here and speaking English.’ That’s decreasing, though. We’re actually receiving an increased number of students who come here expecting to study abroad.”

Xavier Magazine

Crosstown Kings

Last season’s 69-67 win was Xavier’s fourth in five tries in the annual steel-cage death match against Cincinnati. Only once before in the 68-game history of the Crosstown Shootout has Xavier enjoyed such a stretch of dominance. The Musketeers also won four of five (and three straight) in the ’80s, but those victories, sweet as they might have been, came against an inferior breed of Bearcat. The current run of success includes wins over UC teams ranked No. 1 (twice) and No. 17. This season’s Shootout on Friday, Dec. 14, will be the first in the Cintas Center, where Romain Sato (below) and the Musketeers will try and add to the victories listed below.

Xavier 69, No. 17 Cincinnati 67 Dec. 14, 2000 Shoemaker Center Lloyd Price stole the ball from Steve Logan and scored on an acrobatic layup to give Xavier a 68-67 lead with 32.2 seconds to play. The Musketeers, who trailed by 15 points in the first half, used a 13-0 run to build a seven-point lead with 4:08 to play. UC rallied to take a two-point lead, setting the stage for Price’s heroics. UC guard Kenny Satterfield missed a floater at the buzzer.

Xavier 66, No. 1 Cincinnati 64 Dec. 18, 1999 Cincinnati Gardens Kevin Frey made two free throws with 29 seconds to play to put Xavier ahead, 64-62. The sophomore then roared past All-American center Kenyon Martin to score again, giving the Musketeers a 66-62 lead with 8.9 seconds to play. Top-ranked UC trailed by as many as 11 points before regaining the lead with 6:07 remaining. The game was also tied with 1:43 to play.

No. 7 Xavier 88, Cincinnati 68 Dec. 13, 1997 Cincinnati Gardens Guards Lenny Brown and Gary Lumpkin scored 23 points each to lead Xavier to its biggest rout of UC since a 26-point bludgeoning in 1957. The Musketeers broke open the game with a 20-1 scoring blitz late in the first half. Trailing by 15 at the half, UC cut the margin to nine points in the first eight minutes of the second half, but an 11-0 run by Xavier ended the threat.

Xavier 71, No. 1 Cincinnati 69 Nov. 26, 1996 Shoemaker Center Lenny Brown’s running one-hander at the buzzer lifted Xavier to the upset of No. 1 UC. Neither team ever led by more than six points. Cincinnati had a 68-63 lead with 1:28 to play, but James Posey scored with six seconds left to tie the game at 69-69. UC then turned the ball over, setting the stage for Brown’s game-winning basket. Brown led all scorers with 19 points.

Photo by Brett Hansbauer

Xavier Magazine

This Old House

It won’t be on a Hollywood tour of famous homes anytime soon, or in the Architectural Digest book of celeb-rity houses. But the white stucco bungalow with the Spanish tile roof that graces the corner of Victory Parkway and Ledgewood Drive is arguably one of the University’s—and Cincinnati’s—most historic properties. Adorned with the architectural elegance of previous eras but worn from decades of poor upkeep, the Villa, as it is now known, is the one-time residence of silent movie star Theda Bara.

Born in neighboring Avondale, Bara became an immensely popular film star in the early 20th century, ranking alongside Clara Bow and Charlie Chaplin in fame. Through her career of more than 40 movies, she evolved into one of Hollywood’s first sex symbols, flirting with the camera with her dark eyes and pushing the limits of acceptable dress long before Marilyn Monroe and Madonna were on the scene. It was Bara who coined the frequently misquoted line, “Kiss me, my fool,” and gave new meaning to the word “vamp” after playing a female vampire in her first major film, A Fool There Was, in 1915.

Though the details about her life in the Villa are blurry, it’s known that during the 1920s the 12-room Hollywood Mediterranean-style residence was one of the places she called home. The University acquired the Villa in 1979 in a six-building deal from Joseph Link Jr., a professor emeritus of economics. Included in the package were three apartment buildings—Linkshire, University and Manor House—along with Fraternity House and the Tudor Lodge. The University initially used the Villa as a residence for nuns on the faculty, and had plans to convert the estate into an alumni center. Before that happened, though, a housing crunch in the 1990s led to the building being modified into student housing—up to 14 people can live there.

Today, even amidst the modern refrigerators and dormitory furniture, one can still see glimpses of the glamour and style the home once held for Bara.

A smooth stone walkway winds from Victory Parkway up to the house, cutting a path between large, stately trees that cast afternoon shadows over the plush front lawn. The passage undoubtedly created a grand entrance to the home during Bara’s era, when the neighborhood was more residential and the street less of a speedway.

At the end of the pathway, a semicircular portico graces the front of the home, with its archways supported by spiraling columns that are topped with Corinthian acanthus leaf capitals. Three sets of French doors flood the front entryway with light, illuminating a Gothic fireplace decorated with Baroque volutes and Mesopotamian rosettes— symbols of fertility. The glass in each door is adorned by decorative Moorish tracery.

Exposed timbers with faint traces of painted designs stretch across the ceiling, while various hand-carved tiles beautify the floor underneath. Off the entryway in what was probably once a formal dining room, a gilded cornice encircles the domed ceiling with carvings of ram heads mounted in each corner. Both original bathrooms sport Rookwood tiles in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, while the larger one has a picture of cherubs and seagulls in raised pattern tiles over the bathtub.

The amalgamation of architectural styles continues throughout—a common trait to these types of homes, says Jerome Pryor, S.J., associate professor of art. Such eclectic mixtures are prevalent in Southern California, he says, lending credence to the account that Bara wanted her house here to match her Hollywood home.

The complete history of Bara’s time in the house, though, remains a mystery. A Cincinnati Enquirer article quotes Link as saying, “[Bara] came back and lived here two years in the ’20s, but got sinus like everyone else in Cincinnati, and moved back to California.” However, Eve Golden, author of Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara, claims that the film star simply rented the house and used it for several years with her husband as a stopover point when traveling between New York and California.

Either way, the home has the amenities worthy of someone of Bara’s status—a walk-in cedar closet, a dumbwaiter that goes downstairs, and a separate servants entrance on the side of the house.

The grandeur of the house’s glory days is becoming somewhat lost to the ravages of time and necessity. Gently arched doorways have been covered to create walls as part of the conversion into student housing. Detailing is being lost to deterioration. No renovations are planned, though. Still, the students who live there don’t mind.

“The students love the house even though they have to share it with so many people,” says Cindy Lowman-Stieby, campus manager for student apartments and houses. “It’s so big and spacious and has a lot of character. They like it because it’s older and not perfect and not beige.”

Which is understandable—beige would not be suitable for a star of the silver screen.

Xavier Magazine

the Heart of the Matter

It was a week before Christmas and Becky Scheve was gathered with a medical team around the hospital bed of Asia Miller. The discussion wasn’t a joyous one about the holidays, but a grim one about whether Miller would live to see her first birthday on Dec. 23. Born with multiple heart defects, holes were developing in her heart muscle and the strain was taking its toll. If she didn’t get a new heart, she would die within days.

Witnessing this struggle was part of Scheve’s introduction to her new job. Less than a month earlier, the 1999 graduate began training as a transplant coordinator for LifeCenter, Greater Cincinnati’s organ procurement organization. Her career would now revolve around people like Miller—those on the verge of death, desperately needing an organ transplant.

Scheve’s job is to be their voice, to approach the families of brain-dead individuals and ask for their permission to remove the organs of their loved one so they can be transplanted in someone in need.

“The hardest part of my job is walking through the door and facing the family for the first time,” says Scheve. “I have to separate myself from realizing that while I’m doing my job, there’s a family on the other side of the door that’s going through the most terrible time of their life.”

The hardest part is never knowing how the families of potential donors are going to react. Some are gracious. Some are in shock or denial and can’t think straight. Others become angry that she would even ask and start screaming.

“I’ve never personally been yelled at, but there are times when it happens, especially in trauma cases,” says Scheve. “They don’t understand and they’re angry, and unfortunately, if we’re there at the wrong time, their anger comes toward us.”

By law, area hospitals must contact LifeCenter when a potential organ donor exists. Since organ donors must be legally brain dead, most have experienced some sort of life-ending stroke, brain tumor or trauma, such as a severe car accident. When LifeCenter receives a call, Scheve or one of the other four transplant coordinators heads to the hospital, where they will spend anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour with a potential donor’s family. Their approach: compassionately try to educate them on the benefits of organ donation, about how it can turn a tragedy into a miracle by using their loved one’s death to save other lives.

The advances of technology and medicine have made it possible to save the lives of those with failing organs who, in previous generations, would have simply died long, slow, sometimes painful deaths. Now, someone who donates all organs and tissues suitable for transplantation can help up to 50 people. Even organs not suitable for transplantation can be used for medical research.

And there’s a huge need. Nationally, the waiting list of those needing an organ transplant is more than 76,000, with a new name being added to the list every 14 minutes. Tragically, an average of 16 people on the list die daily.

In Cincinnati, nearly 300 people are in line for a new heart, kidney, liver or pancreas. Some are too sick to leave the hospital, and must walk around its halls pulling a computer that sends wireless signals to the nurses station so their vital signs can be constantly monitored. Others are given pagers, knowing that when it sounds they must rush to the hospital and undergo a transplant.

Sometimes, though, such statistics and logic aren’t compelling enough, and families still say no. Last year, roughly 100 or so local donors were identified, but only 47 families said yes. This year, that number is down dramatically. Nationally, only about 35 percent of potential donors actually donate.

To donate organs, most people assume they just need to sign the back of their driver’s license, but that’s not the case. The driver’s license indicates your intent to donate, but it is not legally binding. The family has to give consent after your death, says Mark Sommerville, LifeCenter’s director of education and development.

“The coordinators have a tough job because the patient is still warm to the touch and the families can see the heart beating and the chest moving because of the ventilator,” Sommerville says. “Becky has to assess whether the family has accepted that the loved one is actually dead, or if they’re just in denial.”

“I want to give them information and explain the process to them,” says Scheve. “But I’m not there to coerce them.”

The most difficult scenario for Scheve is when a patient has signed his driver’s license, yet the family refuses to give consent.

“It’s so hard because you want to grant the patient’s last wish, but you can’t,” she says. “You feel like you’ve failed because you know there’s somebody out there who these organs could have saved. You just walk out of the room defeated.”

The excuses she hears are often all too familiar. Families tell Scheve they want their loved one to go to Heaven with all his or her parts, that they don’t want the loved one to be cut up, or that they’ve simply never discussed it with the deceased and feel uncomfortable making the decision on their own.

Fortunately, there are times when LifeCenter’s efforts are successful. Since 1999, LifeCenter’s overall consent rate has been more than 50 percent.

“I’ve even gotten a few phone calls from nurses telling me a family’s already brought it up and wants me to come in and talk to them about it,” says Scheve. “Some will say, ‘Take whatever you want, I just want someone to benefit from this.’ Other times I’ll leave the room for a few moments and the family will come back to me with consent.”

Once a family consents, a chain of events is set into motion. Scheve coordinates all lab tests on the donor, adjusts medications to keep the donor in good condition until the organs can be recovered, runs a recipient match list for each organ from the national computer system, and begins contacting the physicians of potential recipients.

The computer system contains the name, medical information and location of every person in the country waiting for an organ. Recipients are prioritized by severity of illness, length of time on the waiting list and region. The sickest person who’s been on the list the longest and in the geographic area closest to the organ gets the call. When all the recipients are found, Scheve goes to the operating room with the donor.

“The coordinator continues to document everything, right up to making sure the ambulance is at the airport if an organ is going out of town,” says Sommerville. “Her job’s not done until the organs are at the transplant centers and ready for transplant.”

All this happens in a tight time frame. Hearts must be transplanted within four hours, livers in 12 to 18.

Scheve recalls juggling three cases in one day at Cincinnati’s University Hospital.

“Emotionally, it’s trying because you’re focused on one case and you have to go on to another. It’s just nonstop,” she says. “I started on Saturday night and worked through the middle of Sunday night.”

Transplant coordinators report to the office on weekdays, but are on call for 24-hour periods six to eight times each month. Sommerville says LifeCenter looks for health care professionals with critical care experience. That made Scheve a perfect candidate. After earning a nursing degree from the University of Cincinnati, she worked in critical care at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital for five years.

Xavier Magazine

Future Now

Maggie King strolls down to the banks of the Little Miami River. The babble of water rippling over rocks provides a welcome respite from the usual workday sounds. It’s taken awhile, but the associate professor of nursing is finally letting go of the overwhelming busyness of her normal schedule and starting to unwind. She’s in the middle of a three-day retreat at the Milford Spiritual Center, a relaxing and religiously uplifting “gift from the University,” as she calls it. King’s streamside reflection comes after spending the morning with a spiritual mentor, receiving gentle guidance on how to listen to God by listening to herself and the things around her. The retreat is part of a two-year personal development process she and 29 others took part in called Assuring the Future of Mission and Identity at Xavier, or AFMIX. The University created AFMIX in 1999 as a means of accomplishing two tasks: One, to provide a professional development opportunity for employees that allows them to create a mission-focused mentality to their work. And, two, to train lay persons to fulfill some of the mission and identity work traditionally carried out by the Jesuits, whose numbers are dwindling.

Ironically, it wasn’t the Jesuits who initiated the AFMIX concept, but rather some University employees. They were familiar with the stresses being placed on the Jesuits—and that those stresses are only going to increase in the future—so they approached George Traub, S.J., director for Ignatian programs, about creating a program that would allow lay people to help preserve the University’s Jesuit nature.

“What makes AFMIX noteworthy,” says University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., “is that it’s an initiative that emerged from staff, faculty and administrators themselves, so it’s their way of carrying forward the mission and identity of the University.”

The idea is unique among the country’s 28 Jesuit institutions and is exactly what was needed, says Traub. “We constantly need to ask ourselves, ‘Are we empowering lay people so they have what they need to carry on the Jesuit tradition?’ ” he says.

AFMIX was placed under the direction of Ignatian programs, which develops spiritual-related programs. The University spent nearly a year combining the successful aspects of other programs into AFMIX, says Traub, with the result being this two-year series of programs—or a “process”—that is broken down into three components: education, spiritual development and service.

The first year includes reading, prayer, reflection and a series of seminars on Igna-tian spirituality, Jesuit history and Jesuit education. Using the book Finding God in All Things, participants are guided through St. Ignatius’ spiritual exercises. The second year includes self-evaluation and weekly seminars on topics such as scripture, ethics, listening skills and group dynamics.

“What you find out is that people respect you for who you are, not what you do,” says participant Pati Haney, administrative secretary in the department of education. “I felt awkward sitting next to people with Ph.D.s, because I thought I might not understand the material the same way they did. But you realize, it doesn’t matter what degrees or work responsibilities you have; we’re all on a level playing field as far as Ignatian programs are concerned.”

As they progress through the AFMIX process, participants begin planning and producing some of the University’s Ignatian programs that have been traditionally handled by the Jesuits.

The first class, which graduated from the process in the spring, now is helping produce Manresa—the new student and employee orientation—departmental colloquia and other programs.

A second AFMIX class began this fall, and, again, not all participants are Catholic.

“At no time have I ever felt uncomfortable being a Protestant at Xavier,” says Philip Glasgo, associate professor of finance. “In fact, I worked on a committee to develop a program for AFMIX with a Jewish person and a Hindu. In AFMIX, you see that a large number of Jesuit principles are embraced by other faiths. The most obvious is finding God in all things.”

Where the participants find God the most is in themselves. It changes you, says Haney. At least it did her. She admits she was a “hard sell” when she was first approached about joining AFMIX. She has five children and a hectic job. Today, though, she says she not only has a better understanding of herself, but also in what she does.

“I believe,” she says, “it’s made me a better mother, better wife, better colleague, better person.”

Xavier Magazine

Climbing Mt. Debt

College students nationwide are facing a problem more daunting than anything the toughest professor can dish out—credit card debt. According to a 2000 analysis done by student loan provider Nellie Mae, 78 percent of students age 18-25 now have at least one credit card, up from 67 percent in 1998, and they’re graduating with $2,748 in credit card debt, up from $1,879. Calculating an annual percentage rate of 18 percent and making only the minimum monthly payments, it would take a student 15 years to pay off the card. It’s a plague that’s infecting campuses around the country, including Xavier.

The problem, say those familiar with the issue, is twofold: the student’s financial inexperience, and changes in lending regulations in the early 1990s that now allow 18-year-olds to obtain credit cards without a parent’s cosignature.

Following the legal changes, banks and credit card companies began working their way onto campuses. Today, they see college students as a prime market audience. They staple application forms onto classroom bulletin boards right next to the roommate-wanted signs and movie posters. They have telemarketers call the dorms, offering immediate approval over the phone. They set up tables on campus and at popular spring break destinations, baiting students with incentives such as free shirts or hats to get them to fill out an application.

“They’re dangling toys in front of them to get them to sign,” says Tom Barlow, Xavier’s director for auxiliary services. “I did not feel Xavier should condone solicitations that could cause harm to the students.”

Barlow has taken Xavier further than many colleges in an effort to counteract this growing trend. Credit card solicitations are prohibited on campus. If students want a credit card, they should make the decision after talking to their families, not after being sweet-talked by marketers. He’s also helped create the financial aspect of the University’s wellness program.

“People usually think of wellness as mental, physical and social, but one of the central aspects of wellness is financial,” Barlow says. “The most miserable thing a person can do is get in a hole and find they’re not financially stable.”

Students at Xavier would soon agree. members of the student government association worked to keep solicitors off campus and to make sure telephone information isn’t sold to companies, says SGA president Mark Mallett, a senior. Mallett’s seen firsthand the effects of the presence of credit card companies on a campus—he has friends who are inundated with phone calls and personal solicitations. “I know one guy in particular who got two cards and used them,” he says. “Now he’s paying them off and wishing he had never gotten them.”

Another way the University is working to keep students financially healthy is through the All Card—the student ID card that doubles as a prepaid money card. “The key factor is it’s a prepaid debit program, not debt,” says Barlow. “It was established after a parent focus group met in 1993. Parents today still feel very strongly about Xavier only doing prepaid debit type programs.” The All Card Center, in conjunction with Firstar Bank, offers free workshops each semester to teach students good financial management. Topics include Your Credit History, Spotting Credit Trouble and Creating Good Credit.

Offering financial management assistance is a part of Firstar’s duties as the University’s official bank, no matter what bank the student uses.

“Students who find themselves in credit card debt can come to us and ask us for advice and we’ll sit down with them and come up with a solution,” says Jim Marshall, Firstar’s senior vice president of group banking. “There’s a concept in student wellness that students shouldn’t be behind the eight ball when they leave. Xavier takes a concentrated look at what students should and shouldn’t be leaving college with, and they shouldn’t be leaving with a lot of debt.”

Xavier Magazine

Profile: De Asa Nichols

De Asa Nichols wants to make a positive impact on race relations in Cincinnati. But you won’t see her marching in a protest or boycotting any businesses. Quite the contrary, in fact. Her approach is from the other side—support, assist and build up the businesses so they become large and powerful enough that their whispers are louder and heard more clearly than the screams of those on the street.

The business administration graduate became the executive director of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce in April. At 33, she’s the youngest person the chamber’s ever hired as its leader, but she already has the track record of a seasoned veteran in Cincinnati’s black business community—and the energy to push it to new heights.

Last January, the chamber began searching for an industrious business professional who knew the region to replace its outgoing executive director. Nichols, meanwhile, was searching for a new challenge professionally. The two seemed destined to cross.

Nichols’ career actually got its launch while she was still at Xavier. She earned an internship at Applause! magazine, and after graduating in 1992, management of the black lifestyle magazine hired her full time. She was put in charge of special pro-jects, including its prestigious Imagemaker Awards, which honors the region’s outstanding African Americans. The job introduced Nichols to many influential people in the black community—and them to her. Over the next several years, her efforts and skills brought her quite a bit of notice and recognition. She went on to garner her own Imagemaker Award in 1998 as an emerging leader; she was featured on the cover of Minority Business News USA; and was named the National Association of Women Business Owners’ 2000 Public Policy Advocate of the Year.

After leaving Applause! in 1995, she started her own public relations and promotions business while also heading the Greater Cincinnati Chamber’s minority business mentoring program. Her work caught the attention of the Lexington, Ky., chamber, which lured her away in 1999 to become its first minority business development director.

Now she’s back in Cincinnati, where she expects to expand the Greater Cincinnati African Amer-ican Chamber, which just turned 5 years old and already has 700 members. Other challenges she faces include educating people who confuse it for the NAACP or the Urban League, teaching those who question the need for a separate African Amer-ican chamber, and fighting for the area’s black-owned businesses, which still face prejudices.

“Times have changed, yes, but mindsets haven’t,” she adds. “If the Chamber and I have anything to do with it, minds are going to change. We have to advocate, agitate and aggravate to let people know that we want to be involved in the community we live in. I’m energized by the work I do because I know it will make an impact on this community for generations to come. When this region is ready to grow, expand and develop, we want to be there.”

Xavier Magazine

Profile: Douglas French

Douglas French runs a $6 billion company with 87,000 employees. He knows business. So tap him for the secret of successfully running such a massive corporation and his answer is simple: kayaking. Forget about all that lunchtime advice from Morrie and the habits of other people. Business, he says, is like kayaking on a lake. If the water’s calm, you can see the island ahead, even if it’s miles away. If it’s a little stormy, your vision is limited to about six waves ahead. If it’s really stormy, all you can see is the wave coming at you. Most of his operations, he says, are so swamped they can only deal with the wave breaking over the bow. It’s his job to stay calm, keep the distant goals in sight and steer everyone that direction. Maybe it doesn’t have the makings of a bestseller on the business management book table, but it’s a philosophy the 1979 graduate paddled to the office of president and chief executive officer of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest not-for-profit health system. French ascended into Ascension’s top post in January after 21 years of rowing his way through company waters. French, who earned his master’s degree in hospital administration, always knew he would work in a hospital. As a teenager, he spent three years working at Good Samaritan Hospital in his native Cincinnati, which sparked his interest in medicine. He followed the premed course at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn., with the idea of spending his life diagnosing diseases. He even got a job in a physician’s office for the experience. But while working there, he met one of the patients, who also happened to be the CEO of a local hospital. The two chatted about hospital administration, and a new seed was planted.

“I realized that was the path I wanted to take,” he now says from his St. Louis office. “I think it’s worked out well.”

To fulfill the residency requirement that’s part of Xavier’s hospital administration program, French went back to Nashville, working at St. Thomas Hospital, a Catholic hospital that’s now part of the Ascension chain. It was, he says, a good fit. “I have a strong personal faith, and being in a faith-based environment is important for me,” he says. “But there’s just something different about a Catholic hospital. You walk in and can feel it.”

The difference is that cost is second to care. The very core of Ascension’s mission is serving everyone, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable. Last year, Ascension provided $335 million in free care at its 75 facilities, which cover 20 states and range from inner-city Detroit to rural Dumas, Ark. It’s also the central struggle French faces daily. “Balancing the needs of the poor with the rising costs is the biggest tension we have,” he says. “But we’re big and strong enough that we can weather future storms, partially because we’re living more off invested money than operating income.”

It’s a smart way of doing business—obviously done by someone who’s looked beyond the first few waves.

X Factors

The following graduates are part of Ascension Health’s management team:

• Douglas French ’79, CEO

• Charles J. Barnett ’78, Sr. VP, south division

• Marsha Ladenburger ’79, Sr. VP, healthcare innovation and evolution

• Vincent Caponi ’72, CEO, Central Indiana system

• Bob Cook ’90, Director, loss prevention and program services

• David J. Boswel ’91, Director, organizational safety

• Jim Duff ’62, board of trustees

Who is Ascension? Ascension is a national Catholic health ministry with a network of hospitals and healthcare facilities that provides acute, long-term, community health, psychiatric, rehabilitation and residential care.

It is the nation’s largest not-for-profit health care organization. It has 63 acute care, three acute long-term care, 17 long-term care, five psychiatric, two rehabilitation, two adult residential and 103 community health care facilities. It has more than 1,400 physicians and 87,000 employees in 20 states.

Unlike many health care organizations, though, Ascension places a strong emphasis on serving all persons, with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. Its Catholic health ministry is dedicated to spiritually centered, holistic care that sustains and improves the health of individuals and communities,, and through its mission is called to:

Service of the Poor – generosity of spirit for persons most in need;

Reverence – respect and compassion for the dignity and diversity of life;

Integrity – inspiring trust through personal leadership;

Wisdom – integrating excellence and stewardship;

Creativity – courageous innovation;

Dedication – affirming the hope and joy of our ministry.

To read more about Ascension, visit


Photography by James Visser

Xavier Magazine

Profile: John Pennington, S.J.

John Pennington, S.J., received his call to be a servant of the Lord when he was young. But it took a personal tragedy in 1983—the death of his mother—to convince him that he was truly in the right line of work.

While he spent many days providing comfort to dying patients, he wasn’t able to make it to his mother’s side when she died in a nursing home 18 years ago. Instead, a nurse held her hand.

“I memorized the words the nurse said to me,” Pennington says. “She told me, ‘Your mother opened her eyes and looked at me. What a thrill it was to know that one moment she was looking at me, and the next she was looking at God.’ That gave me the desire to bring beauty into the lives of the suffering.”

And those he sees are often suffering. Pennington is a chaplain at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, the real-life setting for the popular TV show “ER.” And, he says, television has nothing on real life. While the flurry of events that occur in a single episode are a bit unrealistic, the intensity of what happens is not. Gunshot wounds, motorcycle accidents and the multiplicity of injuries that come as a result of gang fights are common.

“It’s a roller coaster of emotions,” he says. “One day you see a premature newborn baby who makes it and you rejoice. Then you might go pray with someone who’s going to die in half an hour. It’s one extreme to the other.”

Cook County Hospital, which is as world-renowned for its cancer, AIDS and neonatal intensive care facilities as its emergency room, admits 20,000 patients a year, most of whom are poor.

“Not only do they have no health insurance,” says Pennington, “many of them have no homes and no meals. The president of our board describes us as a ‘safety net for the indigent.’”

Pennington, a 1958 graduate, started at Cook County Hospital seven years ago after working as a chaplain in hospitals in wealthier, less hostile communities. He previously served at suburban Chicago’s Loyola Medical Center for four years, which proved to be quite a contrast to the socioeconomic struggles and inner-city strife he sees now.

On tough days, Pennington says, he likes to recall good experiences—such as the baby whose birth weight was 1 pound, 13 ounces, but who visited him a year later weighing a healthy 20 pounds. He also remembers Myra, a 10-year-old with a tumor that prevented her from moving. He prayed for her and she squeezed his hand in response. A year later, she requested Pennington to perform her first Holy Communion.

“What keeps me going the most,” he says, “is a strong belief in the resurrection. I believe that all the hell you see at Cook County Hospital is not the final answer, and that some of the suffering people I have met are going to be face-to-face with Jesus.”


Photography by Mike Marcotte

Xavier Magazine

Profile: Craig Giesze

What do you do with an economics degree, skills in four languages, proficiency with technology and “a crazy ability to combine it all?” If you’re like Craig Giesze, you earn a law degree and open the first full-service, virtual law firm specializing in providing services to U.S. companies doing business in the booming Latin American market.

Giesze actually formed four firms in 1995—CRG Enterprises, CRG Consulting, CRG Chile and CRG Mexico—that help U.S. companies bridge the cultural differences, commercial practices, language barriers and unfamiliar legal requirements of Latin American commerce. Giesze coordinates a cadre of more than 30 American and Latin American attorneys, accountants and economists.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but it had to be international,” he says. He speaks fluent English and Spanish and is conversational in French and Portuguese. A native of Cleveland, he got his first taste of international life through Xavier’s Fredin memorial scholarship to study at La Sorbonne in Paris, France.

“When I came back from France, I looked at a map of the world and decided the best language to learn would be Spanish,” he says. “There were already lots of business opportunities in Latin America.” Giesze completed a Spanish studies program at Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia, then went to Georgetown University, earning degrees in international law and foreign service.

He started thinking about his own firm in 1994 while working for the Mexican Congress on a Fulbright Scholarship. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect and, “I looked at where the world was going, and saw it going international,” he says. “I saw the Mexican middle class getting more money so companies like Wal-Mart could sell there. I think NAFTA got business people looking south for the first time.”

Giesze observed the differences in the legal systems; the United States uses the common law system from England and Latin America uses the civil system from Roman law. “The way they analyze and come to conclusions is radically different,” he says. “An Amer-ican judge and a Latin American judge could look at the same law and come up with two different answers. Few lawyers can analyze international law in both systems.”

He also noticed another phenomenon: the Internet. It effortlessly crosses borders, eliminating many international barriers. “I can have people in America, Chile and Mexico working on the same project because we can research on the Internet and communicate through e-mail. And we can do it faster. The birth of my companies really came from that vision of the combined services we could offer. We’ve eliminated all cultural and legal barriers. It’s as if you’re doing the transaction in Dayton or Columbus.”


Photography by Barbara San Martin