Xavier Magazine

Faculty Spotlight

Jamal Abu-Rashed, chair of the Department of Economics and Human Resources and an expert on gasoline prices, discusses the current phenomenon of rising gas prices amid the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast states.

Q. What are the main factors contributing to this sudden rise in gas prices? Can it really be primarily blamed on the hurricane damage? A. The Gulf of Mexico normally produces 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, or about a quarter of the U.S. domestic output. Furthermore, 40 percent of the nation’s refinery capacity is located in the area impacted by the hurricane. Therefore, the hurricane coupled with power outages that shut down major pipelines that pump gas to key terminals and distribution centers along the Eastern U.S. has caused a temporary supply shock to the U.S. economy. This may put pressure on the general price level to rise and may cause a sizable reduction in consumers’ spending.

Q. Why were oil prices soaring before the hurricane, and what was (is) your prediction for their future? Will they ever come down? A. Oil prices were soaring before the hurricane (the worst hurricane on record) because of the continued fears of political instability in the Middle East (60 percent of world oil reserve), the nuclear standoff with Iran, strong energy demand worldwide, especially from India and China, and refining problems in the U.S. However, the hurricane really just exacerbated an existing situation.

In real terms of prices adjusted for inflation, prices are above those during the oil crisis in 1974, but crude is still well below the $90-a-barrel average seen in the year after the 1979 Iranian revolution. The U.S. economy is more fuel-efficient today than 20 years ago. Even if oil prices do stay higher for awhile, that does not necessarily imply recession; this should cushion the shock of higher prices.

Q. What should the country do long-term to solve the energy crisis in the area of developing new sources of energy or fuel so we don’t end up in the same situation again?

The disaster is already putting upward pressure on oil prices at a time of strong demand, tight supply and refining bottlenecks. Economic forecasters have been busy revising their forecasts to account for the charge that Katrina may yet take on the nation’s economy. The ports in the affected areas move a large portion of America’s imports—including oil and gas supplies—as well as nearly half its grain exports, and almost half of the gasoline produced in the country comes from refineries in the states along the Gulf Coast. Policy makers will have to examine and deal with the U.S.’ tight refining capacity, our dependence on offshore drilling, and deal with supply disruptions due to instability in the Middle East.

Xavier Magazine

Extra Credit: Paul Fiorelli

Paul Fiorelli, professor of legal studies and director for the center for business ethics and social responsibility, came to Xavier in 1983 to teach business, with a focus on law and business ethics. In 1998, he worked with the U.S. Sentencing Commission as a Supreme Court Fellow, helping train organizations about the value of ethics and compliance programs. He got to personally know the justices and the court’s workings. We asked him about the current debate surrounding the naming of a new justice.

Has the selection of the justices always been so politically heated? No. But one of the bigger political hot potatoes was when Robert Bork was nominated in 1987. It was just a polarizing nomination. It’s happening now because people are seeing the importance of the Supreme Court.

How much influence does a president have once they’re on the bench? Very little. They have life tenure. There was a case where a president tried to impeach a justice back in 1805, but he was not removed.

How important is this round of nominations? It’s extremely important because of all the decisions that are going to be heard—the death penalty, abortion, criminal rights. Now people know the president fills the vacancies and his appointments create a legacy. People talk of the Reagan legacy being tax cuts, but really it was the impact he had on the judiciary. O’Connor was appointed, Rehnquist was elevated to chief justice, then Scalia and Kennedy were confirmed. In a lot of cases, they have been in the majority, including the Bush vs. Gore decision in 2000.

Xavier Magazine

CSI Xavier-Style

All summer long, assistant physics professor Heidrun Schmitzer suffered past the bloody limbs and battered bodies of the CSI television series to learn what students are watching. She hates the show, but it helps her know what to include in a new interdisciplinary course she developed called Forensic Science Studies 110.

“I hope to get through to them that science applies to all forensic stuff, which is itself science, so they must be thorough and diligent and careful,” Schmitzer says.

The idea is to offer a core science course for non-science majors, as well as criminal justice majors, that’s so interesting a few may actually switch to science. A $2,400 Wheeler grant covered the costs of two summer student interns who tested each lab experiment for the new manual, including fingerprint identification, blood spatter analysis and how to compare DNA samples.

Students this fall are learning how to scientifically treat evidence collected at crime scenes for information about the crime and the perpetrator. They’re comparing groove marks on a spent bullet to determine which gun fired it, analyzing glass shards from a window to learn if it broke from inside or outside, and identifying substances as illegal drugs.

The course proved so popular that it filled up to its maximum of 18 students last spring. If interest remains high, Schmitzer hopes to offer it again next spring and to double the number of labs available.

Xavier Magazine

Classical Connection

On warm summer evenings in the late 19th century, celebrated classical composer Antonin Dvorak sat under the linden trees at his country estate in the Czech Republic smoking his pipe and sipping beer out of a glass beaker with his friend, Bohumil Fidler. The latter, an active choirmaster and composer, formed a friendship with Dvorak after sending him a letter investigating the prospect of performing one of his choral works.

“I am a simple Czech musician, not fond of such overstatements and humility,” Dvorak wrote in reply. “In spite of the fact that I have often mingled amongst greats of the world of music, I nevertheless will always remain who I always have been—a simple Czech musician.”

Fidler chronicled their friendship as well as the country’s musical culture in his book, Fidler’s My Life and Memories, published in the original Czech in 1935. Seventy years later, Fidler’s great granddaughter, Sonya Szabo-Reynolds, a piano teacher at the University, edited the first English translation of his memoirs, which the Dvorak Society for Czech and Slavic Music published this year. Armed with various dictionaries and her mother’s translating skills, Szabo-Reynolds revamped the memoir by compiling an index.

“When I was growing up, I was extremely intrigued by the portrait of Bohumil Fidler in the family photo album, but his world seemed mysterious and remote to me then,” Szabo-Reynolds says. “Later, when I made the decision to study music, my uncle Karl gave me the only original letter written by Dvorak that remained in our family, and for me it provided the tangible connection to that earlier time and place.”

Xavier Magazine

Appointed to Serve

President George W. Bush has made it a good year for University graduates. In March, the president named E. Timothy Oppelt acting assistant administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development. Oppelt, a 1976 grad, has been with the EPA for 34 years, most recently serving as director of the agency’s national risk management research laboratory.

Then, on June 22, 1971, graduate Richard J. Griffin’s long career in public service reached another high point when he was sworn in as assistant secretary of diplomatic security at the U.S. Department of State. The appointment makes Griffin director of diplomatic security’s office of foreign missions and elevates him to the rank of ambassador. In his new role, Griffin manages immunity and reciprocity issues for foreign diplomats in the U.S. Previous to this latest appointment, Griffin was inspector general at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 1997-2005, before which he spent 26 years with the U.S. Secret Service, becoming deputy director.

And most recently, the president tapped Patricia Herbold, a 1962 Edgecliff graduate, to serve as ambassador to Singapore. Before leaving the Queen City for Seattle a little more than 10 years ago, Herbold practiced law with the firm Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, and served as a city council member and mayor of Montgomery, Ohio. She was previously a member of the George W. Bush 2000 finance committee and part of the president’s 21st Century Workforce. After receiving a law degree in 1977, she worked as assistant prosecuting attorney in Clermont County, Ohio, and as vice president and general counsel for Bank One in Dayton, Ohio.

Xavier Magazine

Sharing the Blessing

Pope John Paul II forged a powerful legacy as one of the most courageous, inspirational leaders of all time. A man of immense gifts, he extended his spiritual and moral convictions far beyond the church, forever changing the world’s political and interreligious landscapes. And perhaps nothing underscores that legacy as well as his work in improving the relationship between Catholics and Jews.

This work is the focus of “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” an interactive, multimedia exhibit that opened May 18—which would have been the pope’s 85th birthday—at the Xavier Art Gallery at the A.B. Cohen Center.

The exhibit is a visual and aural collage of photos, video footage, soundscapes and rare artifacts such as the pope’s walking stick, baptismal certificate, school report cards, handwritten notes from one of his books, Holocaust items from Auschwitz, and vestments and other garments from his cardinal and papal years.

Video walls in the exhibit show religious and political leaders speaking with the pope. A bronze sculpture of the pope’s hand sits near the exit along with a replica of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, where visitors are encouraged to write their own prayer and insert it in the wall in emulation of the pope during his visit to Israel in 2000.

The exhibit, which has garnered international attention, is divided into four sections, each reflecting the four major eras in the pontiff’s life—his early years, the World War II years, his ministry and his papacy. The first section focuses on the years 1920-1938 in Wadowice, Poland, where the young Karol Wojtyla grew up in an apartment building owned by a Jewish family, and where he established lifelong friendships with Jewish children in his neighborhood. One of those children, Jerzy Kluger, is featured in a rare video interview in the exhibit. The second phase represents the dark years of WWII, when Wojtyla traveled to Krakow to enter the university and was forced to study underground because of the Nazi occupation. The area is marked with somber reminders of the Holocaust, including the lone extant Nazi license plate from the occupation of Krakow.

The third section documents the years 1946-1978, tracing the pope’s ministry from priest to bishop to cardinal, while the final section documents the papacy of John Paul II.

The exhibit stays at Xavier until July 15, at which time it goes on display at the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., and then to various cities internationally.

Xavier Magazine

Prince’s Diary

Prince Johnson II is a senior studying education. He traces his family history back to West Africa.

Family History: My family worked on the Moultrie rice plantations along the coastal islands of South Carolina. Since I was made aware that my family history extends from Sierra Leone and Ghana, I’ve wanted to go there.

Cultural Rediscovery: When I first stepped off of the plane, the first thought was “I am in Africa … I made it here.” I was welcomed not as a black person, but as a person. It was quite liberating. It was easy for me to fit in. Every Ghanaian I met thought I was from Ghana. They said they could not believe a child in the Diaspora could have the strong features of the Ashanti, an ethnic group in Ghana. I was actually able to greet the king of the Ashanti people. As part of my cultural rediscovery, I decided to practice enculturation, using traditional cultural symbols and integrating that with the teachings of Christ. In that way, my walk becomes more relevant for me.

Service Learning: I taught at Mother Teresa’s home for abandoned children. I learned to identify with the children I served. It was difficult for me to say goodbye to them, so I decided to sponsor their education for the next three years.

The Slave Castles: Visiting the castles where the slaves were held was like walking through hell. It was a place of very little hope and life. But later I realized that my life is the hope and answer to the prayers of those who were kept there. It was the first time I felt the spirits of my ancestors. They were telling me to preserve the dignity of all human beings and to make my life count for God’s sake and for theirs. I won’t let them die in vain.

Saying Goodbye: Saying goodbye was the most difficult part of the trip. I realized that I felt so much a part of the people and the culture. Ghana feels like home.

Xavier Magazine

Building Community

On a chilly, gray Saturday morning, Katrina Mahlerwein gets up at 7:00 a.m., pulls her long, brunette hair into a ponytail and slips on two layers of clothing before driving across campus to Bellarmine Circle. There, she meets a group of students who are carpooling to a construction site 15 minutes away.

“Layers are good because I’ve found that you don’t want to get into your car with mud caked all over you when you’re finished building,” says Mahlerwein, who keeps a trash bag in the trunk for dirty cast-offs.

The group is up early on this Saturday to go to a nearby neighborhood where they are building a Habitat for Humanity home. Although members of Xavier’s Habitat chapter have helped construct a number of homes in recent years, this is the first fully funded, student-built house since the 1998-1999 academic year. And to prove their mettle, the students raised more than $20,000 through a number of fund-raisers, including a rake-a-thon, cornhole tournament and raffle. They also partnered with Millcreek Valley Habitat for Humanity and Ursuline Academy, who helped cover the remaining costs.

Once at the site, each of the students creates a nametag with duct tape and a permanent marker and goes over the day’s tasks. Soon the 50 or so volunteers disperse to tackle windows, insulation or roofing. The house, which they completed in May, is now home to a woman and her young, wheelchair-bound son who requires a ramp, and wider doors and showers.

Mahlerwein, who graduated in May, says being able to build a house from foundation to finish exposed her to a diversity of opinions and ideas. “I can’t think of a better example of putting Xavier’s mission into practice,” she says. “You’re building relationships and you’re building community.”

Xavier Magazine

A Golden Reflection

It was a hot June 8 evening, as I remember, 1955, 8:15 p.m. to be exact, when the Class of 1955 strolled anxiously into our fabled Fieldhouse across Victory Parkway to the sounds of the processional pumped in celebration by the organist.

We were graduates at Xavier’s 117th Commencement exercise. The evening program reflected that 13 various kinds of degrees were being conferred. ROTC artillery commissions were being awarded as well.

Each of the Class of ’55 closed one of life’s doors and opened another in our life’s journey. Many were marching on to military duty—an interlude. Our ultimate paths and choices were multitude.

Naturally, there were imponderables. What will I become? What will I do? Where will I be? Am I ready? Prepared? When, if ever, will I see some of my classmates again?

Each of us sought and summoned an adequate level of confidence. Yet, there was that natural concern, ambivalence: Am I ready of the next step? Xavier had done its job. It prepared me to move forward.

It was an exciting evening—the successful culmination of effort by teacher and student. Yet, it was a sobering celebration—a mixed reaction and reflection on fun-filled undergraduate college days forever gone and a peering into an unknown yet to be explored.

Earlier this year I hunted feverishly for my ’55 yearbook. It was too safely stored away with my ’49 Elder High Annual and my 1954 RSOP Annual commemorating summer camp, Fort Sill, Ok. What a hot summer 1954 was. How could we ever forget our salt-baked fatigues, hot pillows in the over-like barracks, canteens of hot water, the Block House on Signal Mountain and the dreaded “Your mission, Mr. Murdock.”

But there were still the memories that didn’t require a yearbook:

  • South Hall: Everyone’s hangout. That cozy, simple, unpretentious place to meet, have a bite, skip a class, share time and talk.
  • The Old Barracks: Housing out-of-towners, athletes and ex-GIs.
  • Dances at the Mount and OLC: Chaperoned yet.
  • The Super Econ Twins: Messers Hailstones and Harriman.
  • Beloved Father O’Connor: Our President. A gentle, real man’s man.
  • The Bunny Hop and Turkey Trot: Castle Farms, Old Moonlight Gardens.
  • The Campus Super Cop: Father Buschman.
  • The Marvelous Humor and Ever Ebullient Father McCummisky: Never felt like class.
  • Our Freshman Year: XU 26-UC 0. Jackie Hahn covered at least 150 yards in his 98-yard interception. Our freshman classmates, Mike Conaton and Chuck Kirkhoff, now departed, both played in that game.
  • Those Remind Us of Our “Then”: Today is our “Now.”

During Reunion Weekend in June, we came, once again in ceremony, appropriately less formal, to our beloved alma mater, Xavier University. There, the University conferred upon us the honorary degree Doctor of Durability. Surely, those of us able to be there relished our good fortune. We came together, from all directions, by the Grace of God. It was proper also that we remembered our dear departed classmates who we wished were there to share the celebration. Others, too, were unable to join us. We celebrated, though, joined in spirit with all those not there.

We also contemplated and expressed our collective “thank you” to Xavier for what it did for me, for us, for our community and our nation:

  • Xavier taught us not how to make a living but how to live.
  • Xavier taught us that it is not about me or I but that we are one for all and all for one.
  • Xavier taught us that values of Christian living not just living bare.
  • Xavier taught us to seek that higher order, nurturing our hope and faith, reassuring and reminding us of life after death and not to be suffocated in any empty, utter, futile, finite existence.
  • Xavier taught us about character—how to achieve and build it, hold it fast; to understand when we failed character, and to believe we could reclaim it is we tried. That God forgives and loves boundlessly.
  • Xavier taught us a philosophy (a required minor) to think and live by the beacon of reason—not by comfortable rationalization. The end does not justify the means. A durable mantra.
  • Xavier taught us to think, care, love and give. Morality and ethics were emphasized.

These are the durables of Xavier. They are the truths on which we live. We are their vessels. Durable Xavier our mentor. The campus is bigger, magnificent, more beautiful, it has changed for the better. But, the traditions, message and mission have not changed. They are durable and can never get better.

God willing, we have carried on, done our best, as taught. It is not that we are so durable—for whatever our durability, it is not all of our own doing, or not ours alone.

It is the Xavier values and teaching that are durable. They come from God, our creator and benefactor. We all love Xavier, and it has loved and nourished us and our communities. Xavier is us; We are it.

We are grateful for its annual bounty of graduates. And, we are most grateful for those who generously support Xavier. For those gifts and fruits become ours and the world’s as well.

Every so many pages, in our ’55 yearbook, one finds the motto: Xavier through its administration, faculty and students “with Christ as their model will contribute to the building of better communities, a finer nation, a peaceful world.”

So it was in 1955. Can it be better said now? I think not.

Xavier Magazine

A Dream Realized

Laura Bradford first dreamt of a writing career at age 10. So it’s particularly fitting that the ’89 graduate turned to childhood memories to provide the seed for her debut novel, Jury of One, published in June by Hilliard & Harris.

Jury of One revolves around the character of Elise Jenkins, an investigative reporter in a southern New Jersey beach town where four mysterious murders have recently taken place. The key seems to lie with a boardwalk fortuneteller, who warned each of the victims in advance and who cautions that Jenkins could be victim number five.

Bradford says fortunetellers were also key to the book’s creation. “I woke up one morning thinking about childhood vacations to the Jersey shore and how weird I always felt walking past fortuneteller booths on the boardwalk,” she says. “So I jumped on the computer and started doing a little research on fortunetellers. Before I knew it, I had a plot. And it wouldn’t leave my mind until I sat down at the computer to write.”

Bradford began working on the book in the summer of 1999 after almost a decade as a journalist and freelance writer and about nine months after the birth of her second child. A marketing and communications major at the University, she married her college sweetheart Mike Bradford, an’89 graduate, shortly after finishing school. Mike was in the U.S. Army, and the couple moved from base to base around the country with Laura picking up journalism jobs near the bases. She credits these newspaper experiences with providing many of the book’s characters or character types.

After years of drafting, revising, editing and experiencing a few rejections, Bradford sent the manuscript to Hilliard & Harris in 2003. The publishing company ultimately accepted Jury of One the following year.

Now with her first novel on the shelves, Bradford is working on the second book in a projected series, this one set during a cold winter in northern Michigan winter. And this time, she says, there’s a noticeable difference—publishers are requesting copies of the manuscript before it’s completed.