Xavier Magazine

Profile: Dan Murphy

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, 1985
Founder and President, The Growth Coach

A Calling | Murphy’s goal is to append happy endings to Murphy’s Law—that if anything can go wrong, it will—particularly as it applies to small-business owners. He knows they face obstacles, so his mission is to help them clear their hurdles. “Small-business owners have always been my heroes. They have so much spirit and passion about them. I became a CPA thinking I would help these folks. What I learned is that most small-business owners feel overworked, overwhelmed and a prisoner to their business. That’s when I discovered my calling in life—to help them have greater success and put balance back in their lives.”

Coaching | In 1992, Murphy founded Sales Management Solutions, his own small business “coaching” other small-business owners on how to efficiently improve their business. In 1994, he changed the name to The Marketing Alliance and expanded its scope to focus on overall business coaching.

Big Picture | Harried small-business owners often get so caught up in the daily details of operating a company that they become slaves to routine and lose sight of their original concept of the enterprise. “A lot of owners get lost in the technical trenches of their business and don’t think enough about marketing, leadership and direction. The biggest problem is ‘busy-ness.’ They’re busy, but they’re busy working on the wrong things. We help them step back, see the big picture and recognize what changes need to be made. We don’t tell them what to do. We coach them to help them change their habits. We take them through a process so they can discover it on their own.”

Rapid Growth | In 2003, Murphy launched The Growth Coach, a business-coaching franchise system. He now has franchise owners in more than 150 markets. “Instead of coaching business owners, I now help coach my franchise owners to be more strategic, focused and effective—same thing I did for small-business owners for more than a decade.” Business coaching has skyrocketed into a $3 billion industry as more small-business owners turn to counselors for guidance. Murphy’s company has become the world’s second-largest business-coaching franchise and he has ambitious plans for even more growth. “My goal is to be in more than 400 markets in the next five years.”

Life Lessons | Murphy is also a coach in his personal life. He coaches the basketball, baseball, soccer and softball teams of his two children, Kelsey and Matthew. “Coaching is in my DNA. I love coaching their teams. I just love the life lessons you can teach kids through sports. I encourage them to always go out and give your very best effort and don’t worry about winning and losing. If you give your best effort, you are succeeding. I tell the kids they’re going to have setbacks—they’re going to strike out and make errors. But what’s important is your reaction to them. Learn what you can from the situation and then go on. Learning how to win and lose with grace is a big lesson. There are life lessons all around us.”

Xavier Magazine

Nursing Grant

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the University’s Department of Nursing a three-year, $809,090 grant, which is being used to create a new academic concentration focusing on the clinical nurse leader (CNL) specialty within the master’s degree program.

The CNL speciality is a national initiative developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to improve health care delivery systems and increase nurses’ job satisfaction and long-term retention. It enables experienced, practicing registered nurses to develop advanced skills that allow them to remain at the bedside as an advanced generalist while coordinating very complex care in a holistic manner for patients in all health care institutions.

The program also aims to increase diversity in the advanced education nursing workforce by enrolling qualified nurses from disadvantaged and under-represented minority backgrounds. Another goal is to address health disparities by educating clinical nurse leaders for public health professions and community-based positions in underserved areas.

Xavier Magazine

Healthy Gift

Wilma McGrath, who worked as a registered nurse at Xavier’s health and counseling center, left the University a $100,000 gift as part of her estate. McGrath died earlier this year at the age of 90. The center is named after her and her husband, Dr. Edward McGrath, who also worked at the center and was a cardiothoracic surgeon and associate dean of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

“Mrs. McGrath ran the health center in a very professional and disciplined manner, but cared a great deal about the students,” says Dr. James Konerman, medical director for the McGrath Health and Counseling Center. “Over the last 10 years as I cared for her, she frequently asked about the health center. She continued her caring by donating a large amount of money to aid our future improvements.”

The center is getting a new home as part of the campus expansion. It is being relocated in Xavier Square, a 20-acre site on the corner of Dana Avenue and Montgomery Road, which also includes retail and entertainment outlets, office space, student housing, a hotel, a fitness center and the University bookstore.

Xavier Magazine

Gone Sweet Home

Tradition and memory are handy tools for giving life context and, by extension, meaning. Each generation carries its particular set of memories, built on the foundations provided by previous generations. For some Xavier graduates, it may be the old Red Building; for others the post-World War II military–style housing. Still others may recall the houses on Herald Avenue or the old student center. 

For the generation of recent graduates, the houses and trees along Ledgewood and Dana avenues may well become part of “the good old days.”

Maybe that’s why the notes, scrawled in black marker on the walls of the houses on Ledgewood Avenue, seemed particularly poignant and, perhaps, ironic.

“Dear physical plant, thanks for always taking care of us. We love you.”—The Ladies of RAK Shak
“Best house ever”
“Bye beautiful house, 2008”

The notes were scribbled by the last students to live in the homes, which were torn down in late summer to prepare the way for the James E. Hoff, S.J., Academic Quad. With Brad Miner of physical plant unlocking doors and several other University personnel in tow, Mike Williams of the Cincinnati-based Wooden Nickel Antiques, systematically worked his way through the 19 University-owned houses in search of anything salvageable that might appeal to his customers.

Some houses had been housing. Some offices. Some private residences. All were easy to pick out: Each had a bright blast of orange spray paint across the front door. Once carefully tended ground cover ran amok in several yards. In some, the remains of spring flowers withered. Large shade trees standing guard in front yards sported pink ribbons that marked them for removal.

By agreement, the University allowed some homeowners to salvage items from the houses, and Xavier donated many of the remaining furnishings to the MAP Furniture Bank of Columbus, Ohio, which provides free furniture to those in need. But in some cases, it was difficult to tell exactly who had been in the houses—and for what purposes—since the last of the students moved out June 1. Holes pocked the walls, the first stage of potential asbestos abatement. At 3724 Ledgewood Ave., some off the second-floor windows were missing. Most of the houses were dusty. Some retained the last vestiges of student furniture, which, curiously, never seems to change in style or eclecticism from generation to generation. One house was particularly trashed, showing evidence of a farewell bash to end all bashes and the lines “Free at last, free at last,” scrawled among many others covering walls throughout the house. In a first-floor bedroom, a freestanding 1970s, leopard-skin bar stood out amongst the riot of junk.

Only the former Women for Women house showed real signs of student care, and it displayed its own set of peculiarities, including a giant, rear-projector TV and a collection of concrete blocks piled almost to the ceiling of the living room closet.

After several hours worth of tramping up and down stuffy staircases, Williams hadn’t found much—just a few Rookwood tiles, some windows, French doors, a pedestal sink and assorted odds and ends. Apparently, most of what was good in these houses was already gone. Except the memories.

Of course, it’s easy to romanticize the past. And while it was hard to escape the idea that the students who wrote the notes were fully aware that they would be the last inhabitants of these houses, it was also clear they had taken their leave, closed this section of their lives and moved on to whatever exciting futures they envisioned for themselves. Within weeks, the University would do the same, surrounding the 19 houses with portable chain-link fences, bringing in backhoes and other earth-leveling equipment, and setting about the serious work of building an exciting future on the foundations of the past.

Xavier Magazine

Designer Tea

Danielle DiBenedetto, a North Olmstead, Ohio, native and 2003 graduate, always knew she wanted to do something with graphics, but she also wanted to work in fashion. Inspired by the Victorian Era, the former art student researched this period and often came across the subject “proper tea etiquette.” Subsequently, in 2007 she launched Proper Tea Wear, a specialty line of T-shirts, cami sets and scarves packaged in oversized tea bags. 

“I decided on Proper Tea because in my generation, proper attire is a T-shirt,” she says. “I thought it was the best way to showcase not only the fashion line, but give me the chance to put my art into it.”

In addition to art, DiBenedetto selects the fabric, designs the fit and works with a company in India that custom-makes the T-shirts to her specifications. “It’s a cutthroat industry, so I have to go with the best of the best, and everything has to be perfect because, being a graphic designer, everything is presentation.”

The T-shirts, made from super soft prewashed cotton, come in an assortment of tea “flavors,” ranging from raspberry to iced mint to calming chamomile. So far, the line sells in about 150 boutiques across the country, as well as Nordstrom and Las Vegas casinos such as The Bellagio, MGM Grand and The Palms.

DiBenedetto, who works closely with her mom, Karen, hopes to add a men’s and children’s line in the next few years. In the meantime, though, she’s happy to see her work getting nods from both local and national press.

“The best thing about running my own business is the creative freedom, she says. “I enjoy hearing people’s advice but, in the end, I love being able to create a T-shirt from concept to the finished product and have complete control of how I want it to look. It is amazing to create a label and see it in stores the way you envision it.”

To see more Tea wear, visit

Xavier Magazine


The Initiative for Catholic Schools is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. The program, which was initiated by a grant from the Clement and Ann Buenger Foundation in 2003,  is designed to continue to enhance the effectiveness of Catholic schools in Greater Cincinnati . The program is a collaboration between the Xavier Center for Excellence in Education and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Schools Office.

The initiative addresses issues of school leadership and the teaching of mathematics and science. At its core is a program that offers free continuing education to Catholic elementary teachers and administrators. More than 110 educators from area schools have taken courses through the program.

It also includes a widely popular lecture series featuring nationally known leaders in education. Among those who have spoken as part of the lecture series are:

• Guy Doud, who was selected from 2.5 million teachers as the national teacher of the year and spoke on those things that are important to value-based education: love, family, faith and dreaming dreams.

• David O’Brien, a national scholar on Catholic education from the College of the Holy Cross, who spoke on “Transforming Our Culture.”

“From what I’ve seen, this is probably the most significant effort to improve Catholic education that has ever occurred in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati,” says Mike Flick, director for the center.

Xavier Magazine

Emptying Dorms, Filling Homes

As part of the overall development of the University that is coming about as a result of the To See Great Wonders capital campaign, the Brockman Residence Hall, which was built in the 1960s, underwent a substantial renovation this year. In addition to substantial renovations, such as a new air-handling system and better handicapped accessibility, the renovation included new carpeting, paint and furniture for the building. 

In keeping with its efforts throughout all of the recent development, the University placed a strong emphasis on recycling as much of the materials as possible during the renovation—including furniture. According to Stacey Decker, assistant director of campus services, Xavier donated about 35 mattresses, bed frames, dressers, desks, chairs, clothing armoires, couches, end tables, refrigerators and stoves to MAP Furniture Bank of Columbus.

“We knew we would not be reusing this furniture and someone else here at Xavier had worked with this organization in the past,” says Decker. “So we figured it could go to help someone trying to get back on their feet who would really appreciate it and put it to good use.”

MAP Furniture Bank provides free furniture to central Ohio residents dealing with severe life challenges ranging from previous homelessness to mental disability. Nearly 80 percent of the people the organization serves earn less than $10,000 a year and 95 percent earn less than $20,000 a year. All of their clients are unable to properly furnish their homes. MAP Furniture Bank helps them improve their quality of life and turn their empty houses into homes.

After working with social service agencies, Jeff Hay wanted to help people interested in improving their lives and founded Material Assistance Providers Inc. in 1998. MAP acts as a valuable community partner by preventing usable materials from being sent to area landfills. If all of the furniture items collected and redistributed by MAP in just the past year were piled onto a one-acre plot of land, that pile would be 23 feet deep.

“We genuinely appreciate the opportunity to partner with Xavier in recycling used furniture,” MAP president James Stein says. “It provides much needed assistance while preserving limited landfill space.”

Xavier Magazine

The Rifleman

Jason Parker marched confidently into China with his rifle in hand. Under normal circumstances, that might be an ominous occurrence considering the 1996 graduate is a sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit. But in this case, Parker’s presence in China was more athletic than militaristic. Parker was—for the third time—a member of the United States Olympic shooting team and was in Beijing to represent the U.S. in two events.

Unfortunately, the results weren’t as good as hoped. He finished 22nd in the 3-position rifle event and 23rd in the 10-meter air rifle event. Still, he says, it was a great experience. “One of the best things about the Olympics—and sports in general—is friendships are everywhere. Two shooters received  medals. One was from Russia and the other from Georgia. The two gave each other a hug and told the press they will always be good friends.”

Parker also participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where he finished fifth, and the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, finishing eighth.

Xavier Magazine

Q&A: Olympian Jason Parker

On Aug. 12, 2008, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker sat down with his computer somewhere in Beijing to answer questions about his experience as an Olympic marksman. Beijing marked the third time the 1996 graduate competed as a member of the United States’ Olympic Team, but he made it clear from the outset that the Olympic experience doesn’t grow old.

Q: How does it feel to be competing in Beijing, and have your feelings toward the Olympic experience changed from previous years?
A: The feelings are still the same. I am very proud to represent U.S.A. and the Army as I go into the Olympic games.  It is a great feeling to have the support from my family and friends.  All of my Olympic experiences have been great and there are no huge differences.

Q: What were your initial impressions of China and the work the country did for the Olympics?
A: We arrived here on Aug. 6.  The shooting team was also here in April for a test event.  This is a very nice country.  The people here are very respectful and hardworking.  I was worried about the air quality in April and when I first got here, but it rained the last two days, and now it’s a whole lot better.  As I said before, all of the venues are among the best I’ve ever seen. The air in April was really nasty—way worse than I had expected.  This time, with their controls, it’s much better.  And we don’t drink their water here—only bottled water.

Q: What’s it like for Olympians at the Games?
A: There are a lot of things to do here in the village to stay busy.  There are a couple of gyms, game rooms with pool, air hockey and shuffle board.  There’s a pool in the village, Internet connections and some shopping.  One of the neat things in the village is the dining facility.  If you spend time there, you’re going to see some of the more famous Olympians hanging around.  They also have all-you-can-eat-free McDonald’s.  You wouldn’t believe how popular that is.

Q: The press likes to present images of friendship between athletes from different nations. What’s your experience?
A: The press likes those images a lot. The problem is that they don’t get all of those images.  Friendship at the Olympic games—and in sport in general—is everywhere.  That is one of the best things about the Olympics.  Here on the shooting range yesterday, two shooters received a silver medal and a bronze medal.  One was from Russia and the other from the country of Georgia.  I’m sure you saw what’s going on in the news.  The reporters were trying to play that up, but the two gave each other a hug and told the reporters that they were and will always be good friends.  That’s what the Olympics are about.

Q: Let’s talk about your events.
A: I’m entered in two events.  The first is 10-meter air rifle.  The distance, of course, is 10 meters, or 33 feet, and it’s shot with a .177-caliber air rifle.  I shoot 60 shots and a perfect shot is scored a “10,” so the highest score is a 600.  The “10” ring in this event is .5 millimeters (about the size of the period at the end of this sentence).  The time limit is one hour and 45 minutes.  Once the qualification is over, the top eight scores proceed to the finals where the shots are scored in tenths of a point.  The winner is the highest score with the qualification and finals score added together.
The other event is 50 meters with a .22 rifle.  It’s shot with 40 shots in 3 different positions: prone, standing and kneeling, in that order.  The “10” ring is about the size of a dime.  The qualification and finals are all the same as air rifle.

Q: Where do your events take place?
A: The shooting venue is the Beijing Shooting Range in the Shijingshan district of Beijing.  It’s about a 20-minute bus ride away from the Olympic village and the main green zone, where most of the venues are located.

Q: What’s the facility like?
A: All of the Olympic facilities are awesome.  The shooting range is huge, and the Olympic village is nice and quiet.  The Chinese have put beautiful gardens everywhere around all of the venues.

Q: You mentioned some good things happening in your first competition. What were they?
A: Some of the good things were mental obstacles that I handled very well.  As you can imagine there’s a lot of pressure here at the games, so starting and ending the competitions are very hard.  Both of those parts went very well.  My preparations for the competition were also perfect.  So next week, when I go into my next event, I already know I have a plan that works—I don’t have to worry about a pre-event plan as much.

Q: Any other comments you’d like to make about your Olympic experience?
A: As usual I have a lot of people to thank for all of their help and support, in no particular order:  the U.S. Army and the Army Marksmanship Unit for providing the resources to succeed; my wife Andrea and kids Tommy and Wyatt for understanding why I try as hard as I do; my parents Dale and Sharon Parker for getting me started on the right path; Xavier University, and especially the rifle coach Alan Joseph, for a providing great place and atmosphere for me to develop into the person I am today; and U.S.A. Shooting, the national governing body for Olympic shooting sports that put everything together.  There are a lot more people that deserve credit, but that would be a whole new e-mail, and I’m sure they know who they are.

Xavier Magazine

Cold Cuts: Dead or Alive

Russ Donaldson has seen the facial expressions and heard all the jokes. But while others may find it odd that that the 1987 mortuary science graduate and longtime funeral director now owns a catering service, Donaldson sees it as part of a continuum.

“There are so many similarities between the funeral business and catering,” he says. “They’re both service-oriented businesses. It’s event planning. As a funeral director, it’s a little different kind of an event, but you are sitting down with families and planning what’s going to happen. It’s the very same thing with catering. You’re sitting down and choosing things, making selections. It’s sales. It’s presentation.”

Not to mention that both fields have interested Donaldson for the best part of his life. The Philadelphia native developed an interest in mortuary science around age 12, but soon also began thinking about becoming a chef. These interests intertwined during his college years—while at Xavier, Donaldson worked in the cafeteria at Edgecliff College.

Following graduation, Donaldson apprenticed in Columbus, Ohio, before settling in for 13 years at a funeral home in Cincinnati. But he kept in touch with the catering business, working as a banquet extra at a large hotel and assisting a local caterer. Eventually, he decided to reexamine his approach to life—and ultimately enrolled in culinary school. Then, in 2004, he joined forces with 1977 Xavier graduate Dennis Ferry and a third partner who has since moved on, to form Cuisine East-West Catering, which focuses on Asian and Asian-fusion dishes. Relying strictly on word-of-mouth, the company has grown steadily and recently purchased its own building.

But in keeping with his interests, Donaldson still occasionally fills in for vacationing funeral directors. “One of the major things that draws someone to become a funeral director is the need and desire to help other people,” he says.