Xavier Magazine

Musketeer Memories

Robert Rice Jr., the Musketeer mascot in 1969, traded in his swashbuckler’s costume for a soldier’s uniform—and paid the ultimate price. He was felled by a mortar round in a sweaty jungle in Vietnam only 14 months post graduation, but his devotion to the University lives on through a scholarship fund established in his memory.

For 32 years, Rice’s father, Robert Sr., sent out a letter each Christmas to thousands of people reminding them of his son and the fund. Though Robert Sr. died in January, the Lt. Robert T. Rice Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund is continuing to accept donations and issue scholarships.

It now has more than $285,000 in donations, including from such donors as Dwight D. Eisenhower II, Gen. William Westmoreland, the Bob Hope Foundation and the Cincinnati Reds. More than 41 students have received assistance.

To contribute, submit donations to: Lt. Robert T. Rice Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Xavier University, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207-5131.

Xavier Magazine

Future Links

Joseph F. Link Jr. studied, taught and lived at Xavier for most of his adult life. And now, upon his death in January at age 89, Link’s dedication to the University and its students will carry on with the creation of the Joseph F. Link Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Link’s niece, Nancy Murphy, who managed his affairs, donated seed money to start the fund, which is accepting donations in his memory. Beneficiaries will be students in need of financial aid and students of economics.

The professor emeritus of economics, who graduated magna cum laude in 1935, taught at the University from 1946 to 1976, but he also served as education consultant to the U.S. State Department in Central America, taught high school and college-level music and was the boys’ choir director at a local Catholic church. A real estate investor, he swapped a number of properties he owned–including the historic villa, which is now the honors house–to the University.

To contribute to the fund, submit donations to: Joseph F. Link Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Office of Development, Xavier University, 3800 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45207-5131.

Xavier Magazine

Father Figure

Ever since his early days at the University, Albert Bischoff, S.J., has been lending a friendly ear and dispensing advice to students. He never really knew what kind of impact he had on them though, until a group of graduates from those first years told him in the form of a $75,000 scholarship named in his honor.

More than 130 alumni from 1969-1974 gathered in November to celebrate Bischoff’s 75th birthday with a special Mass and dinner. During the meal they surprised the campus minister with the scholarship.

“I was overwhelmed and humbled,” says Bischoff, a 1949 graduate. “My hope is the scholarship helps students who are already here stay at Xavier instead of transferring for financial reasons.”

“He’s a great person,” says Bill Howe, Class of 1974. “He’s lived with the students all these years and just gets to know them. He takes you for what you are, makes you feel good about yourself and brings out the best in you.”

Xavier Magazine

Youthful Philanthropy

On a cold night in November, squirreled away in a cabin in a wooded area of Indiana, a unique group of 11 University and high school students brainstormed into the wee hours about who should get, what for them, was an astonishing amount of money. Given $15,000 and the responsibility of distributing it, they debated which of nine social service agencies were the most deserving.

It was hardly the stuff of youthful living. But this group was anything but typical. The first class of students to study philanthropy as part of the summer service internship program, this group took their charge to heart, attending a weekly class, writing a request for proposals and analyzing nine applications.

The nine applicants sought far more than the $15,000 available, making the task of choosing the most deserving proposals that much harder.

“All the programs we looked at were worthwhile,” says Melissa Mosko, a senior. “We had to evaluate what we thought was going to have the biggest impact and what specific community would benefit.”

The youth philanthropy program married the study of philanthropy to the University’s summer services program. The six students studying philanthropy were matched with five high school students, forming the Greater Cincinnati Youth Grantmaking Council.

The students studied the proposals, visited the agencies and talked to the applicants. Then they went to Indiana to make their decisions, only to discover that each member had personal interests that made compromise difficult. In the end, they agreed on four partnerships that received a total of $14,625.

The decision-making process was the most important educational tool, says Gene Beaupré, who directed the philanthropy program. “These students are not just doing philanthropy. They’re actively engaged in the community,” Beaupré says. “The most profound impact here is in the end, these students are challenged to make decisions about how they want to use these resources and are empowered, which is a great incentive to learning. It places them in positions of leadership they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

The greatest challenge, he says, was not deciding who received the money, but who didn’t.

“I watched them wrestle with what their role was and the kinds of questions you deal with as active citizens taking leadership positions in your community. They had to say no to five proposals—people who worked hard together.”

Mosko says their overarching criteria were for projects that provide continuous learning where the participants learn by doing and by studying what happens afterward.

The top grant winner was the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless and Mother of Mercy High School, which won $5,000 for a project to break down the stereotypes that perpetuate homelessness. They plan to create a book based on interviews with homeless and formerly homeless people that will be used in educational packets and at local schools.

The other winners were:

Su Casa Hispanic Ministry Center and Ursuline Academy, $4,600 for a project to created a resource book for Cincinnati-area Hispanic families to help their integration into U.S. culture.

Urban Appalachian Council and St. Xavier High School, $3,000 for a project using drama to highlight and honor the Appalachian culture.

Peaslee Neighborhood Center and Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, $2,025 for a program to develop science fair projects for the children of the Peaslee after-school program.

A two-year project to introduce more students to philanthropy was added this spring, with a competition to award grant money to four classes. Winning faculty members in music, finance, counseling and African-American history added a philanthropy component to their courses and received $4,000 to invest.

Beaupré expects the program to continue, though the grants that made it possible haven’t all been renewed. The summer service learning internship program and the philanthropy project, spearheaded by philanthropist Roger Grein, were funded through a variety of sources, including The Mayerson Foundation, Knowledge Works Foundation, Xavier, other private and corporate donors, and the Ohio Community, Higher Education and School Partnerships initiative.

Xavier Magazine

Price of Fame

The department of athletics gave away David West bobblehead dolls to the first 3,000 people through the gate for the Creighton game on Dec. 31. Fans were so eager to get their hands on the ceramic creations, they began lining up three hours before tipoff.

One person, though, couldn’t wait that long. The department ordered 120 cases of the dolls, but one was missing. Fortunately, says assistant athletic director Tom Eiser, extras were ordered so none of the fans got shorted. Just the media.

The missing bobblehead box was eventually found—in a nearby mall. The thief sold them to a local vendor, who was reselling them for $22 each. The vendor apparently wasn’t aware of West’s popularity, however. They were later selling on eBay for as much as $60.

Xavier Magazine

Masked Man

Brian Kathmann isn’t always himself. He has two alter egos. They tend to get more attention than he does and force him to live in relative obscurity, but the sophomore marketing major doesn’t really mind. Especially not since January when one of them got him a free trip to Hawaii.

On eight weekends a year, he becomes Who Dey, the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals. He gets to celebrate with the players, dance with the Ben-Gals cheerleaders and make kids smile.

And, if that wasn’t enough, each year the National Football League flies a few team mascots to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, and this year Who Dey got the call. Kathmann spent five days on the island, making appearances at NFL events and spending some quality free time on the beach. He had to miss some classes, he says, but was willing to make the sacrifice for the good of the team.

Kathmann is also one of two people who work Xavier basketball games as the Blue Blob.

Xavier Magazine

From the Roots

Joe McDevitt, Jim O’Donnell, John Burns and Joe Grever are a rare breed. The four have been going to Xavier basketball games since Franklin Roosevelt was president and “Gone With the Wind” was the big new movie. Sixty-five years.

The four, along with six other friends, grew up in neighboring Evanston. They began attending football and basketball games for a dime and have remained dedicated Musketeer fans since, following the team to its various home venues—Schmidt Fieldhouse, Riverfront Coliseum, the Cincinnati Gardens and now the Cintas Center. They bought season tickets in each and met up for socializing before and after every game.

Today, the group’s numbers have dwindled, but you can still see at least four of them at each game, having a good time, just as they did as 12-year-olds.

“It’s basically my one sort of entertainment,” says McDevitt. “I enjoy college basketball.”

“The Cintas Center, the whole new campus, it’s happening,” says Burns. “I am so proud I knew X from its roots.”

Xavier Magazine

The Game of Life

Sherwin Anderson was at the University only a week when he got the news. Back home, in the rock-hard, trash-filled projects of Brooklyn, N.Y., his best friend was in jail. Murder. Pulled out a gun and shot a man.

Anderson was in a daze. The only world he knew had just exploded, and the world he was now in was unlike any he’d ever seen. It was clean, safe, in some ways soft. His roommate grew up in a small town with plenty of food and money. The two would sit around and trade stories about the dichotomy of their lives. Big city vs. small town. Rich vs. poor. Seven days into his college career, Anderson was already in the middle of one of the biggest tests of his life.

“I arrived on campus with a boom box and some clothes,” Anderson says. “I didn’t know you needed all that other stuff. I didn’t know how to study or go to class. The schools where I came from had different study habits, different class system, different culture. It was a major test.”

By the end of his freshman year, Anderson was on academic probation. He sat on the verge of losing his basketball eligibility and finding himself back on the streets.

But Anderson grew. He changed. He matured on the court as a basketball player and off it as a person. He graduated early, entered the master’s degree program in sports administration and set himself up for his current job as owner of the Shining Stars Sports Program, which teaches basketball and life skills to more than 500 local kids a year.

And he’s not the only one. Each year the University recruits athletes from the fringes of society, where academics aren’t emphasized and life is dangerous. And each year, the University graduates athletes who leave as better people.

Jamal Walker came to the University from the gang-infested jungle of the Bronx, N.Y. He’s now the athletic director at Woodward High School in Cincinnati, trying to turn around others who are facing the same circumstances he once faced.

Stan Kimbrough came from a part of Cleveland that was so rough someone stole his first basketball on the day he got it—Christmas. He now runs Kimbrough for Kids, an organization that teaches kids to read and write and play basketball.

When he first arrived on campus, Lenny Brown had such a hard time adjusting to leaving the streets of Delaware that he actually quit—went home. The coaching staff had to talk him into returning. He graduated and is now playing pro basketball overseas.

“When Kevin Frey came here from Chicago, he came in with a lack of trust in others—particularly adult figures—for a variety of reasons,” says director for athletics Mike Bobinski. “By the time he graduated, he totally changed. He had a great basketball career, but our greatest success was how he changed as a person. It would have been a hollow victory if he graduated but was the same person he was when he came here.”

Critics dismiss Division I college athletics as sports factories, shuffling people through, using them for financial gains and then forgetting them when their eligibility is over. The University hasn’t strayed from the ideals of what student-athletics is supposed to be.

“If you don’t turn out people who are better off than when they came in here,” says Bobinski, “you’re not doing your job. The outline for that has been in place for a long time at Xavier, and we’re the better for it. But we tell our coaches, no matter where you’re recruiting, it’s important to get a person with certain defining characteristics. That’s one of the tricks of recruiting—to get to the bottom of what a person is really like. That’s especially true today because you don’t get to spend as much time with an individual as you used to.”

Ask those who changed and they cite three main sources of influence: the coaches, the administrative staff and current or former players.

Former standout Michael Davenport understands this and is in the beginning phases of starting a mentoring program for University athletes to help them adjust to life once they are out of college. The program will help them understand what they are going to face in the real world and what they are going to do without sports being so prominent in their lives.

“Xavier saved me personally,” says Anderson. “I can’t say I would have been involved in that shooting back home, but you never know how the guy’s friends would have retaliated. I could be dead or in jail.”

Xavier Magazine

Working for Keeps

The registration deadline for spring semester was a week away and Adrian Schiess was on a mission. More than 30 freshmen hadn’t registered to return, and his job was to find them and keep them here.

Through phone calls, face-to-face meetings and dogged persistence, Schiess whittled the losses to just 15 students out of 757 in the class, returning 17 to the rolls and giving the University a mid-year freshman retention figure he could boast about—a record 98 percent.

Such figures are a major reason why the University does so well in the annual U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of best colleges.

Schiess, who became the University’s first freshman retention director in 1990, acts as an advocate for first-year students, assisting with a wide range of issues that can overwhelm students in their most difficult—and most vulnerable—year.

In this year’s U.S. News rankings, the University’s annual retention rate for freshmen was 90 percent—the best in the Midwest and 8 percent higher than similar universities.

Xavier Magazine

Tech Talk

The University is getting rewired. In January, the University began installing a multimillion dollar high-tech administrative data system that will integrate all of the University records—alumni, student, financial and human resources—thereby allowing information to be more easily shared and accessible. That information is now scattered around campus on different systems.

The new web-based system, known as SCT Banner, will also allow for the development of a web portal for students, faculty and staff, making it easier for people on campus and visitors on the web to find information.