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Xavier Magazine

Extra Credit: Christian End

Sports psychologist Christian End, a 1996 graduate, returned to the University in August after teaching at the University of Missouri-Rolla. He has authored 12 professional publications, made 35 presentations and been cited in about 200 articles in national and international media. In his first year back on campus, End has kept busy teaching general psychology, social psychology—both graduate and undergraduate—and experimental psychology.

What’s the best part of being back at Xavier? The people. The feeling of community associated with Xavier is one that can’t be matched. Everyone seems to be truly committed to and personally invested in the University’s mission. The shared focus on the students’ development enables collaboration, which enhances and broadens the educational experience.

What research are you involved in? I research the identification between sport fans and their teams, and how this identification impacts behavior such as fan aggression, defensive reactions to defeat, affiliation tendencies and the use of technology. I recently examined the impact of sports on romantic relationships.

Tell us about your classes. They are designed to showcase the “real world” applicability of psychological theory and research. My social psychology course examines how one’s behaviors and thoughts impact others and are impacted by others. My experimental psychology course provides insight into the research process and develops critical thinking, writing and presentation skills. So far no one has booed or thrown a beverage at me. Yet.

Education

Miami University, Doctorate in social psychology, 2002 Miami University, Master of Science in social psychology, 2000 Xavier University, Bachelor of Science in psychology, 1996

PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year for 2002-2003 at the University of Missouri-Rolla’s School of Management and Information Systems Psi Chi Most Inspiring Teacher Award for 2003-2004.

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Xavier Magazine

Chapter Spotlight

In the fall of 1963, Leonard “Rod” Rodriguez left the small, desert town of Blythe, Calif., to study biology at Xavier. It was a long journey. “Maybe someday I will write of my travels to and from Cincinnati during those years along Route 66 and the characters I met along the way,” says Rodriguez, who was named president of the national alumni association in November. The 1968 graduate’s relationship with the association began in 1993 with the establishment of the Los Angeles chapter. Rodriguez served as its first president, when membership included 200 alumni. “We started with simple gatherings for dinner and we grew to hold annual events at Santa Anita Race Track and viewing basketball games,” says Rodriguez. “Over the years we have been involved in projects with Habitat for Humanity and attending plays written and/or performed by Xavier alumni.” Now he represents more than 60,000 alumni in 50 chapters around the world. The middle school vice-principal and former Army captain is serving his two-year term from his home in Pasadena, Calif., traveling to Cincinnati for quarterly board meetings. One of his goals includes informing alumni of the many changes that take place at Xavier and continually inviting them, as he says, “back home.”

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Can-It

Recycling is a personal decision, but the University is trying to make that decision as easy as possible for everyone on campus. And the evidence suggests the efforts are paying off. In 2002, the University recycled around 7 percent of all campus waste, says Bob Sheeran, associate vice president for facility management. That percentage roughly doubled in 2003, then rose again in 2004.

Trash cans in all classroom buildings have been replaced with three-bin containers that specify “cans,” “paper” and “trash.” The University also recycles fluorescent light bulbs, electrical ballasts, oil and yard waste.

Sheeran points out that recycling has a two-fold benefit: It’s cost effective and environmentally responsible. But, he says, more can be done. “The biggest problem we’ve had is ‘contamination,’ where everybody throws their Burger King wrappers in there. When you get too much garbage mixed in with the recycling, it all becomes garbage.”

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Beauty in Building

A little more than a year ago, David Williams realized it was now or never: It was time to become an artist. Since graduating from the University as a history major in 1968, the lifelong resident of Louisville, Ky., had served in the United States Army, been a social worker, run an ice cream truck, worked in a drug warehouse, assisted at the Kentucky Fried Chicken test kitchen, operated his own secretarial firm, and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor. But while Williams’ career path was long on variety, it somehow danced right around his longtime interest in art.

“I had taken art classes when I was in high school and again in the late ’70s,” he says. “In 1978, we had a huge snowstorm that shut down the entire state. I was thinking about really getting into painting. So being snowbound, it was a great time to get started—I took to it like a duck takes to water. I kept on doing that for six months. Then life intervened and other things took priority. I moved to a new place and got into a new personal relationship, but I always wanted to get back into it.”

Still, Williams managed to keep art at arm’s length when he received an inheritance from his grandmother 10 years ago. He continued doing newspaper work, but he also picked up a second job as a security person at Louisville’s J.B. Speed Museum of Art. Change was on the way.

Slow times at the museum afforded Williams lots of opportunities to study up close the works of the masters—and to develop his eye. He found himself drawn to the stark, evocative compositions of Edward Hopper, the brilliant color of Georgia O’Keefe and the masterful brushwork of Paul Cezanne. He also found inspiration in the work of Alice Neel, who he points out “didn’t start painting until she was 55 or 60.”

Finally, the allure became too strong: Williams picked up the brush with renewed intensity. Since then, he has completed 46 paintings, four of which have been sold. His work was featured in the Louisville Courier Journal, and has already appeared in several shows. Painting under the name David Walinski to honor his mother’s Polish heritage, Williams focuses on urban scenes, often choosing to paint old, occasionally ramshackle, buildings, a tendency he ties to his history background and a love of architecture.

“I pick things people might see every day but don’t really pay attention to,” he says. These days, Williams paints three to five hours four or five days a week. His paintings take 15-25 hours each to complete.

“My goal is to make a living off of it, which of course is a long shot,” he says. “I’d love to be able to paint every day, all day. Sometimes I just hate to stop.”

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Xavier Magazine

Beacons in the Night

Mark Hanlon wasn’t thinking about history. He just wanted to see if anyone would notice. Last summer, Hanlon, the University’s operations supervisor, decided to place blue spotlights inside the dome of the Alumni Center tower, a move that would make the tower visible at night from parts of the campus as well as from nearby Interstate 71. Sure enough, people noticed. But they may not realize the historical significance.

The tower was originally designed to house weather lights, but those went dark when World War II broke out—the original owners fearing the lights would serve as a beacon for enemy bombers. So this year marks the first time the tower has been lit regularly, if at all, in about 65 years.

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Xavier Magazine

An Army of Two

Everything was all arranged for my wedding to Stephen. My gown was ready, the club was booked and the honeymoon was paid for. Most of the details were in place. All that was left to do was to anticipate the big moment. Then the phone rang. It was the day before Thanksgiving 1993. Stephen was calling with good news and bad news. He just received word that he was going to be promoted to Captain, but his unit was also deploying to Haiti on a peacekeeping mission. Our wedding would have to be postponed. I was devastated.

Our invitations were due to go out the following Monday. I called all of our vendors. They were wonderful to me and never charged me a penny for their inconvenience. Then I called my family and friends. They were very supportive, although one of my brothers thought it was the appropriate time to suggest that this was Stephen’s clever way of backing out of the wedding. It was not his brightest moment and I told him so in very colorful language. Our wedding was on hold. I wasn’t even married yet, and I learned my first lesson about being an Army spouse-the Army waits for no one and nothing. Not even weddings.

His commander, a wonderful man, took his young aide aside and insisted Stephen bring me to Hawaii to get married before the deployment. That way, God forbid, if anything would happen to Stephen I would be taken care of. I was living in Florida at the time helping my Father take care of my terminally ill mother. My Daddy kissed the bride, gave us his blessing and said he’d be patient until he could give me away at the church. Stephen sent me a plane ticket for Christmas and the elopement was on.

A borrowed dress was my gown and my handsome soldier wore his class B uniform. My friend made me a bouquet and lent me her veil. We were married in a judge’s chambers . They had a celebration dinner for us, including a wedding cake. It was a wonderful day. Not the day we had planned but special in it’s own right.

Believe it or not this is a common occurrence among the rank and file. Our closest friends here in Heidelberg had two weddings due to Haiti as well. This common experience bonded Janet and I instantly. He returned with the 25th Infantry division on the 3rd of April. I will never forget the sight of him marching in to join the welcome home ceremony. After the fan fare died down and a little leave, we packed up to move to Virginia.

That was 11 years ago, and life since has been interesting to say the least. I now have the best husband and three amazing daughters. Along the way we have made many wonderful friends. Thanks to the Army, I have gotten to visit places that many only dream about. I have also lived in five states and now live in Germany, been both mom and dad, missed my sister’s funeral, spent anniversaries and holidays alone, and felt the heartbreak of separation with each deployment. And throughout the years, I’ve come to a conclusion: Although the soldier wears the uniform, it is the spouse that is the true strength behind this great nation’s military.

The soldier I married is another Xavier grad, now, Maj. Stephen Knotts, Class of 1990. He was an ROTC geek and a history major; I was a communications major. We both lived in Kuhlman Hall and had friends in common, but we never met. Amazing considering how small Xavier was then. I do have one memory of him; he was bounding out of the dorm and almost ran me over in his black satin ROTC jacket. During his senior year, one of our mutual friends kept trying to hook us up. I wasn’t interested. He had a girlfriend, and I was busy with school and focusing on my upcoming career in broadcasting. I spent the first Gulf War interning with WLWT-TV in Cincinnati.

Graduation arrived, and I started my new job in news. Stephen returned to Cincinnati over the summer and helped a couple of college friends move across town. They had a roommate-me. He was a great guy, but on his way to Hawaii to be a lieutenant in the Field Artillery. The morning he flew out he said, “I’ll write you.” I said, “Sure you will.” To Stephen that was a challenge.

We started out as friends with a continent and an ocean between us. Through hundreds of letters and who knows how many phone calls, we fell in love. It was all long distance. He came to visit me and flew me to Hawaii for vacation. Incredibly, by the time we were actually married three years later, we had only spent about six weeks together face-to-face. I just knew he was my soul mate and no matter what life or the Army could throw at us, we would make it through together. I never gave the reality of Army life a thought. The future was ahead of us and we would make the best of it. We have since lived in five states-Hawaii, Virginia, Texas Ohio for an ROTC teaching year at Ohio University, and Illinois. Now we are serving in Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is the home of V Corps. It is a beautiful city on the Neckar River about 70 kilometers south of Frankfurt. The post or caserne where Stephen works housed a Nazi Panzer unit before the Americans took it over after WWII. You can just feel the history in the walls and see it on the cobblestone paved streets. We don’t live on post but are lucky enough to live in the small town of St. Ilgen. We have German and American neighbors.

We have assimilated well into our town. The community has been wonderful to us. My German has come a long way thanks to the patience and encouragement of our neighbors and the shopkeepers in our local stores. We have the commissary and the PX so American goods are readily available. Anything I can’t get there I can get on the German economy or our parents are happy to send us what ever we ask for. In fact, other than our families and friends there is little we miss about living in the states.

Our kids go to a Department of Defense school-Patrick Henry Elementary. It has been a great experience for our girls. Charlotte, 8, is in a multi-age classroom participating in a program similar to Montessori. Katie, 6, has the most wonderful kindergarten teacher. Ms. Erickson has given Katie the gift of loving school. What more could you ask for?

We have Armed Forces Network TV and radio. They program a large variety of American television. It’s about a season behind but not too bad. I am horribly jealous that I haven’t seen the new season of The West Wing, but I get to see castles and centuries old cathedrals on a regular basis so I consider it a fair trade.

We love living in Europe, but sometimes service comes with a price you don’t expect to pay. In October, my sister, Paula, who bravely fought a decades-long battle with melanoma, died. I couldn’t make it to say good-bye. I tried to get there, and the Army did all it could to help, but the distance was just too great and the time just too short. My family made it to San Diego to go to her memorial service. My Father turned 80 years old this year, and I worry about him and what this separation will do to my children’s memory of their Papa. He misses us, but we send pictures and talk to him daily, making him an every day part of our lives. I hope it bridges the distance but you can never replace actually being there. Stephen’s parents are experts at being part of their grand children’s lives long distance. My father-in-law, David, is a retired Lt. Colonel and my mother-in-law, Madonna, is an officer’s wife extraordinaire. We are raising second generation Army brats.

Military spouses are remarkable people. We can stretch a dollar, make friends in a commissary line, move our families every few years, be both mom and dad when needed and are often called upon to turn lemons into lemonade. Missed anniversaries, and there have been a few, are celebrated when he comes home like they’ve never passed.

When Stephen goes to the field to train, often for weeks at the time, my girls and I have little rituals to help with missing our daddy. We eat pancakes for dinner and write letters to daddy together. We pray for his safe and speedy return. Most of all we pray for peace. We go to church, CRE and after school activities. In short, we keep our routine. If the kids have the stability of normal things kids do, they handle the stress much better. When I need help, I turn to sisters in arms, my fellow spouses understand. We lift each other up, so we are very strong. We hold each other’s babies and cry on each other’s shoulders. We both love and curse the Army. We didn’t enlist or receive a commission but rather are in this for life. All because we happen to have fallen in love with a soldier.

I know that sounds naive and romantic but it’s true. I never thought about the possibility of him going to war even though I had just watched the Gulf War from inside a newsroom. I have heard people who have little or no concept of my life say dispassionately, “They knew what they were getting into so they have no room to complain.” The truth is that until you live it you have no idea. No one could have foreseen the world events that have lead to the deaths of over a thousand of our soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors. Almost every day, unimaginable anguish is visited upon a family just like mine.

I live a life of service. I chose this life, even though it is a hard row to hoe, and I’ve been known to hate it from time to time. It is full of rewards as well as hardship and duty. I will never forget cutting the cord of a friend’s newborn baby even though I wish it had been his deployed father doing the honors. Every deployment brings great sorrow and loneliness but it also brings me closer to the spouses I serve with, who’s friendship I treasure. The parting of deployment also brings homecoming with the amazing joy of seeing the man I love and have missed for the first time in too many days to count. I can feel the heartbreak of separation lift from my shoulders being replaced by his warm embrace. And for a while, everything is right with the world.

The last 18 months have brought great hardship to our families. So much time apart, so many deaths. Our soldiers have missed many milestones in their children’s lives. Last year, Stephen was deployed “down range” to Operation Iraqi Freedom. He missed our baby Lydia’s first Christmas. I still cry when I think about it. Our home was full of boxes but decorated in our holiday finest. Santa came of course and Stephen was able to call on Christmas Eve to read “T’was The Night Before Christmas” to the girls. We took lots of pictures but it was really hard to be merry and celebrate with the empty place he’d left.

Our homes are often short a parent, but we make the best of it. We try not to let our children dwell on the horror that might be in the next phone call or knock on the door. We lean on each other and march on. We plan trips, have dinners and play bunko to pass the time. It doesn’t quite fill the emptiness, but we try.

Deployments are tough. They train and train for the mission, the mission at hand, is war. Today there are three kinds of soldiers-those training to deploy, those deployed and those returning form deployment. During a deployment, whether training or real life, the possibility of Stephen not coming home to us is real. I try not to dwell on it but with every death in the Global War on Terrorism the reality is driven home. Every day he was deployed to the gulf I worried. I was one of the lucky ones who knew where her spouse was and we were in close contact. But every time there was a lapse in communication I panicked.

Having worked in the world of television news, I am a news junky. I watched a lot CNN. Whether I should have is a topic of deliberation. Did it increase my anxiety or empower me with information? I believe the latter. We are lucky; we haven’t lost any friends in Iraq or Afghanistan. But we do have so many friends there and I worry about them a lot. Many families are serving “down range.” My girls’ Uncle Bob, his brother and brother-in-law are all there. While Auntie Tammy is on the home front taking care of the family and praying. The most important men in her children’s lives are in the war zone We always had to be careful to not talk about when Stephen was coming home over the phone or e-mail. I didn’t even tell our families the details of the homecoming until after he was safely in our house. The Army calls it force protection. We practice force protection all the time, we take different routes when we drive around town, and we don’t wear clothing that have American emblems or are distinctly American. We try to blend in so that we aren’t the objects of interest to anyone looking to harm Americans. We haven’t personally encountered anti-American sentiment, but it is out there.

Military spouses are a beautifully diverse group. We are men and women, not one race or religion. We are liberal fire breathing Democrats, right wing conservative Republicans and independent voters. We are all united by the love we feel for our soldier and all soldiers. Regardless of how we voted in the last election or whether we agree with the war in Iraq we carry one banner: “Support Our Troops.” It is not a political slogan for us; it is our way of life.

Please don’t think our lives are all doom and gloom. We live in Europe, and are enjoying all that it has to offer. My children are happy, well adjusted, pros at traveling and make friends easily. They know that even when we move we keep the friends we leave behind. The next assignment brings adventure and more friends to add to the Christmas card list. My girls have seen Amsterdam in the spring, skied for the first time on the Alps and spent their Thanksgiving holiday exploring the wonders of London. And those are just this year’s highlights. Our family has roots; we put them down every time we unpack our boxes. We plant them shallow so they move easily, but they are well nourished and carefully tended. Home is truly where the Army sends us.

My soldier is home now, but almost certainly will go again. I try not to think about it and just enjoy the time we have together now. I lean on my faith a lot and pray for the spouses who are alone and those who have paid the ultimate price for loving a soldier.

Beth Knotts ’91 is married to Maj. Stephen Knotts ’90.

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Xavier Magazine

Action, Stage Right

Whether it’s Romeo and Juliet or Big: The Musical, you can bet that off in the wings, stage right and in the shadows is Michael Meuche. The 1997 graduate is responsible for, well, just about everything that makes a production successful at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in downtown Cincinnati. He took the position after being bitten by the theater bug while a stage hand for the Xavier theater, running the lights, sound and other production tasks for three years.

He liked it so much that, despite earning a degree in electronic media that prepared him for television, he left jobs with ESPN and a Cincinnati television station to work for the Cincinnati Stage Employees Local, which led to his hiring by the association that runs the Aronoff. Now he makes sure the theater has the necessary equipment for a production and that everything—from light panels and sound boards to traveling drapes and set rails—is working properly.

“I like it because no production is the same,” he says. “There are different people and different sets, ideas or concepts. Most exciting is when you have a full house and the feedback is positive. It affects the actors’ performances, and you just feel better about a production.”

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A Dream Discovered

Regina Koehler could imagine her dream job. She just couldn’t reach it. The 1984 graduate long dreamed of working as a spokesperson for a state agency, but each time she applied, the job went to someone on the inside. So Koehler adopted a circular strategy. She took a clerk’s job with the Ohio Supreme Court. After several years of reviewing legal filings, she moved on to set the docket for upcoming cases. Neither of these jobs was exactly what she had in mind, but they left her more than prepared when her dream position finally opened in the high court’s public information office four years ago.

Now the insider she always lost out to, Koehler applied for the job and got it. For two years, she was the point person who summarized the court’s rulings and answered questions for the press. It was rewarding—if demanding—work. But along the way, Koehler’s dream shifted. She gradually found herself growing less excited about on-camera face time and more excited about helping turn out graphic designs for some of the court’s special projects. So she stepped away from the microphone, studied some new computer software and now spends her time making the court look good. Her current projects include helping create a new brand identity for the court.

The lesson, Koehler says, is that “you never know what God has in store for you, and you can’t despair about where you are because you don’t know where it’s taking you. Be open to the signs you see and feel and don’t be afraid to alter your course; you are feeling those tugs for a reason.”

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