Xavier Magazine

Team Player

How does David West stack up against Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and some of basketball’s all-time greats? Time will tell. But Sports Illustrated at least lumps him into the same publication as the others.

West is featured in Sports Illustrated: The Basketball Book, a compilation of more than 300 photographs and stories about the sport of basketball. West is in the college basketball section under the NCAA All-Decade Team for the decade beginning in 2000. He’s joined by Connecticut’s Emeka Okafor and three Duke players, Jason Williams, J.J. Redick and Shane Battier.

Xavier Magazine

Service with a Smile

Between practices, games, studying and weight training, free time is a valuable commodity among student-athletes. But Xavier’s student-athletes commit to at least one service project each semester, ranging from Habitat for Humanity to delivering Thanksgiving meals. This winter, members of the cross country and swim teams got together and helped out at Winton Hills Academy, a local public grade school.

The plan was to have the student-athletes talk about their experiences and what the students can do now to give themselves the opportunity to go to college and possibly play sports. And they did. But the student-athletes also showed up during a “Fun Friday” at the school. That meant they spent much of their time doing what comes naturally for them—playing games with the students. All in the name
of service, of course.

Xavier Magazine

Intelligent Choice

Jill Quayle, a senior middle blocker on the volleyball team, was named Honorable Mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. She is only the second Musketeer to earn the distinction, joining Sara Bachas in 2001.

Quayle was the 2007 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, finishing the season as the A-10 leader in hitting percentage (.386) and blocks with 1.28 per game. She ended her career at Xavier in first place all-time in block assists for a career (442) and second all-time in hitting percentage for a career (.330). Quayle’s .386 hitting percentage for 2007 is tied for first place in Xavier program history for a season. She led the team to runner-up titles for the A-10 regular season and A-10 Championship and helped the team garner its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Xavier Magazine

The Value Game

You can’t really put a price tag on how valuable the men’s basketball program is to the University. There are just too many variables, too much vagueness. What, after all, is the price of pride? But Forbes magazine gave it a try. The financial magazine, which regularly assembles values of professional sports teams, collected some quantifiable figures from college programs around the country—including Xavier’s—added them together and came up with what it determined to be a program’s net worth.

Accurate? Probably not. But the figure it came up with put Xavier in the same place as its academic achievements and on-the-court abilities—among the nation’s elite. Xavier ranked No. 20 on the list with a perceived value of $10.7 million, prompting the magazine to note that, “The Musketeers are the most valuable mid-major basketball program in the country.”

While the department of athletics is constantly fighting the “mid-major” label—and being ranked among the top 20 is a good argument against being a “mid” anything—it was more than willing to accept being lumped into the same ranking as some of the sport’s longtime powers.

“As you look around at the variety of tools people use to evaluate and rank programs,” says director for athletics Mike Bobinski, “if we rank in the top 20 of any of those, we look at it as a positive and we’ll take it. But the reality is, we’re not so sure that’s a thorough or complete study. We don’t spend $10 million on our basketball program. The other reality is, on the scale of top to bottom, there was a financial difference of two and a half times.”

The values (see sidebar), according to Forbes, were based upon what the programs contribute to four primary beneficiaries: their university (money that goes into the institution for academic purposes), their athletic department (net profits), their conference (from tournament revenue) and the local community (incremental spending by visitors).

The program provides money to the University in the form of 12 full-ride scholarships and has brought in more money to the Atlantic 10 Conference than any other team—Xavier’s been in the NCAA or NIT tournaments nine times in the 12 years it’s been in the conference. But what makes Xavier so financially valuable, according to Forbes, is “due in large part to its lucrative seat licensing program.” The magazine values the seat license program, in which fans pay a premium to be granted season tickets, at $4 million annually.

That money, though, doesn’t go toward the department of athletics’ net profits, says Bobinski, but rather goes toward paying debt on the construction of the Cintas Center.

Even though the rankings are closer to an estimate than an audit, they continue the litany of praise for the program. In October, Basketball Times magazine ranked Xavier No. 9 on its list of top 10 programs in the United States for the quality of the program both on and off the court. The magazine does its rankings once every five years, and Xavier, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina were the only teams to make every list since 1997.

Also, in May, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced all 16 of the athletic programs at Xavier met its new academic guidelines—and nine of the programs had perfect scores.

“Anytime you get mentioned in rankings like that, it creates a critical mass around the program,” says Bobinski. “We have to go head to head with those other programs in recruiting and this helps avoid widening that gap. But all of this is something that’s been earned over a long period of time. We’ve been on a 25-year upward trajectory, and I don’t see that stopping.”

Xavier Magazine

Summer Walk

Last summer, senior marketing major Shigeki Tanabe walked a Christian pilgrimage from Le Puy, France, to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the remains of Saint James the Great are rumored to be buried. “I heard about the pilgrimage from my host family in Germany while I was in high school,” Tanabe says. “I was also inspired by a family friend who did a Japanese pilgrimage. I was very curious about it. It is rare for Japanese people to do a pilgrimage.”

The Hyogo, Japan, native traveled the 950-mile journey from May to August. “Walking every day was hard, but I met so many different people that I would not have met in my usual life,” Tanabe says. “I also thought about things I usually don’t think about.”

Xavier Magazine

Saving Schools

Robert Bueter, S.J., lifts a series of maps onto a round table in his office and studies the collection of red and black dots scattered across the pages. The red dots, each representing a loss of 20 school-age children, are clustered in the older Cincinnati neighborhoods. Larger shapes interspersed among them depict the many Catholic schools struggling to serve students who aren’t there anymore. But north of the I-275 beltway are hundreds of black dots, each representing an increase of 20 children. Noticeably absent, however, are school buildings.

“The maps tell me where the schools should be,” Bueter says.

For example, in Butler County, where the Lakota public school district struggles each year with growing enrollment, a flurry of black dots represents 6,000 Catholic families in two parishes—but no grade school. Most of the children attend the public schools. The scenario is repeated in a ring of suburbs stretching west to east beyond the beltway in neighborhoods where families moved in but the Catholic schools did not.

Despite the declining Catholic school enrollment, Bueter has a vision. Ordained in 1973, the Jesuit educator has worked passionately in Catholic education, literally saving floundering high schools in Lexington, Ky., and Chicago. In January 2007, Bueter came to Xavier as associate director of the newly founded Center for Catholic Education, which aims to improve and enhance Catholic education in the Cincinnati region by lending its expertise and resources to local Catholic schools.

“The idea of a center was floated to ensure the long-term health and stability of Catholic education in our region,” says the center’s director, Mike Flick. “A lot of Catholic schools today are experiencing declining enrollment, which creates a financial burden on a parish and makes the feasibility of operating a school questionable. There are a whole lot of ways we can help. Our charge was to make the resources of Xavier available to the schools.”

With Bueter leading the day-to-day operations and Flick overseeing the mission, the center has in its short 12 months refocused existing programs and added new ones. Aided by a partnership with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Schools Office, it sponsored two summits on Catholic education, presented a nationally known speaker on parenting and discipline, and held a workshop for educators, a leadership scholars program for teenage students and a program for middle-school students on the topic of bullying.

But the center’s most enduring impact has been its education programs. The Initiative for Catholic Schools, which began with a $3-million grant from the Buenger Foundation in 2004, came under the center’s wing last January and graduated its first class of 100 students in June after they completed professional development courses in math and science instruction and administrative leadership. The remaining grant money is now supporting a second class of Catholic school teachers and principals from 15 new schools, and Flick expects a third class to complete the program next year.

Mary Ann Ellerbrock was an early success story. A seventh-grade teacher from St. Vivian Elementary for 13 years, Ellerbrock landed a job as assistant principal at another school, St. Columban in the growing suburb of Loveland after completing the program.

“That summer when I came into this job interview, I had to laugh because so many of the questions aligned so closely with what we’d talked about in class,” she says. “I was pretty well prepared for the interview. It was amazing the way it all fell into place. That was the goal—to move teachers into administration. It was so exciting to get the position.”

In January, the center started a new program for Catholic school educators who are seeking a Master of Education. About 60 students signed up for the program, taking advantage of a nearly 60-percent discount in tuition.

“Our goal is to assure Catholic school teachers are viewed equally or as more competent than public school teachers,” Flick says. “They need to be highly qualified with a master’s degree and a state teacher’s license. Our goal is making sure teachers and administrators are perceived as being professional, and Xavier is in a position to do that with a discount.”

Xavier also discounts graduate-level tuition costs for all Catholic educators working in a Catholic school.

Bueter, who’s teaching two of the classes, says he’s sharing his maps and the sobering demographics about declining enrollment in Catholic schools with his students in hopes of drawing Catholic families back from the public schools.

“That’s why it’s important to do this program,” he says. “The new programs can educate people to the reality of the situation. Some parents think they can have good education in the public schools without good religion and morality under them. But schooling is what we’re about here, and religion is what makes us better.”

Xavier Magazine

Grass Roots Politics

The bus pulled out at 6:00 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, headed for the biggest party these Xavier students had ever attended. By evening, all 40 students—along with professors, news reporters and Cincinnati political tag-alongs—arrived in Des Moines, Iowa, during the heat of the highly contested Iowa political primary.

Pumped by their chance to see preparations for the Iowa caucuses—and all the candidates—up close, the political science students also made it personal by putting in 15 to 20 volunteer hours each through the weekend at the offices of the presidential campaign of his or her choice.

The work was basic and involved mostly phoning Iowans likely to attend the upcoming caucuses in January. But the experience gained was unlike anything out of a textbook, says political science professor Gene Beaupré, who organized the trip.

“They saw a kind of retail politics not practiced anywhere else in this country,” Beaupre says. “They were so much a part of the process—they met the candidates, they were close to the people running the campaigns. It’s a kind of closeness that is unforgettable.”

Xavier Magazine

Exchanging Places

A new study abroad program not only sends Xavier students to Paris but is now bringing Parisian students to Xavier. The student exchange program with the University of Marne la Vallée grew out of the efforts of associate philosophy professor Steven Frankel, who taught at the American University of Paris from 1999-2003. He imagined how beneficial it would be for Xavier students to study with some of the professors he met in Paris and helped negotiate the program.

So far, four students from Marne la Vallée have come to  Xavier to study, while only one Xavier student has attended Marne la Vallée. The plan is, however, to have two Xavier students go to Paris every fall and two Marne la Vallée students come to Xavier each spring.

“The University of Marne la Vallée is attractive because it’s located on the outskirts of Paris and has all the amenities of an American-style campus,” says Frankel.

Xavier Magazine

A Step Ahead

In her tiny apartment kitchen, Rosie Swan creams butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in her stand mixer. After slowly adding flour and other dry ingredients, she forms the dough into round balls using a metal scoop, spaces them apart on a baking sheet and slides them into the preheated oven. The end result: cookies. 

And money.

And, perhaps, a better job after graduation.

Swan is the owner, manager, baker and delivery driver for The Cookie Jar, a company she created to deliver home-baked cookies around campus—and one of an increasing number of students who are forming their own businesses while still in school. Today, four student-owned businesses exist on campus: FliX, a video rental store; Muskie Market, an online grocery store; Xpress Laundry Service, which picks up and delivers laundry to residence halls; and, of course, The Cookie Jar.

Collectively, they helped The Princeton Review rank Xavier 17th among the top 25 most entrepreneurial schools in the nation. But, more important, the businesses are giving the students what they need to enter the business world one step ahead of others: experience.

Swan, a senior management and entrepreneurial studies student, learned due diligence by doing the requisite research before launching her business—finding students were, um, hungry for her idea. She learned quality control—any less-than-perfect cookies are relegated to a small red tin for hungry roommates. She’s learned economics and marketing and finance.

And, so far, her company is thriving, even winning second place in an undergraduate business competition sponsored by the Williams College of Business. The honor came with a $500 prize, but the real payoff may come later.

“Students believe that learning and managing businesses on campus before graduation gives them much preparation and better experience for their career,” says Daewoo Park, director for Xavier’s Entrepreneurial Center. “They have internship or co-op experience opportunities, but having the opportunity to start, run and manage their own business on campus is very good preparation for future success.”

Tom Awadalla, founder of Xpress Laundry Service, already knows how big of an advantage it can be. With an entire semester to go, he already accepted a job with Merrill Lynch after graduation. His business partners also accepted positions at Smith-Barney, Fifth Third Bank and National City. “The point really was to provide a résumé booster for applying for jobs,” says Awadalla. “And it’s been really beneficial in that sense because it really separates applicants.”

“Their businesses were like launching points for getting great jobs, because people are looking for entrepreneurs in businesses today,” says Tom Clark, former director of the Center, who handed the reins to Park this year.

Park is now developing a black belt program to boost confidence and increase the success rate. “The program consists of yellow, green, blue and black belts,” he says. “At each level, we measure the student’s knowledge, skills and confidence. If they have enough—understanding finance, marketing, accounting and all other areas—we’ll promote them to a black belt. When they finish the black belt program, they can put it on their résumé.”

For Swan, some impressive post-graduate opportunities await. In the meantime, she has some baking to do. In November, she met Kroger CEO David Dillon during a reception on campus and told him about The Cookie Jar.

“The next day I got an e-mail from him, and he ordered seven dozen cookies to be delivered downtown for his meeting on Monday.”

Dillon then offered Swan use of Kroger’s resources, including the opportunity to conduct sampling in its Norwood or Hyde Park stores and use of the company’s test kitchens. Swan also negotiated a contract with Coffee Emporium to bake large, gourmet-style cookies for its stores—one on campus and two around town.

“Some people ask me, ‘Don’t you hate baking cookies now?’ ”she says. “It’s really not that difficult, because I love baking, and the only time it gets really hard is if I have a rough week with homework or a lot of exams.”

In the meantime, she’s rolling in the dough.

Xavier Magazine

Viral Video

When an amateur video showing the explosive nature of Mentos candies when mixed with carbonated beverages hit the Internet and spawned hundreds of copycats, the company knew it had to capitalize on the unsolicited notoriety. But instead of trusting to the masses, the company decided to release its own brand of viral marketing. So they went to a Cincinnati advertising agency where they met Jim Clair, a 2005 graduate with a degree in electronic media. 

“Mentos wanted something that was a little more branded toward them that they could predict would take off just as well,” Clair says. “That was the problem … all the videos were being done and none were by them, so they couldn’t take credit for them.”

He suggested the idea of writing a viral video spot that could be blasted across YouTube along with
creating a Facebook account around a fictional character named Johnny Mentos, hoping to appeal to their 16- to 25-year-old audience.

Clair played writer, director, wardrobe master and casting agent for the commercial, which depicts a male student addicted to Facebook. Soon he’s failing classes and never meets new people. “Then he discovers Mentos and he’s all cool, and very successful and the girls all love him and he’s the life of the party, he dresses better, the whole thing,” Clair says.

With a crew of 11 technicians and 20 actors, he created a video that didn’t look like something a company would produce. And Clair wanted to keep it that way. “We tried to make it flow really nicely, just like it would on TV, but it was a commercial that would never ever play on TV, so you know that there’s something a little ‘off’ going on here,” he says. “It was just meant to keep people wondering and guessing, ‘Did Mentos do this?’ And I think we pulled it off pretty well.”