Xavier Magazine

Joy Times Six

In 35 years of caring for newborns, Dr. John Vollman hasn’t seen anything quite like it—and neither have his colleagues.

The 1965 graduate is the former director of the division of neonatology at Akron (Ohio) Children’s Hospital and professor of clinical pediatrics at Northeastern Ohio University’s College of Medicine. And he was part of a nine- doctor group that cared for the Hanselman sextuplets at the hospital earlier this year. The babies, three boys and three girls weighing between 1 pound, 9 ounces and 2 pounds, 10 ounces each, were born within a minute of each other—possibly a record pace—on Feb. 26.

Vollman and his associates began planning for the births far in advance. Then they waited as mother Jennifer Hanselman began five weeks of hospital bed rest. When the sextuplets finally arrived, they were greeted in the delivery room by a team of 34, including six neonatologists.

Unfortunately, Vollman wasn’t among them—he was away in Florida. But that’s a minor personal disappointment, he says. The good news is that the babies are all home and doing well.

Xavier Magazine

Further Reflections on Father Hoff

“I consider myself privileged to have made Father Hoff’s acquaintance and to have actually spent some time with him in one-on-one conversations. His decency, integrity and humility just jumped right out at you and he had a way of making you feel welcome and special with the way he looked right into your eyes when he engaged you and smiled “that smile”. If my memory serves me properly, I think that I first actually made his acquaintance at the “closing ceremonies” for Marion Hall. Father Hoff’s presence at the Hall that weekend—and the words that he spoke to all of us as a group and individually—helped to salve the pain that many of the loyal “Marion” men (myself included) were feeling by the closing of the Hall and the events that led to the closing. I had a number of subsequent meetings with Father Hoff, including my overnight visits to the Xavier Jesuit residence in April of 2003 and April of 2004. I was made aware by you of his illness at the time of my last trip, but when I looked at him and spoke with him I certainly did not get the impression that he was to be leaving us so soon. His words and his body language certainly conveyed peace, tranquility and (despite the fact that he certainly had to know what was coming) joy. Such were his gifts to all of us. Despite our professions of faith, it’s hard say “goodbye” to such a guy without a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. As Roman Catholics, we are taught to believe in the Resurrection and life everlasting, yet “faith” is an elusive thing. Sometimes we “hedge our bets” and find ourselves settling for hoping that what we profess to believe is true. It’s part of our humanity. I don’t doubt that Father Hoff had a few of those moments, but he sure didn’t act like he had too many of them. For what it’s worth, I believe that his faith has been rewarded. Rest in peace, Father Hoff, and may perpetual light shine upon you  . . . and keep smiling down on the rest of us, please.” —Larry Sheehe

“I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at the end of my junior year at Xavier. My grades had fallen that year and I was in jeopardy of losing my scholarship. Fr. Hoff met with me, never once asking me anything about school.  He only wanted to know how I was feeling and dealing with my illness.  At the end, he said ‘don’t worry about your scholarship.’ It is hard to describe what he did for me that day. It was more than alleviating the stress of possibly losing financial aid. His kindness and compassion really touched me and meant more to me than he’ll ever know. I only hope that I can be as much of an influence in someone’s life as he was in mine. I will always be grateful to him.” —Maggie Banker Taul

Xavier Magazine

From the Ground Up

Jim Miller has been trying to get his undergraduate degree for about 27 years, but it looks like his plans will be foiled once again. He’s going to Baghdad.

Miller doesn’t mind, though. In fact, the mission is what he lives for. At age 46, Miller, a senior in Xavier’s weekend degree program for adults, has been offered a spot on the team being put together by an international organization that helps patch up war-torn countries.

Miller went with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to Bosnia in 1996 and again in 2001, quitting his information technology jobs at Cincinnati-area companies. His job on the first Bosnia mission was to prepare the country for mass elections, which meant writing the voting software programs and monitoring the computer systems through the election. The job then switched to processing property claims by those who’d been “ethnically cleansed.” His first stint lasted 13 months.

He got the job by responding to an Internet ad. Five days later, he had $10,000 in his pocket and was on a plane to Vienna. “I don’t know if it was a midlife crisis, but I was just ready for something new, and the more adventurous the better,” he says.

Adventurous it was. But it was also emotionally draining. He heard stories of people who dodged bullets while fetching water or bread, or got their land back only to see their house blown up. He finally left. “It was life-changing,” he says.

Now, the organization is contracting with the provisional government in Iraq to let it manage the property reclamation process when, or if, the Iraqis take over this summer. With about 300,000 property claims successfully completed in Bosnia, the IOM is ready to help Iraqis reclaim what Saddam Hussein took from them. And Miller is ready to go despite the greater danger. The call could come any day. “If there’s an injustice and I can do anything to help, I’m a sucker for that,” he says.

Xavier Magazine

Forever Fans

As members of a family that includes many Xavier University alumni, my wife and I are always impressed and proud of the various accomplishments of the XU students. Over the years, we have seen academic, athletic and subsequent professional excellence firsthand.

My wife, CeeCee, and I have been fortunate to travel and experience the NCAA men’s basketball team’s successful 2003-2004 season. We are season-ticket holders and attended the home games. We also “rode the wave” of March Madness starting at the A-10 Tournament, buoyed by the games in Orlando and further encouraged by the games played in Atlanta.

While we applaud the team’s results, we write this letter to you to highlight an individual. This young man excelled on the basketball court; however, he should also be complimented on his personal attributes.

This person is Justin Cage.

As I mentioned, our family witnessed much of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball season. Our most recent trip to Atlanta included our entire family (including three children ages 2 to 7 years old). On the Saturday of that weekend, my daughter, age 7, and son, age 6, noticed Justin Cage sitting with his family. They were anxious to say hello and possibly, sheepishly ask for an autograph. We were armed simply with an XU basketball cap but no pen.

My children approached Justin. They sheepishly said hello. He politely asked if we had a pen for an autograph. When we replied no, he graciously obtained a pen from one of his family members and signed the ball cap.

The remainder of the interaction is one of more impressive encounters I have had with an athlete, much less an athlete who is 18 or 19 years old.

Justin offered to take the ball cap and have the rest of his teammates sign. He offered to return the ball cap prior to our departure on Sunday. Justin took our name and hotel room number and he stated he would figure a way to accomplish getting the signed ball cap back to us.

Later on Saturday as I was watching our youngest child nap (and watching one of the semifinal regional games conclude), our hotel room phone rang. I answered. To my amazement, the person on the other end said, “Mr. Collins. This is Justin Cage. We have a team dinner and meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. I will take the ball cap with me and get my teammates to sign it.” He indicated that 11:00 p.m. might be the earliest he could return the ball cap. He worried that this time would be too late but I assured him that this time would be fine.

Our children were ecstatic. They told anyone that would listen to them. They called both sets of grandparents.

We went to dinner. Our children talked about the incident and wondered if this could really happen.

We returned from dinner. The children struggled to stay awake, but 11:00 p.m. was a little late for them after a day of swimming and running throughout Centennial Park.

At near 11:00 p.m., the phone rang. My wife answered and Justin politely told her that he was on his way to deliver the ball cap. He did arrive with the ball cap in hand (no small feat considering all the elevator banks one had to cover at the Westin.)

Unfortunately, our older children were not able to wake up.

More unfortunate was that Justin was not able to see the look on our children’s faces when they first saw the ball cap adorned with all the team members’ signatures the next morning. Christmas in March in Atlanta.

We certainly enjoy and appreciate the winning ways of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball team. We are more appreciative and impressed with Justin Cage and the young men that Coach (Thad) Matta is helping to produce. Jim, CeeCee, Morgan, Cameron and Calvert Collins

Xavier Magazine

Down to Business

It was always assumed business students had computer skills, but now they have to prove it.

All business students must now take a computer skills test during orientation. Those who need to bone up on word-processing, Internet, e-mail, PowerPoint and Excel skills must take a one-credit course before being allowed to take Info 200, the introductory course.

“In Info 200, we want to teach how computers are used rather than basic keyboarding skills,” says Cynthia Stockwell, director for undergraduate business programs. “We want to erase this gap and make it a more even playing field.”

Xavier Magazine

Certifiably the Best

What can you say about a guy who beats out more than 1,550 people for the top score on the kind of test that would give most people hives?

Ed VanDerbeck, chairman of the University’s department of accountancy, had this to say: “Mike’s accomplishment is the highest that I’m familiar with in my 28 years at Xavier.”

Now that’s saying something. We’re talking math here, heavy duty financial-type math.

Mike Honan, who graduated last spring with a degree in accounting and is now working on his Master of Business Administration, took the state’s certified public accountant exam this year and got 98 percent right on three sections—business law, financial reporting and auditing. He also earned 96 percent on a fourth section—accounting and reporting.

His accomplishments have earned him a berth at the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche as a staff member in the company’s auditing department. He’ll start there in September after he’s completed his master’s in August.

“I prepared for about four months for the exam,” Honan says. “Studying for it became my full-time job, but when I took the exam, I was very comfortable with the material.”

Apparently what you can say about a guy like that is—practice makes perfect.

Xavier Magazine

Capturing Hussein

Matthew Mattingley is a cowboy—and he helped lasso Saddam Hussein.

The 1998 graduate is a cowboy in the U.S. Army’s Air Cavalry, and since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, he’s been flying Kiowa helicopters and climbing his way up the military ladder. The climb landed him first in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2002 as part of a peacekeeping force, and more recently deep into the heart of Iraq, where he came nearly face to face with Hussein.

In December 2003, he joined the 1st Squadron of the 10th Cavalry, 4th Infantry Division in Tikrit. The unit had been deployed since the war began the previous March, and it was in need of pilots.

“When I walked in to meet the squadron commander, he immediately stated he was extremely short pilots and was glad to see me,” Mattingley, a 27-year-old captain, wrote recently from Iraq.

Three days after his arrival, his unit participated in the capture of Hussein in Al Dwar, about four miles from Tikrit. Mattingley would not reveal details but said they were present when Hussein was discovered in his spider hole.

Most of the time, though, Mattingly’s squadron flies reconnaissance and security missions at night. They don night-vision goggles and soar into the darkness with limited 20/70 vision, no depth perception and everything an eerie shade of green.

“Nothing is more difficult than flying a helicopter under night-vision goggles five feet above the trees at 60 mph trying to locate bad guys and employing your weapons systems,” he writes. “Power lines are our greatest fear. They are difficult to see under goggles. We constantly scan while flying. There are firefights or mortar attacks every night. We do it for the men and women standing next to us.”

While he enjoys dropping candy from his helicopter door to the Iraqi children playing soccer, he’s looking forward to his next mission: teaching American youth. He plans on earning a master’s degree so he can teach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Xavier Magazine

AIDS and Economics

For Ken Overberg, S.J., poverty is a window into a whole different world. Poverty makes people sick, he says. Just look at the world’s HIV/AIDS statistics. “Ninety percent of the world’s people with AIDS don’t have access to treatment because they’re poor,” Overberg says. “The key part is world poverty, and that’s due to economic decisions people make.”

Overberg, a professor of theology, is using his position as a Jesuit and a theologian, along with a research grant he recently was awarded, to take a yearlong sabbatical to tackle one of the world’s most pressing problems—the link between HIV/AIDS and poverty.

“HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that threatens the world and is getting worse even though many in the U.S. fail to realize that,” he says. “We’ve lost consciousness of the severity of it, so one of my hopes is to raise or renew the consciousness of the challenges that it poses, especially in the developing world where most people with HIV live.”

His research focuses on large systemic issues that are tangential to the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially poverty, oppression of women, war and forced migration.

“These are the political and economic issues that many researchers claim are the breeding grounds for AIDS,” he says. “We have to address the sociopolitical issues if we want to address AIDS.”

Xavier Magazine

Academia V. Law

In August 2003, my career as an assistant professor of business law/ethics at Xavier began. It was a striking leap from the Hamilton County Common Pleas bench where I presided as a judge for the previous 14 years. While deciding to leave the bench was weighty, listening to my heart made the choice clear. Now, having completed my first academic year, I feel I am home.

I always wanted to be a teacher. As a girl, I coerced my brothers into playing school—you can picture their enthusiasm—and through college I intended to pursue a doctorate and teach at the college level. Forces prevailed, and I landed in law school with no regrets. My legal career afforded many teaching and writing opportunities, some appreciated, some not.

Still, after a few (OK, many) years of law, I found myself a novice in a new life. At first I felt like Superman in the presence of kryptonite—no more judicial powers, privileges or immunities. No wealth of experience on which to fall back. I peppered my in-house “experts” (five college-age daughters) with questions. Should I use PowerPoint? Cartoons? Lecture v. interactive?

It is truly humbling to know almost nothing about one’s environment, procedures and terminology let alone subtleties like culture and personalities. Being a member of the department of accountancy did not enhance my comfort level; I need an interpreter at meetings. The warmth with which the Xavier community received me and extended help, resources and encouragement, though, is something I hadn’t experienced. It’s not necessary to share a colleague’s zeal for 15th century Czech artifacts or understand Greek literature. What binds everyone together is a passion for teaching and being part of a community truly focused on educating students toward full, rich, responsible lives.

Day-to-day life is entirely different, too. For instance, supply-side economics, not political gaffs, evoke laughs. When someone says, “I was in Indianapolis last weekend,” I’m learning to comment on the Xavier basketball game and not ask if they have family there.

Scheduling is also challenging. As a judge I had about 15 feet of rope to patrol, from my chambers to the bench, under the watchful eyes of my trusty bailiff, gatekeeper and sidekick, Norma Walker. She once blocked the door and asked, “Where do you think you’re going?” after observing I donned my black raincoat instead of my black robe.

Analogies also helped me adjust: Many similarities exist between academia and law. Both student papers and legal briefs run the gamut of brilliant to painful. There are campus characters as wonderful as courthouse ones.

In contrast to my previous daily courtroom visitors, the students are, for the most part, glad to see me and are not in handcuffs. They ask the most unbelievably obscure legal questions and, unlike the lawyers who had the decency to wait for the court of appeals to contradict me, they unceremoniously correct me immediately. Even some of their discouraging comments make me laugh, like an e-mail I received: “Sorry I missed class; did you say anything important?”

Every day there is something new happening on campus. We even have a Segway, propelled by a professor in a tie-dyed lab coat and flashing helmet. He’s promised me a turn. It seems I’ve laughed more in one week here than in the last 10 years.

Probably what rivets my attention the most is the window the faculty and staff have to the students’ lives and thoughts. Sometimes it comes in the form of sharing their excitement about an idea or opportunity. Other times it is more poignant: missing a quiz because of a parent’s illness, a paper on discrimination against diabetics, a sensitizing workshop on sexual harassment. The responsibility of their trust weighs heavily.

The ominous learning curve I am facing pales when compared to the sheer thrill teaching at Xavier gives me. It’s a heartening, supportive, mission-directed environment that is consistent with my personal values and compass.

Hopefully I will have time to accumulate the information and expertise I need to excel as a teacher. If things go optimally, in six years I will be eligible for tenure and in 12 full professorship. I wonder if by then grandchildren can get a tuition break?

Ann Marie Tracey is an assistant professor of business law/ethics.

Xavier Magazine

Setting the Pace

William Randolph Hearst knew a few things about being a pacesetter. So perhaps he’d find it particularly appropriate that the William Randolph Hearst Foundations have endowed the University’s Pacesetter Scholarship Fund to the tune of $200,000 over the past six years. The largest and most recent installment—a $100,000 grant—came in the fall.

Director for grant services Mary Kochlefl says the endowment lends even more stability to the program, which was founded a decade ago by 1960 graduate Charles P. Gallagher. The fund provides a private Catholic education for talented inner-city students from Gallagher’s native Toledo, Ohio. Gallagher funds a bulk of the program, which has sent students to the University since 1997.