Xavier Magazine

Message Delivered

Claire Seidenfaden wants to clear up any confusion. The 1944 Edgecliff graduate says it’s important for her fellow alumni to realize that the Edgecliff scholarship fund is an important component of Xavier’s annual fund. Further, she says, Edgecliff alumni need to understand that a gift of $1,000 or more to the scholarship fund gives automatic membership in The 1831 Society, the organization reserved for donors who make leadership gifts to the annual fund.

And it’s not just Edgecliff alumni who are eligible. An annual fund gift of $1,000 or more to any University initiative qualifies the donor for 1831 membership, says Leigh Ann Fibbe, assistant director for the annual fund.

“We recognize and appreciate the fact that these donors could have made gifts to any of a number of organizations, but they chose Xavier,” she says. “So we’ve created several special events and other forms of recognition to show that appreciation.”

But perhaps the biggest benefit is helping underwrite the mission of educating well-rounded leaders. “With the rising cost of education, any little bit these students receive in the way of a scholarship is a big, big help,” Seidenfaden says. For more information about The 1831 Society, contact Fibbe at 513 745-3969 or

Xavier Magazine

Alumni Support

While today’s students hear a lot about becoming men and women for others, proof that such lessons aren’t lost were easy to find following Hurricane Katrina.

Paul Verst, 1977 graduate and president of Verst Group Logistics in Kentucky, donated several semi-trailers to haul food and clothing his company collected to the Gulf Coast. Former Xavier and National Basketball Association standout Tyrone Hill provided housing in Atlanta through his foundation for those dislocated from the area.

Tom Sedler, a 1956 graduate and president of Home City Ice in Cincinnati, loaded up 950 tractor-trailers with 5.6 million bags of ice—valued at $3 million to $4 million—and sent them to New Orleans and surrounding areas. The ice was purchased by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In all, it was about 20 percent of the ice sent to the South.

Sedler also gave $100,000 to the University to help defray the expenses of the students who came here from New Orleans schools. He wanted to make a financial contribution to New Orleans, but news reports of local corruption there worried him.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable sending money there,” he says. “I heard on the radio students were coming up to Xavier, and I knew Xavier would spend the money wisely and properly.”

Xavier Magazine

Unobtrusive View

They’re seats suitable for Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee—courtside. For the first time, the University is making available courtside seats for men’s basketball games. Eight seats, which are part of press row, are being offered to donors to the All For One club, the development arm of the department of athletics. Two seats are offered for each donation of $25,000 or more. Go to to learn more.

Xavier Magazine

Media, Myself and I

Here’s one way to get the inside scoop: Media guides for men’s and women’s basketball are now for sale. The books, which have traditionally been available only to members of the working press, include player profiles, coaches comments, statistics, year-by-year records, historical data and more.

The guides are available in person in the department of athletics offices or by mail. Order forms can be downloaded Men’s media guides are $15 in person or $20 by mail. Women’s media guides are $5 in person or $10 by mail.

Xavier Magazine

A New Hall

The University inducted three new members into the athletic hall of fame in November: golfer Steve Dixon, basketball player Joseph Geiger and volleyball player Elizabeth Osterday.

Dixon’s nine medalist honors rank first in Xavier history. He won the Atlantic 10 Championship twice, was named Xavier player of the year all four years of his career and ended his career as the leader in scoring average at 73.76.

Geiger helped Xavier capture the National Catholic Championship in 1963 as a junior. He led the nation in free-throw percentage at 90.2 percent as a sophomore and was seventh in the nation as a senior at 86.9 percent. He still holds the team record for free-throw shooting in a season and a career. After his graduation, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals of the National Basketball Association.

Osterday led the University to a 76-49 overall record during her career. She still holds the school record for digs in a career (1,728), and holds the second, third, fourth and seventh spots for digs in a season. She is also fourth all-time for kills in a career with 1,384 and finished her career as the fifth member of the 1,000-1,000 club for kills and digs in a career.

The event also christened the new Xavier University Athletic Hall of Fame in the Cintas Center. The hall includes displays with a variety of memorabilia and trophies, video monitors and much more.

Xavier Magazine

Play Time

By all accounts, Dec. 19, 1973, was a typical early winter day at Xavier—cool, bare, quiet. Finals were finished and the students had already abandoned campus.

The day, though, turned out to be anything but typical. Within the University’s hallowed halls, the board of trustees gathered, and on its agenda was an item that would forever change the face of the University: Xavier football.

For years the football program had been bleeding money—approaching $300,000 annually—and the administration ordered a report on how to resolve the problem. Several options were put forth, from staying the course to discontinuing the sport altogether.

It was a difficult issue and a difficult time. The University was struggling with its own financial situation and managed to balance the overall budget only after imposing severe spending restrictions. Plus, the team was struggling, compiling a record of just 11-40-1 over the previous five years.

After extensive discussions, the board reached a conclusion, and it was the most drastic one. By an 18-3 vote, football at Xavier was finished. Suddenly this typical early winter day became arguably the single most important day in the University’s 175 years of athletic history.

Football had long been the University’s athletic centerpiece, dating back to its beginnings in 1901. Baseball was America’s pastime, and Xavier fielded a team, but football was its passion. When the University moved to Avondale in 1919, it agreed to build a stadium to quench the desire. Businessman Myers Y. Cooper conducted a campaign to help pay for it, bringing legendary coach Knute Rockne from the University of Notre Dame in to speak. By the time Rockne was done, Cooper had raised $300,000.

For the next 44 years, football dominated crisp autumn Saturdays on campus, with Xavier sending a number of players to the professional ranks and grabbing the nation’s attention in 1950 by beating Arizona State University in the Salad Bowl. By its end, Xavier football had an overall record of 307-228-21.

If the demise of football had any positive repercussions, it was that more attention and resources were now given to basketball. The origins of Xavier basketball trace back to 1915, to a time when the team was without a gym and played in local parishes. But 13 years after taking the court for the first time, the basketball team moved into Schmidt Fieldhouse, a gift from alumnus Walter Schmidt that was the largest structure in Ohio at the time.

While the Elite Eight appearance of the men’s basketball team in 2004 was a key moment in Musketeer history, its pinnacle—thus far—actually came nearly 50 years earlier with the capturing of the 1958 National Invitation Tournament. At the time, the NIT was the crown jewel of postseason play, and winning the tournament placed Xavier at the top of the collegiate basketball world.

Through the years, the University added various other sports—track, golf, tennis, volleyball and even rifle, which became arguably the most successful varsity sport with two NCAA Championship runner-up titles, 51 All-Americans and two Olympians. The enactment of Title IX legislation in 1972 helped create a balance of men’s and women’s sports.

Xavier now has 16 varsity sports, half of which are women’s teams. Many club sports teams also gained the University national attention, including boxing, sailing and polo.

While much has changed in the University’s athletic world in 175 years, some things have not—upholding academic standards, for instance. Even as far back as 1932, the University’s stand on academics and athletes was remarkably similar to the standards in effect today.

“There is but one standard of both discipline and studies strictly enforced upon all students, whether engaged in athletics or not,” the University wrote in response to a regulatory edict by the Father General in America regarding the conduct of Catholic college athletics. “In fact, the opinion is abroad that we are more strict in enforcing these standard on so-called athletes than on other students.”

While some still may have grumbled about what they perceived as preferred treatment, Terence Kane, S.J., chairman of the board of athletic control in 1935, summed up the issue—then and now.

“There is no reason for raising the scholastic standard for athletes, because it was already more rigorous than in most schools and more vigorously enforced,” Kane wrote. “There is no need of de-emphasizing athletics at Xavier because they have never been unduly emphasized.”

Xavier Magazine

Talking Points

A mission to open dialogue between Christian and Jewish leaders in America and Islamic leaders in South Asia found a common ground. But professor emeritus of theology Paul Knitter found his moral principles challenged when presented with an opportunity to meet with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

At first, Knitter balked because of Musharraf’s reputation as a dictator who appointed himself president in a 1999 coup. But when encouraged by other members of his trip, Knitter relented and participated in a conversation that included hard-nosed questions about terrorism, democracy and women’s rights. He was pleasantly surprised by the opinions of his host, who said he supported U.S. efforts to take out Saddam Hussein though not the methods used, and his apparent desire to remove Islamic extremists from his country and improve human rights for Pakistanis.

Overall, Knitter says, the trip was successful in creating dialogue between the religious groups.

Knitter followed up the trip with a stop in New York City where he met with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The next step, he says, is to bring together religious and political leaders from the U.S. and the Islamic countries visited—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. “We want to bring the religious leaders into the conversation so we can be sure that religion is part of the solution, or it will continue to be part of the problem.”

Xavier Magazine

Storm Surge

The first day of his first semester of college began for Karan Motiani far from home and far from where he was supposed to be. Instead of discovering the locations of his classrooms in New Orleans and meeting his professors for the first time, Motiani spent Monday, Aug. 29, holed up in a hotel in Houston with a bunch of people he didn’t really know while Hurricane Katrina battered his dormitory on the campus of Loyola University.

The lessons learned, though unexpected, are priceless. Since Aug. 23, Motiani has been on the road: He’s traveled from his home in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to New Orleans, where brunch on the last day of orientation was followed by a rushed evacuation to Houston for four days, then to Mississippi, back to St. Thomas and finally to Cincinnati where he is now a Xavier freshman. The whirlwind left him breathless but grateful.

“We took over 20 rooms at the hotel in Houston and stayed there about four days hoping to drive back into New Orleans,” Motiani says. “The hotel had to kick us out, so we drove north to Mississippi and stayed in my friends’ relatives homes. It was a party every night at someone’s house.”

Motiani is one of 28 students routed by Katrina from universities in New Orleans who are berthed for the fall at Xavier in a joint effort among the Jesuit universities to ensure their education isn’t interrupted. Xavier was able to take in so many because it had space caused by a smaller-than-expected freshman class, says Marc Camille, dean of admission. “My initial thoughts were it was probably too late, but I thought about it and decided we need to make it happen, “ Camille says. “What was amazing was how quickly the campus came together.”

Professors made room for the new students and helped them catch up. Financial arrangements were made so students don’t have to pay twice. Students were let in before their paperwork arrived. Initially there were 11 students from Loyola University New Orleans, 12 from Tulane University and seven from Xavier University of Louisiana, but two didn’t show up. Motiani picked Xavier over several other offers when Camille phoned him personally.

“They said, ‘Just come on up.’ They gave me housing and freshman status,” Motiani says. “I’m in the accelerated pre-med program at Loyola and needed a certain type of program of labs and lectures, and Xavier was able to do that for me.”

By Sunday, Sept. 4, he and his father were in a hotel nearby, shopping to replace what he’d left behind—which was just about everything. “I’d walked out with my laptop, two changes of clothes, one pair of socks and my slippers.”

While Motiani was grabbing his laptop that Saturday night, Natalie Younger, a senior at Xavier of Louisiana, left her computer on her bed and grabbed her cat, Cameren, instead. They rode to a friend’s house in Houston, leaving at 3:00 a.m. and arriving 15 hours later.

“When we first got to Houston, a lot of us were studying because we had things due on Monday,” Younger says. “We still thought we were going back. Then we heard the levies were breaking.” Her mother, Anna Ghee, a Xavier University assistant professor of psychology, urged her to enroll at Xavier here. Now living at home, Younger is enjoying new-found friends but struggling with being torn from her world in New Orleans, where she’s also in pre-med.

“I expected I would have to be separated from my friends because it’s my senior year, but this was devastating,” she says. “I’ll be happy to get back with them. That was the hardest—not having my friends and not knowing anyone.”

Younger returned with her father to her New Orleans apartment in October to recover what she could, but her car was a total loss. The storm also interrupted her efforts to apply to medical school because all application materials are housed temporarily at Duke University.

“What I have learned is that life is unpredictable,” she says. “I also learned about the kindness of people. The people at Xavier really surprised me.” The experience surprised Motiani as well. After moving into “south pit”—the basement wing in Brockman Hall—he’s been overwhelmed by the generosity he’s encountered and the friends he’s made. Now he’s not sure he wants to leave.

“It’s been the best experience,” he says. “Everyone here is like, ‘Don’t leave,’ and they started a fund to keep me here. If Katrina had never happened I wouldn’t know about Xavier, and now that I’ve made so many lifelong friends, I really don’t know.”

Xavier Magazine

Seeking Justice

Three students in Xavier’s philosophy, politics and the public honors program took their studies on the road last summer. They were researching a consent decree involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture and efforts to make reparations for decades of unequal treatment of African-American farmers. Having already attended Congressional hearings in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., they spent the summer getting the other side of the story by interviewing farmers on their southern farms.

The decree was reached in the late 1980s with a class of black farmers, and the students wanted to document evidence from the farmers themselves. There have been allegations that some black farmers were unfairly denied loans or grants from programs set up by the court. Students built a web site with information about the issue last year. But a grant obtained by their instructor, Gene Beaupré, funded three sophomores—Joe Moorman, Mary Rose Miller and Courtney Hansman—to work on a video about the case as well. After videotaping legislators, the students went south to interview farmers. One interview takes place in the cotton fields belonging to a farmer and his son, who was told he didn’t have enough education to qualify for a loan, even though he has a four-year degree.

“That’s really the best example of someone who was deserving who didn’t receive a loan,” Miller says. After a lengthy appeal, the son prevailed. “Our main message is to raise awareness of the issue among the constituency and in Congress starting with college campuses.”

The students hope to air the video at conferences and schools across America.

Xavier Magazine

Business Breakthrough

The first consultant-in-residence for the Williams College of Business was found in Xavier’s own backyard. Peter Block, an authority on civic engagement and community development, is a guest lecturer for the college and will work with University advisory boards.

“I accepted this opportunity because Xavier has a larger sense of purpose and values than simply attending to its own business,” Block says. “It cares about the communities it touches. My commitment is to create fresh thinking and projects that bring about a marriage of economic and social activism.” Block is a best-selling and award-winning author and consultant whose book, The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters, won a 2002 Independent Book Publisher award. His works present alternatives to traditional methods of managing organizations. His other widely known books include Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used and Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest. He is a Cincinnati resident and partner in Designed Learning, which offers workshops on the skills outlined in his books.

“Peter’s expertise is in community-building initiatives,” says Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the business school. “He will help us extend our programs to the neighborhoods surrounding the Xavier campus through collaborating with the Community Building Institute at Xavier and Xavier’s Brueggeman Center for Dialogue.”