Xavier Magazine

Thad Hopes to Win When it Matters Most: In March

Conduct an autopsy on the Skip Prosser era and you’ll find the remains of a hale and hearty program. During his seven years as coach of the men’s basketball team, the Musketeers won 20 or more games six times, beat Cincinnati four times and graduated every senior. The team moved to a better conference, a better arena and, one could argue, a higher plane in the nation’s sporting consciousness. Prosser, a high-profile ambassador for the program and the University, was, in many ways, the ideal coach for this institution.

What he didn’t do, and what left a sour taste in the mouths of many fans—as well as a smudge on his résumé—is win enough games in March. Thad Matta, Prosser’s successor and a head coach for one season, has already won as many NCAA Tournament games as Prosser did in eight seasons at Loyola and Xavier—one.

Matta, who on May 3 became the 15th coach in school history, led Butler University to 24 wins last season, the final coming against Wake Forest, the school Prosser now coaches. Butler opened plenty of eyes by leading Wake 43-10 at halftime of that first round NCAA Tournament game. Xavier’s only NCAA victory in the last nine seasons was an 80-68 defeat of Vanderbilt in 1997.

If future results come even close to equaling the fanfare accompanying his arrival, Matta will be a smashing success. President Mike Graham, S.J., calls him “the best young basketball coach in the country.” In hiring Matta, “we had an opportunity to truly catch a rising star,” adds athletic director Mike Bobinski. “I believe this gentleman, over time, will take our program to places that we have not been. He knows nothing but success. In the last seven years, he’s been to six NCAAs and one NIT with different coaches and different places and one of his own making. To me, there’s no substitute for knowing what it takes to win. I like someone who smells like a winner. The guy exudes success and winning.”

Matta, 33 and the ninth-youngest coach in Division I, has high expectations for himself and the program. His goal for next year: reach the Sweet Sixteen. “The bar at Xavier is set very high and I look forward to moving it even higher,” he says.

He inherits a team that, on paper, should find a spot among next season’s top 25. His chief weapons include Atlantic 10 Conference player-of-the-year David West, three-year starter Kevin Frey, and guards Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato. He also has returning guards David Young and Alvin Brown, what appears to be a talented trio of incoming freshmen, and a tougher schedule. Non-conference opponents include Purdue, Wisconsin, Creighton, Kent State and, of course, crosstown rival Cincinnati.

Matta, who may go deeper into his bench than Prosser typically did, wants the Musketeers to have “an attacking mentality” on offense. He’d like the team to run, but he also wants to make sure West has ample opportunities to score, something that didn’t occur down the stretch of several losses last season.

Matta also wants the Musketeers to be prudent in their shot selection. “It’s important, as I told Lionel Chalmers, to know the difference between a good shot and a quick shot. He informed me he knew exactly what that meant.”

Matta’s first talk with the team included a forecast: “I told them, ‘I guarantee you one thing, we will be the hardest-playing team in the country next year.’ When people look for a word to describe Xavier basketball, I told them it would be ‘toughness.’ ”

Xavier Magazine

Queen City Services

Queen City Service M.B.A. students Wendell Hull, Jeff Terlinden, Houston Mason and Tom Armstrong spent the semester working on a service-learning project—and trying to help their hometown. The trio were consultants for KnowledgeWorks, an Ohio foundation that supports education initiatives. Their task: examine cities where businesses positively impact the community and compare them to Cincinnati. The comparison cities: Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Charlotte, N.C.; and Jacksonville, Fla.

The conclusion: The Queen City has some catching up to do. “In Cincinnati, businesses don’t contribute to the city like they do in other cities,” says Terlinden, a project manager for Fidelity Investments. “The business leaders have a responsibility to contribute to the community.”

Some of the obstacles in Cincinnati, says Hull: Suburban flight, a lack of trust between businesses and education, and a lack of cooperation between Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The students presented their findings in May to Chad Wick, president and CEO of KnowledgeWorks. “There was great value in the work done by this M.B.A. class,” says Wick. “We plan to share the students’ findings with various leaders in our community. I’m sure they will find the work valuable.”

Online Registration This fall, students registering for classes won’t have to stand in long lines outside the registrar’s office. That’s because class registration went online in May. The much-anticipated move is the latest addition to Student Online Services, which allows students to access important information online—grades, bursar bills, schedules, transcripts, course descriptions, add/drop forms. The site should be popular with graduate students who work, since they can now register from home or work, says assistant registrar Laura Ruwe. “The people who come in will be the ones with questions,” she says. “We can give our total attention to them. I think it will improve our level of service.”

Xavier Magazine

Have Carts, Will Travel

Trying to keep pace with the latest in high-tech educational tools, the University purchased two wireless computer carts for use starting this fall. The carts, which will carry up to 30 laptop computers, turn regular classrooms into computer labs. Through wireless signals received by the cart, each laptop can be linked to the University’s main computer network as well as the Internet.

”We have the computer labs, but with this we‘re taking the lab environment into the classroom structure,“ says Bob Cotter, coordinator for instructional media services.

The carts are being viewed as experimental to see how well the technology works, how great faculty interest is, and what‘s the best way to use them, says Cotter. Most of the schools the University consulted with use the carts simply as a replacement for traditionally hardwired computer labs. Xavier, he says, sees the carts being used more like other media equipment—delivered to various classrooms on an as-needed basis. Certain classes, he says, need to be interactive just a few times a semester, and trying to schedule those classes into one of the University‘s three computer labs isn‘t practical or economical.

The carts were purchased from money collected from the student technology fee instituted four years ago. More carts may be purchased in the future, once wire-less technology, one of the computer industry‘s fastest growing segments, becomes more established. ”We‘re trying to push this,“ Cotter says, ”without disrupting the way things operate now.“


Illustration by Mike Prinzo

Xavier Magazine

Murder Proves Academic

Credit O.J. Simpson with creating some of the University’s most popular classes. The messy murders, dream-team lawyers and Inspector Clouseau-style police work brought to everyone’s attention the fascinating world of forensic science.

DNA testing, bullet and weapon breakdowns, organic and inorganic tissue analysis, fiber and hair testing, toxicology and blood studies—the little things that comprise the physical evidence now make up a specialized field of law enforcement. They’re also the subject of a three-course series of electives at Xavier—and some of the most popular courses on campus.

Although a forensic science class was first offered in 1981, it’s grown considerably since the O.J. case six years ago. Today, it’s a series of criminal justice classes taught in conjunction with the department of chemistry that feature daylong workshops led by experienced “participating faculty” like Phil Vannatter, the lead investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department in the O.J. case.

Class sizes are near 50 students and feature lengthy waiting lists. Only about half of the students are criminal justice majors, says Jack Richardson, who chairs the department. The rest come from other departments, drawn mostly by word-of-mouth accounts. What attracts the students is the fascinating, sometimes gory aspects surrounding a homicide, and the workshop speakers.

Some of the experts who have taught a workshop include:

• Clarence Caeser, the senior crime scene analyst for the Cincinnati Crime Lab and a graduate of the FBI school. The 68-year-old Caeser spent more than 40 years as a homicide detective;

• Daniel Shoenfelt, a graduate student and narcotics officer for the Cincinnati Police Division. He shows a surveillance video of a drug purchase and bust, and talks about topics like how methamphetamine labs are made from everyday products;

• Richardson’s wife, Marilyn, who has a master’s degree in molecular biology from Purdue and teaches about DNA and rape evidence analysis;

• Beth Murray, a forensic anthropologist who examines bones and badly decomposed bodies for evidence;

• David W. Jones, the Kentucky state medical examiner in Frankfort; and

• Jim Dibowski, a postal inspector and handwriting expert.

It was in the 1960s that physical evidence first surpassed eyewitness accounts of a crime to become the true identifier of guilt, says Richardson. Since then, major scientific discoveries involving physical evidence collection have come about. Now, forensic science impacts almost all of the areas that employ criminal justice majors—law enforcement, courts, corrections.

An example of the impact of forensics, says Richardson, is the Elwood Jones case. Jones was convicted of brutally murdering an elderly woman in a Blue Ash hotel in 1994. While he was beating her, though, she bit him. Four days later, Dr. Jack McDonough, a 1953 graduate and hand surgeon, examined Jones’ badly infected hand, which he claimed he had cut on a Dumpster. McDonough discovered the wound was actually a bite mark. At the same time, Pete Aldervecci, a longtime adjunct faculty member, was the chief investigator in the case, and had Jones’ home and car searched for evidence—blood, hair, fibers, anything—linking him to the murder.

The victim’s necklace was found hidden in Jones’ car, but what cinched the case was McDonough’s testimony and two pieces of forensic evidence discovered by the medical examiner: a facial bruise that matched Jones’ walkie-talkie, and a chest bruise that matched Jones’ boot sole.

“Forensic science begins at the crime scene,” says Richardson, “and cases are won and lost because of it.”

Xavier Magazine

X Files

Horsin’ Around

After 22 years of teaching art, Roberta Thies took her skills into another arena—a riding arena. The 1972 graduate co-founded Cincinnati Riding for the Handicapped in 1985, a non-profit organization that teaches horseback riding to disabled children and adults. “The movement of the horse makes it therapeutic,” says Thies. “The three-dimensional movement of the horse’s shoulder muscles exercises nerves on the riders that don’t normally function as easily as everyone else’s.”

Legal Stars

In April, the Cincinnati Bar Association gave out its annual awards and inducted a new president. The meeting had a distinctly Xavier flavor:

• The late Leo Breslin, a 1950 graduate, was honored for his trial skills and high degree of professionalism, civility and ethical standards.

• Sister Rose Ann Fleming, coordinator of academic/athletic advising at Xavier, was honored for her volunteer legal work with the poor.

• Barbara Howard, a 1976 graduate, was inducted as president of the bar association.

• Donald Klekamp, a 1954 graduate, was honored for his service to the bar association, legal community and community overall.

Happy Trails

Hauling around 25 pounds of supplies and looking for fresh water doesn’t sound like an ideal vacation, but that’s how Wendy Gordon is spending her summer break. The staff nurse at Xavier’s health and counseling center is hiking the Appalachian Trail. She covered almost half of the 2,167-mile trail last summer, and will try to complete the Maine-to-Georgia trek this summer. Only about 10 percent of those who try to hike the entire trail actually complete the journey. “I didn’t know if I could survive the long-distance hikes and the hardships,” she says. “I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge.” She was—and a challenge it proved to be. She endured hiking up to 22 miles a day last summer alone, a deer stealing her clothes, mice in the shelters and a bird attack.

Stately Globetrotter

What look like exotic atlas points to the rest of us—Kenya, Singapore, Greece, Thailand—are mere stamps on Diane Egan’s passport. The 1988 graduate joined the U.S. Department of State shortly after graduating and has spent most of her career overseas. She’s held posts in Africa, the Philippines and now England. Her duties are generally geared toward maintaining and improving the U.S. government’s relationship with the host nation and promoting U.S. interests. It’s been exciting, exotic and occasionally harrowing. In addition to adapting to language barriers and local customs, she’s also contended with earthquakes, floods, sniper fire, even wild animals. In 1992, while posted in Zimbabwe, Egan and several colleagues were in a car accident outside a game park. “It happened in the late afternoon, just when the animals wake up hungry,” she recalls. “Some of us had injuries.” Fortunately, a truck came by two hours later.

Egan’s new post is in London, where she works with the British on regional issues of interest to both the U.S. and Britain.

St. Xavier Park

Before Xavier was a university in Norwood, it was known as St. Xavier College and located downtown at Sixth and Main streets next to the St. Xavier Church. The spot is now a parking lot, but won’t be for much longer. The Cincinnati Planning Commission adopted a comprehensive neighborhood plan for the area that includes housing and retail sites. The new neighborhood’s name: St. Xavier Park.

Tax Clarification

As reported in the spring issue of Xavier magazine, the volunteer tax assistance program serves elderly and low-income individuals. Not included was the fact that students can also use the free service.

Xavier Magazine

Weekend Degree Graduate Fulfills Personal Goal

When he began classes at Xavier, Robert Limoseth set a unique goal for himself—he wanted to graduate with a better GPA than his daughter had when she graduated college. Not only did Limoseth achieve this goal when he graduated summa cum laude in May, he also completed the Xavier weekend degree program in just two and a half years.

For Limoseth, it was a goal long sought after and recently fulfilled. “In my life, I’ve done most of the things I’ve wanted to do, just not in the right order,” he said. After attending classes at Drake University and the University of Cincinnati, he left school for the workplace, later becoming a vice president and regional manager of Deluxe Check Printers. When the company downsized, though, it rekindled his desire to return to school.

As nontraditional student, Limoseth initially had some misgivings when he began the weekend program in August 1998. His concerns, though, were quickly put to rest. “I really enjoyed the program and the interaction with other adults,” he said. At last May’s graduation, he received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a concentration in business administration.

Limoseth is also a history buff and an amateur Civil War historian, currently serving as treasurer of the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table. Since graduation, he has spent the summer traveling around the eastern United States visiting family and Civil War historical sites while he decides what is in store for him.

Xavier Magazine

Presidential Inauguration Set for September

Michael J. Graham, S.J., will celebrate his formal start as Xavier’s 34th president on the site where the institution began in 1831. His inaugural Mass will take place in the St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Graham will be installed during the Mass by Michael J. Conaton, chairman of the board of trustees and a 1955 graduate. An inaugural reception and banquet will take place that evening in the Cintas Center. Graham will celebrate with students by leading the 10:00 p.m. Mass on the campus mall on Sunday, Sept. 9.

Inaugural events will continue on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Classes are cancelled for the day, and an academic convocation will take place in the Cintas Center from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. There, three faculty groups will present results from their months of interdisciplinary research on globalization, race relations and the complexity of the world. Music, art and an historical display will fill out the event.

Xavier Magazine

President and Police

Xavier University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., gave the keynote address to the 90th graduating class of the Cincinnati Police Academy on Friday, June 16. In the address, given at the Masonic Temple in downtown Cincinnati, Graham encouraged the 29 new police officers to be courageous and compassionate as they go about their jobs of protecting and serving the community.

“You’ve been trained well,” he said. “It’s now time to take all of the learning and put it to the true test, where the risks are real and you have to live up to the ideals you’ve been sworn to uphold, whether you want to or not.

“You will not serve anyone who is not a sister or brother of yours,” he added, “so let compassion be your constant companion. Your training will teach you what to do, but let your heart guide you. … Maybe you won’t get a lot of public recognition for what you do and the decisions you make, but you will know, your family will know, your friends will know, your community will know and your God will know. That’s not a bad audience.”

Graham’s invitation to address the police academy class comes on the heals of his being asked by Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken to chair one of the six teams that comprise Cincinnati-CAN, a task force assembled to recommend and implement policies to improve racial equality in the city. The task force was created following the three days of race riots and social unrest in the city that were sparked by the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer. Graham will chair the police and justice system action team, which is responsible for addressing police-community relations, police department structural reform and racial disparities in the justice system.

In addition to going out into the streets to uphold the law, he told the graduates, they are also being thrust into the complex, sensitive and highly strained issue of police-community relations. Although they may not like that part of their new job, he said, it is very clearly a fact of life that they must deal with. It is not unlike the Xavier grads, he added, who work hard to get into medical school, only to have their ideal of the medical profession unraveled by the realities of HMOs and managed care.

“It is too bad that so much attention is focused on the police-community relations,” he said. “It is a flash point that is beyond your control and that you are unable to change, yet for which you are held accountable. The Chinese symbol for chaos, though, is also the symbol for opportunity. Perhaps I’m just a starry-eyed optimist, but I see this as our opportunity. For the city to be healthy, though, all of its parts must be healthy as well. That comes down to its individuals, its people. And you, for better or worse, are more important than any elected official, because you are the people who are out there and dealing with the community face-to-face on a daily basis.”

Not allowing the address to be bogged down with such a heavy issue, Graham joked with the graduates and the several hundred friends and family members who filled the auditorium, that he was well suited to serve on the Cincinnati-CAN task force and to address the graduating class because “your profession and my profession are two of the oldest professions in the world. They aren’t THE oldest profession,” he joked, “but they’re ancient nonetheless.”

He added that he was also well-suited for being the ceremony’s principal speaker because he was still fresh off presiding over his first University commencement as president, and because he now lives with their brethren. Graham’s current residence used to be on the second floor of the University’s honor’s house. The honor’s program was relocated, however, and the University’s police department moved into the space. Now, he says, instead of walking into a house with a painting of Madonna and Child on the wall, the first floor is decorated in “early squad room” and the walls adorned with pictures of police uniform patches, Barney Fife posters and a Norman Rockwell painting of a police officer sitting at the counter of a diner. “And, I might add,” he said, “there isn’t a doughnut in sight.”

Following the speech, the police division thanked Graham by making him an honorary member of the Cincinnati police academy.

Xavier Magazine

Musketeer Rooms Fill Bedroom Community

Finding a hotel with a Xavier connection isn’t as difficult as you might think. That’s because M.B.A. graduates John Sweetwood and Steve Porter oversee some of the largest chains in the country.

As president of the Americas Division of Bass Hotels & Resorts, Sweetwood, a 1979 graduate, is responsible for these chains: Inter-Continental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Staybridge Suites.

Porter, who earned his degree in 1981, is executive vice president of the hotel division for Hilton, which includes the Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Red Lion and Hilton brands.

That both hotel executives graduated from a school without a hotel management major is only the beginning of the commonalties between Sweetwood and Porter. Both are from Ohio. Both earned bachelor’s degrees from Miami University. Sweetwood’s first son was born while he was an M.B.A. student at Xavier. Porter’s first son was born two months after he finished his M.B.A. at Xavier. Both children followed their father’s undergraduate footsteps and matriculated at Miami.

Porter joined Stouffer hotels in 1976 and quickly moved into management, running a 24-hour restaurant, a trendy cocktail lounge on the skywalk and room service for the 900-room hotel. Sweetwood, meanwhile, entered the hotel world from the back door, first developing an expertise in marketing at Kenner Toys and an advertising firm. It wasn’t until recently that he switched to hotels.

Both executives agree that hotels are a great industry. “What’s not to like?” says Porter. “It’s glamorous—we’re on stage, putting on a show every day, treating people to wonderful food and dining experiences, creating party events, helping people have a successful business meeting or launch a new product. People say all the time to find something you love to do, and that’s true. For both of us to end up where we have at this level in this industry with the opportunities we’ve been given—it’s incredible.”

Xavier Magazine

Memorable Mortarboards

Graduation day wouldn’t be complete without a compelling story. Here are two from this year’s commencement, the first held in the Cintas Center:

• Rickie Bell spent the last eight years attending Xavier during the day and working nights as a janitor at two Cincinnati public schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May after student-teaching at a school, Kilgour, that he also cleaned. “He’s going to be a wonderful teacher. The students at Kilgour love him,” says principal Mary Ronan. “When he talks about teaching, you can tell it’s always been his lifelong dream to do this. He’s been an inspiration to us all.”

• Kim Nuesse is a police officer, single mother and full-time student. She’s also this year’s winner of the persistent student award in the weekend degree program. “I’m around a lot of adults in similar situations: working, raising families and going to school,” says Nuesse, who participated in commencement in May and should earn a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in August. On a typical day, Nuesse drops off her kids and heads to the Loveland Police Department, where she’s a community resource officer. At night, after putting her kids to bed, she studies until midnight. She’s spent almost every Saturday for the past several years in classes. “Despite the obstacles, getting my degree has been so worthwhile.”