From Xavier magazine, Fall 2000
By James E. Hoff, S.J.
My final months as president will be a marvelous opportunity to thank many people for their great contributions to the University. As I reflect on my years at Xavier, I become more and more grateful for the many wonderful, dedicated people who make Xavier what it is today. I receive a lot of credit for what has happened here. My principal feelings are gratitude that I have been able to be part of the Xavier experience. A university is only as good as its people, and the people I have worked with have been outstanding. There are so many people to thank. I owe the greatest debt of gratitude to Mike Conaton, the chairman of the board. Professionally, we worked together. I relied on him for everything of importance that happened here. Personally, he became a brother to me.
Next, I want to thank the board of trustees, who have supported me professionally and personally and who have supported the University financially. Their contribution to the advancement of Xavier has been inestimable. So have the president’s advisory councils been most faithful and helpful in recommending and confirming University planning and procedures. Then I must thank the vice presidents. Two of them were here when I came, Richard Hirté and John Kucia.
Xavier is in an excellent financial situation operationally because of Richard and his staff. We have had a balanced budget every year I’ve been here. People talk about the renaissance of the Xavier campus. Let us give credit where credit is due. Richard has been the leader in making all the physical changes happen. John Kucia’s job has grown so much here. In the past 10 years he has been responsible for many projects. He oversees the athletic department. He put XU2000, our strategic plan, in place. He worked on the sales of suites and seats in the Cintas Center. He managed the commercial contracts in Cintas, helped acquire new land at the site of the former BASF plant and the lease of 22 acres for the parkland project.
The academic environment here is absolutely first class. We have Jim Bundschuh to thank for that. He championed faculty development and promoted the enhancement of faculty salaries. One of his finest accomplishments is in undergraduate research, where there is now great emphasis on research between students and faculty. Another great achievement is in the area of enrollment. Ten years ago Xavier was scrambling for students. Today, Xavier is in demand, and the quality of our students is the best in Xavier’s history.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Leo Klein, S.J. He is highly respected in so many ways. As vice president of spiritual development, he is responsible for the pastoral care of faculty, staff, students, even alumni. He has promoted and shared the Jesuit heritage with faculty, staff, administrators, students and trustees so that it is much better understood. He has also helped create our service learning programs.
Ron Slepitza has done a great deal to ensure that a culture of personal care exists on campus. Ron has been instrumental in promoting student organizations and service activities in the tristate area. Ron is now in charge of two huge building projects—the Gallagher Student Center and new residence hall. Xavier owes a great deal of gratitude to Mike Graham and Gary Massa for their leadership in university relations. The gift income is over four times what it used to be. Alumni and friends have been so gracious in supporting Xavier and me.
There are so many others I could thank. Countless faculty and staff. The Jesuit community at Xavier. People in the Cincinnati community. So many people have supported Xavier and me. Where would the president’s office be without Mary Lang, Arlene Coffaro and Eileen Corder?
I believe the most important contribution I made was putting the focus on the mission of the University—to prepare students intellectually, spiritually and morally to take their places in a rapidly changing global society and to work toward the betterment of society. It is so important that this mission has been widely disseminated and accepted. All planning and the allocation of resources have been governed by the mission.
I am so pleased that Mike Graham has been able to gain the experience necessary to become the next president. I feel the University could not be in better hands. Momentum has been created. Xavier will only grow stronger under his leadership. I think one of the responsibilities of a president is to prepare a successor and then to step back. So I am. Thank you for all your support.