Visitors to campus will have a new way of driving through campus starting this summer—the Xavier Way. Ledgewood Drive, which was widened and enhanced with a tree-lined median as part of the Hoff Academic Quad construction, is proposed being named Francis Xavier Way. The new road is also being shortened. Instead of continuing down to Bellarmine Chapel, it will turn and go between Smith Hall and the new residence and dining complex. A turnaround will also be created at that spot, with an 11-foot statue of St. Francis Xavier erected atop an 11-foot base. The portion of the road that currently extends down to Bellarmine Chapel will be covered in grass, creating an extension of the Residential Mall and a safe passage for students between the new residential halls and campus. A separate road with limited access will connect Cleaney Avenue in front of the Cintas Center to Bellarmine Chapel to allow vehicles access to the church for weddings, funerals and other special occasions.
The statue is being created by Tom Tsuchiya, a Cincinnati-based artist whose career began with another larger-than-life sculpture of a larger-than-life figure—D’Artagnan. His concept of the 17th-century French Musketeer, who battled his way through Europe and inspired Xavier’s nickname, now stands in front of the Cintas Center. It also stands at the center of a growing portfolio of recognizable art. Tsuchiya (pronounced too-she-a) created the statue of former chancellor James E. Hoff, S.J., that now stands in front of the new dining hall at Xavier, as well as four Cincinnati Reds players in front of Great American Ballpark, the John Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award for the National Football League and a host of other private and public works.
Tsuchiya officially has a bachelor’s degree in classical civilizations from the University of Cincinnati, but he got his real education, he says, as an apprentice to master sculptor Richard Miller. He’s taken that knowledge and is expanding it to new materials and new media. The statue of Xavier, however, will be old-school—bronze and larger than life. It will be unveiled Dec. 3, St. Francis Xavier’s feast day.
In the sweltering heat of the summer of 1960, Alter Hall became the single-most welcome addition to Xavier’s campus. Yes, because the three-story building was new and fresh and modern. Yes, because it had 32 classrooms and a large lecture hall to accommodate the academic needs. Yes, because it had 32 offices and a large registrar’s space. But, really, Alter was hailed as the place to be because it was the first building on campus with air conditioning. Students could learn in comfort and need only sweat for fear of failing an exam.
Today, five decades later, Alter Hall isn’t held to the same esteem. Fifty years of hard, daily use has left it broken and battered. Technology has passed it by. Student learning styles and faculty teaching needs are no longer met by the blackboards, tiny desk-chairs and pencil sharpeners.
Which is why when the To See Great Wonders campaign was conceived, a new classroom building was among the essential elements. And starting in 2013, that will happen. Alter is slated to be torn down and replaced over a two-year period with a new classroom building that meets modern standards.
The new building will not be built on the exact footprint where Alter now stands, but perpendicular to the current building, stretching from the Academic Mall to the Hoff Academic Quad into the hillside that now exists between Hailstones Hall and the Conaton Learning Commons.
n 2009, all of the bookshelves on the first floor of the McDonald Library were moved and a prototype of the Conaton Learning Commons was built in their place, complete with overstuffed chairs, footstools, coffee tables, white boards, flat-screen monitors on the wall, movable desks, built-in desks with plenty of outlets for computers and tech toys.
It was designed as a way of seeing how students would react to the non-traditional, high-tech learning environment being built next door. The day the prototype opened, students flocked to it. With the Learning Commons now open, the prototype is no longer needed. So with that space now available, the library is getting a much-needed renovation—one of the final pieces of planned construction in the To See Great Wonders campaign.
As soon as finals were completed in May, the library closed its doors to all but construction crews, who removed all of the books, shelves and desks in order to make way for new paint, carpet, shelving, furniture and some rearranging. With the Connection Center in the Conaton Learning Commons now serving as a high-tech version of the library with its electronic links to research materials, the traditional library is being re-thought to work with the electronic options and better optimize space and resources.
The renovation is expected to be complete by the time students return in August.