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Renaissance Man

Renaissance Man
Greg Schaber

Jim Poehlmann may not be a familiar face, but virtually everyone at Xavier knows his work. As a printing services assistant—and the University’s one and only pressman—Poehlmann has a hand in producing most of the printed material done on campus, about 1,000 projects a year, covering everything from flyers and brochures to business cards.

 

Off campus, it’s much the same. Poehlmann’s wide range of interests—often including some kind of volunteering component—touch many people who might not recognize him in person. His involvement with Oxbow, Inc., a wetlands preservation group that owns in excess of 800 acres at the confluence of the Ohio and Great Miami rivers near Lawrenceburg, Ind., is a case in point. It’s a place Poehlmann feels especially close to, and he has been a member of the organization for 12 years and its treasurer for the past four.

“I grew up a couple miles from that area and spent a lot of time playing, hiking, riding bicycles and fishing in the area,” he says. “And then about May of 1978, I was looking for a fairly romantic place to propose to a certain girl, and given the wages I was earning at that time, dinner at a five-star restaurant was out of the question. So we went to the oxbow on a Saturday night, and built a little fire. I asked and she accepted. For those reasons, that area has a special place in my heart.”

Along with participating in some area cleanups, Poehlmann spends a bit of his free time in front of his computer, keeping track of the numbers for what is now a $3 million conservation corporation. This affinity with numbers has a direct tie to Xavier. After coming to work at the University 11 years ago, Poehlmann decided to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts. He received his diploma in 1998, and about a year later began to feel the itch to take more classes. When his first two class choices were already full, Poehlmann went back to the schedule. “There was a basic accounting course on Monday nights,” he says. “I said ‘Nobody wants to be there,’ and sure enough, there was a seat open.”

To his own surprise, Poehlmann discovered he actually likes accounting. When the dust settled, he’d accumulated 33 hours of accounting classes and nine hours of other business courses, and was eligible to sit for the C.P.A. exam. While he has yet to take that step, he does spend 20-25 hours per week during tax season working as a tax preparer for a C.P.A. firm. And he also finds time to volunteer his services.

“One of the classes I took was volunteer income tax assistance under [Priscilla] O’Clock, probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had through Xavier,” he says. “I do a little side practice on my own, and it seems like every year somebody will need some pro bono work, and I’m able to provide that. There’s no money in it for me, and it’s busiest time of the year, but it never seems to get too excessive and it’s a service I can provide.”

When he needs a break from all this activity, Poehlmann hits the road. An avid cyclist, he tries to participate in two or three one-day, 30- to 50-mile tours each year. Last year, he purchased a three-wheel recumbent bike—“an old man’s bike,” he calls it—which he plans to take out on a tour in September. But here again, Poehlmann’s interests extend beyond the personal. For instance, he regularly volunteers at the “Hilly Hundred” tour in Bloomington, Ind., helping to repair bikes and driving the “sag wagon” to pick up cyclists too fatigued to finish the ride.

While his interests have always been broad—he’s also a Ham radio operator, and a long-time carpenter and cabinetmaker—volunteering is a fairly recent development. “The reason I pursue some of these volunteer activities ties directly with my education here,” he says. “I have an associate’s degree from a local community college. And on that diploma, it reads something like ‘This degree is conferred with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.’ When I got my degree from Xavier, it reads ‘with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities pertaining thereto.’ The main thing I learned from the Jesuit way of life is living for others. If I took that education and only used it to earn a dollar, I’d say that education would have been wasted on me.”

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