In the 1994 President’s Report, then-vice president for financial administration Richard Hirté led readers on an imaginary tour of campus in the 21st century—transformed by the XU2000 strategic master plan and the $100 million Century Campaign. On the tour, he describes the newly refurbished Schmidt and Hinkle halls and the new academic mall, which removed most of Ledgewood Avenue and brought together the two sections of campus the street divided. He takes his visitors through a renovated University Center, which actually became the Gallagher Student Center. Finally he tours the grand dame, a new Convocation Center, which became the Cintas Center.
“We did just about everything on that list,” he says. “To say we transformed the campus is a fair statement. We incorporated non-architectural components to make sure our presence on Victory Parkway looked good, and the grass was green, and it had a better definition to it so when people came to the campus, they knew they were in a beautiful place. A large part of people deciding to come here or not is the touch and feel of the place. Is this a nice place where they want to live or work?
Or is it a dump? For awhile, people here weren’t making the investment in the infrastructure.”
For Hirté, who’s retiring at the end of the year to focus on teaching finance courses in the Williams College of Business, those changes also mark the part of a long list of achievements that have defined his career. In his time at Xavier, he’s overseen the daily financial dealings of the University, the economics of two capital campaigns—the $100 million Century Campaign and the $30 million Cornerstone Campaign—and the growth of the endowment from near-nothing to more than $125 million.
So as he prepares to hand off his share of responsibilities for the new $200 million To See Great Wonders campaign, he offers a unique perspective on the direction of the University as a whole. The campus’ transformation continues as the construction of the Hoff Academic Quad and new Williams College of Business building further advance the integration of the University’s educational process with its Jesuit mission. And the 20-acre Xavier Square development on the east side completes the conversion of the former industrial fringe of campus into a lively area that will benefit both students and the adjacent community.
“Overall, it’s hard to envision the impact it’s going to have,” he says, “and we probably have underestimated the assets the University is bringing to bear.”