Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Xavier bringing services together

Looks to address community needs

By Kristina Goetz, kgoetz@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Xavier University has established an initiative that will put greater emphasis on the school's civic involvement.

        The program, called the Community Building Collaborative, will move the institution beyond just offering students as volunteers. It aims to place Xavier in a leadership role in bringing together nonprofits, social service agencies and other groups to address community needs.

    Xavier University
    • Founded in 1831, Xavier is a private, coed Catholic university that provides a liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition.
    • President: Father Michael Graham, S.J.
    • Total enrollment: 6,523
    • Annual budget: $96 million
    • Endowment: $87 million
    • Undergraduate tuition: $8,890 per semester
    • Web: www.xu.edu
        “This is all about the university itself becoming a better volunteer on a macro scale,” said the Rev. Michael Graham, S.J., Xavier's president.

        Part of the aggressive approach to community engagement that has been the hallmark of Father Graham's presidency since he took over in January 2001, the move will likely increase the institution's name recognition as a leader in civic involvement.

        Xavier has participated in a hodgepodge of community efforts over the years. It partnered with the Evanston community to develop the corner of Montgomery Road and Dana Avenue and with Withrow High School to recruit student volunteers.

        Recently, the institution offered meeting space for Aria Group, the conflict resolution firm that mediated the racial profiling lawsuit filed against the city of Cincinnati.

        But never has there been a central point to coordinate service efforts across campus and disciplines — until now.

        Hoping to meld those efforts into a more effective and efficient structure, the university hired hometown native Byron White, who worked for The Cincinnati Post from 1984 to 1992. He will serve as director of the collaborative program.

        He will work with faculty, staff and students to not only link service activities on campus but bring together social service organizations and others to collaborate with Xavier.

        Xavier recruited Mr. White from The Chicago Tribune, where he was most recently senior manager of community relations.

        “We believe Xavier is uniquely positioned to play a key role as a facilitator,” he said. “This is a step toward putting resources and strategic planning behind what, at this point, has only been a concept.

        “What we do will be determined by the relationships we build.”

        Xavier is already partnering with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati for an education summit in September. And the university also hopes to provide forums where community issues can be discussed.

        These are the types of programs Father Graham and other university leaders want more of, whether it's encouraging faculty to offer their academic expertise or training community leaders.

        “Our question is: "How can we be of help in terms of the city affecting the broad things it wants to see done?'” Father Graham said.

        “In what ways can Xavier be a more effective citizen than in the past?”


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