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E/RS: Ethics / Religion and Society: E/RS Interviews

E/RS Interviews: "The American Experience: Community, Equality, and Environment"

In the first of six E/RS interviews, Fr. Michael Graham S.J. and Paul Colella (Philosophy) will discuss dimensions of “the American experience” based on both their personal experiences and academic pursuits. The E/RS interviews provide an opportunity for us to get to know in a more informal fashion members of the Xavier community. 

Fr. Michael Graham S.J.

 As the 34th president of Xavier University, Fr. Michael J. Graham, S.J., is leading Xavier through the most   ambitious growth and development era in the University’s 179-year history.

Since he became president on January 1, 2001, Graham has invigorated Xavier's Jesuit tradition of serving society by educating students intellectually, morally, and spiritually, with rigor and compassion, toward lives of solidarity, service, and success. Under his leadership, Xavier has established an academic vision, increased the number of full-time faculty, enhanced interdisciplinary study, and expanded academic service learning and study abroad.

Fulfilling his vision of the "University as Citizen," Graham initiated the Community Building Collaborative as well as established the Eigel Community Engagement Center, activities that connect the University to the surrounding neighborhoods and larger community. Through these centers, Xavier is partnering with both local and regional organizations and Xavier faculty, students, and staff are becoming more active citizens and participants in the community.

Also during his tenure Xavier embarked and completed a campaign to revolutionize the student learning experience. The result was the James E. Hoff, S.J. Academic Quad. With a focus on academic excellence, integrated learning, state-of-the-art technology, and outside the classroom experiences, the Quad includes a new home for the Williams College of Business and a learning commons. Graham is also overseeing a new expansion project to further enhance student life on campus: a residence/dining hall complex scheduled to be completed in August 2011.

Though Graham became president of Xavier in 2001, his association with the University actually began in 1984 when he joined the Xavier faculty as an Assistant Professor of History. He left Xavier to pursue his Master of Divinity from The Weston School of Theology, which he earned in 1988. Prior to that, Graham earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Michigan in 1983 and holds degrees as well in philosophy and psychology. Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Graham entered the Society of Jesus in 1978 and was ordained a priest in 1988.

In 1989, Graham returned to Xavier and has never left.

In 1994, Graham was appointed the Vice President for University Relations and in 1999, the Executive Assistant to the President. During these tenures, he oversaw a broad range of University activities, including a $125 million capital campaign, the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in Xavier's history at that time.

As a parish priest active at both Good Shepherd Catholic Church in suburban Cincinnati and with Xavier student groups Graham carries out his Jesuit pastoral activities as celebrant for weddings, baptisms, and retreats as well as weekly Sunday worship. Graham also serves on the boards of St. Xavier High School, Center for Holocaust Education at Hebrew Union College, and United Way of Greater Cincinnati, as well as the Loyola of Chicago University Board of Trustees and the Atlantic 10 Presidents Council.

"I'm a priest and I'm a teacher," says Graham. "My gifts and experience intersect with Xavier University at this particular moment in time in such a way that what I think I'll be able to contribute is an enhanced sense of the University's excellence as a university, per se, and as a distinctly Jesuit-Catholic university."

Dr. Paul Colella

E. Paul Colella, Ph.D. was born in Quincy, Massachusetts and educated at Boston College (B.A., 1974) and Fordham University (Ph.D., 1981).  He has taught in the Department of Philosophy at Xavier University since 1979, offering a broad range of courses in political philosophy, American pragmatism as well as core classes in ethical theory and epistemology.  During his career, he has served as department chair and has directed each of Xavier’s several undergraduate honors programs. He is the founder of international academic programs in Italy and the United Kingdom, and is currently the Founding Director of the Philosophy, Politics & the Public undergraduate honors program at Xavier University.  The quality of his teaching has been recognized with the Bishop Fenwick Award for Excellence in Teaching (1983) and in his appointment as the Inaugural faculty in Residence at Xavier University’s Center for Teaching Excellence (2010). 

Research Interests: Political Theory; American Pragmatism;  Italian Thought.

Teaching: Introductory courses in the Philosophy, Politics & the Public undergraduate honors program; guest lecturer in its upper division PPP offerings.