Changes are plenty at Xavier University, one of 28 Jesuit American Colleges and Universities. The university is upgrading its environment and has added several new programs. 

Alter Hall has undergone an $18 million renovation. Alter has served as the primary classroom building for Xavier since 1960. For more than 50 years, nearly every Xavier student and faculty member has passed through Alter, located on the Academic Mall and adjacent to Bellarmine Chapel.

Changes to Alter Hall include a 21st century teaching and learning facility that will support the entire university with four stories of modern classrooms where many courses in the core curriculum will be taught, according to Kelly Leon, director for strategic communications. In addition, the building will house the deans’ offices for the College of Arts and Sciences and three honors programs.

“The renovation of Alter is exciting,” says President Michael J. Graham, S.J., “because it will enhance the way our students learn. I had a tour several weeks ago and even in the final stages of construction could see the great opportunities this building will offer our students. It’s reshaped for more collaboration, better use of technology and a learning environment that’s simply more in line with how today’s students learn.” 

To make these alterations, faculty and administrators worked together to develop the facility program and design. The local architectural firm of Michael Schuster Associates renovated the building.

In addition to the physical landscape change, Xavier is offering new masters programs, according to a news release. One is a master of science degree in customer analytics and health economic and clinical outcomes research (HECOR) that began in fall 2015. This 40-credit hour program is designed to train analysts to conduct both clinical and economic evaluations that support improved health decisions.

“The program that we have developed in partnership with Xavier is one of only a handful in the country,” says Dr. Candace Gunnarsson, vice president of health economics and outcomes research at Clinical Trial and Consulting Services (CTI), a multi-national, privately held, full-service contract research organization, and former faculty member at Xavier. “Students will study health economics, data mining, statistical modeling and epidemiology as they prepare for careers as analysts, managers and directors in the fast-growing field of health care analysis that includes outcomes research, policy, economics and reimbursement.” 

This two-year degree is designed to accommodate working professionals and people with a passion for solving problems using the latest health data to improve care. Faculty will lead courses with a combination of lectures, applied analysis exercises, group activities, discussion and case studies. 

Graham says the professional and community connection with CTI is critical to the program’s success. “The Jesuit education model will provide students the opportunity to explore ethical issues inherent in growing big data working in conjunction with an organization that is an industry leader in this important and growing field.” 

Another new program at Xavier is a master of science degree in customer analytics, recognizing a serious shortage of analytics experts. This degree is designed to develop business leaders who can make decisions using large customer databases. The Williams College of Business at Xavier will be one of the few schools in the United States to offer such an academic program under the direction of coordinator Scott Beck. 

“Through the use of real-world data sets, our students will gain the skills, confidence and expertise required to succeed in today’s information-sensitive environment,” says Clint Schertzer, Ph.D. and associate professor of marketing, who helped develop the academic program. The need for a masters program focusing on customer data is greater in the Cincinnati area than elsewhere because the region has so many large consumer-oriented companies, he says.

“With more than 1,000 unfilled skilled data and technology jobs in our region and a projected 8,000 new jobs by 2020, we felt it was an excellent opportunity for Xavier,” says Greg Smith, Ph.D. and chair, management information systems department.

Cincinnati area company representatives identified the need for the degree and partnered with Xavier for nearly a year to create this degree. These included regional and global leaders such as 84.51° (formerly known as dunnhumby USA), The Kroger Co.; Procter & Gamble; Burke, Inc.; Macy’s, Inc.; Cintas Corp.; and Directions Research.

Courses include consumer behavior, introductory data mining for managers, database management, marketing research, consumer-centric management and marketing strategy. Part-time students can complete the degree in two years; full-time students can complete it in a shorter time. The degree is a collaborative program between two academic departments in the college—marketing and management information systems.

“Our vision at Xavier is to form men and women of learning and reflection, integrity and achievement in solidarity for and with others,” says Graham. 

Founded in 1831, the university is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. US News & World Report ranks it No. 5 among masters level universities in the Midwest. The Princeton Review names it as one of the best 377 colleges in America.