This is one in a weekly series that gives readers a chance to get to know the Tri-State's college and university presidents better through a simple Q&A on serious and not so serious topics.
The Rev. Michael J. Graham survived a harrowing stint teaching fourth graders to eventually become the popular Xavier University president he is today. Graham shares some insights into his life and career below.
1- Your hometown and your favorite thing about growing up there?
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Strong sense of family and community, clarity about things that are right and things that are just plain wrong, emphasis on getting things done without need for fanfare or applause.
2 - What's the hardest job you ever had?
Teaching Sunday school to fourth graders when I was in grad school, before I became a Jesuit. I sought to share my faith with the young. They ate me alive.
3 - What's your favorite junk food?
A tie: those big Virginia peanuts and chocolate chip cookies.
4 - What food can you not stand?
Asparagus when it’s overcooked and slimy.
5 - What's your secret talent?
I used to garden a lot, back when I had a life. I still work with some friends in the area on their garden. When people learn this and say, “Well, you know, I’ve got a yard that needs some work,” my response is always, “I’m good but it’s going to cost you. A lot.”
6 - Name an item on your bucket list
Taking my brothers and sisters and their families on a tour of Ireland is not just “an” item on my bucket list, it is “the” item on my bucket list.
7 - What's your favorite joke, suitable for a family publication?
None of my favorite jokes are suitable for a family publication. I’m a Jesuit, after all.
8 - What about Xavier makes you most proud?
The deep, amazing commitment of our faculty and staff to who are students are now and who they can become.
9 - What's the biggest piece of unfinished business you'd like to accomplish during your tenure?
Another tie: Get the endowment to $250 million (It's at about $152 million) and cut down the nets at an NCAA Championship.