Down the Drive

Just as the band uses Down the Drive to travel into the heart of campus, UC Magazine's Down the Drive section takes you to the heart of what's happening at UC.



New direction for Bearcats football


Luke Fickell

Luke Fickell, UC’s new head football coach, fields questions from media. Photo/Lisa Ventre

The Bearcats announced in December that former Ohio State University defensive coordinator Luke Fickell was heading south to become Cincinnati’s 42nd head football coach.

Fickell, 43, takes over following Tommy Tuberville’s departure after four seasons and a 29-22 record.

“This is a true dream to me as a man born and raised in the great state of Ohio,” Fickell said during his introductory press conference. “To have this opportunity is an honor and truly a blessing. This is not a job to me. This is a role to me. It is a role to me because it is who I am. It is in every fiber of me to be a leader and a mentor of men.”

Fickell is an 18-year coaching veteran including two years at Akron and 15 years at Ohio State, where, as a player from 1993 to 1996, he started a school-record 50 consecutive games as nose guard.

He and his wife, Amy, have five sons and one daughter, including two sets of twin boys.



UC’s AACRC celebrates 25 years


Former AACRC Director Eric Abercrumbie

Former AACRC Director Eric Abercrumbie gestures during the annual Tyehimba event. He is now director of diversity in the Division of Student Affairs. Photo/AACRC

For a quarter century, the African American Cultural and Resource Center has worked to recruit and retain students of diverse identities at the University of Cincinnati, addressing the academic, social, spiritual and cultural needs of African-American students and others.

The all-inclusive space is used by students and groups of all kinds to learn about the black experience, specifically on UC’s campus. Take a look back 25 years and beyond to see what’s shaped the AACRC and the present-day experience of UC’s black students, faculty and staff.



Closet, pantry help students


Bearcats Pantry volunteers

Donations to the Bearcats Pantry and The Closet are always encouraged. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II

A closet full of clothes and a pantry full of food are two of the newest ways UC helps students. Introduced in fall 2016, The Closet (in UC’s LGBTQ Center) and the Bearcats Pantry (in French Hall) are stocked with necessities for students in need across campus. 


The Closet

UC’s LGBTQ Center has launched a new program called The Closet, a wardrobe full of donated clothing and accessories. According to organizers, when people who are transgender and gender nonconforming begin to transition, shopping for clothing that aligns with their gender can not only be expensive, but can be a time when they are met with hostility, discrimination or even violence. To support UC students who are questioning, exploring or beginning the transition process, the LGBTQ Center has built The Closet, a resource that provides them with the opportunity to “shop” (for free) for donated clothing without having to worry about cost or hostility. The Closet is open Monday-Friday at the LGBTQ Center in the Steger Student Life Center.


Bearcats Pantry

The Bearcats Pantry provides free food, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies to students with food insecurities and other challenges. The pantry also offers meal vouchers that can be used at campus dining halls, which lends supplemental support and assists students in need by cutting down on their grocery bills. It also connects them to other resources in an effort to promote independence. The pantry is located in Room 2158 French Hall West, open Monday-Friday.



Innovation Hub
New use for an old building


UC Innovation Hub rendering

Architect's rendering of the new UC 1819 Innovation Hub

The University of Cincinnati is launching the 1819 Innovation Hub, a new business incubator that will provide a central location for research and cooperative innovation, housed in the old Sears building. The hub is named to honor the 1819 founding of UC and will provide space for businesses to work with UC faculty and students and for innovative multidisciplinary research, as well as to facilitate new commercial opportunities. Owned by UC since 1980, the old Sears department store building on Reading Road housed UC’s Campus Services and other departments for years. Recognizing its advantageous location near the new I-71 and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive interchange, UC has restructured the 87-year-old building, retaining its iconic front façade. Occupancy is expected to start this spring.

“By merging our many areas of academic and research excellence, then connecting them to committed industry partners and their real-world entrepreneurial challenges, we will become a hotbed for true, breakthrough innovation — not only in theory, but most importantly in practice,” said Rob Richardson Jr., then-chairperson of the UC Board of Trustees. The 1819 Innovation Hub was introduced at the inaugural Next Lives Here Innovation Summit at UC in October.



Former Bearcat creates 'world’s most comfortable shoe'


Allbirds shoes

A UC grad created a wool sneaker inspired by his New Zealand roots.

What’s a man to do after playing soccer for UC, earning a design degree, qualifying for the World Cup and traveling the globe? If you’re Tim Brown, you invent a first-of-its-kind sneaker made out of wool. Brown’s shoe startup, Allbirds, combines his design knowledge gained from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, his experience as a pro athlete and his roots in New Zealand (the land of 28 million sheep) to create a shoe that Time magazine, Wired and Huffington Post (among others) are giving rave reviews.

Tim Brown

“What UC helped unlock for me was that design was a process of thinking that could be applied to a whole bunch of different problems,” Brown, DAAP ’05, says.

The super-soft wool runners are intended to be worn without socks and thrown into the washer for a periodic freshening up. With a minimalist unisex design, Allbirds shoes can be dressed up for the office or dressed down for the gym. 



Rare documents gifted to UC Libraries


Rare document

The handwritten thesis of UC's first graduate. Photo/Andrew Higley

When UC’s first graduate researched his thesis nearly 200 years ago, he wrote a letter to founding father and U.S. President Thomas Jefferson requesting source material. Jefferson responded personally.

That letter from Monticello, dated July 7, 1820, as well as other historic documents, now resides in UC’s Archives and Rare Books Library, thanks to a gift from that graduate’s great-great-grandchildren.

“These items are a wonderful addition to the UC Libraries because they represent the important early history of the university as well as Jefferson’s place in the history of the United States,” says Dean and University Librarian Xuemao Wang.

John Hough James, the first graduate of Cincinnati College (which incorporated into UC), was researching the life of General Thaddeus Kościuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian military hero who also served on the American side of the Revolutionary War. James reached out to Jefferson, who himself had written about Kościuszko, for more information about the general.

The Jefferson letter, James’ handwritten thesis and documentation of his membership in a local volunteer fire company have been reunited with James’ diploma — the first ever issued by the university — which was donated to UC 50 years ago. The collection is available for public viewing at Blegen Library and comes ahead of UC’s 2019 bicentennial, celebrating the university’s founding in 1819.


UC professor fulfills lifelong ‘Jeopardy!’ dream


Ken Hirsch poses with Alex Trebek

UC law professor Ken Hirsh poses with “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek.

Ever since the trivia game show premiered in 1964, Ken Hirsh, a UC College of Law professor and law library director, has been hooked on “Jeopardy!” He was just 11 years old at that point, and by the time he was 16 he booked his first audition to be a contestant. It would eventually take more than 45 years to accomplish his “Jeopardy Quest” — the title he uses for a blog chronicling his ventures — but in 2016, Hirsh finally fulfilled his dream by appearing on the show. And he won!

In July, Hirsh received the phone call he’d waited years for from Sony Pictures Studios. He was booked as a contestant and would tape his episode in August, flying to Culver City, California. His episode aired in October. Hirsh flexed his British pop music knowledge in “Final Jeopardy!” The clue: “This song released on July 11, 1969, to coincide with the Apollo 11 mission was used in the BBC’s coverage of the moon landing.” Hirsh correctly answered “Space Oddity” (by David Bowie) — winning the day’s game with a total of $16,001. As the winner, he returned for the next episode, after which his quest ended. 

“All-in-all,” Hirsh reflected on his blog, “the day was everything I’d hoped it would be: incredible fun and a chance to work with a group of talented and friendly people, both the staff and my fellow contestants.”



English professor garners ‘special’ attention


Chris Bachelder

UC’s Chris Bachelder, professor of English and comparative literature, is gaining recognition across the globe for his latest novel, “The Throwback Special.” The book, released in 2016, details the story of 22 men who gather every fall to painstakingly re-enact a football play — what ESPN called “the most shocking play in NFL history” and the Washington Redskins dubbed the “Throwback Special.” That November 1985 play is the one in which quarterback Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on “Monday Night Football.” 

Described as a humorous and heartbreaking read filled with spot-on observations about manhood, marriage, middle age and the rituals we all enact as part of being alive, “The Throwback Special” won the Paris Review’s 2016 Terry Southern Prize for Humor and was a 2016 National Book Award Finalist in Fiction. Bachelder is being hailed by critics as one of the most acclaimed literary voices of his generation.

Chris Bachelder


Campus development
Campus renovations keep the University of Cincinnati’s ever-changing landscape on the cutting edge.

Health Sciences Building
Health Sciences Building rendering

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new home for the College of Allied Health Sciences were held in February. The four-story, 110,000-square-foot building will be constructed on what was most recently known as Lot 13, a parking lot in front of the Kettering Lab Complex and behind Wherry Hall (which is being demolished to make room for the new space). The Health Sciences Building is expected to open in December 2018.


Kowalewski Hall
Kowalewski Hall rendering

Formerly known as the Health Professions Building, Kowalewski Hall continues to be renovated as the home of the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. The Samuel Hannaford-designed building opened in 1918 and originally served as the new home for the UC College of Medicine when it relocated onto the UC campus. Ongoing renovations include new classroom, administrative, office and laboratory space. A new 214-seat auditorium opened in January. The building will get new windows, and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will be replaced as well. 


Scioto Hall
Morgens and Scioto Halls

Originally built in 1964, Scioto Hall reopened in August 2016 with a makeover to match twin sister Morgens Hall (which was renovated in 2013). Boasting $38 million in upgrades, Scioto now features a glass exterior like Morgens’, expanded lounges on the ground level, more community space and the choice of rooms that now hold four students instead of three.


Third ‘Stunning Sister’
Sawyer copy2

A yet-to-be-named high-rise is now going up on the site of the former Sawyer Hall, next to Scioto. This 10-story mixed-use building (Morgens and Scioto are 14 stories) will include beds for 328 students, a new dining center, a market cafe and offices. Expected to be completed by 2018, this third residence hall east of Campus Green completes the gleaming replacement of what were once the less-than-stunning “three sisters.” Sawyer Hall was demolished in 2005, while Morgens and Scioto were gutted, remodeled and glass-wrapped in 2013 and 2016 respectively.


Fifth Third Arena
Fifth Third Arena Rendering

Major construction on Fifth Third Arena is expected to begin in March 2017, an $87 million project. In fall 2016, the renovation received its largest gift to date — $5 million from UC alumni Margaret and Michael Valentine. The project is scheduled to be completed in August 2018, so home events will be conducted off campus during the 2017-18 season. Men’s basketball will play at BB&T Arena on the campus of Northern Kentucky University. Women’s basketball and volleyball venues were not yet announced.

Nippert Stadium
Nippert Stadium rendering

Futbol Club Cincinnati, the city’s professional soccer club, will provide $2 million to reconfigure the lower bowl of Nippert Stadium, its home field. The Nippert enhancements, which will also provide new seating options for UC football games, could help in the push for FC Cincinnati’s expansion into Major League Soccer. 



Honoring distinguished alumni


Alumni Weekend 2017 will launch with the UC Alumni Association’s annual tribute to the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of its nearly 300,000-member family.

The UC Distinguished Alumni Celebration is April 20 and will honor 18 exceptional alumni, including four recipients of signature awards.

Elroy E. Bourgraf Bus ’54

Elroy E. Bourgraf
Bus ’54

William Howard Taft Medal
for Notable Achievement

The company that Elroy Bourgraf co-founded and has led for 60 years has essentially created the modern era of product evolution within the emergency medical services industry. The work of Ferno-Washington has paved the way for the EMS sector, the funeral industry and the military to provide comfortable, safe and reliable transport and care for the injured, sick and deceased. The company’s success has been built from a culture defined by Bourgraf that values integrity, professionalism and loyalty in all of its business relationships.

Jerome S. Jackson Pharm ’89

Jerome S. Jackson
Pharm ’89

Distinguished Service Award

Grateful for the assistance he received as a student, Jerome Jackson has spent many years helping to enrich the educational pathways of those who have followed in his academic footsteps. He has been a steadfast volunteer leader with the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy in support of students and alumni. He has been particularly dedicated to his fellow Darwin T. Turner Scholars, creating a culture that stresses a responsibility that those who are blessed with scholarship assistance seek ways to “pay it forward” for future students.

Bleuzette Marshall A&S ’92, CECH ’01, D (CECH) ’09

Bleuzette Marshall 
A&S ’92, CECH ’01, D (CECH) ’09

Mosaic Award

Dedicated to balancing the playing field toward greater equity of opportunity, Bleuzette Marshall is widely known as a leader who ensures the UC community is fully inclusive and its promise is open to all who seek it. As UC’s vice president for equity and inclusion, Marshall strives to elevate her alma mater as a place of awareness, resolve, action and strength. Her current role is a culmination of a lengthy career focused on matters of diversity, personal opportunity and professional responsibility within a framework of academic excellence.


Dustin J. Grutza Bus ’08, ’10

Dustin J. Grutza
Bus ’08, ’10

Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award

Recognizing that skilled tradesmen and women lacked a platform to reliably connect with potential employers and vice versa, Dustin Grutza developed what he refers to as “a tool and a team” — a powerful mobile and online app backed by a team of people creating the support system that companies and their potential employees each need. Called CraftForce, Grutza’s company has garnered national media coverage as it grows rapidly, linking people in the skilled trades with meaningful work opportunities.


2017 Outstanding Alumni Awards


College of Allied Health Sciences
Nancy Nevin-Folino, CECH ’74, CAHS ’83

College of Arts and Sciences
Tom Tsuchiya, A&S ’95

Department of Athletics
Leonard Stokes, A&S ’02 

UC Blue Ash College
Anthony Lawson, UC Blue Ash ’96, A&S ’98

Carl H. Lindner College of Business
Roger Newport, Bus ’88

UC Clermont College
Sharon Burns, UC Clermont ’01, A&S ’03 

College-Conservatory of Music
Eddy Kwon, CCM ’11

College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Sallie Baldwin, DAAP ’60

College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
Raymond Brokamp, CECH ’51, M (CECH) ’55

College of Engineering and Applied Science
Mohammad Ehteshami, M (CEAS) ’85  

College of Law
Sharon Zealey, JD ’84

College of Medicine
James Augsburger, MD ’74

College of Nursing
Julia Muennich Cowell, D (Nur) ’68 

James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy
Ajaz Hussain, D (Pharm) ’86 


Courtroom image of Mark Godsey & Rickey Jackson

Blind injustice

UC law professor and co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project reflects on 24 wrongly convicted individuals.

UC Engineering students prepare for the Space X Hyperloop competition

Pipe dreams

UC student team tests finalist prototype at Elon Musk’s worldwide Hyperloop competition.

Beth Sininger Flege and Susan Kromer Hunt flex outside Flege's home

Painting the town

ArtWorks and UC have enriched Cincinnati’s cultural landscape with public art for more than two decades.

UC grad Dan Jensen

Travelin' man

How a former Bearcat overcame a brush with death, got drafted by the Reds and turned a school bus into a home.

William Plott embraces his mother

Chasing calm

UC doctor leads trial of marijuana-based prescription drug showing real promise for epilepsy patients.

New UC Business School rendering

Building a better Business School

UC breaks ground on a new $120 million home for the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.