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A Few Co-op Alums

Through their co-ops, our one-time students moved into doing everything from creating Hollywood special effects to running hotel corporations.

Date: 8/10/2005 12:00:00 AM
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley, Lisa Ventre and from alumni

UC ingot  

Charles Bailey and Scott Leberecht make movie magic

Charles Bailey at work on Pirates of the Caribbean

Charles Bailey, a 1971 graduate of UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, has been creating special effects for countless movies – from “Star Wars” to “Pirates of the Caribbean” – at George Lucas’ renowned Industrial Light & Magic.  He’s the most senior of a number of UC co-ops now at work fulltime in Hollywood.  Others include Scott Leberecht, a ’94 industrial design grad.  His early co-ops had Leberecht literally crying to his mother, “I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”  But a later co-op led him to his Hollywood dream: A Kenner co-op making promotional toys for movies helped him to connect to the studios (who were Kenner’s clients).  Three days after graduation, he was working for Lucasfilm.

Mike Gasaway builds laughter with the Hollywood stars
His co-ops led one-time student Mike Gasaway, who left UC’s nationally acclaimed architecture program in 1996 to eventually settle in Hollywood, to the realization that he’d rather do “kids’ stuff” with his life. 

Jimmy Neutron

The architecture animations he did on co-op led him to a career in entertainment animation and then, to directing.  He’s now the award-winning director of “The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” named the Best Animated Television Series for Children in 2004.  The show employs some of Hollywood’s best comedic talent, including Mel Brooks and Tim Allen as well as Christian Slater, all of whom have provided their voices to “Jimmy Neutron” characters.  Gasaway says he’ll never forget the day Mel Brooks ridiculed his name: “When Mel makes fun of your name, it has a whole different quality than what the kids at school did when I was growing up.  I had to call my Dad right away after receiving a ribbing from Mel.”

Michael Graves got on Target with his career
Internationally acclaimed architect Michael Graves, a 1958 grad of UC’s College of

Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, was mentored by his co-op employers Carl Strauss and Roy Roush long into his career, which has not only produced stellar buildings but stunning consumer products carried into almost every American home (by Target department store). 

Said Graves, “Strauss and Roush were great mentors and lifelong friends.  I remember we all worked in one room during my co-ops.  Carl allowed the co-ops to do so much…The more I worked, the more responsibility I was given.”  Graves has continued the co-op tradition in his own firm.  He says it’s a practice that’s never failed him as no student has ever disappointed him in fulfilling a project commission.

Heather French Henry’s co-op led to a crown

One-time fashion co-op Heather French Henry, a 1997 UC graduate, went on to become Miss America 2000.  Looking back, she said, “People always ask me how I prepared for Miss America.  I always say, ‘Five years of design school and co-op.’ The lessons you learn last a lifetime.  On co-op, you’re dealing with CEOs of companies, companies that depend on you.  You can’t fail and come back next quarter.  There is no ‘next quarter.’  These are real dollars, and they’re betting on you.”  She adds that co-op made her fearless in interviews by the time she competed for the Miss American crown.

Oscar Robertson still scoring

The basketball great graduated from UC’s then College of Business Administration in 1960.  Of his time in the co-op program, Robertson reminisced, “It was a great experience.  I think every college should have co-op. I grew as a person because of the people I met.  I was really quite shy when I came to the university, and co-op helped me to learn to communicate with people.  I got to see corporate life as it really is, not what the books say it is.” 

Robertson followed up his golden basketball career with a sure-footed business one, serving as president of Orchem, ORDMS and Orpack-Stone, with interests in banking, real estate and media.

Michael Rose took a gamble
Michael Rose, chairman, president and CEO of the largest casino hotel company in the world, Promus Hotel Corporation, is a 1963 graduate of the university.  He got his start co-opping in Las Vegas as an accounting major: “In my last year [as a co-op], I went out to Las Vegas and worked for an accounting firm…And through that accounting firm, I also worked …at one of the casino hotels.  And little did I know it at the time that 20 years later I would be running the biggest casino hotel company in the world.” 

Becky Ruehl learned to dive right in
Olympic diver Becky Ruehl, a year 2000 grad from

UC’s graphic design program, finished fourth in the ten-meter platform dive in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and won four national titles before she was docked at poolside by a shoulder injury.  Though Ruehl says she feels blessed because of her chance to participate in the Olympics and to win an NCAA title, the best thing for her: “I’ve gotten an incredible education.  The education means more to me than any of the athletic stuff, because it will last my entire life….When we [students] came back together after co-ops, it was like having a bunch of people over and enjoying a big, central pot of food.  You’re all contributing to the pot and taking the most delicious parts out to eat.  Co-op is that big bowl of food in the middle of a group.  When we came back together after co-op, it was a feast of information about resources, computer programs, ways to do projects…” 

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